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Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry, AZ

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Guide 13 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > Jacob Lake N
4.6 of 5 by 5
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,123 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 day
Interest Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
27  2019-07-04 ddgrunning
1  2018-04-22 ssk44
16  2015-08-18 azbackpackr
15  2015-06-10 azbackpackr
24  2011-07-11 PaleoRob
16  2011-05-07 azbackpackr
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, May → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:25pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Floating on down the Colorado
by PaleoRob

Glen Canyon is a touchstone for western river runners. It evokes redrock canyons buried beneath the still blue waters of Lake Powell. Not all of Glen Canyon is submerged, however. 15 miles of the Colorado River runs through lower Glen Canyon between Glen Canyon Dam and Lee's Ferry. With a kayak, you can explore this remnant!

The canyon can be blazingly hot in the summer, and the water is hypothermia-inducing year round. There is very little shade anywhere along the river banks, and no place to get out of the canyon easily. Fishing boats and float trip tours can roar up and down the river creating wakes with little regard to a small kayak.

In 1963 the diversion tunnel gates at Glen Canyon Dam were closed, forever sealing the fate of Glen Canyon upstream of the new dam. Most river runners wrote all of Glen Canyon off as a loss, and moved on to the Grand Canyon, the Green, or other rivers here in the West. Not all of Glen Canyon was submerged though. Until 1980, when Lake Powell filled for the first time, much of the extreme upper reservoir was riverine. And, sitting just below the dam, stretched 15 miles of un-dammed Glen Canyon. This area can still be explored by those willing to get their kayak hauled up the river to near Glen Canyon Dam.

In order to kayak this stretch of river you need to have your kayak "backhauled" up towards the dam by the float trip concessionaire - Colorado River Discovery. They have information at their website or they can be reached at 887-522-6644. Prices depend on the number of people and number of boats. Once you have been backhauled to the furthest upstream gravel bar, you will need to rig your kayak and shove off into the current. This is generally a one day trip with good flows, but it can be stretched out if you want to hike or fish.

Water Sources
You are on an unsilty river, but it is recommended that you bring all you need.

Several developed campsites can be found along the river banks. These are the only legal campsites in Glen Canyon.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your kayak trip to support this local community.

2011-06-05 PaleoRob
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Third kayak trip to Glen Canyon this summer. (I also did a motorboat tour from the dam to Lees Ferry this summer.) After a night and a couple of meals at Marble Canyon Lodge, we launched in the early morning from Lees Ferry to paddle upstream to 6 Mile Camp. We stopped for a break at Waterholes Canyon, where I hiked up to the first box, but decided next time it will be easier to not be on that side of the river, for we lost ground trying to cross back over to where the current is milder. In fact, there were several places where there either was no eddy to follow upstream, or where we had to cross to where there is an eddy. It was not the easiest paddling.

    We finally reached 6 Mile Camp, which is on the west side of the river, in the late afternoon and set up camp. The tamarisk trees are pretty much dead at all these river camps, due to the tamarisk beetle. Although this may be environmentally correct, it makes for a lousy camp with little respite from the hot sun, so we were glad to arrive as the cliff shadows had begun to shade the camp. I hope that willows and cottonwoods will grow to take the place of the tammies.

    Floating back downriver the next morning we reached Lees Ferry pretty quickly!

    Since this was in mid-August the weather was pretty hot but not as hot as July. As always, Glen Canyon provides one scenic amazement after another, and the camera is always at hand. I am hoping to be working here next tour season, and am looking forward to the experience.

    I just realized I didn't post the July trip. Will do that later.
    Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    On the 9th of June my friend and I met at Lees Ferry with our long kayaks. We waited for the Colorado River Discovery rafts to come down the river from Glen Canyon Dam. Once the rafts had arrived and all the passengers had debarked we loaded our boats and camping gear onto one of the rafts, operated by a young Native American woman. She expertly guided the boat upriver and dropped us off at Ferry Swale campsite.

    I was confused by something I heard someone say later, thinking I may have heard "Ferry Swell." But the topo map CLEARLY shows that the camp is directly across from Ferry Swale Canyon, which comes in from the West.

