We are excited you want to see Glen Canyon’s restoration in person!

A few considerations if you plan to make a trip to Glen Canyon

In the past two years (as of 6/2022) Lake Powell reservoir has dropped to levels not seen since the 1960’s. Naturally, there are a lot of people who want to go visit the recovering side canyons and tributary rivers. The restoration happening in the canyons is truly amazing, and can be a wonderful experience for those who are inclined to make the trip. We want to encourage anyone who plans to visit the area to do it responsibly and safely. Please find some information on this below, and some considerations to make if you plan to go down to Glen Canyon.

Via The Reservoir

The first thing to remember is that while the water levels are low and many side canyons are restoring, from around “The Horn” on the north end of the reservoir all the way down to the dam, the main stem of the Colorado River is still very much a reservoir. So, while there is no river current, there are other objective hazards to take into account. One of the biggest obstacles on the lake is wind – headwind, choppy water, and waves; other than that, one should be prepared for mud and sand in the entrances of side canyons. The mud can range from non-existent to waist deep if it’s in suspended water.

If you plan to rent a boat from Wahweap or Bullfrog Marinas to visit canyons and camp overnight, remember to bring extra fuel, water, and a portable toilet system or wag bags. Depending on time, fitness, and your level of expedition knowledge, renting a boat can be a great way to see side canyons. For the most intrepid explorers, sea kayaking on the reservoir is a possible means of exploring side canyons, but distances to canyons can be very long, and a human powered trip requires expert knowledge and skill.

There are a few good mapping resources for Glen Canyon trips. National Geographic has some great mapsGoogle Maps and Google Earth also have almost all of the major Glen Canyon side canyons mapped. Please spend some time on there to orient yourself if you plan to go. Also check out our Living Atlas Project to see some emerging highlights. 

A suggested itinerary is to put a boat in at the Bullfrog Marina and to travel to the Escalante Arm. There, in a easy one or two night trip, you can explore Clear Creek (Cathedral in the Desert), Davis Gulch (La Gorce Arch), and 50 Mile Creek (Gregory Bridge and the Subway narrows). Travel time from Bullfrog to Escalante via a normal motorboat is about 2.5 hours and will use roughly 20 gallons of gas.


There are a few ways to access side canyons overland – the most popular are via Hole in the Rock Road out of Escalante. These are multiday backpacking trips that require expert navigational and desert survival skills, including hauling and/ or treating water. Grab a copy of the most recent edition of the Colorado Plateau non-technical canyon guide to help route your trip. Suggested sites are 50 Mile Creek and Coyote Gulch. 

Lower Cataract Canyon and Upper Glen Canyon 

One of the best ways to experience the returning main stem of the Colorado River is to do a guided Cataract Trip and tell your guides you want to learn more about the river and canyons below Big Drop 3. There are over two dozen river miles, returning rapids, and an amazing ecosystem that have begun to restore. We have been proud to partner with Holiday River Expeditions in the past and know their human powered Cataract Trips are an amazing way to see these areas. Before you go on one of these trips be sure to get a copy of the 2021 Returning Rapids Field Guide.

Leave no trace and visit with respect 

There are two very important pieces of leave no trace to remember: The first is that you are visiting the ancestral lands of many Colorado Plateau Tribes spanning thousands of years. Visit with respect. This includes leaving rock art or artifacts you find alone. Please find more information about visiting with respect here.

Here are those principals: view sites from a distance; leave all artifacts; don’t touch rock imagery or make it your own; steer clear of walls; pack out your poop; guide children through sites; dogs and archeology don’t mix; camp and eat away from archeology; avoid building cairns; use ripper-tipped hiking poles; pay your fees; use a fire pan; leave grinding in the past; don’t bust the crust; GPS reveals too much; stay on designated roads; enjoy archeology without ropes; don’t disturb fossils or bones; historic artifacts aren’t trash.

The second is to dispose of your waste. You must go to these places prepared to pack out all human solid waste – bring a portable toilet system or wag bags.

Here all seven Leave No Trace principals. Please click here for more information on all of these.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors’

You can help us in our work

If you do visit a restoring canyon along Glen Canyon, please send us some photos! Whether it’s landscape photos, flora or fauna, or interesting geological features you find, we’re interested to see them. Send along the date and as exact a location as you can give us. This will help us track the restoration of the area.

One last word of caution: none of these trips should be taken lightly. While beautiful, it can be a harsh landscape with quickly-changing weather. There are many fatalities annually along both the river and out on the reservoir. Please travel to these places with the utmost care and prepare for anything.

Please review the National Park Service’s safety guidelines before visiting or email us at info@glencanyon.org if you need more information about any of this.