What I don’t like about …

What could I possibly not like about northern Arizona near Page and Lake Powell? After all, I’ve been gushing about it lately. Just look at these photographs showcasing this amazing landscape.

It’s pretty darn special around here, but it’s not a panacea. As a photographer and blogger, I like to showcase the best about an area and sometimes fail to disclose the downside. Yeah, there’s a few downsides … downsides I don’t like.

So let’s get real

Tourism is big business around northern Arizona (Spring, summer and fall). The town of Page is on the schedule as a stopping point for many international tours. You’ll see large tour buses (holding around 50 passengers each, give or take) all around town. You’ll see them parked at McDonald’s, Walmart, the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, Horseshoe Bend overlook, the marina’s at Lake Powell, and of course, the slot canyons at Antelope Canyon.

What an unpleasant treat it is to get in line at Walmart after the bus load of tourists hit the registers or how about pulling up to a scenic area only to see buses unloading hundreds of tourists at a popular site like Horseshoe Bend 😕

Don’t even get me started with the tourists and their selfie taking …… 🤣

Tourists taking a selfie … guilty!

Speaking of Antelope Canyon …. Hiking a slot canyon is an amazing experience. The sight is magical and surreal, but sharing it with hundreds of other tourists and being rushed through the canyon is the reality for many. Most of these unique slot canyons lie on Navajo Indian land, and therefore, tourists must pay for a guided tour if they’d like to experience a slot canyon.

slot canyon

The two most popular slot canyons are Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. There are a few other lesser known slot canyons where group sizes are kept smaller and some specialize in photographic tours. So depending on what your interests are in hiking a slot canyon (fun or photography), you’ll want to shop around.

Weather

I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I called northern Arizona / southern Utah a land of extremes. The land is stunning, perplexing, and wild and so is the weather.

hoodoos

Mother Nature carves interesting sculptures with wind and time

During our four-week stay (April 2018), we experienced temperatures as high as 84 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to overnight temps as low as 36 degrees F and everything in between. On a nice day, winds were as low as 4 miles per hour, while on a bad day, we experienced sustained winds as high as 25-30 mph with gusts over 50 mph.

Those high winds made camping on a beach lively! The RVers that paid attention to the weather forecast usually packed up and left before the impending high winds started while others were caught off guard. Campers with a pitched E-Z UP didn’t fare so well with those excessive winds as evidenced the next day at the dumpsters.

EZ up

EZ-up frames filled the garbage dumpsters after high wind storms. People can be stupid. There are a total of 5 dumpsters. While the one on the end was overflowing with trash, the other 4 were barely half full….duh!

On those extremely windy days, it was impossible to enjoy any outdoor activities without being sandblasted. I’m sure with all the wind and sandstorms Al and I endured, we ingested our bodily quota of minerals. The grit in our teeth confirmed no additional supplements were needed …. nor did I need to use any of my wonderful exfoliating potions as Mother Nature’s sandblasting quickly rid me of any dead skin cells 🤣

The upside to all that nasty wind was it cleared out the beach leaving only the crazy hardy to ride out the storm …. a reprieve from the crowds, I’ll take it.

But let’s face it, without all the annoying wind, we wouldn’t have this boggling landscape to ogle. And just so you know, March and April are the two windiest months out of the year. Guess we timed it right 😞

Guess I’ll endure the winds so I can admire this bazaar landscape

Camping

In my opinion, the camping options are sparse around the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area especially for the amount of tourism this area receives. Tourists driving RV rentals are everywhere and all vying for a place to overnight.  The nicest and most sought after option is camping at the Wahweap Campground. It’s a beautiful campground if you can find an available site or have a reservation.

Then there’s the private Page-Lake Powell Campground. We stayed here several years ago and it was okay. But with the increase of international tourism and the renting of RV’s, this place fills up fast also.