    So, we camped at Ferry Swale campsite for the night. It rained. We did get a bit wet, having slept under a tarp. In the morning there were waterfalls coming off the cliffs. It was worth getting a little bit wet to see the big waterfall across from camp, coming down out of Ferry Swale Canyon. This waterfall is also clearly labeled on the topo map. By the time it was light enough for me to take a photo the water had diminished a little bit. It's too bad I couldn't have gotten a photo of it when it was really gushing. Taller than Deer Creek Falls.

    We started downriver in the rain. It rained off and on, never very hard, as we paddled down to Lees Ferry. We marveled at the waterfalls coming off the cliffs.

    Although I was wearing a pretty good raincoat, I wished I had a dry top and Kokotat paddle pants, with some kind of wool long johns underneath. (Yes, you hikers, there really is a piece of gear called paddle pants. No jokes, please! ;) ) And I wished I had neoprene boots instead of the lowcut neoprene shoes I was wearing. We stopped a couple of times on our way back to Lees Ferry. At Waterholes Canyon I hiked upstream a short distance and also did jumping jacks and running in place to get warm. My feet finally warmed up again and we were on our way.

    It truly was a wonderful day to be paddling in Glen Canyon, despite having gotten so chilly. It was no longer raining as we pulled our kayaks out of the water and brought the vehicles around to load up. We went to the newly rebuilt Marble Canyon Lodge for lunch.
    Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I can't get over how awesome the Colorado River is!!!

    We camped late Friday night at the campground (WOW, talk about drunk and high teenagers overrunning the place.. ugh!), then woke up early for the backhaul. They were super late, so we had to "rescue" a few beers from overheating. Once we got going, though, the trip was great. Adam, Liz, Amy, Mark and I all piled into a Blue Meanine after loading our boats, then zipped upstream. The canyon walls were gorgeous and very reminiscent of Indian Creek/Canyonlands classic sandstone splitter cracks. Breathtaking! Our guide dropped us up near the dam, and we paddled around for a bit before deciding to set up camp right where we were. It was hot and perfect, and we soon were donning swimsuits and whipping out the fishing poles. Caught a couple trout which we later had for dinner.. yum!

    The whole area is just perfect. I didn't realize until a couple months later that the town is right there, because the only outside sounds we heard were people yelling on the Ropes Trail once or twice. It was very relaxing, and we sunbathed and fantasized about climbing the cracks.

    The next morning we slowly paddled downstream, taking our time and stopping off at points that the guide had noted for petroglyphs. We eventually caught up to him with a group of tourists at one of the most popular petroglyph spots, and we joked around for a bit and sang him some songs. We continued our trip after admiring some fish and other aquatic creatures (and may have accidentally fed them a piece of jerky..), then left Amy and Mark to one extra day of relaxation at Horseshoe Bend. By the time we were back at the car, we were already planning our next trip! Great area, and so glad I got to ride along for this one.
    Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This kayak trip starts at Lee's Ferry. The big motor rafts bring the tourists downriver from Glen Canyon Dam and deadhead back upstream, so they will take you and your kayak upstream, for a price. It's a flat-water float trip, NO rapids, but can be dangerous nevertheless.

    This is a fun trip to do in two or three days, since there are several camping areas with restrooms. However, beware of the wind. During the spring, the wind can blow upstream pretty fiercely. Lots of petroglyphs, too.

    Just in case you just woke up from total amnesia, or are from Mars, this trip is on the Colorado River in northern Arizona, and Lee's Ferry is the location of the put-in for Grand Canyon trips. This Glen Canyon trip is UPSTREAM from Lee's Ferry and does not require a permit. Going downstream from the Ferry is called GRAND CANYON, however, and does require a permit, and also a lot of skill, and is over 200 miles long. (Or do a commercial trip.)

    Permit $$

    Glen Canyon Recreation Area National Park
    Glen Canyon Entrance Fee - 1-7 Day Vehicle Pass - $25

    Boat fees additional, follow provided NPS link above.

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To kayak trip
    From Flagstaff, travel north on US89. Upon reaching the junction of US89/US89A at Bitter Springs, turn left onto US89A. Follow US89A north, and turn right after crossing Navajo Bridge, at sign pointing towards Lee's Ferry. A few miles down is a self-serve fee station for entrance. Follow this road down to the boat ramp (there are signs at junctions). Park in the gravel parking lot just past the boat ramp, and meet your backhaul down at the loading dock on the river. There is a campground at Lee's Ferry, and lodging nearby at Marble Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, and Cliff Dwellers.
    page created by PaleoRob on Jun 05 2011 7:46 am
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