Neat Hikes at Lake Powell, Utah

By Alan Silverstein,
Last update: October 7, 2016

Note: I sold my share of the houseboat in November, 2010, so this webpage is nearly frozen as of that time. Except for rare occasions when I get back to Glen Canyon!

Entrance to Walking Rock Canyon


Recommended Books
Some Terms 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
Rock Spans Worth Listing
Tidbits About Gregory Natural Bridge


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 the bay below Friendship Cove, for one or two weeks a year starting in August 1989.

I welcome feedback, corrections, suggestions, and additions.

Sorry no more pictures here. But you can look under my Proposal for New Formal Names in Glen Canyon page for some images (not good quality).

Reader feedback suggested labeling each hike clearly with "main attractions" and "type of hike". I've tried to do that better, although still informally. Assume all hikes are off-trail unless otherwise noted! Sorry, you can't search, say, for "petroglyphs", except maybe by using your brower's search feature. I just don't have the time to turn this into a better-indexed guidebook.

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!


"Lake Powell Boating Charts", by the Browns, 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. Uh rumor, rumor is the Browns's boating charts are out of print.) 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 fold-up map of the entire lake is barely usable for navigation, and unusable for hiking (sorry, Stan). There are probably other maps available nowadays too, but I have no experience with or opinion about them. I see that Lake Powell Magazine includes decent maps in every issue...

The elevations used in this document are taken from the Browns' boating charts except where shown differently on a 7.5 minute topo map.

Stan Jones' "Ramblings By Boat and Boot in Lake Powell Canyon Country", 1998, 276 pages; long, entertaining, and full of facts and figures. An excellent read for serious lake explorers.

The Wayne's Words website is another valuable Lake Powell reference.


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.

downstream the direction water would flow if there was no lake, or if a dry streambed had water running in it
upstreamopposite of downstream
river-leftto the left when facing downstream (in any drainage, not necessarily a main river, could be a side-canyon)
river-rightto the right when facing downstream
left fingerto the left when facing upstream
left forkto the left when facing upstream
right fingerto the right when facing upstream
right forkto the right when facing upstream
main channel of the Colorado River, Escalante, or San Juan; or more generally, the more-major drainage into which any stream or canyon empties
mile marker refers to original main channel mile numbers shown on maps or floating green or red buoys
full-pool where the water ends when the lake is full, at 3700' elevation; often but not always a good reference point even when the lake is way down
GPS direct The direct distance ("as the crow flies") between two points, as indicated by a hand-held GPS unit, as one way to indicate distance. GPS waypoints datum (latitude/longitude coordinates) for locations given here is WGS-84 unless otherwise noted. I used dd.ddd format because that's simplest to cut/paste, say, into Google Maps or a GPS unit. Conversion to "dd hh mm" format is tedious, but for starters, this website can help.
Honorable mention: Lake Powell, Colorado (southeast shoreline): 40.25444 -105.65907.
980803 these are dates, expressed for brevity in the form: YYMMDD (year, month, day)
exit Occasionally used here in the usual sense, but worth mentioning in the odder sense, "Life is like a maze where we all go around and around trying not to find an exit". There are many "exits" in Glen Canyon, so keep your wits about you in steep terrain, and make a conscious note of dangerous "exits" (as opposed to benign "up and out" routes, as I often call them).



Many of these names were formally proposed to the USGS (US Geological Survey) BGN (Board on Geographic Names) via webpage in January 2004. Seven names were approved (marked "A" below) and 10 rejected ("R") on May 12, 2005.

Note: Geographic convention is to not use apostrophes in placenames.

