Kayaking the Colorado River and Glen Canyon

February 27, 2022

Every sport has its ultimate destination.  For a golfer, it’s St. Andrews in Scotland; for a kid in Little League, it’s Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field and for anyone who has ever paddled a kayak (or thought about paddling one) it’s the Colorado River as it courses through Glen Canyon.

  • According to the watchdog non-profit conservation organization American Rivers, at 1,450 miles long, the Colorado River is the sixth longest in the nation, passing through seven states and two nations.
  • The Colorado basin spans 260,000 square miles, about 8 percent of the continental U.S.
  • The river flows through 11 national parks and monuments.
  • The Grand Canyon is one of the Eight Natural Wonders of the World and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • The Grand Canyon is about 277 river miles long, but requires about 650 miles to walk.

Colorado River Kayaking

But for the average person or family – not an Olympic athlete or hard core explorer – the most important kayaking river distance is those approximately 15 miles in Glen Canyon between Glen Canyon Dam and the Lees Ferry launch ramp. Sorry, there are none of the whitewater thrills to be found in the upper stretches of the waterway in Colorado, to be sure, but the Lees Ferry stretch of water offers nearly everything else.

It’s about 15 miles of family-friendly water with five campsites, if you’d like to sleep under the stars.  There’s world class trout fishing with either spinning or fly-fishing gear.  There are desert bighorn sheep and wild horses. There are some 300+ species of birds including California condors, Peregrine falcons and various long-legged wading birds to see.

Kayaking Horseshoe Bend

Colorado River kayaking Arizona is an aquatic world unto itself highlighted by Horseshow Bend, a world-renowned natural phenomenon.  In reality, Horseshoe Bend is an “entrenched meander,” a wide sweep around a sandstone escarpment.  Before paddling through it, see Horseshoe Bend from a viewing area in nearby Page, AZ.  From the rim high above the river, you’ll capture the stunning grandeur.  That view gives you a far greater perspective and appreciation during your subsequent Colorado River kayak trip with the Lees Ferry outfitter, Kayak Horseshoe Bend.

A licensed U.S. Coast Guard-approved captain will pilot your shuttle or backhaul boat up river with your kayak or canoe and personal gear stowed aboard from the Lees Ferry launch ramp and parking area to the base of Glen Canyon dam.  Then, just a short distance below your launch site, you will enter the Jewel of the Colorado River: Horseshoe Bend.

Savor the experience as you would a Renoir painting or a fine glass of wine.  Let the moment soak every sense – sight, sound, smell.  It is not often you will experience something 175,000,000 years old.

If you don’t have the time on your itinerary for the full 15 mile float – or it’s a little too long a day for kids and family – ask your boat captain for his or her suggestions for a good starting point.  Just remember to stop when you float back to the boat launch!  If you miss it, the next stop is all the way through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado … more than 200 miles away.

You might never have the ability to hit a golf ball at St. Andrews or a baseball at a major league stadium, but you can definitely paddle a kayak down the Colorado River at Lees Ferry.  Do it.

For information, please phone 928 355 2261.

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