Neat Hikes at Lake Powell, Utah

By Alan Silverstein, http://frii.com/~ajs
Last update: December 5, 2003
Return to David Herberg’s Lake Powell page
 

CONTENTS

Introduction
Recommended Books
Definitions Used
Our Invented Names For Some Unnamed Places
Hikes I Have Done
    Upstream of Bullfrog
    Downstream of Bullfrog
    Escalante River
    Downstream of Escalante River
    San Juan River
    Downstream of San Juan River
Hikes I Would Like To Do
Arches Worth Listing


INTRODUCTION

This is a personal collection based on explorations from Bullfrog Marina, which is at about mile marker 95, north to the bridges and south as far as Rainbow Bridge, for one or two weeks a year starting in August 1989.

I welcome feedback, corrections, suggestions, and additions.

The larger issue of Lake Powell being a paradise versus the lake “demolishing the canyon” is a fun discussion, but not the subject of this document. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of the red rock country in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is not underwater, and much of it is quite remote and fascinating to visit.

Note: In warm weather, bring lots of water and wet your shirt before you start hiking!


RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Lake Powell Boating Charts, by Steve and Gail Brown, spiral bound, ~$15 at boat stores; very detailed, accurate, and usable. (I unbound it and put each page into a plastic looseleaf binder page to protect the maps.) Also, 7.5 minute quadrangles available from the USGS (and at the Bullfrog visitor center too) are very useful. In my opinion, the popular Stan Jones’s fold-up map of the entire lake is barely usable for navigation, and unsafe for hiking (sorry, Stan). There are other maps available nowadays too, but I have no experience with nor opinion about them.

The elevations used in this document are taking from the Browns’ boating charts except where shown differently on a 7.5 minute topo map. An excellent read for serious lake explorers.

Stan Jones’s Ramblings By Boat and Boot in Lake Powell Canyon Country, 1998, 276 pages; long, entertaining, and full of facts and figures.


DEFINITIONS USED

Giving directions at Lake Powell is quite challenging. I’ve found it most useful to refer to canyon names and channel mile markers, water flow direction (even in dry gulches), and in some cases estimated distances from well-known landmarks.

 RL  river left (facing downstream, relative to main or side canyon) 
 RR  river right (facing downstream, relative to main or side canyon)
 DS  downstream, with direction of water flow, even if the channel is dry or flooded
 US  upstream, against direction of water flow, even if the channel is dry or flooded
 MC  main channel (of the Colorado River)
 MM  mile marker (in the main channel, bouys are marked with the mileage from the dam)
 OW  one way
 HW  high water (at full pool), approx. 3700' elevation
 N north
 W west
 E east
 S south

“Right finger”, “right fork”, etc. are facing upstream, the opposite of “river left” and “river right”.

GPS waypoints datum is WGS-84.