Alans Alley   Steep crack climb leading to hidden cliff (no exit), 0.4 mi up river-left from full-pool in unnamed finger river-right off San Juan downstream of Alcove Canyon, east of 4369' point. "Honorable mention" but not worth reclimbing.
Alans Petrified Forest   Upstream arm of Rincon, river-left in arm (Rincon side), in cove near end at full-pool, in Chinle Formation (gray clay); also much wood in other Chinle across main channel from Rincon, and on Navajo land south of Piute Bay.
Bedroom   Sand and debris slopes below cliffs with flat area high above, Fifty Mile Canyon, Escalante, river-right ~1 mi upstream in Fifty Mile Canyon, just below the narrows (exposed below ~3600').
Bell Tower Window A Awesome arch high above, in the top of a pinnacle, in "Twin Edens Canyon", invisible from the lake except perhaps at full-pool. (37.265361 -110.851222)
Boulder in the Sky R Next high point north of "Camera Butte" on Waterpocket Fold, 5200'+; scrambling access up gully from south side to a huge boulder perched on an airy ridge.
Camera Butte R Highest small mesa, 5102', south end of Waterpocket Fold above The Slope, 1400' above lake, top accessible from north end.
Chinle Cathedral R Impressive canyon in Chinle formation mudstone a short walk from full-pool in left fork of Popcorn Canyon.
Clock Rock   Bizarre pinnacle at downstream end of Cha Bay, river-left, San Juan; survivor of massive landslide of narrow ridge. Major unnamed landmark. (The above name is not what we actually call it, but it's close, we don't want to offend the squeamish.)
Daves Lost Anchor Canyon   Small canyon with a major fork, river-left off the main channel ~2 miles upstream of the Escalante mouth, named for the time Dave lost a small boat anchor in the left fork (and we found no trace of it a few years later when the lake was down).
Double Echo Canyon   Small dry finger off river-right of "Not Annies Canyon" on hike up and out; shady alcove and nice echoes at rear, but nothing special as Lake Powell goes.
Dougs Cathedral   Huge amphitheater with "altar" stone and awesome echoes, end of right main fork (third right finger) of Iceberg Canyon, ~0:10 hike/bushwhack in from full-pool; 900' below surrounding plateau, and only 2.7 mi direct from nearest water in San Juan!
Dougs Sound Cave   Huge cave river-left in "Dougs Finger" near end; smaller cave (still huge) across (river-right) (37.328806 -110.903250).
Dougs Finger   Escalante, two huge caves ~0.5 mi in near end, river-left 3.5 mi up from main channel just downstream of Davis Gulch, across Escalante; first told to me by Doug Baskins; with gorgeous hanging gardens at end.
Eureka Canyon   Off main channel, a narrow canyon hidden just downstream around the corner river-left of the Escalante mouth; the next major canyon upstream of "Walking Rock Canyon".
Garys Rock   Island just below water level at 3687', where Gary Karnik lost a prop and gashed his boat 9810, southwest end of Bullfrog Bay just NE of the shallow shoal between Halls and Bullfrog Bays.
Golden Arches R 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) "Moriahs 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 (37.276500 -110.691028). 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 Cave   Huge cave on river-right in Willow Creek Canyon (Escalante) ~0.5 mi upstream from the Bishops Creek fork, with an unusual hill of detritus inside; at full-pool the water goes all the way around the island through the back of the cave. A smaller but still impressive cave is on river-left a short distance upstream (in sight).
Lost Sail Cove   San Juan, next big canyon upstream Piute Canyon, south side (river-left), where Bob Jenk lost a sailboard sail ("I thought they floated!")
Middle Rib Canyon   Unnamed canyon between "Walking Rock Canyon" and "Twin Edens Canyon", with a center rib (slickrock slope) that gives access up and out to the terrain above.
Moriahs Arch R (37.292417 -110.864806) A wall arch, top level with flats behind, separated by a narrow crack, similar to the Eye Arch but smaller; below full-pool (top ~3657'), main channel river-right ~0.5 mi upstream of the mouth of the Escalante. A short walk (0:06) from a sandy beach campsite (usually taken) further downstream.
Monotithe   Long north-south slickrock-sided mesa southeast of Bullfrog Marina, west of Stanton Canyon; name based on view from due south. Side view visible from high points miles away; a major landmark. (The above name is not what we actually call it, but it's close, we don't want to offend the squeamish.)
Not Annies Canyon R River-right northwest of mile marker 80; downstream from Annies Canyon on the same side, but it's "not Annies". Surprise, it's hikable out of back up Waterpocket Fold, past "Double Echo Canyon".
Not Cha Canyon R 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   (37.674722 -110.458778) At back (east) end of Popcorn Canyon, slightly up the right fork, from full-pool down, a small area of popcorn-like concretions in red Chinle mudstone, most containing white calcite that fluoresces brightly, some hollow.
Popcorn Canyon A East-west canyon off Good Hope Bay, across from Ticaboo Canyon, named for Popcorn Beach.
Sallys Cove   Nice slickrock site across from Lost Eden Canyon, main channel river-left downstream, just around the corner from Halls Marina (marina is 37.465722 -110.715583).
Sallys Pocket   Beach and boulders at rockfall ("natural dam" on some maps) a short way upstream, second right finger of Iceberg Canyon; rockfall and beach mostly under water at full-pool.
Sandy Beach   Main channel, cove river-right of mile marker 59 ~1 mi upstream of the San Juan mouth, with a long, steep slickrock hike up to overlook cliffs; starts upstream of beach. Years ago this big beach was "sandy", hence the name, but it's gotten pretty overgrown.
The Slope A 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 R 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 R River-left ~1 mi downstream from mile marker 68. Contained an amazing "walking rock" high on a shelf below a cliff (37.277111 -110.850278).

