Wheelchair Accessible Lake Powell, Arizona
by Kent R. Davies © 2007
Kent R. Davies, of Phoenix, Arizona, shares the joy of using an accessible houseboat on scenic Lake Powell, Arizona.
Imagine a wondrous land where the high desert sunlight transforms a rich palette of Navajo sandstone into a colorful tapestry; transforming a landscape of immense mesas, vermillion cliffs, narrow canyons and rugged mountains into a panorama of incomparable splendor above sparkling turquoise waters. This magical oasis gets better as fiery orange and red sunsets transition into a dark canvas full of bright stars and galaxies you may never dreamed existed. Lake Powell is not Disneyland, its better! And it’s not inaccessible. The 180-mile long reservoir behind Glen Canyon Dam is within the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area in Utah and Arizona just east of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Nancy Wheeler, a wheelchair
user from Phoenix, Arizona, who has rented
48 and 59-foot houseboats with her husband and friends, enthusiastically
recommends a houseboat excursion. “I just wanted to soak up everything. It is
so peaceful, so quiet. An experience of a lifetime.”
Nancy found that Lake Powell
accommodates everyone. “It is a whole different atmosphere from many vacation
spots. Everyone is very friendly and accommodating. They were very available to
Rainbow Bridge, the world’s largest natural bridge towering 290-feet high with a 275-foot span, is now more accessible whereas before the reservoir’s formation it could only be viewed by hikers able to transverse a16-mile hike through rugged desert from Highway 98 or raft down the Colorado River and then climb up to it. When Lake Powell’s water is sufficiently high, you can even captain your own vessel near enough to witness its beauty from your deck. This natural wonder’s access trail is not wheelchair accessible during periods of low reservoir levels.
Lake Powell’s shoreline of
coves, canyons and 96 major tributary gorges covers 1960 miles making it as long
as the West Coast’s entire shoreline. Such is the setting’s grandeur and its
limitless opportunities for exploration by boat that sixty-percent of houseboat
renters return, and the average visitor stay at the Glen Canyon National
Recreation Area is 4.1 days (the longest in the national park system) - in
comparison to the Grand Canyon National Park’s average stay of under one hour.
Lake Powell is a water
lover’s paradise offering water adventures for everyone from teen’s jet skiing
to grandparents enjoying all-day accessible tour boat excursions. Playing in and
on the water comes naturally with summer water temperatures averaging over
ARAMARK operated Lake Powell Resort and Marina (http://www.lakepowell.com/) at Wahweap Bay off Highway 89A just north of Page, Arizona is your main vacation headquarters. A second ARAMARK operated marina at Bullfrog Bay at Lake Powell’s eastern end also offers houseboat and watercraft rentals. Take advantage of Wahweap Bay’s Lake Powell Resort with restaurants, pools and updated rooms offering views of the lake and its surrounding vistas; or stay at the immaculate Lake Powell RV Park & Campground with modern store, showers and laundry facilities. Full shuttle services are available to RV/campground and lodge guests plus the lodge’s shops, restaurants and pools are open to all resort guests.
For many visitors the ideal
family and friends vacation is renting a houseboat from one of the marinas for
cruising and camping. Houseboats make wonderful base camps for very productive
striped bass fishing; or venturing forth on jet skis or runabouts to explore
narrow, sheer walled canyons rising hundreds of feet above the water’s surface.
Houseboats commonly leave Wahweap Bay towing
jet skis and runabouts.
Powell has three accessible houseboats that are available on a
first-come basis. These boats enable wheelchair users to pilot the vessel with
a movable bench for non-wheelchair users. The kitchen has lowered counters
and appliances. The beds, toilets, showers and first level outdoor decks front
and rear are fully accessible; with widened doors and hallway. A special
ramp on the bow allows wheelchair users to safely board the vessel from
dockside, and a remote control electric winch and sling off the rear deck
enables mobility impaired users to transition into and from runabouts. A ramp lets you get
down to the beach.
Nancy felt very safe on the
houseboats. With rails and gates, “you do not feel like you are going to fall
off. I would feel very comfortable using the lift.” All the houseboats have
The accessible houseboats are always the last to be rented to help ensure their availability for persons with a disability. It is never too soon to reserve a houseboat. The cooler spring and fall months experience less demand for vessels. It is important to carefully plan your Lake Powell vacation. Prioritizing your waterborne itinerary and gleaning as much “local knowledge” as you can from the Web beforehand is important for a successful Lake Powell vacation.
“Lake Powell,” Nancy found, “is a once in a lifetime vacation, especially for wheelchair users. I would go again in a heartbeat.”
Lake Powell Insider Tips
Lake Powell Resort & Marina: http://www.lakepowell.com/
Lake levels: http://www.gf.state.az.us/h_f/edits/lake_levels.shtml
Lake Powell Map: http://www.go-utah.com/Stan-Jones-Lake-Powell-Map/
Fishing: Don’t forget fishing licenses for both Arizona and Utah. http://www.wayneswords.com/
Food: Basha’s grocery in Page offers a fee-based Houseboat Delivery &Grocery Pick Up service. http://www.bashaslakepowell.com/
Boat inside storage is minimal so plan accordingly when planning menus. Ice chests are provided. Bring ice.
Safety: You are trained to
operate the houseboat before soloing with services available to pilot your craft
in and out of the marina and, for a fee, pilot and anchor your vessel. Park
boats conduct a daily houseboat welfare check. Houseboats have two-way radios.
Floating toilets are
strategically located around the lake.
Satellite marinas every
50-miles offer gas with minimal food and brewage. Dangling Rope marina offers
world-class ice cream.
Gas: Never pass up a refueling stop. It’s 50-miles to Rainbow Bridge.
Buoys define a safe passage only through the main channel. When passing buoys note their color and number track your location.
Lake Powell Statistics
Lake Powell Climate Mean Temperatures
January: High 42 F Low 24 F
July: High: High 97 F Low 60 F
Lake Surface Temperatures
January 46 F
July 78 F
Average Annual Precipitation
Over 1.1 million annually – 4th largest in National Park System
Size: 1.25 million acres lies in Arizona and Utah
Second largest human-made lake in North America
Elevation at lake full pool – 3700 feet above sea level
Length: 186 miles with 1960 miles of shorelines
96 side canyons
Maximum Depth – 561 feet
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