OUR INVENTED NAMES FOR SOME UNNAMED PLACES

Note: Geographic convention is not to use apostrophes in placenames.
Alan’s Alley Steep crack climb leading to hidden cliff (no exit), 0.4 miles up river left from high water in unnamed finger river right off San Juan downstream of Alcove Canyon, E of 4369' point. “Honorable mention” but not worth reclimbing. 
Alan’s Petrified Forest Upstream arm of Rincon, river left in arm (Rincon side), in cove near end at high water, in Chinle Formation (gray clay); also much wood in other Chinle across main channel from Rincon, and on Navajo land S of Piute Canyon bay. 
Bedroom Sand and debris slopes below cliffs with flat area high above, Fiftymile Canyon, Escalante, river right ~1 mile upstream in Fiftymile Canyon.
Bell Tower Window Awesome arch high above, in the top of a pinnacle, in Twin Edens Canyon, invisible from the lake except perhaps at high water.
Camera Butte Highest small mesa, 5102', S end of Waterpocket Fold above “Slope”, 1400' above lake, top accessible from N end.
Chinle Cathedral Impressive canyon in Chinle formation mudstone a short walk from high water in left fork of Popcorn Canyon.
Clock Rock Bizarre pinnacle at downstream end of Cha Canyon bay, river left, San Juan; survivor of massive landslide of narrow ridge. Major unnamed landmark. (This name is not what we actually call it, but it’s close, and you get the idea.) 
Double Echo Canyon Small dry finger off river right of “Not Annie’s Canyon” on hike up and out; shady alcove and nice echoes at rear, but nothing special as Lake Powell goes.
Doug’s Cathedral Huge amphitheater with “altar” stone and awesome echoes, end of right main fork (third right finger) of Iceberg Canyon, ~10 min hike/bushwhack in from high water; 900' below surrounding plateau, and only 2.7 miles direct from nearest water in San Juan!
Doug’s Sound Cave Huge cave river left in “Doug’s Finger” near end; smaller cave (still huge) across (river right) (37 19'43.7" -110 54'11.7").
Doug’s Finger Escalante, two huge caves ~0.5 miles in near end, river left 3.5 miles up from main channel just downstream of Davis Gulch, across Escalante; first told to me by Doug Baskins; with gorgeous hanging gardens at end.
Gary’s Rock Island just below water level at 3687', where Gary Karnik lost a prop and gashed his boat 9810, SW end of Bullfrog Bay just NE of the shallow shoal between Halls and Bullfrog Bays.
Golden Arches Double arch (formally known as Hi-Lo Arch in register but not on maps) just upstream of Cottonwood Canyon mouth, river left (same side); hard to see from main channel, short but tricky slickrock hike from upstream of Register Rocks; no mooring, ski boat dropoff.
Heart Cave Heart-shaped double glen above (behind) Moriah’s Arch.
ICEFRF Iceberg Canyon first right finger, a convenient shorthand name for it, based on a GPS waypoint.
ICESRF Iceberg Canyon second right finger, a convenient shorthand name for it, based on a GPS waypoint. ICESRF has two smaller side-forks, ICESRL and ICESRR.
ICESRL Iceberg Canyon second right finger, left fork, a convenient shorthand name for it, based on a GPS waypoint.
ICESRR Iceberg Canyon second right finger, right fork, a convenient shorthand name for it, based on a GPS waypoint.
Island in the Sky Next high point N of “Camera Butte” on Waterpocket Fold, 5200'+; scrambling access up gully from S side to a huge boulder perched on an airy ridge.
Lost Sail Cove San Juan, next big canyon upstream from Piute Canyon, S side (river left), where Bob Jenk lost a sailboard sail (“I thought they floated!”)
Monotithe Long N/S slickrock-sided mesa SE of Bullfrog Marina, W of Stanton Canyon; name based on view from due S. Side view visible from high points miles away; major landmark. (This name is not what we actually call it, but it’s close, and you get the idea.) 
Moriah’s Arch (37 17'32.7" -110 51'53.3") A wall arch, top level with flats behind, separated by a narrow crack, similar to the Eye Arch but smaller, below high water (top about 3657'), main channel river right about 0.5 mi upstream of the mouth of the Escalante. A short walk (6 min) from a sandy beach campsite (usually already occupied) further downstream. On Nov. 28, 2002, Moriah Eberhard, age 16, ascended the crack up-and-out from a boat dropoff.
Not Annie’s Canyon River right NW of mile marker 80; downstream from Annie’s Canyon on the same side, but it’s “not Annie’s”; surprise, it’s hikable out of back up Waterpocket Fold, past “Double Echo Canyon”.
Not Cha Canyon Major unnamed cove river left between Cha and Nasja Canyons in San Juan; Mike Berry thought it was Cha once and we hiked up and out to nearby Navajo cliffs, but it was “not Cha”.
Popcorn Beach At back (E) end of Popcorn Canyon, slightly up the right fork, from high water down, a small area of popcorn-like concretions in red Chinle mudstone, most containing white calcite that fluoresces brightly, some hollow.
Popcorn Canyon E/W canyon off Good Hope Bay, across from Ticaboo Canyon, named for Popcorn Beach.
Sally’s Cove Nice slickrock site across from Lost Eden Canyon, on the main channel, river left and downstream, just around corner from Halls Marina (marina is 37 27'56.6" -110 42'56.1").
Sally’s Pocket Beach and boulders at rockfall (“natural dam” on map) a short way upstream, second right finger of Iceberg Canyon; rockfall and beach mostly under water at high water.
Sandy Beach main channel, cove river right of mile marker 59 ~1 mile upstream from the San Juan mouth, with long slickrock hike up to overlook cliffs, starts upstream of beach.
Slope Impressive base of Waterpocket Fold across from Iceberg Canyon, river right, mile marker 78; mind-blowing scale and smoothness; 1500' total rise; calcite crystals abound.
Twin Edens Canyon Short cliff-walled canyon near mile marker 66B, main channel river left next upstream from Ribbon Canyon, and second downstream from Walking Rock Canyon.
Walking Rock Canyon On river left ~1 mile downstream of mile marker 68; contained a “walking rock” high on a shelf below a cliff (37 16'37.6" -110 51'01.0") .


HIKES I HAVE DONE

In each section hikes are listed more or less north-to-south (upstream to downstream).

Those hikes of special interest to first-time visitors are marked “!”, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy or convenient; use your judgement.


UPSTREAM OF BULLFROG

Bullfrog marina boat ramp: 37 30'58.8" -110 43'46.1".


DOWNSTREAM OF BULLFROG


ESCALANTE RIVER

Mouth of Escalante: 37 17'27.2" -110 52'25.4".


DOWNSTREAM OF ESCALANTE RIVER


SAN JUAN RIVER

Mouth of San Juan: 37 10'46.3" -110 53'33.5".