In addition, the BGN accepted these proposed names: Cha Bay, Piute Bay, Flying Eagle Cove, Twilight Arch. The BGN rejected "Peekaboo Arches".


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.


Dirty Devil River bridge: 37.915917 -110.388167 (north of Hite)
Narrow Canyon bridge: 37.891000 -110.369972 (northeast of Hite)
Hite Marina: 37.865639 -110.397333 (just south of boat ramp)

Bullfrog Marina boat ramp (top): 37.516333 -110.729472.
Halls Crossing boat ramp (at low water): 37.46787 -110.71693.



Escalante River mouth: 37.290889 -110.873722



San Juan River mouth: 37.179833 -110.895361


Glen Canyon Dam is 36.94215 -111.48634 (actually a bit downstream, the coordinate is as close as we could boat).



The list below of 29 bridges and arches is ordered upstream-to-downstream. "Diff" is the approximate difficulty, and "OW" is the approximate one-way hiking time in minutes, at least from full-pool. Stan Jones' book says there are a total of 86 significant rock spans around Lake Powell.

See also The Stan Jones Gallery and the rest of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society website for pictures of many of these and many other spans. Note: Vreeland numbers mentioned below are explained here.

Name Diff OW Comments
"Halls Creek Bay Middle Bridge" low 40 (37.493222 -110.808333) Spans a drainage in the huge slope of the Waterpocket Fold west of Halls Creek Bay. Nice little bridge you can get far below (gully floor), just below (from upstream, and cross the top to view from both sides.
"Halls Creek Bay South Bridge" ? ? (37.468333 -110.781666) 1608: Tried to find it, but nothing found at the given coordinates! Google Earth shows a possible bridge (that we missed) a bit north and east at 37.47103 -110.77831.
"Devils Potty" low 0 (37.42665 -110.70643, about 3609', Vreeland 23a) River-right very near mile 89 marker; short easy walk from slightly upstream at 3585'. Houseboat fit underneath to look up through the opening. At 3609.1', underside of arch was "one cubit" above the water.
"Alice J Arch" low 0 (37.370028 -110.715861, actually a bit southwest of this point, top of hole about 3690') At or below full-pool; excellent to swim through; passed small sailboat through it once. Cannot get above. Named by Stan Jones for his wife, who "discovered" it as the lake was rising.
Elephant Arch low/medium 10 (37.377528 -110.732889, about 3900') Small and easy to miss; can get below and above; remarkably high above the lake when you're there.
Aleson Arch medium 60+ (about 4700') Long hike and scramble; huge; great views; can get under, but very exposed above. Really a bridge? Previously informally called Flying Eagle Arch. Formally renamed to Aleson Arch in October 1988 for river guide who carried the discoverer through the area.
"MM72 Arch" low 0 (37.327694 -110.859833, about 3624') River-left just downstream (toward 71) of mile 72 marker (not 72A/B), up a small cove. Can get above it from slightly upstream, scramble through cliff. GPS indicates arch elevation right about 3638' (based on difference from known lake level).
"Moriahs Arch" boat/low 0 (37.292417 -110.864806, about 3657', Vreeland 7-21a) Flat span at edge of cliff, underwater at full-pool. Relatively easy to boulder up and then climb out slot from below, if you're not too big!
Stevens Arch ? ? Not yet visited; saw from air. Way up Escalante just beyond full-pool, high on wall; 225' span, 160' high, second largest at Powell, seventh in US. Formerly called "Sky Arch" by Harry Aleson; renamed "Stevens Canyon Arch" in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic.
Jacob Hamblin Arch ? ? Not yet visited. About 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. About 6 miles up Coyote Gulch, Escalante.
Cliff Arch ? ? Not yet visited. Large jughandle/buttress type arch about 3 miles up Coyote Gulch, Escalante. Formerly called "Jughandle Arch"; renamed in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic.
Zane Grey Arch low 30 (37.380750 -110.915972) 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 (37.329750 -110.938778, underside about 3551', top of lintel about 3661') Underwater in Fifty Mile Creek (previously called Soda Gulch), Escalante. Named for geologist Herbert Gregory.
