|Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell|
After an early dinner at the Lake Powell Resort we watched the sun set over the Lake at the Wahweap Overlook.
|Evening light on the canyons of Lake Powell|
Another major attraction in the area was Horseshoe Bend, a gooseneck in the Colorado River downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam. So, first thing Wednesday morning, we drove the 4 miles to the parking lot and took a pleasant half mile hike to the edge of the cliffs looking a thousand feet down to the river. The view was incredible and we were happy we had an ultra-wide angle lens to capture the panoramic view.
|Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River|
After Horseshoe Bend, we toured Upper Antelope Canyon. The only way to see it is on a guided tour operated by the Navajo Nation. We piled into the back of a truck, two people to a seat belt, and headed out of town and onto the wide bumpy dry wash that led to the canyon. The stories we'd heard of crowds were not exaggerated, and it was the off season! Still, the canyon was well worth the effort, and our guide, Rob, of Antelope Slot Canyon Tours, did a great job of herding our group, keeping distance from other groups, and pointing out the most photogenic formations, and how to capture them. The shades of reddish light in the curvy canyon walls made for gorgeous eye-candy. We will go back between April and October to try to capture light beams.
|Upper Antelope Canyon|
|Swirls of color|
After a delicious lunch at Big John's BBQ, we drove down to Navajo Bridges, then on past Vermillion Cliffs to the California Condor Release site on House Rock Valley Road.
We lingered, watching at least four Condors circling the cliffs, while visiting with two Peregrine Fund observers. We'll have to watch for the announcement of their public release date in September 2012. By the time we got back to Marble Canyon, it was getting dark so we did not drive out to Lee's Ferry, but instead watched the sun set around Vermillion Cliffs.
|Sunset sky over Vermillion Cliffs|
Happy Thanksgiving! Our plan to visit Lower Antelope Canyon was postponed until Friday due to cloudy weather. Instead we drove out Hwy 89 north of Page to the Paria Canyon Homesite, and hiked around a little. We had read about a western movie set at this spot, but apparently it burned down (arson) in 2006.
|Paria Canyon view|
On the way back we turned south at the northern end of House Rock Valley Road for 8.5 miles on another bumpy dirt road to get to the Wire Pass trailhead. This hike, partly in a slot canyon, was not quite as beautiful as Antelope, but the hiking experience was awesome. Normally this hike is a wet one, and there are even warnings about quicksand at the trailhead, but we didn't even see a puddle (although Susan did step in some mud). When we got to the junction of the Wire Pass trail and the Buckskin Canyon trail, we walked a bit into the canyons in each direction before heading back. The total round trip hike was about 5 miles of mostly flat hiking, but with the occasional scrambling maneuver in the narrow slot canyons.
|Susan in the Wire Pass slot canyon|
Thanksgiving dinner was great at the Dam Bar & Grill back in Page. This was probably the best Thanksgiving buffet we've ever had and we earned our feast this year!
|Susan looking up at an enormous alcove in Wire Pass canyon|
|Lower Antelope Canyon|
In the afternoon we toured the Glen Canyon Dam, and took in all the movies at the visitor center. Mike's favorite factoid about the dam is that because of the way concrete cures, once pouring began, it had to be done continuously -- a 24 ton bucket of concrete was poured every 5 minutes, 24x7x365 for 3 years and 3 months!
|Glen Canyon Dam|
Our attempt to find Stud Horse Point to watch sunset failed, mostly due to uncertainty with extreme 4WD roads, but we returned to Page and consoled ourselves with Big John's takeout.
Saturday morning we found ourselves at the Wahweap Marina again, this time checking in for a Lake Powell boat tour to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the world's largest known natural bridge. I guess we could've hiked there, but we were somehow put off by the 17 mile trek (each way). And the boat seemed like a relaxing way to take in the beauty of the canyons of Lake Powell.
After two hours we reached Rainbow Bridge and got to spend about an hour taking it in and photographing it. Then we reboarded our boat and headed back to the marina.
|Rainbow Bridge (290' ft high, 234' span)|
After the boat trip we decided to drive back down to Marble Canyon, and this time we went down to Lee's Ferry and the Lonely Dell Ranch, where the Lee family lived while operating the ferry.
|Cabin on the Lonely Dell Ranch|
|Wagon wheel in the evening light|
|Susan posed for this obligatory shot at the balanced rocks on the way to Lee's Ferry|
After walking through the Ranch buildings, we headed back up to Page, stopping to take in the sunset lighting up the mountains to the east.
|Final light on the mountains east of Marble Canyon|
We decided to have dinner at Dam Bar & Grill again since we knew the food was good from our Thanksgiving dinner experience. We then headed back to the room to pack up and get ready to head north in the morning.