Camping around sand is pretty on a calm day and not so great on a windy day

During our stay, we camped most of the time at the Lone Rock Beach area located along the Arizona – Utah border. Although it’s dispersed dry camping, there is a fee and a stay limit. The cost to overnight is $14 a day with the use of an American the Beautiful National Park Pass or $21 without the pass – ($7 a night for holders of a senior national park pass) 2018 rates!

Although my photographs may make the Lone Rock Beach area look quiet and enticing, the reality is this can be the wild wild west. People come here to have a good time and in the process bring all their toys.

regular roar of engines heard all day long

There’s a bunch of off-road trails at Lone Rock for folks to play on with their UTV’s.  I’ll admit, it looks like a lot of fun tooling around on the hills and sand. With the water right there, the sound of boat engines can be heard all day long, and of course, a steady hum of generators keeping all the RV’s charged up rumble at all times of the day (Quiet hours are 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.). The sounds of engines, music, and laughter fills the air. This is not a place for quiet solitude, but it can be a very entertaining and fun place to hang out for a short time.

Our friends Faye and Dave being entertained. Who needs TV when you can watch people being dumb sh*ts !

At the end of March, we even had some ‘Spring Breakers‘ show up for a couple of nights. Ah, to be young and silly again!

The guys showed up first with the motorhome and later the gals drove up with a popup camper – Party time!

Yeah, it was party central and the music carried all the way to the other end of the beach. I was more amused than bothered. These college kids were there to have a good time and I’d say they succeeded, BUT temps were only in the low 60’s and seeing them lightly clad had chills running up my spine. I’m sure the liquid heat was flowing freely in the form of spirits so they probably weren’t as cold as I was.

Watercraft

Al and I no longer own any form of a watercraft … sigh! Although there are a bunch of things to do around Page, Arizona, the real draw is the lake – Lake Powell. Camping near the water became more and more of a challenge for me once the weather starting warming. I began to miss my boat and wave runners. Visiting Lake Powell and not getting out on the water with our own boat was probably the thing I disliked most about our stay.

We looked into a bunch of different ideas to get out onto the water, but since it still wasn’t as warm as I prefer for boating, we forewent renting a boat and opted for a one-hour boat tour through Antelope Canyon. That was just enough to satisfy my  boat craving …. for now!

Another beautiful sunrise out my RV window

Most disliked

So aside from not having my own boat, the traffic was my least favorite thing. The way some folks drive around here was down right dangerous. I can’t count how many near head on collisions there are every day. People getting impatient seem to take chances passing slower moving vehicles like RV’s on the two lane highways. Plus, there are so many tourists (foreign and domestic) that slow down and make turns on a whim. Yeah, it’s important to be a vigilant driver on these two lane roads.

Did I already mention there are a lot of tourists around northern Arizona? Not only are they forever taking selfies, they drive like they are the only ones on the road, and have a tenancy to gawk at wildlife. Check out the wildlife and the crazy tourists 😁

I’ll be back

Ah, it was still a very fun and awesome time spent amongst some of the most amazing scenery. Waking up every morning to a gorgeous view and beautiful sunrise made any of my minor dislikes about the area seem insignificant. Yeah, I’m already missing those killer views and stunning sunrises … sunrises that I could literally watch while still laying in bed. How awesome is that!!!

sometimes the sky seemed to mimic the land with its layers

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68 thoughts on “What I don’t like about …

  1. Goodness me, I hear ya. And I thought from your photos you were finding relative solitude. I guess great places and solitude aren’t really too things that can realistically be put into the same sentence

  2. Thank you so much for all the tips! We had a great visit to Page, which was helped by the spring break crowds being gone and the weather being perfect. Will definitely return!

  3. An ongoing issue as more and more of us travel. I often think that as we write and photograph the beauty in this world we add to the issue. No answers here but so much beauty in your gorgeous images. Well maybe not the sandstorm. Happy travels and may you find less tourist heavy areas.