040520, lake at 3585', snorkeled down to see the edge of the roof on the downstream side and briefly got a hand on it! Read about it here, along with epilogues and pointers to pictures.
040810, lake at 3577.5', snorkeled down again, measured underside of roof (at the outer corner) at 3550.5' plus or minus a foot, but the underside of the span is a bit lower.
090922, lake at 3636', was able to climb ~20' up a crack on the upstream side of the lintel to stand atop it; amazingly narrow.
Broken Bow Arch ? ? (37.327103 -111.001793) In Willow Creek Canyon, Escalante. Gorgeous span; wet hike/wade; distance depends on lake level; ~1h40m from 3636'.
Bement Arch medium 85+ (37.284139 -110.965111) Tough bushwhack and scramble to reach via Davis Gulch floor. Huge, beautiful, hidden. Can get under but not above from below, but can get to the top from above. Formerly called "Nemo (no-name) Arch"; renamed for "discoverer" Harlon Bement in Sep 1955 issue of National Geographic.
LaGorce Arch low 0 (37.311361 -110.938694) Just above full-pool in Davis Gulch; huge, but small compared to size of wall. Can get below but not above; fun to jump from upstream side to meet a ski boat. Awesome "sound chamber". Formerly called "Moqui Window" or "Moqui Eye"; renamed for National Geographic editor in Sep 1955 issue; back side dry at 3607'.
Bell Tower Window high 110 (37.265278 -110.850556) Awesome arch high above, in the top of a pinnacle, in "Twin Edens Canyon", invisible from the lake except perhaps at full-pool.
"Golden Arches" medium 20 (37.245556 -110.868611) 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.
Also apparently known as "PT Bridge" due to photographer P.T. (Pat) Reilly, who was a river runner and photographer of at least Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon in the 1950s.
Jacks Arch low 5 Near water; pretty view. Can get below, and above too with a little slickrock friction; easy to walk across, about 50' tall.
"Peekaboo Arches" high 60+ (37.19130 -110.73110, about 4440', Vreeland 7-11, called "Rim Arches" by Stan Jones) Awesome four-hole chamber above a cliff looking out over Piute Bay. Difficult hike due to scrambling up gully. Can get below with small down-scramble, above rear arches easily, front span very exposed.
Butterfly Arch high 20 Steep slickrock climb to small arch, at least from near full-pool. Can get below, also above, but crossing is exposed.
Eye Arch high 60 (37.147917 -110.957667, about 400' above the lake) 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 (37.139722 -110.960278, about 3680' (approx), Vreeland 7-112) Often underwater; small triangular arch with two boulders at base, in huge wall; can get under. Passed ski boat through it on several occasions. No way to get above.
"Lehi Bridges" low 0 (37.134222 -110.920500, just above water, boat below, at 3606', Vreeland 7-20a) In Lehi Canyon just above, in sight of, mouth on Anasazi Canyon; often underwater; lovely nearby pair of bridges across a narrow slot canyon; 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 get above, but very exposed, and no longer allowed by Park Service. Regarding walking under the span: The Park Service allows but discourages this, because supposedly it's a native American spiritual site (but there's a lot of controversy out there about how real this is). There's no other way for people who hike or especially backpack up/down the canyon to/from the lake, or who want to visit the bronze plaques on the upstream side, since there's no trail around it. You'll have to use your own judgement on this matter.
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 (37.089139 -111.041000) 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 (37.136583 -111.170722, actually a bit south of this point, arch top about 3615', underside about 20' down, with 30-40' diameter pool behind, at least 80' deep) Rock Creek, river-left near mouth of first major right fork, discovered underwater 030731.
"Rock Creek Arch 2" medium 60 (37.126111 -111.177056, actually a bit south of this point, about 3800') Rock Creek, river-right near mouth of bay, up high on wall (like the Eye Arch).


