It’s been almost a month since we got home from a family road trip to Lake Powell and Moab, Utah. This was our replacement summer vacation since we had to cancel our other trip when our whole family got COVID-19. It took me longer than expected to get this recap pulled together since we hit up a bunch of awesome destinations during our week away from home. Better late than never, right?!
For whatever reason, both my husband and I have always wanted to visit Moab. It’s only a 7 hour drive away from Phoenix and known to have a lot of fun outdoor activities. We only had one night in Moab so it was a quick stop, but still plenty of time to explore the great outdoors.
Arches National Park
One of the big reasons we wanted to go to Moab was to hike Arches. I had heard the natural arches are absolutely stunning and we couldn’t wait to check them out in person. We decided to hike the Landscape Trail since it is mostly flat, kid-friendly, and there are a number of different arches you can see along the way. I’ve also heard the Delicate Arch trail is a good one.
We decided to do a late afternoon hike after we arrived in Moab, which honestly worked out perfectly. Most of the hike was in the shade, so it wasn’t miserably hot out, even though we visited at the height of the summer heat. The landscape arch is actually one of the longest natural arches in the world. It’s so big that my husband and I both missed seeing it initially since it oddly blended in the distance. We can’t help but laugh about it now because it really is that big. A must-see if you ask me.
We only spent a couple hours in the park, but the views and hikes were more beautiful than I expected. We’ve visited Sedona, AZ many, many times and Arches seriously puts Sedona to shame. The scale is massive and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Such a gorgeous park.
White Water Rafting
We made an impulse decision to go white water rafting while we were in Moab. A friend of mine had recently visited Moab with her girls and highly recommended rafting. During the summer, the rapids are only a class 1-2 so the water is very mild. Perfect family activity with the kiddos.
We booked our morning out on the Colorado river with a company called Adrift, but I’ve heard Mild to Wild is awesome, too. We met at the rafting office bright and early in the morning and boarded a bus (masks required on the bus) which took us up the river. We spent the next 4 hours floating down the river with a guide. The type of rafts they use in Moab during low water have the guides row, so it was more leisurely than expected. If we got hot, we just jumped in the water. I know the rapids are much more intense other times of the year, but we still had a great time.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is absolutely huge, which we didn’t quite realize until we were in Moab. The park is broken up into four different districts which are all divided by the river that flows through the middle. Island in the Sky is the most popular district, which is accessible by heading north of Moab. We briefly drove through the Needles district while driving from Moab to Page, AZ. The landscape was so vast and absolutely stunning!
We did stop to see Newspaper Rock on the way into the park, which is one of the largest known collection of petroglyphs in the world. The drawings date back at least 2,000 years and it’s amazing to me that these drawings are so well preserved.
After our night in Moab, we headed back to Page, AZ to spend a week at Lake Powell. Page is located right on the Utah/ Arizona border,
A little bit about Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a HUGE man-made reservoir on the Colorado river in Utah and Arizona. And just to be clear on how big the lake is, here is a fun fact for you. Lake Powell has more coastline than the coast of of all the states on the Pacific Coast combined. You could easily spend days on the lake and never get bored because it is that big. Who knew this existed in Arizona?
It gets a little confusing because while Page (the main town we stayed in) is located in AZ, a lot of the beaches and marinas are in Utah. There is a time difference half the year between AZ (which follows MST AKA no daylight savings time) and Utah (which follows MDT). I don’t think I truly knew what time it was our entire vacation. But it didn’t matter since we were on vacation time anyways!!
Lone Rock Beach
Lone Rock beach is one of the most popular beach areas on Lake Powell. It features lots of shallow swimming for kids, beautiful views and soft, sandy beaches. Lone Rock is a part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation area and does require a fee or pass to enter. Since we were visiting a bunch of National Parks on our trip, we ended purchasing the $80 National Park pass, which granted us access to almost every park area we visited.