  4. It seems like all the beautiful places are being discovered. Even with the crowds, you captured the beauty and the moods of the area wonderfully Ingrid!

    • Fortunately with the 4 wheel drive Tacoma we discovered some off the beaten path gems, but even at the popular spots, we still enjoyed the views.

  5. Barb and I have a common phrase; “Stupid people are everywhere!” There is a reason we usually head to our friends place in Ontario in the summer. Fewer people and less temptation to visit some of those crowded place during peak season. We try and hit most of those southern attractions in March or April and have pretty good luck. Our worst experience was a trip to Glacier National Park near Labor Day on our way beck from Alaska. We could not get out of there quick enough!

    • Yep … that’s why we decided to sit still for the summer and focus on visits with our children. The thought of crowds and vying for a place to camp was not appealing. Kind of sad because travel is why we live this lifestyle.

  6. Hmm. I wonder if fall might be a good time to visit Page. Thank you for the great information and review of the area. Made me want to pick up and hit the road again.

    • I hear fall is the ‘best’ time to visit Lake Powell. The water is warm and the tourists have cleared out … somewhat. Actually, most of April was wonderful except for the winds. One could get away without reservations for Antelope Canyon or any of the boat tours. We just showed up for the one hour boat tour and had our choice of times and tour. End of March/beginning of April were crazy busy = spring break, but by the second week in April, the place cleared out. We were told tourism wouldn’t pick back up until Memorial weekend.

      • Good to know. In places we traveled this year, we found a similar pattern with crowds. One week after Easter it seemed we had no trouble finding places to stay.

  7. On the few times we had to go into Page proper, the hordes drove us crazy….especially when food shopping! One of the advantages of having a jeep is that you can visit places that tour buses can’t reach! We rarely saw anyone all day long until we got back to Wahweap campground, and it was relatively quiet there as well. I’d never want to visit this area and stay in a hotel, only visiting these spectacular sites with hundreds of others! A few years ago we rented a boat and explored just a tiny part of Lake Powell, it left me hungry for more…..much more!

    • You were there during peak spring break. Once the second week of April rolled around, the town cleared out. Sure there were still plenty of tourists in the area, but probably half of what was there during your stay. We enjoyed that lull in tourism so much that that was partly why we extended our visit 3 times 😄. We loved taking the Tacoma into the back country and discovered a few hidden gems…. gems I won’t blog about but willing to share privately 🤗

  8. Great post on the downside of a tourist area, glad we were there before it was too crazy. Next time houseboat rental and then we’ll really get away from the crowds. We are enjoying Durango as much as we can before Memorial Day and the summer families come it’s going to be crazy. Just looking at the upcoming reservations I can see it’s going to be crazy here. Unless you’re under 25′ we don’t have much left for June/July/August and September is filling up fast. And some think I was crazy to do my reservation a year out for FL and the east coast.

    • You guys were here DURING spring break. The following week after you left it started clearing out and by mid April traffic was less than half. No lines anywhere. It was awesome. Doing a trip back east like what you’ve planned, you did good by getting in your reservations. Keeps getting more and more crowded out here.

      Well ya know I’m all in for a boat rental (of any kind). I’m teething at the bit to explore those canyons via boat. Love Lake Powell!!!

  9. Ahhhh, small price to pay for those awesome memories!! I can only imagine how frustrating crowds can be to a photographer, hiker and one that enjoys the land and its solitude!! I think the funniest are the spring breakers….I was young and dumb once too!! In their own special way they are making memories too!!
    I would still go there in a minute!! Thanks for the honesty told with humor!!

    • Well, I can’t be pointing the finger at everyone else without pointing the finger at myself. After all, I too was a tourist. We had a wonderful time and already look forward to returning and making more memories 😊

  10. Your captures always amaze me. Great shots and love those “mushroom looking sculptures!”

    The crazy abundance of people is everywhere. My sister complains about it in Florida. And the selfie sticks drive me wild. Especially when they get into my photo.

