When the Page weather warms up its time to get on the lake, or the river. If you have a boat, you can launch it at Lee’s Ferry and motor upstream on the Colorado River towards Glen Canyon Dam. As most of us don’t have a boat of our own, the best way to explore and photograph the scenic canyon below the great dam is to join a raft trip with Colorado River Discovery.
They offer two photogenic choices, a half-day rafting trip that starts and ends below the dam, after a most intriguing bus ride through a two mile tunnel carved through the porous sandstone. Or there’s a full-day (six-hour) raft tour that continues on the river past Horseshoe Bend and takes out at Lee’s Ferry, from whence an air-conditioned bus returns you back to Page in mid-afternoon.
So what is there to photograph here, and why is it worthwhile? If you’ve never been on the Colorado River, anywhere, you’ll find this a very impressive canyon, although it pales in scale and grandeur to the Grand Canyon downstream. You’ll find Great Blue Herons, petroglyphs, and sheer walls of honey orange ocher sandstone, reflected in the clear water. There are some lovely scenic images possible, as well as river level views of Glen Canyon Dam, which is an impressive feat of mid-20th century engineering. I also like to spy and shoot the figures of people on the edge of the cliffs at Horseshoe Bend, some 800’ above, wishing they were on the lovely water so far below.
You cannot bring a camera bag on either trip, due to dam security concerns, so plan on bringing a fairly wide to long zoom lens for your DSLR. This is a good excursion to pull out that 18-200mm, or 55-300mm lens. That way you can zoom in on the petroglyphs and also get a quality capture of the birdlife, after shooting wide views of the sheer canyon walls. There’s a quality stop at Petroglyph Beach, where the guides give history and geology talks, and where one can eat the tasty lunch you may have ordered from the River’s End Café.
My advice is to watch the forecast, and possibly bring a water/wind shell. Even in the summer you can get a bit chilled if the spray drenches your clothes and the wind kicks up. That’s life on the river, and a small taste of what you’d find should you go down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. But that’s another trip, and another story to tell…