DOWNSTREAM OF SAN JUAN RIVER


HIKES I WOULD LIKE TO DO


ARCHES WORTH LISTING

The list below is ordered upstream-to-downstream and includes bridges. “Diff” is the approximate difficulty, and “one way” is the approximate one-way hiking time in minutes. Stan Jones’ book says there are a total of 86 significant rock spans around Lake Powell.

Name Diff one way Comments
Alice J Arch low 0 at or below water, top is ~3690'; excellent to swim through; passed small sailboat through it once; cannot get above; named by Stan Jones for his wife, who “discovered” it
Elephant Arch low 10 small and easy to miss; can get below and above; remarkably high above lake when you’re there
Flying Eagle Arch medium 60+ long hike and scramble; huge; great views; can get under, but very exposed above; really a bridge? formally renamed to Aleson Arch in 1990’s for its discoverer
"Moriahs Arch" boat/low 0 flat span at edge of cliff, underwater at high water (top ~3657'), relatively easy to climb out slot from below
Stevens Arch ? ? not yet visited; saw from air, way up Escalante, high on wall; 225' span, 160' high, second largest at Powell, seventh in upstream; formerly called “Sky Arch” by Harry Aleson; renamed “Stevens Canyon Arch” in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic
Jacob Hamblin Arch ? ? not yet visited; ~6.5 miles up Coyote Gulch, Escalante; formerly called “Lobo Arch”; renamed in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic
Coyote Natural Bridge ? ? not yet visited; ~6 miles up Coyote Gulch, Escalante
Cliff Arch ? ? not yet visited; large jughandle/buttress type arch ~3 miles up Coyote Gulch, Escalante; formerly called “Jughandle Arch”; renamed in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic
Zane Grey Arch low 30 in Explorer Canyon, Escalante; relatively small; can get under and above, but exposed to cross; easy to miss hidden in canyon wall; really a bridge? named by Edson Alvey, descendent of Mormon pioneer family
Gregory Natural Bridge boat 0 underwater in Fiftymile Creek (previously called Soda Gulch), Escalante; top is below 3580'; named for geologist Herbert Gregory
Broken Bow Arch ? ? not yet visited; in Willow Creek Canyon, Escalante; short hike, “gothic” arch
Bement Arch medium 85+ tough bushwhack and scramble to reach via Davis Gulch floor; huge, beautiful, hidden; can get under but not above, at least from below; formerly called “Nemo (no-name) Arch”; renamed for “discoverer” Harlon Bement in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic
LaGorce Arch low 0 just above high water in Davis Gulch; huge, but small compared to size of wall; can get below but not above; fun to jump from upstream side; awesome “sound chamber”; formerly called “Moqui Window” or “Moqui Eye”; renamed for National Geographic editor in Sep 1955 issue. Back side is dry at 3607'.
Golden Arches medium 20 also called “Hi-Lo Arch”, and by Stan Jones, “Triple Arch” (apparently due to the cave at the back); short hike but some steep slickrock and somewhat hidden; can get below and above both arches
Jacks Arch low 5 near water; pretty view; can get below, and above too with a little slickrock friction; easy to walk across
Peekaboo Arch high 60+ awesome four-hole chamber above a cliff looking out over Piute Canyon bay; difficult hike due to scrambling up gully; can get below with small down-scramble, above rear arches easily, front arch very exposed
Butterfly Arch high 20 steep slickrock climb to small arch; can get below, also above, but crossing is exposed
Eye Arch high 60 huge; easy to miss or underestimate from lake; hard to reach; can get above, in fact, walk across without realizing it; doesn’t really have an “under”
“Twilight Arch” low 0 often underwater; small triangular arch with two boulders at base, in huge wall; can get under; passed ski boat through once; no way to get above
Rainbow Bridge low 5 world’s largest natural stone span, 290' high, 275' wide; easy walk from courtesy dock; can walk under if still allowed by Park Service; can get above, but very exposed, and no longer allowed
Carrot Top Arch medium 60 an interesting hike, relatively short, easy to get below, and possibly above too with a long round-trip; final approach to arch either directly up the steep face below, with some exposure, or up white talus slope to the left and then traverse right on a ledge; found August 9, 1973 inscription by Stan Jones on the wall left of the arch
“Rock Creek Arch” boat 0 Rock Creek, river left near mouth of first major right fork (37 08'11.7" -111 10'14.6"), arch top ~3615', underside ~20' down, with 30-40' diameter pool behind, at least 80' deep; discovered underwater July 31, 2003
“Lehi Double Arches” boat 0 In Lehi Canyon, at its confluence with Anasazi Canyon, two small but specatcular natural bridges span the slot canyon within 100' of each other. Discovered just above water in October, 2003, when the lake level was 3602'.

 
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