Page AZ, February 13-20

Page AZ, February 13-20

Page is the little town that over delivered on all fronts, even the local Denny’s. We had been warned that there was not much to Page. And to be fair, there wasn’t. What Page lacked for in a thriving community, it more than made up for in vivid scenery, acres of stunning hikes, and proximity to some of the most beautiful wild places in Arizona. We should have guessed, because when we were on the way, we were treated to a pair of the most spectacular double rainbows we had ever seen. Without even trying, we found the pot of gold. 

If you do not know, Page is a small town on the border of Arizona and Utah. It is the gateway to the least utilized entrances of the Grand Canyon and has wide access to the unimaginably huge Lake Powell. 

Things got off to a great start when we checked in to our AirBnB. It was spacious and well thought out, allowing us some much needed space for re-organization after the fun but tiny pool house in Tucson. We stocked up at the local Safeway, and had two of the most amazing breakfasts of our whole trip at Denny’s!! The restaurant was run by members of the local Navajo tribe and the service and food were impeccable. Even the avocados were perfect. 

Our first fantastic hike of many was in Grand Staircase-Escalante. This was the first time we had seen toadstools, which are hoodoos with large protective stone caps. The eerie stone totem poles take on a variety of forms. Like clouds, you find yourself looking for familiar shapes among the impressionist rocks. The layers of stone appeared as Neapolitan ice cream layers put down over eons as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. The sharp edges are rounded out by erosive winds and water to create a dripping effect, as if melting, even in the brisk chill of February. 

This was followed by a trip to the iconic Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River. The area was among the most touristy and busy places we went. However, everyone was masked when in close proximity and very thoughtful. The famous views were just as gorgeous as expected and despite the crowds, there was more than enough stunning cliffside overlook for everyone. This is a wonder of nature we were glad to view for ourselves. 

Our next hike included an adventure down the Cathedral Wash.  The washes and canyons of the southwest are prolific and all are beautiful. This one was especially so with soaring cliff walls and water filled tanks. With some simple canyoneering gear we could have made it through, but out for an afternoon hike with the sun setting before us, we opted to navigate our way back to the truck via landmarks. This was still quite an adventure and encouraged us to take several more off path excursions when an unusual rock formation or slot canyon caught our eye. 

Additional afternoon hikes included the Hanging Gardens, an intriguing seep that allows ferns to grow in the cool of a rock overhang year round, despite the desert heat. As part of the same hike, we realized mountains of smooth stone molded their way down toward Lake Powell in an area referred to as The Chains. The scale was mesmerizing. Just as we thought we had traversed another stone mountain to get to the shores of  the lake, another layer awaited us. The Glen Canyon Dam was looming large over the area, and was quite deserted. It was a beautiful place and certainly easy to imagine sunning ourselves on the smooth rock formations and jumping in to the cold waters of Lake Powell on a much…MUCH warmer day. 

Our last adventure involved visiting the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry. This historic outpost originated with Mormon settlers and involved some crafty, if not always successful methods for crossing and travelling the finicky Colorado River. The historic stone houses remain and the hike along the banks made for a pretty afternoon in the winter sunshine. 

Stone houses, we learned, came in many shapes and sizes. While all of them are small, some are very creative. We made a pit-stop in the small intersection of Cliff Dwellers. This includes a house with a literal boulder for a roof, created by an enterprising young woman ( Blanche Russell) getting her unwell husband the heck out of the Northeast. She turned it into a gas station and apparently lived happily ever after. It also seemed like pretty good protection for other falling rocks, I guess, depending on the size. 

Our last stop was to have dinner in the Cliff Dwellers Lodge. Within minutes we were treated like locals and shown videos of the resident hand-fed roadrunner and entrusted with gossip about the current National Geographic photographers that insisted on coming in for dinner each night at about 2 minutes before close. 

We absolutely loved the opportunity for adventure, the history and the noble Navajo traditions that encompass this area and would highly recommend the underestimated Page, AZ.

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