One pro or con (depending on how you look at it) about Lone Rock is it is also a beach that allows camping. Very cool place to stay for a week or more, but there is also a bit of a downside if you aren’t into camping. The lake is beautiful, but the shores are lined with campers, tents, boats, pool floats, chairs, etc. 100% of the day. It’s a fun vibe, but not the most relaxing beach I’ve ever been to.
Also, I struggled a bit with all the generators running most of the day from the campers. Obviously with lakes you don’t have the crashing ocean waves, but the buzzing of the generators was loud. You couldn’t hear it as much if you were physically in the water, but be prepared for that, especially in the summer.
Like any good beach day, make sure to pack a bunch of snacks, drinks, noodles, floats, chairs, towels and more.The wind does tend to pickup in the afternoons so just be careful with the inflatables. We saw our giant blow up hamburger swirl about 50 feet into the air before it crashed down on someone’s camper. Burger down!
Finally, be careful driving on the beach if you don’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. It might be possible to find a quieter spot at the end of the campers, but we didn’t want to risk getting stuck. We saw several cars getting pulled out so we stayed pretty close to the main drives. Proceed with caution.
It was such a fun beach and we were lucky to rent a place that was a quick 5 minute drive away from Lone Rock. I definitely recommend a stop if you go to Lake Powell!
Wahweap Marina is another big recreational area on Lake Powell. You can rent boats and all kinds of other water toys there as well, although we actually rented a boat from a different nearby marina (more on that later).
We did try to check out beach areas in the Wahweap Marina. There is a set of swimming areas in Wahweap called the Coves, but they were closed when we visited due to low water levels. Instead we tried to visit Wahweap beach, which is a pretty spot for walking with shoes on, but way too rocky for swimming. It is about a 3/4 of a mile walk from the parking lot too, which isn’t ideal when carrying towels, coolers, beach toys, floats and more in 100 degree weather. We tried to swim, but felt like we were going to end up with an injury. We packed up and headed back to Lone Rock because of the sandy shores.
Antelope Point Marina
We spent an entire day on Lake Powell on a boat we rented from Antelope Point Marina. The marina had reopened right before our visit (it was closed due to COVID) so we were excited to check out another part of the lake.
Antelope Point Marina was pretty cool because they have a ton of houseboats available there for rent. Some of them were HUGE and looked like such a fun spot to vacation. We ended up renting a deck boat (my husband said it’s a combination between a speed boat and pontoon) and headed out to explore the lake. My kids have never been tubing before so they were pumped!
One of the marina employees recommended heading down a large canyon for tubing. The canyons are basically huge rock formations with water in between them. Absolutely beautiful, but I found out the hard way that the waves tend to crash against the walls and rock the boat. Especially with constantly turning around in circles to pickup the tubers, I spent the morning of our boat rental pretty darn sea sick. No bueno.
We ended up heading to the main part of the lake and beaching our boat for a little while so I could stop rocking. After a while relaxing on solid ground and a little lunch, I was feeling human again. We spend the rest of the afternoon swimming in the main part of the lake and avoided the narrow canyons. It was absolutely beautiful and such a fun day overall. I do recommend packing Dramamine if you get sea sick!
Antelope Canyon is one of the biggest tourist attractions near Page, AZ. It’s located within Navajo Nation, which was one of the hardest hit areas in the country for COVID-19. Due to their strict COVID restrictions to limit the spread of the virus, hiking within Antelope Canyon is currently closed. However, you are able to access the canyon by boat.
When we rented our boat at the Antelope Point Marina, we found that the next canyon over was Antelope Canyon. There is a strict 5 mph speed limit within the canyon and there were a ton of small row boats and paddle boarders in the area. We took our boat back in the canyon for about 10 minutes before we almost hit a rock due to shallow water. We turned around because we didn’t want to risk expensive boat repairs, but it was beautiful.
If you are able to visit Antelope Canyon in the future when it reopens, you are required to hire a tour guide to hike the slot canyons. There are different routes and some are definitely more kid-friendly than others. Make sure to plan ahead on the tour guide. I can’t wait to go back and hike next time.
