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Lake Powell: Enduring Memories In The Canyons

All you need to do is charter the houseboat and bring plenty of curiosity. Lake Powell will take care of the rest.

Houseboat anchored on Lake Powell

A rented houseboat in a Lake Powell cove is the perfect spot for a family to relax, explore, swim, hike, fish, and build sandcastles.

As we drove toward Lake Powell, with our twin 4-year-old boys in the backseat, my husband, Cullen, and I reminisced about how we'd met there 25 years ago, when both our families were invited on a houseboat trip with friends. I was 16; he was 15. I was from a family of all girls; he was the youngest of four boys. He was shy; I was social. That serendipitous one-week vacation way back when had started us on a 25-year journey that we were about to celebrate — aboard a 70-foot chartered houseboat from Forever Resorts, at Antelope Point Marina in Page, Arizona. Finally, after so many years, we were returning to Lake Powell, this time with our children and friends.

Hiking at Lake Powell

Cullen and the boys collected walking sticks and hiked.

Lake Powell straddles the Utah/Arizona border, and the number of coves and inlets is so expansive that it would take many trips to do it justice. That first day with the houseboat, we decided to make tracks. After six hours of travel, my friend Julie and I jumped on the speedboat we were towing to look for the rightcove. We found an amazing one in Face Canyon, where the rock in front of us was so large that our 70-foot houseboat looked like a 12-foot dinghy. Perfection! We were alone, the water was completely calm, and we were far from the sounds of daily life. The kids jumped off the boat and immediately started exploring. Within a few hours they'd hiked, swam, fished, and now were building castles of sand.

Rafting fun on Lake Powell

The author's 4-year-old twin boys Tucker and Wyatt enjoyed riding on an inner tube behind the speedboat with dad.

After two days and nights, we headed farther north. Lake Powell's canyons and rock formations are endlessly fascinating to watch as they unfold. Our next stop was Rock Creek Bay, where we found a spot so amazing that it would hold us for the rest of our voyage. We beached our houseboat in beautiful sand. To our left was a small open bay with the three separate inlets for which Lake Powell is famous — each goes back for miles and fits only a PWC, paddleboard, or kayak. Down each of these inlets lay boundless adventures. Nearby were two separate beaches and a point that provided us with endless amounts of striped bass to throw on the grill for dinner.

Fishing on Lake Powell

Lake Powell's famous inlets provided endless amounts of striped bass to throw on the grill for dinner.

Waterskiing on Lake Powell

Cullen enjoys waterskiing on the lake.

Each day brought our children so many different adventures. They each caught their first fish here. Both boys rode on an inner tube behind the boat with their dad. I, of course, was terrified, worried they were too young. But once I put the boat in gear and immediately heard laughing and giggles, I turned around and saw the look of pure joy on their faces. As a parent, you can't ask for more. They each roasted marshmallows over the fire pit. Collected walking sticks and went hiking. Looked for bugs with their new headlamps. Took endless trips down the waterslide. Sat on top of the houseboat and took in amazing views of our solar system while searching for shooting stars. These wonderful experiences will shape memories for our children just like the ones my husband and I grew up cherishing.

Sunset on Lake Powell

Evening activities included watching the sun set, roasting marshmallows over an open fire, and stargazing.

One afternoon, Cullen asked me to take the moms and kids on a boat adventure for an hour. I happily loaded up the boat and off we went to look for Native American artifacts in the caves, one of the kids' favorite games. When we returned an hour later, I was blown away. My husband and his friends had taken the furniture from the boat and set up the most romantic waterside dining spot we'd ever seen, even including torches and candles!


BoatUS members save 15% off transient slips and can borrow child- sized life jackets from the Lake Powell Marina at Wahweap in Page, Arizona.
Romantic dining spot  on Lake Powell

The author's husband and his friends surprised her with a romantic waterside dinner to celebrate their anniversary.

That evening, surrounded by some of the most beautiful sights in the world, we enjoyed a fantastic meal prepared by my husband, who's a chef, and chatted about the great memories we knew we were creating together. Cullen is a man of few words. So when he got up in front of our friends and expressed his love for me and our family and our life together — 25 years after he and I met here as children — it meant everything to me.

Lake Powell Need To Know

  • There are three areas to rent houseboats on Lake Powell. We rented our 70-footer through Forever Resorts, at Antelope Point Marina in Page, Arizona, a five-hour drive from the airport in Phoenix. Our boat had four staterooms and two sofas that pulled out into sofa beds. The kids and a few adults stayed on top of houseboat. The marina has a store, restaurant, bar, fuel dock, and rents PWCs and boats. The team at Forever Resorts provide top-notch service and have everything you needed.
  • The cost of a rental, depending on the number of days, can range from $2,000 to $9,500. The key is to share one houseboat among several families and split the cost, making it affordable. Most kids sleep on top of the houseboats in sleeping bags, which creates room for more people.
  • Planning meals ahead of time is key to your trip. We planned every meal and cooked ahead of time for as many meals as we could. Space for food is limited for big groups, so bring only what's necessary. If you run out, there are only four marinas on the lake, and prices are higher. There's a Walmart in Page.
  • Pack light. My kids and I were in bathing suits all day and night. Throw in a couple of sundresses for girls and shirts for boys and you're set.
  • The boat comes with all the essentials you'll need, including sheets for beds and all the appliances and tools you'll require in the kitchen. Bring your own towels, and pack biodegradable shampoo since you'll probably bathe in the lake to avoid using freshwater. The boat is equipped with an extra tank holding fuel for your PWC and boats so you can fill up without going to the gas station. The boat also has air-conditioning and two generators.
  • Never driven a houseboat before? No problem; Forever Resorts has a captain who takes you in and out of the marina, and since you're mostly beaching the boat on sand, the rest is easy. The company provides a detailed one-hour orientation on how to run everything on the boat.
  • Do your research on which coves you want to visit and where you want to stay overnight. The lake is large so you can spend a lot of time looking for great spots.

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Heather Sheward

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.