Lake Powell…what an enigma of a place. Lake Powell is a giant man made lake, created by the Colorado River and a few other tributary rivers. Covering over 161,000 acres, the lake spans about 180 miles in length and 25 miles at its widest point. On a satellite map, it looks like a giant swollen river appearing in the middle of the desert. It’s also a massive vacation spot for the region, with around 2 million visitors per year. Hugging the Utah/Arizona border, you get those red rock canyons and magical geological features that the southwest is so famous for, but you get it with an overabundance of water. Its kind of a magical combination.
Tall red, pink and orange walls loom up on the sides of the lake, and side canyons are absolutely ripe for exploring. You can spend days back in some of those canyons, either by boat, kayak, paddle board or in some cases, on foot. The lake is absolutely enormous. We had a relatively fast boat and it took hours to explore only a small fraction of it.
The lake itself is actually pretty new, making it exciting for scientific and ecological exploration as well. The dams and lake were only constructed in 1963, so the effects that creating the lake has had on the land and surrounding environments are still being studied by scientists from all over. A lot of people were adamantly opposed to the creation of Lake Powell back in the day (and some still today) due to the number of Native American sites that were flooded, destroyed or threatened, including the Navajo sacred site of Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Other impacted sites include numerous cliff dwellings and other important archaeological ruins. But alas, the dams were built, and Lake Powell is here. While I mourn the loss of some of those sites, a number of them still exist back in the side canyons, and can be accessed by hiking/scrambling with an adventurous partner.
It was disappointing to discover how expensive exploring Lake Powell tends to be. The only reason I was able to take a trip down was because I knew people that work at one of the resorts along the lake’s shore. For most, however, access is limited to those who can afford their own boats, or who can afford to rent a boat for hundreds of dollars a day. Don’t even get me started on the cost of fuel out there.
I guess I’m lucky to have friends working in lovely places. Having a network of rad adventure folk pays off in so many beautiful ways.
When I first moved to Utah, my mother asked me when I was going to stop “misbehaving”. I think she meant it part-jokingly, but certainly all-lovingly. It’s sometimes hard to justify trying to live my life around adventures, especially to people that can’t fully understand. But the more amazing places I see and the more experiences and stories I collect, I can’t help but feel that our time here is too damn short.
Some people want a certain kind of life—the one with the nice house and the stable family and the steady career track and the nice car. But…that’s not me. At least not right now. Maybe I wanted those things once. There’s probably a part of me that still wants a small slice of it. But more than that stability—desperately, passionately, wholly—I want to live a full, rich life, full of beautiful wild places and beautiful eccentric people and incredible stories filled with adventure. I want all of this, so that when my time is up, there’s no doubt that I truly lived.