Two days. 48 hours. That’s all the time you’ve got in Page, Arizona.
While that may not be enough time to see all there is to see, that’s ample time to see Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and a few more choice attractions that make this little desert town a big-time player in Northern Arizona’s travel and tourism scene.
So, how should you work your visit to Page, Arizona to make the most of your time? You have a few options, starting with Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, then adding a couple more in-depth activities that will give you a closer look at Glen Canyon and/or Lake Powell.
Seeing as though a most vacationers come to Page from Grand Canyon Village, Flagstaff or Sedona, we’ll go off that assumption as well. If you’re coming in from Zion, Bryce Canyon, SLC or points North, you can simply flip-flop this trip plan to suit your schedule.
Do the majority of your packing the night before so you can start driving to Page, Arizona just after sunrise. Going direct, the drive from Grand Canyon South Rim or Flagstaff usually takes 2.5, but 3.5-4 hours ends up being a more accurate figure due to ample photo ops you’ll invariably find on the way, such as Wupatki/Sunset Crater (just North of Flagstaff), the Little Colorado River Overlook (just East of the Grand Canyon Park boundary), and Chief Yellowhorse’s world-famous roadside souvenir stand. The Historic Cameron Trading Post is a great place to stop and grab breakfast. The Navajo Taco topped with an egg is incredible, but be warned: the regular size dish is ginormous! So unless you’re running on empty, opt for the “mini.”
Hit the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Located just 5 miles South of Page, AZ, the parking area at Mile Marker 545 on US89 is easy to spot. A .6 mile walk takes you to the overlook, where a reasonable physical effort is rewarded with a now-iconic view of an incised meander of the Colorado River. A fairly steep incline starts the hike off from the parking lot, then mild uphill/downhill sections make up the remainder of the trail. Strategically placed benches can help break up the hike for anyone in your party who might be hard-pressed to tackle it all in one go. Water and sun protection are a must in this exposed desert environment, as is footwear suitable for walking a trail whose texture can vary from packed dirt to unwieldy “sugar” sand. Another caveat: the drop to the river below is 500’+ and at the present time, there are no guardrails. Children and dogs should always be kept in sight and under control. There are restrooms near the parking lot. Give yourself 1.5 to 2 hours to take in the view of this hairpin turn in the river before grabbing lunch or checking into your motel. Can’t manage the walk? Here’s how you can still enjoy Horseshoe Bend.
Antelope Canyon tour. This geological oddity, called a slot canyon, has earned a well-deserved place on the photographic “must-do list” of everyone who vacations to Northern Arizona. Its soft, muted colors and almost unreal shapes must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. What you must decide before coming here is whether to tour Upper Antelope Canyon or Lower Antelope Canyon. Upper features a flat, 100 yard walk that most people can manage. Tours can be taken directly to the Tribal Park Entrance on Highway 98, or with one of three tour outfitters based in downtown Page, AZ. To tour Lower Antelope Canyon, you must be able to manage some stair climbing and light bouldering. Lower Antelope Canyon tours may be taken with one of two outfitters based at the Tribal Park Entrance Gate. However you choose to tour Antelope Canyon, and whoever you choose to tour it with, booking a tour well in advance of your arrival is a given. The popularity of this attraction grows every year, along with the crowds who visit it. If the prospect of being jammed into a confined space with hundreds of people doesn’t appeal to you, or Antelope Canyon tours are already booked up, consider taking an Antelope Canyon Alternative Tour which will take you to slot canyons that match or even rival Antelope Canyon for beauty, but are nowhere near as crowded.
Depending on the time of year, your preference and Antelope Canyon tour availability, these activities can easily be done in reverse order as well.
If all that sightseeing has made you hungry, you’ll be glad to know that Page, AZ has a wide selection of restaurants of both chain and independently restaurants to satisfy any appetitie. If you tour Antelope Canyon from the Tribal Park Entrance Gate on US98, the Deli at Big Lake Trading Post is a convenient place to grab a made-to-order sandwich to go, or if a sit-down lunch or dinner is more your speed, you’ve love the food and the view at the Sandbar Restaurant at Antelope Point Marina.
Within the Page city limits, everything from burgers to sushi are yours for the eating. For a meal that comes with a hearty helping of culture and history on the side, Sanderson’s Into the Grand serves up home-cooked Navajo tacos, Native American dances, live music, and a Colorado River Rafting exhibit. Reservations are strongly recommended for this dining experience rated #1 on TripAdvisor. Prefer food that’s a little more familiar that still offers some local character? An oven-baked pizza or bowl of pasta served inside a historic Lake Powell paddleboat just might hit the spot at Canyon King Pizzeria.
It’s been some day, and your fun is just beginning! Get a good night’s sleep back at your Page, Arizona hotel or vacation rental, but don’t forget to set your alarm. You’ll find that Page, AZ is a town where folks rise early and fun starts at the crack of dawn.
If your day back home starts with an invigorating jog or walk, that doesn’t mean you have to pass it up just because you’re on vacation. Get your morning exercise in, along with a little sightseeing, on the Page Rim View Trail. A 10-mile unpaved track that encircles Manson Mesa (Page, AZ’s original townsite), this trail is well-traveled by local walkers, joggers and mountain bikers. Manageable for adults and active children, panoramic Lake Powell views can be had around virtually any corner, but there is no access to the lake itself. Once on the trail (established trailheads are near Lake View Elementary on North Navajo Boulevard and on Rim View Ave just off Lake Powell Boulevard), you do not have to do the full 10 mile loop! There are several opportunities to get off the trail if you desire. The trail also has no shade whatsoever, so water and sun protection must be carried, and appropriate footwear worn.