Short story on my visit to Gregory Natural Bridge on Thursday, May 20, 2004, followed by epilogue and pointers to pictures:

I saw the Gregory Natural Bridge! Which was underwater at Lake Powell since April 28, 1969.

We tied up our houseboat in Fifty Mile Canyon (off the Escalante River) for a few hours near the bridge. I'd been hunting it for several years as the lake level dropped. It didn't help that it was not on the USGS topo map, that until recently it was not in the USGS online GNIS database, and that one of the pictures in Stan Jones' "Boat and Boot" book is of the wrong span and the other is mirror-reversed!

Using a print of Stan Jones' old slide of the bridge (obtained from the NABS website), while we motored in I was able to line up three or so key identifying features of the span (rock) above the bridge, and mark on my print the present water line at 3585'. There were a lot of changes to the details while it was under water. The pillar shown on top of the span no longer existed, the rock surface was fuzzed out by dried algae scum, etc.

The depth gauge on the houseboat read 82'-90' in the area just outside the downstream side of the bridge.

We moored a couple of hundred feet upstream on a sand bar that blocked the canyon beyond the bridge. I suspect this sandbar sat atop natural terrain that was abandoned when the bridge formed in prehistory. There was still a huge pool beyond the bar, around the corner on the upstream side of the bridge, presumably linked to the lake by the bridge's hole itself!

After studying the rockface and the photo, I put on a wetsuit and took a kayak over from the houseboat to the downstream side of the bridge. I made about five "deep dives" with a mask and snorkel. I expected the top of the bridge to be about 28' down at 3557', based on the NABS website (but it actually said 3552'!), and that's a hard depth to reach. My personal record was 37' with a weighted line for a fast descent. However, on the last four dives I saw the top corner of the roof, and on the last two dives I actually got my hand on the corner for a moment.

The rock above the opening sloped outward a lot. I had to follow it down and in, and then bump against it a few times coming back up. It was dim, dark, and cold down there! Very little light came through the span, and I couldn't get deep enough to see through it. Maybe later I'll use a weighted line to descend farther and faster. Also if I have time I'd like to drag the kayak around and explore the upstream side.


040810: I did both. I measured the top edge (corner) of the underside roof of the arch to be just about 3550.5'. The lake was at 3577.5' mid-day (plus or minus a few inches). I tied a line to my kayak, held it against the corner, brought the mark to the surface, tied a knot at that point, checked it on the next dive, and later measured the length on shore as 27'0". (But see also below.)

050614: Bill Watson wrote to say:

I just wanted to let you know that I recently obtained photos from September 2, 1968 (a co-worker was there and has photos and documentation of dates!) and I'd agree on a "3551" elevation of the roof. The water level during their trip was 3548.6', and they are seen swimming under the opening, but it was clearly too small for even their small boats to make it under. We'd gauge the gap at 2 to 3'...

In the photo forwarded by Bill, you can see the corner I believe I touched and later measured, in the top center of the image to the right of the top of the windshield on the lefthand ski boat. My best guess is that my measurement was a bit long due to the angle of the measurement line, and that the corner I touched was at 3548.6 + ~4 = 3552.5', more or less. That would put it about 25'0" below the surface when I dove to it, not 27'0". If so, the pitch of the wall above the corner would be about 68 degrees (22 degrees off vertical), and the horizontal offset was about 10', which is believable.

Bill also said the top of the lintel is at about 3661', which would make the span just about 110' thick.

Other photos:

From various sources including Bill, I obtained the following photos (sorry no thumbnails), in order by date:

Bill also wrote: As for submersion dates, the lake did not get to the bridge floor until late June 1964. It was nearly totally submerged by June of '66, but lake levels rose and fell numerous times, putting the bridge in various states of submersion from June '64 to the last week of April 1969, when it finally was completely submerged for the first time. It took until June 1974 to submerge the lintel, which has reappeared since then, presently for its sixth time.

...What is interesting is that access to upper Fifty Mile canyon by boat is blocked between water levels of approximately 3546' and 3601'! Above that, you can boat around the bridge in the original river channel by making over [the sand bar]...