Overview

This classic Lake Powell hike passes through a stunning canyon with soaring sandstone walls culminating in a beautiful narrow section full of pools and flowing water. The route follows a canyon that is subject to changing conditions as the reservoir fluctuates. There is no marked trail; however navigation is easy once you begin hiking. This hike is suitable for older children and adults in good physical condition.

Trailhead

West Canyon is a Lake Powell-accessed hike that typically requires a boat to access. Whether you own or rent a boat, it is important that you have the skills and equipment to navigate and anchor your boat safely and properly before attempting this hike. If you do not have access to a boat, a shuttle may be available from the nearest marina. Check the Glen Canyon National Recreation area website for more information.

To reach West Canyon from Wahweap Marina:

  1. Navigate your boat up lake using the Castle Rock Cut approximately 20.0 miles to the mouth of West Canyon (37.052227, -111.217482).
  2. Turn right into West Canyon and proceed to the end of the reservoir (typically 6-10 miles).

Availability of good anchorage locations varies depending on water level. Find a suitable place to secure your boat before beginning the hike.

The Hike

Begin hiking from the lake following a flowing stream in the canyon bottom. Depending on lake levels, a small waterfall and pool is soon encountered. Bypass this on a steep, sandy slope on the right, or backtrack about 100 yards for another bypass on the left.

Continue hiking as the canyon winds southeast amongst soaring Navajo Sandstone walls. This area is still below the high water mark of the lake, but it is hard to tell as the native vegetation has had plenty of time to recover since the reservoir was last full.

Further up the canyon the walls constrict at the start of the lower narrows. The first section is wider than a slot canyon but is still very scenic. This area is approximately where the high water mark of Lake Powell is. Continue a short distance further to the next section of narrows that becomes much more narrow with overhanging walls that resemble a subway tunnel. Be prepared to get wet, as there are numerous small pools in this short, but exceptionally beautiful section of the canyon.

Immediately after the narrows, another narrow section is encountered that requires extensive swimming and climbing. The canyon keeps going a significant distance. However, special skills and equipment, along with a permit from the Navajo Nation, are needed to proceed. After taking in the canyon, return the way you came. Total round trip hiking distance varies depending on the water level of Lake Powell, but it is typically 5-7 miles round-trip.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be on leash.
  • Clean up after pets.
  • No littering.

Special Considerations

  • This area can be extremely hot during spring, summer and fall. Carry plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing.
  • Do not enter narrow canyons when significant precipitation is in the forecast. Flash floods can strike quickly and without warning.
  • Hiking or camping above the high water mark of Lake Powell may require a permit from the Navajo Nation. For more information, visit the Navajo Nation Parks website.

Credits

This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.

Try our new COVID-19 Symptom Checker →