I challenge you to think of something better than houseboating for a week on Lake Powell. Impossible, right? Even if you regularly houseboat in other places around the country, you need to experience Lake Powell. Just ask the Larsen family.
When the extended family decided to go on a vacation together last September, they had plenty of options. They could catch a cruise ship in Seattle to head to Alaska, take a road trip through the Black Hills of South Dakota or fly to LA to visit the (second) happiest place on Earth. But they decided that spending time on a houseboat is really the best way to vacation, so they began packing to spend a week on the open water.
“We had access to a lot of different trips,” says Greg Larsen. “But I have been a houseboater for years and most of my family had never been or only been once. I knew this was the perfect opportunity to show them the lifestyle and get them hooked.”
Since the majority of the family was from the Idaho area, Lake Powell was the perfect choice.
America’s second largest manmade lake, Lake Powell was created in 1963 when the Glen Canyon Dam was built to contain the Colorado River. The end result was an impressive blue lake surrounded by beautiful sandstone walls, which took an amazing 17 years to fill to the high water mark, which is 3700 feet above sea level. Since then, it has become a playground for all kinds of people and houseboating is the best way to experience it.
Lake Powell is a great lake because it’s warm and there are many houseboat rentals available. For the Larsen family, the lake delivered on all the water activities they could ask for. Plus, it was a close enough location that they were able to tow their Premier pontoon. Recently purchased from Marine Products out of Salt Lake City, Utah, the 260 Grand Isle SL Premier with a 250hp Verado was the perfect secondary boat for Lake Powell.
“The boat came standard with a lot of great features. I love the boat because it’s setup perfectly,” says Greg. “Plus with a 250hp engine on the back, we were pulling four people on a tube with ease.”
“The pontoon boat was definitely a big hit on this trip,” adds Jack Larsen. “It allowed us to spend several hours on the lake and take the entire family. It was smooth on rough waters, had plenty of performance for pulling tubes and offered great safety features for the young kids.”
Premier Pontoons, based out of Wyoming, Minn., is known for their innovative ‘toons that excel in performance.
“We were so happy with our choice of a Premier,” says Greg. “It’s a great boat and Marine Products got us an awesome deal.”
Now that all the details were settled, all that was left was to get to the houseboat.
“I was super excited because I had never been houseboating,” recalls Trent Mayes. “I couldn’t wait for the trip to start.”
There are many different marinas with houseboat rentals on the lake but for this trip, the family decided on the south end near Page, Ariz. Since 17 people came along, they rented a houseboat from Lake Powell Resort and Marina at Wahweap as well as one from Antelope Point Marina.
Antelope Point Marina is nestled between Lake Powell’s southeast shore and Antelope Island, which is a perfect position from which to enjoy nature at its best. They have an entire lineup of custom houseboats, exclusively built by Forever Houseboats, varying in size from 59 feet to 75 feet. Each comes completely equipped with flat screen TV’s, DVD/CD players, satellite TV, plush indoor-outdoor living areas, state-of-the-art kitchens, private staterooms, canopied decks, waterslide, gas barbecues and wet bars. Some models even include a coveted top deck hot tub.
Lake Powell Resort and Marina at Wahweap compares being on one of their houseboats on Lake Powell to driving a golf cart on the world’s best golf course. They have many different types and sizes of houseboats for you to choose from to accommodate groups and budgets of all sizes. Wahweap Marina can be found at the most southwestern point on Lake Powell and is open year round. It houses its largest fleet of houseboats and recreational watercrafts, a variety of restaurants, campground, swimming pools and lodging with 350 rooms. Additionally, they offer a wide assortment of marina services for visitors with specific needs for their personal boat.
“When we first arrived, the staff at Wahweap greeted us and loaded our bags onto four-wheelers and drove us right to the boat and then helped us unload,” says Nancy Shippen. “They were very friendly and answered all of our questions.”
“They made it very easy to understand since I have never operated a houseboat before,” adds Trent. “When we left the Wahweap Marina I felt very comfortable.”
The rest of the family received the same great treatment at Antelope Point Marina.
“At Antelope Point, they drove the boat out of the marina into the lake,” says Jack. “Even more; they sent a pilot boat out to scout out areas for us to spend our days on the lake. This saved us a lot of time—and gas—knowing which beaches were available as we navigated our way on the lake. They also helped us anchor the boats and secure our spot. They worked hard to make sure we were comfortable and safe before they headed back to the marina. This was a great additional service.”
Once the family was onboard, they set out on their own custom-made adventures. Not only did they have the Premier pontoon boat, but they rented four jet skis. They used their houseboats as the base and spent the day playing on water toys, all of which they purchased at Overton’s in preparation for their trip.
“The personal watercraft really added to the trip,” says Greg. “There are so many canyons to explore and having the additional watercrafts made it very accessible and fun.”
Not having to deal with anyone else’s timetable is one of the best benefits to houseboating.
“When you are houseboating, you don’t have to deal with crowds,” says Becky Mayes. “It’s kind of like you’re on your own private island.”
“It’s more relaxing to stay on the houseboat and not have to dress up,” adds Jack. “More time to enjoy water activities and beautiful scenery.”
One of the things the Larsen family enjoyed most was the quality time spent together.
“The meal time gatherings were great because you could share your experiences from the day,” says Trent. “Also, it’s always fun spending time with family, especially when you have such a great family.”
“The time we spent with family was very bonding and fun,” agrees Nancy. “Everyone pitched in to do their part in helping set up, take down and prepare the meals. There was a lot of laughter and picture taking.”
The scenery at Lake Powell is very different from a typical houseboating lake. The lake is surrounded by huge rock formations and it creates many off shoots that are perfect for exploring.
“It was beautiful with so many different, amazing land formations. It was very warm compared to lakes I’ve been in,” says Becky. “Overall, it was such a great experience. I loved seeing all the stars under the night sky, swimming, exploring and just relaxing!”
“The absolute beauty, spectacular scenery, and especially the clarity and color of the water,” adds Jack. “The overall experience was amazing. The scenery, the food, the adventure, the beauty, good weather, and the great group we were with. We just loved it all!”
Plus they created memories that will surely come up at family functions for years.
“One of my favorite memories is when my wife and two nieces decided it would be fun to do some cliff jumping,” says Trent. “The best part was when Greg and I were in the water while the girls went to jump in. They got up there and were hesitant to jump and Greg was yelling up at them to quit being scared and just do it. Then the time came for Greg and me to go up and jump. When we got up there, Greg looked down and then knew why the girls were scared. It was a tall cliff and a deep lake.”
The family has some advice for people new to the houseboating lifestyle.
“Be ready to relax, have a great adventure, and be willing to try something new,” says Jack, “like Jet Ski or tube or whatever. Just do something different.”
“It was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken,” adds Nancy. “ The scenery was beautiful, the water was warm, the activities were adventurous, and the houseboats were plush. There are plenty of things to do yet plenty of time to just relax too. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience overall. It was heavenly.”
Next time you plan a vacation, consider doing some West coast houseboating on Lake Powell.