Your busy day should begin with a good breakfast. Continental or cooked-to-order breakfast is included in some Page, AZ hotel room rates. Those who prefer to do their own cooking, may do so in vacation rentals or properties equipped with full kitchens. Page, AZ’s most popular breakfast eateries include the River’s End Cafe inside Colorado River Discovery, the Ranch House Grille and Canyon Crepes.
Check in for the Glen Canyon Half-Day Raft Trip. This calm water float trip traverses a glassy-smooth section of the Colorado River through the last 15 miles of Glen Canyon that remain untouched. Appropriate for children as young as 4, boats launch from the foot of the mighty Glen Canyon Dam. You’ll drift through Horseshoe Bend, where you can wave “hello” to the people looking down at you from the rim, and anchor at Petroglyph Beach where those who dare can brave the cool river water for a swim, ponder ancient symbols in carved in the sandstone walls by the Ancestral Puebloans, or enjoy a snack or beverages. After docking at Historic Lees Ferry, you’ll be taken back to Page via motorcoach, arriving back in town at approximately 11:30 AM.
After a quick lunch (if you wish), a trip to the John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum will acquaint you with John Wesley Powell himself, the first white American citizen to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869, laying the groundwork for the settlement of the Southwestern U.S., and setting off the continuing controversy about land and water conservation. Locally-excavated dinosaur specimens, and artifacts made by the native peoples of the Colorado Plateau are just a few interactive displays your family will enjoy at the JWP. The employees here are also some of the most knowledgeable in the area, not only about Lake Powell, but Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Wave and way beyond. If you have a question about any destination on your itinerary, you’re bound to find answers here, along with a great selection of souvenirs for loved ones back home.
Check in for the Lake Powell & Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour. This 6-hour adventure, which originates at the Lake Powell (formerly “Wahweap”) Resort will show you the splendor of Lake Powell from a perspective that can only be seen by getting on the water. Your Coast Guard certified tour boat captain will show you serene coves, majestic beaches and soaring sandstone cliffs of Warm Creek Bay, Padre Bay and Navajo Canyon en route to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the largest stone arch known to man and a sacred site to Native Americans. The deep reds of sandstone escarpments, side-by-side with azure waters that stretch as far as the eye can see is, literally, a scene out of a movie: many Hollywood epics have been filmed here! On the trip back to Lake Powell Resort, a stop at Dangling Rope Marina brings a welcome opportunity to enjoy a soft-serve ice cream cone. Since Lake Powell’s water can vary widely throughout the year, passengers must be prepared for a walk of 1.5 miles each way, including some uphill inclines and lack of shade, to access the viewing area of Rainbow Bridge. Those with mobility problems or sensitivity to sun must carefully consider whether or this tour is appropriate for them. Tour price includes water, coffee and lemonade on the boat. Snacks and/or preferred beverages may be brought with you in reasonable amounts in secure containers. If you’re hungry after your tour, you have a choice of five on-site dining outlets at Lake Powell Marina at which to enjoy appetizers, pizza, cocktails, gourmet cuisine or custom coffee drinks. The prime lakeside view is free of charge!
Time permitting, tour Glen Canyon Dam with the Glen Canyon Natural History Association. Explore the inner workings of this towering structure whose creation was responsible for the formation of Lake Powell, an important but still-polarizing reservoir of the Colorado River Storage Project. Tours are given on a first-come first-served basis. The Glen Canyon Dam is a federally-managed facility, therefore Department of Homeland Security regulations are strictly enforced. You will be passing through a metal detector, and armed guards are in place throughout the facility. No knives or any weapons will be permitted in the building. Bags and purses are prohibited on the tour.
After your tour, return to your hotel, relax and reflect on your day’s discoveries, or discover someplace different for dinner. If you still have energy and daylight to burn, a short drive off the mesa will take you to the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook, also known as the “White House” to enjoy sunset. Or, dance up a storm to a live band at the Windy Mesa, Ken’s Old West, or the Dam Bar.
If you want to sleep in tomorrow morning, go right ahead. You’ve earned it!
Day 3 already? It got here before you knew it. We hope you’ve had fun! If you’ve taken us up on the activities we’ve suggested, and maybe done a little “customizing” of your own, the last two days won’t soon be forgotten. Still, that doesn’t mean the fun is over until you get to your next park. “Bonus activities” abound that can easily be added to your itinerary on your way out of Page, AZ for the next phase of your Grand Circle vacation:
Please note that this suggested itinerary is assuming that you’re traveling during Page, Arizona’s peak tourist season of late spring through early fall. Due to extremely hot temperatures typical of this timeframe, being out on the water or an an exposed desert trail during mid-day to late-afternoon hours is ill-advised. During the cooler periods in early spring or late fall, you can reverse the orders in which you take part in these activities and still be comfortable. On Day 2, for example, tour Glen Canyon Dam or the John Wesley Powell Museum first thing in the morning, then do the float trip or boat tour in the afternoon. Be aware that many of tours and activities are only available at certain times of the year. Wintertime visitors should assume that water-based tours and scenic flights will be on seasonal hiatus, or will require a certain number of paid bookings before they will operate.
Did we miss anything? By all means, tell us about it! Write to us in the comments below, or visit our companion site, www.antelopecanyon.az