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Lake Powell by boat ... day or less trips.

Lake Powell by boat . . . day or less trips

South-central Utah's brilliant blue LakePowell, formed when Glen Canyon Dam backed up the waters of the Colorado and San Juan rivers, is well known for its house-boating, fishing, and water-skiing. What makes these activities memorable is the great natural beauty of the setting, with its arches, domes, sheer cliff walls, and remnants of ancient Indian cultures.

If your travels in this lonely corner ofUtah don't allow an extended stay, you can still enjoy some of the lake's scenery on half- and full-day tours.

A day trip to a rainbow of stone

From Bullfrog and Wahweap marinas(Bullfrog tours also pick up guests at Hall's Crossing), you can take day-long boat trips to Rainbow Bridge. Largest natural bridge in the world, it was first seen by explorers led by an Indian guide in 1909.

The 50-passenger boats leave early: fromBullfrog at 8 (Hall's Crossing soon after and Wahweap at 9. At this time of day, the water is a soft blue, and the walls of rock and rounded domes glow with pastel colors in the morning sun. (Note: when you board your tour boat in the morning, the cool temperatures bear little relationship to the midday highs, which may be in the mid-90s; dress in layers.) You'll be served coffee on board. There is theaterstyle seating below and bench seating on deck for 10 or 12.

Boat operators point out and explainitems of geologic interest, such as the varied layers of sandstone and their colors, and arches and how they're formed (you'll see many small ones along the way). You'll pass the mouths of major canyons and perhaps see Hole in the Rock, where Mormon pioneers blasted a passage and lowered their wagons to the original river, far below the present level of the lake.

Around 11, you'll notice an increase inboat traffic as you enter Forbidding Canyon and wind your way up toward Rainbow Bridge. You'll disembark and have time for the 1/4-mile walk along the floating dock and up a small canyon to the bridge itself. The Indians called it Nonnezoshi --"rainbow of stone.' Legend has it that visitors who pray and pass under the arch will cast their troubles aside.

After eating a box lunch, you exploreseveral beautiful side canyons, whose colorful rock walls come progressively closer together until sheer vertical faces tower over you. These moderate the hot desert sun, and boaters in the cool canyons outnumber those on the main body of the lake. You'll seldom see a sandy landing place, but there are slickrock beaches both in the canyons and on the lake. You'll return to your marina in late afternoon.

Cost of the cruise to Rainbow Bridgefrom either marina is $48.50 for adults, $24.25 for children 12 and under. Halfday tours ($38 and $19) leave Wahweap at 7:30 and 1.

Outings near Glen Canyon Dam

From Wahweap Marina, you can join a2 1/2-hour "Navajo Tapestry' tour at 9:30 or 1:30. You'll cruise up to the 1,560-foot-long crest of Glen Canyon Dam; the water immediately behind the dam is 550 feet deep. The boat trip continues to Antelope Canyon; its steep, sheer walls covered with desert varnish look like tapestry. After this, you'll enter broad Navajo Canyon, circle Antelope Island, and return; cost is $15.25 adults, $10.50 children.

At Wahweap, you can take hour-longpaddle-wheel riverboat tours around Wahweap Bay, leaving at 11 and 1:30; $6. In the evening your riverboat, the Canyon King, becomes a floating buffet restaurant; you can join a 3-hour cruise to see the beautiful sandstone walls change color dramatically in the setting sun. Dinner and cruise cost $32 for all ages; cruise only, $15.25 ($10.50 for children).

A visit to an Anasazi cliff dwelling

At Bullfrog Marina, a short cruise cantake you to see the restored Defiance House cliff dwelling (named for pictographs of warriors holding raised weapons). A kiva, a storage house with low door, a house, and firepits are all reached by fairly steep steps up the cliff face. There's no pier; you jump to shore, then climb a short ladder to reach the ruin. A visit to Defiance House is especially worthwhile for those who haven't had a close look at a cliff dwelling.

Unrestored ruins lie elsewhere in this canyon.You'll also see hanging gardens in a side canyon and Moqui (or Anasazi Indian) steps--narrow, treacherous steps-- from the top to bottom of the canyon. The lake has buried the lower reaches of the stairs, but you can imagine how dangerous they were for children or Indians carrying heavy loads. Departures for Defiance House are usually around 4:30 or 5; cost is $15.25 adults, $10.50 children.

For more information on these tours,write or call the recreation area's concessionaire: Del E. Webb Properties, 2916 N. 35th Ave., Suite 8, Phoenix 85017; (800) 528-6154; in Arizona, call 278-8888. You can also ask about package trips (some include trips to Rainbow Bridge and daylong float trips below the dam in sheer-walled Glen Canyon), boat rentals, and other recreational activities on the lake.

Photo: Catch tour boats atmarinas for trips to Lake Powell's canyons and other attractions in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (outlined)

Photo: Smooth-sculpted sandstone walls and domes loom over boatersaboard cabin cruiser. You can arrange ahead to rent boats at all marinas

Photo: Stained with "desert varnish,' Navajosandstone forms nearly perfect 290-foot-high arch of Rainbow Bridge
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Apr 1, 1987
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