Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Around Page, Arizona on the Utah Border

Lone Rock Beach and Dispersed Camping

 Page is one of our favourite places in the southwest. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are all here, as well as the now infamous tourist attractions Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend which draw tourists from all over the world (that it's only a few hours from the Grand Canyon is a bonus). We came here for our first time in 2008 - pre-retirement, pre-trailer. We keep coming back. We usually camp on Lone Rock Beach (got stuck here in 2013 with our son), and for the first 2 days of this year's trip, we set up home on the shores of Lake Powell again. But then we find a hidden, secret gem. Just across the highway and about 1 mile up a dirt road under the formation known as Wild Cat Tank, we find free camping. So for the first 2 months of our trip, we pay for camping for only 2 nights, and that only cost $24. We only expect to stay near Page for 2-3 days to replenish our supplies, but we find so darn much to do that we stay 2 weeks.
Stud Horse Point

The rock cliffs where we camp are called Stud Horse Point. I don't know why. These hoodoos or "toadstools" adorn part of the rim, and we spend hours hiking around them and down the rock ledges to Wild Cat Tank.

It always amazes me how these layers form. The ones that Brad is inspecting look like a painter's brush strokes swept off the canvas.
White Pocket

White Pocket in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is another area we loved the first time we visited in 2013, but that day was uber-windy, so we planned to return, and that day is here.

The crazy swirling, undulating, cross-bedded shapes and colours are what draws us to this place. It's a long, sandy drive out here and last time we rented a jeep, but this year we make the drive in our own truck with the tires deflated to 25-30 PSI to give us better traction (the tires are usually at 80 PSI when we're pulling the trailer). None of the roads present a problem for us, but we always hear stories of folks getting stuck in the deep sand.

The caprock (the rock on the top) is white, giving White Pocket its name. Those white rocks remind me of pillows because of the way they are cut into rectangles and rounded on the edges. The low, eroded basins hold water when there is rain, and there's quite a bit this fall.

To many of you, it's just another picture of rocks. To me it's my favourite dessert with whipped cream, pecans and fudge on top.

A waterfall of colour. Here you can see the "pillow effect" nicely.
Wiregrass Canyon and Crosby Canyon

A sign on the way to the western shores of Lake Powell remind us there are no lifeguards here. Such a strange sign to see in this dry landscape. The lake is still many miles away.

Great camouflage Jack! We scare this jackrabbit out from under a bush, but then he freezes. We talk to him and take pictures and even move around him, but he stays still for a long time. Then he hops towards us! Weird. Hope he isn't a rabid rabbit.

More local wildlife. This is a Common Buckeye. Those spots really confuse predators. Beautiful, isn't it?

One of 2 natural bridges that have formed inside Wiregrass Canyon. Streams on both sides of the rock wall pounded at a central spot until cracks in the wall cause the rock to break free, forming a hole.

Wiregrass Canyon is a hiking trail, but we are able to drive down Crosby Canyon to Lake Powell where there are several dispersed campsites along the water's edge. Not a place we could bring our trailer, but great for car camping.
Kelly Grade and Burning Hills

Can you see the road that climbs this mesa? Me neither! Even as we are driving the Kelly Grade, part of Smoky Mountain Road that runs some 80 miles between Big Water and Escalante, we can't for the life of us figure out where Mr. Kelly built this road with his beloved grader. But it's there - heads off to the right for a bit then cuts back to the left climbing this 1,500 foot high cliff; it then winds around the back and up on top of the mesa. It's so steep in some sections that our wheels spin (not in 4WD), and it's long, several miles from bottom to top. But the view of Lake Powell and the surrounding benches is beautiful.

Just a few miles after reaching the top of Kelly Grade, we find these burning coal seams - these are called the "Burning Hills". Apparently, this area is rife with coal (would never have suspected that), but somehow a few spots in this area have lit, and the coal is smoldering underground.

The seams aren't very long nor are they deep, and the stench is so bad I cannot stand upwind of them. But to Brad they smell like money because it smells just like where he used to work - coal is used in steel-making and it's the sulphur and tar odours that are released when burning. Yuck!
Alstrom Point

Alstrom Point is about a one hour drive from Big Water, Utah on pretty good dirt roads, and Glen Canyon NRA signs point the way. The views of Lake Powell, Navajo Mountain and the surrounding red rock formations are spectacular.

Sunset from Alstrom Point.
Horseshoe Bend and Other Scenic Spots in Town

Page is a great town because there are so many scenic spots right IN TOWN. Here is the Glen Canyon Dam as seen from Scenic View Drive behind Denny's Restaurant. There is also the Rim Trail which circumnavigates Page supplying views of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon and the surrounding red rock desert.

Brad hanging over the Colorado River and Glen Canyon at Horseshoe Bend. When we first came here in October 2008, there were only a few other tourists. Now, there are at least one hundred - the parking lot is almost full. Page advertises as far away as Asia, and it's paying off - for them. We prefer hidden, unknown gems, but Horseshoe Bend is beautiful in its symmetry and well worth the visit.
Glen Canyon West Rim

Page is on the east side of the Colorado River and Glen Canyon. On the west side are hydro towers and power lines, dirt roads and open air. We spend a day hiking along the west rim opposite town. The walls are 700 feet high. The Colorado River is emerald green and a constant 48F. Tourists take raft trips down and back up the river, even this late in the season.

A local guy who walks his dogs near our trailer every morning tells us about the Cable Trail. We stumble across this trail during our hike along the rim towards the dam. Long abandoned by the Glen Canyon NRA, the cables that used to run through the top of these metal poles are gone, but we can still follow the poles.

Brad drops down the 8-foot crevice using the supplied rope, and walks along the fin to the end, where another 8-foot drop is but this one without a rope. We did not bring our own rope today, so this is as far as we go and we hike back up. We'll come prepared to do this trail from top to bottom next time.
Bucktank Draw and Birthday Arch

A lesser traveled trail about 20 miles north of Page, Bucktank Draw leads to Birthday Arch and a couple of short slot canyons. Brad manages to climb around and get on top of the arch.

Me goofing off in one of the slots.

Brad pretending he can climb vertical walls, and he gets pretty far.


  1. You wear me out just reading your blog. You are both amazingly fit.

    I will keep following so that you cannot sneak up on us. ;)

  2. Love that place and that you're back there. A little jealous, too, because we won't be down this winter :-(

  3. Hope Brad didn't leave any of his gear behind in some of those places I know he's like a monkey. Have fun.

  4. Ha ha! No, we're a lot more careful these days.

  5. I have enjoyed seeing your adventures! My fiancee and I are staying in Page next week and plan on doing the hike to the Birthday arch. Do you remember about how long It took to get there and back? (with plenty of time to hang around) I am trying to fit it in before we take a tour of the Lower Antelope canyon at 2pm. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Bo, we hike very slowly because we take so many photos. The hike is very easy, mostly flat until the last climb to the arch. It was also a little challenging to find and we wandered around a bit. Here's a pretty good description of the hike:

      I think we spent about 5 hours total, because we hiked across to the slot talked about in the link above (it's a very short slot) and then we hiked up the rest of the canyon straight ahead which ended in another slot. There is also another side canyon which we didn't hike up.

      To the arch and back is only 3 miles, so you could probably do it in 2-3 hours. A good route to the top of the arch is on the left side (when looking at the arch). My husband did it easily.

      Have fun. I absolutely love this area and we have been many times.