Laid-back Luxury: Getting Around by Houseboat
Text and Photo by Jim Foster
The sun was low in the sky. It looked like the large bright ball might set directly behind Gunsight Mountain. Red and gold light danced on the clear water of the lake as the guests gathered at the dining table set only a few feet from the water’s edge.
The soothing hiss of Coleman lanterns mingled with the sounds of nature and stars shone everywhere, clearly visible without the fading effect of a city’s glow.
Several yards away, Chef Dan Noonan was putting the finishing touches on the main course of the evening, Orange Duck à la Noonan. Wine was poured, the plates were arranged and as each meal was ready, it was artfully served to the waiting guests on the beach.
So where was this pampered gathering? A four-star resort in the Florida Keys? An ocean-side restaurant on a small island in the South Pacific? Nope. Sorry.
The setting for this elegant meal was a beach on Lake Powell, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. The chef and server were employees of the Wahweap Lodge, and the transportation to the feast was aboard a 60-foot houseboat.
In the beginning, houseboats were little more than RV campers fitted with pontoons. Space was at a minimum and the crafts were hard to maneuver and control. The modern houseboat, however, is a fully equipped floating home-away-from-home, perfect for independent travelers. Comfort is the key. State of the art is not an understatement. Luxury is possible–like the elegant beachside meal–but for many, a houseboat is an inexpensive, unusual and fun way to get to where you’re going.
The crystal-clear waters of the 186-mile-wide Lake Powell make an ideal destination for a houseboat adventure. Surrounded by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the 500-foot-deep blue lake is flanked by a surrealistic landscape of colorful canyons, peaks and buttes. With ancient pueblo ruins and endless side canyons, inlets and coves to explore, a houseboat is also the easiest and most convenient way to reach remote areas. And with deckside activities like swimming, waterskiing, fishing, snorkeling and SCUBA diving, cookouts and glorious sunsets, houseboating is like having your own mobile resort.
Many lakes and rivers across America offer both ideal settings and houseboat rentals. Most houseboats rent by the week, though some marinas offer weekend rates. Depending upon where and when you go, rates may also vary by season. Some marinas will even provide cooks, captains, water toys and other amenities, if you want. The main thing is you can go as you please-laid-back, luxury or a little of both. It’s up to you.
After a full day of swimming, boating and exploring and a fine, freshly cooked dinner, there’s nothing like going home and falling into bed. Fortunately, with a houseboat, you don’t have to go far.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES NEAR LAKE POWELL
Lake Powell boasts excellent fishing for walleye, crappie, largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass. Since Lake Powell lies in both Arizona and Utah, fishing licenses for both states are required.
In addition, Lees Ferry (located below Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River) is known for its exciting trout fishing. A trout stamp and license, which can be purchased at any marina or in Page, are required.
Airplane tours of Rainbow Bridge and other scenic wonders offer a breathtaking perspective of the Glen Canyon and Lake Powell area.
A few marked trails within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offer yet another way to experience fascinating sandstone arches, sweeping vistas and slickrock canyons.
Houseboat Rentals on Lake Powell
Four marinas operate year-round on the perimeter of Lake Powell and are accessible by land. They offer a full slate of services: houseboat and powerboat rentals, accommodations, fuel, dockside and dry-boat storage, fishing and water sports gear, groceries and general merchandise.
Wahweap Lodge & Marina
On the south shore, six miles from Page, Arizona
Bullfrog Resort & Marina
In Utah near mid-lake
Halls Crossing Marina
Mid-lake, across from Bullfrog
The smallest and northernmost marina, just off Utah Highway 95.
A fifth marina, Dangling Rope, is accessible only by boat. It is located about seven miles southwest of the entrance to the canyon leading to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Fuel, ice, basic food supplies and fresh water are available.
The National Park Service concessionaires offer half-day, full day and sunset boat tours of Lake Powell, along with half-day and full-day float trips down the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry. Houseboats, small boats, personal watercraft and a variety of water toys are available for rent. (800) 528-6154.
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