Page on the edge of Lake Powell and Arizona shines as a base camp for adventure in the nearby canyons and 180-mile reservoir behind Glen Canyon Dam.
The beauty of Glen Canyon, still evident above the lake, is a mere hint of how special it was. Photographs of Glen Canyon, and those who knew it, lament the loss brought on by a cement dam across the Colorado River more than a half century ago.
Page of course owes it existence to the dam. The hillside community on Manson Mesa, initially called Government Camp, was established for construction workers in 1957. It was incorporated in 1975, a dozen years after the dam was completed.
Now, area scenic attractions and five marinas in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area attract visitors from all over the world. Bus tours are a common sight. Ski boats, jet skis and 75-foot houseboats, some with helicopter decks, dock on the lake.
Tourists flock to slot canyons — Lower and Upper Antelope canyons — on the Navajo Reservation outside of Page. The canyons, sculpted by wind and rushing water, are magical with subterranean grottos and slivers of sunlight filtering in. Avoid busy weekends to better enjoy the canyons without lines of people crowding the narrow passageways.
Crowds have also become an issue at Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River 10 miles south of Page on US 89 between milepost 544-545. New parking lots and visitor facilities are in place now for the scenic overlook and there's a $10 fee for cars, trucks and RVs and $5 for motorcycles.
Travelers hike about 1.25 miles roundtrip to the overlook. Summer temperatures often top 100 degrees. It's best to avoid this trek in hotter weather unless you go early in the day.
Explore lake, wide open canyon lands
Elsewhere, there are vast stretches of canyon country around Page and open water to explore on the lake, including at Lone Rock near the Utah-Arizona border. There are quiet coves, towering cliffs along the lake and Rainbow Bridge, which is reached by boat or a 28-mile roundtrip hike
There’s also hiking at Coyotes Buttes North — also known as the Wave — Coyotes Buttes South and Paria Canyon southwest of Page. Check with the Bureau of Land Management office (435-688-3200 or https://on.doi.gov/2rGSahe) for hiking permits at Coyotes Buttes and the Wave.
House Rock Valley Road, which leads to Coyotes Buttes, also connects US 89 in Utah west of Page and US 89A northwest of Marble Canyon in Arizona. It’s a scenic, unpaved route of 29 miles in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument that's suitable for passenger vehicles in good weather.
The Page area is full of chain motels, independent inns, vacation rentals, restaurants, stores, facilities for boat and RV repairs, and 12 houses of worship on what's known as Church Row.
The city of Page is named for John C. Page, who was a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner under FDR. Page died in 1955 before construction started on the dam in October 1956.
Page was also home to the Navajo Generating Station, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Southwest. It shut down on Nov. 18, 2019 after more than 40 years in operation. A surplus of natural gas at low prices and renewable energy options made the coal plant uneconomical to operate. It was also targeted as a major polluter in the Four Corner region.
On Page's main drag, we suggest a visit to the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. It serves as the Page-Lake Powell Visitor Center. 2019 was the 150th anniversary of Powell’s epic journey down the uncharted Colorado River through Grand Canyon.
See a beautiful stretch of the river on full- and half-day raft and kayak trips through lower Glen Canyon. Rafts make the 15-mile run from the base of 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. Power-boat shuttles provided by Kayak the Colorado take kayakers upstream for paddle trips .
Anglers can test their luck with world-class trout fishing at Lees Ferry. Outfitters and guides are available in Page and nearby Marble Canyon.
If that’s not enough, Page is also a border town for the Navajo Reservation that covers part of four states. Explore the rez with its scattering of trading posts, Navajo National Monument and the iconic buttes of Monument Valley, both about 90 minutes away.
Elevation: 4,117 feet
Visit Navajo National Monument 88 miles southeast of Page: http://www.ontheroadarizona.com/navajo-national-monument.html