The crown jewel of the Page environment is unquestionably Lake Powell, and with 96 major canyons and over 1900 miles of coastline at full pool, you’ll never run out of places to explore. But, where to start? Unless you’re an incredible kayaker you’ll need a boat, and if you don’t own one you can rent powerboats for day and overnight use to explore the lake. I have done so many times.
One of my favorite photo locations is Padre Bay. This stunning setting of slickrock sandstone, scenic coves, and mirror surface potholes is roughly 30 minutes from either Wahweap or Antelope Marina. A striking landmark for Padre Bay is Cookie Jar Butte, and you can cruise the clear waters on either the south or north side while scouting for an appealing foreground, and a place to toss out your anchor or tie up to a boulder. Currently, Lake Powell is about 100’ below full pool, so much of the photogenic ocher and orange sandstone are exposed for photography.
A kayak can be very helpful to get your gear to the shore, but I also love photographing this very graphic landscape from right at water level. For kayaking I use either a pelican case or a dry bag to keep my gear dry and free of sand, should the winds pick up. Early and late light here is gorgeous, but unless you’re camping don’t plan on running back to the marina in the dark. It’s highly unsafe, and the National Park Service frowns on night running, except in a true emergency.
For day shooting, bring a picnic lunch and lots of water, plus wet/dry shoes with great traction for trekking on the steep slickrock. If you’re like me you’ll be looking everywhere for angles and rock textures and the sandstone is just like sandpaper should you take a tumble.
Absolutely bring a tripod, and polarizing filters for all lenses, experiment with long exposures using ND filters (especially if the clouds are moving), maybe give Time-Lapse video a try, and especially, watch the play of light and shadow on the sandstone. I bet that just like me, you’ll be hooked, and return to explore more of the wonders of this high desert dreamscape…