When Glen Canyon Dam began to fill Lake Powell with water in 1963, it turned 1900 miles of canyons into a contiguous slackwater lake. Millions of people now flock to this desert oasis every year to play in the crystal clear waters of Lake Powell. Most explore on power boats, but for a bit of solitude why not kayak?
The bay can be very exposed for most of its length. Winds, particularly during the summer, can spring up without warning, making paddling difficult. Waves can capsize unwary paddlers, and powerboats sometimes do not see the low-slung hulls of kayaks. Keep a weather eye out at all times.
Before the construction of Glen Canyon Dam there was a small stream that carved a canyon, and drained into the Colorado River just south of the Utah state line. It was called Wahweap Creek, and it flowed from the high Grand Staircase area, down past badlands, hoodoos, and cliffs, and eventually joined with the Master Stream below towering and ominous Sentinel Rock. Before Wahweap Creek carved its deep gorge, there was a tall pillar of what would later be called Page Sandstone jutting out from the north side of the creek. This was Lone Rock, a prominent landmark in the Wahweap low country. Cowboys from Kanab and Panguitch would carve their names and brands at its base, as would Navajos and pioneers who had made the crossing of the Colorado. But Wahweap in Paiute means "bitter water" - so called for the creek's alkali taste. It would be a fitting name. A few miles downstream from the confluence of Wahweap and the Colorado, the United States Bureau of Reclamation was working on building a huge concrete structure - Glen Canyon Dam.
Once the dam began to back up water, Wahweap Creek was inundated for its lower 12 miles. Gone was Sentinel Rock and the deep Wahweep Gorge. The base of Lone Rock, with its place in history, would be covered by the lapping waves. Wahweap Creek has been replaced between Big Water and the main channel of the Colorado by Wahweap Bay.
There is no real "end" to this kayaking opportunity. Wahweap Bay is the most popular kayaking destination on lower Lake Powell. From the junction with the main channel to the upper brush-filled reaches at full pool, the bay is 11.3 miles long, and offers dozens of miles of shoreline to explore. There are gentle beaches along the western shore of Antelope Island, southeast of the marina, as well as on the southwestern-most shore of the bay, at Lone Rock Beach. The north shore offers many steep cliffs and semi-submerged slot canyons. There is also the hike to the Wahweap Window, which is only accessible from the lake.
On the northeastern-most section of the bay there is "the Cut", a partially natural passageway between Wahweap Bay and adjoining Warm Creek Bay. This opens up more potential areas to explore, but also increases your distance to get back to your launch point.
There are three main put-ins. The first is the Main Marina launch ramp. This is the busiest, and launching a kayak here amid the houseboats and other large vessels can be intimidating or downright hazardous. This is the closest launch point to the main channel in Wahweap Bay.
The next option is at Stateline Launch Ramp. This is just past the Main Marina, and is usually less congested. This is the closest launch option to get to the Wahweap Window or The Cut.
The final option is Lone Rock Beach. This is the launch point closest to Lone Rock, across the bay, but furthest from the main channel or The Cut. This allows the easiest access to the upper end of Wahweap Bay, where the creek still flows in.
No matter where you launch, make sure you have your kayak inspected for Quagga Mussels. It costs you nothing to do it, but if you fail to do so, there is a hefty fine, impounding of your kayak, etc. Not good stuff! Plus, if you do end up introducing Quagga or Zebra Mussels into Lake Powell, guess who is going to be held responsible in a court of law? Don't move a mussel - kayak smart.
Treat all water before using.
Anywhere along the shore, up to 14 days. - May 29 2012 Rob del Desierto