Since we visited Lake Powell during COVID, a lot of the normal tourist attractions were closed. We chose to mainly social distance on the beach and in our rental, but we did eat out twice while we were on our trip. We grabbed Mexican food at Fiesta’s. It was standard yummy Mexican fare, but a fun night away from cooking at home.
We also grabbed BBQ at Big John’s one evening, which was such a fun spot. All the seating is outdoors and they have giant smokers in the lot where you can see the meat being cooked. The menu is simple and delicious, and the atmosphere is FUN! I highly recommend this place.
My husband and kids also went to golf Lake Powell National Golf Course one afternoon on our trip. I’m not much of a golfer so I opted for a quiet afternoon at home alone, but they said it was beautiful there. Here’s a pretty cool picture taken on the course from my awesome Instagram Husband.
We also stopped and checked out the Glen Canyon Dam, which is located near the main street in Page. We parked near the visitors center and walked across the bridge, which is fully fenced in, to check out both sides of the dam. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the dam is absolutely huge! I guess they do tours of the dam, but those are temporarily suspended due to COVID. I think it’s worth the 10 min walk across the bridge to get a closer look.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is only about an hour and a half drive from Page, AZ. It’s located in Utah and has always been on our travel bucket list. Since it is a pretty quick drive, we decided to take a little day trip and explore Zion.
We did two hikes during our day at Zion. The first one was the Pa’rus trail, which is a fairly flat hike along the creek that started near the visitor’s center. Part of the trail is paved, but we chose to take the non-paved route down by the creek. Sadly, the creek was experiencing an algae bloom while we were there, so we were unable to get into the water to swim. However, it was still beautiful walk with a fun change of scenery. We had packed sandwiches and enjoyed lunch under a shady tree.
I should note that there is a shuttle that takes you to some of the most popular hiking trails, like Angels Landing. We didn’t plan ahead and sadly, the shuttle was already sold out. However, keep that in mind if you are planning a trip to Zion!
During our drive around the park, we quickly realized that there are many awesome tunnels, along with many crazy winding roads. Again, if you get car sick, make sure to pack your Dramamine! Absolutely beautiful views though. I have no idea how they even built most of those roads.
The second hike we did was the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail. It is only about a mile long, but does have some elevation gains and challenging spots. My 6 and 8 year old kids did it no problem, but there were plenty of rookie hikers up there that looked extremely uncomfortable with the terrain.
The view at the top of the Canyon Lookout trail was absolutely beautiful. Keep a close eye on kids because there are a few sketchy spots with huge drop-offs, but absolutely worth the work to get to the top.
On our way back to Page, we stopped in a little down called Kanab for a bite to eat. Cute little town if you’d like to stay the night closer to Zion and avoid the drive.
The last stop on our Northern AZ adventure was to visit Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend is located about 15 minutes away from Page and is one not to miss. It’s a beautiful lookout spot where the Colorado River has formed a perfect bend around a giant bolder, right in the middle. Every car entering Horseshoe Bend is required to pay a fee (I believe it was $10) to access the park, which wasn’t covered by our National Park pass. While the hike is a relatively short 15 minute walk from the parking lot to the bend, definitely bring water because it was hot out there!
Once we got to the lookout point, I quickly realized how terrified I am of heights. The actual river is 1,000 feet below the lookout and I was shaking in my hiking shoes. There is one small viewing deck with a fence, but the rest of it is open to see the sights below. Needless to say, don’t get too close to the edge and keep a close eye (and grip) on your kids. Thankfully, my kids didn’t find it as cool as I did and were happy to play a good 30 feet away from the edge. Worth the stop, but be careful!
So that’s it! Moab and Northern Arizona are far more beautiful than I ever expected and such an easy adventure coming from the metro Phoenix area. If you have any specific questions about our trip, please leave a comment in the box below. Thanks for reading!