    But… I’m a tourist and enjoy when I go places
    …and I live in two beautiful states. Arizona is one of them. (But not in a tourist attraction area.)I would not have it any other way!

    When we travel it is something we put up with if we want to see the incredible sights our gorgeous country gives us. It’s a catch 22… and how would we get to see these beautiful photos that you capture and share with us.

    I can’t believe that wind storm you both endured! Wow!!

    We really enjoyed your company the other night! So much fun! Hugs!!

    • It was wind storms, as in plural 😄 and yeah, had us rocking and rolling and eating sand. Those days, we went to the library. When we lived in Colorado Springs, I remember running into tourists and thinking … they’ve saved money, vacation time and done extensive planning to come visit Colorado, and I get to live here. How lucky am I and I feel the same way today as we get to travel to some of these amazing places.

      Great seeing you guys and look forward to reconnecting in the fall. Enjoy your summer!

  11. Houston (Whitney? Cisco?) we have a problem, with all those touristas. (Not you and me of course.) The cruise ships are wedging into every port imaginable and the land ship buses are doing likewise up close and personal. Many will choose the dead of winter, with short days and adverse weather, until that fills too. Can you be-LIEVE how many people from all parts of the globe are traveling? There must be a statistic somewhere as to what percent of the globe is on vacation at any one time. (Can’t find one at the moment.) The global economy must not be tooooo bad. What hath God wrought. (Numbers 23:23, Samuel F.B. Morse, and others.)

    • Haha, of course you and I aren’t adding to the crowds 😄 A visit to the Walmart in Page was an experience …. shoppers were from all corners of the world and shopping became an international excursion for me. I’m sure there are statistics out there somewhere, but just from my observations, I’d venture to say only half the tourists in Page were Americans. I noticed the same thing at the Grand Canyon. Someone’s doing marketing abroad 😏

  12. Great post with awesome shots. Yes, all the negatives you mentioned are precisely why I haven’t gone. Which is a shame. I have to block out the people and hide behind the camera lens. I know I’ll get there one day. Your pictures coax me there. 😉

  13. Ingrid, such memories. We visited the Page area last April (2017) and stayed in Wahweap CG. The CG wasn’t that crowded while we were there and it was a great central location to explore the area from. Loved the slot canyons, but like you, had seen where the tours could be very crowded and the guides had a tendency to “move everyone along”.
    We toured with this company. https://www.antelopecanyon-x.com/
    Basically, the same canyons with FAR fewer people in each group. I believe we had 6 or 8 in our group the morning we took the tour.
    There is so much to see in the Page area.

    • That’s the second time I’ve heard a recommendation about canyon-X. I think I’ll look into them on our next visit, but we loved the two slots we hiked and hope to re-hike them. I think mid-April seems to be a good time to visit Page. We didn’t even need a res for our boat excursion. Glen Canyon Rec Area is such a fantastic place to visit that I know we’ll go back!

  14. The more I read about Page, in preparation for our upcoming visit, the more I am steeling myself for the frustrations you write about here. We’ve really lucked out so far with visiting popular places at off times, but I think we’re about to see the other extreme in Page. From what I was reading, it sounds like they are building more infrastructure to handle the hordes at Horseshoe Bend – good for safety purposes, but bad because it will only encourage more tourism. At some point, something’s got to give with all of this.

    • Horseshoe Bend is being set up more like the scenic overlooks at the Grand Canyon making it handicap accessible in areas and increasing the parking which is long overdo. Plus, I think they plan on having rangers onsite. All necessary plans for the crazy amount of traffic, but still worth visiting. Be sure and hike Waterholes Canyon. Start around 8 or 9 in the morning and you’ll be fine. Also, if you have friends in the area, rent a boat together. Getting out on Lake Powell is a must!

    • Hopefully my humor came through along with my rant 😄 I’ll take the windy weather in the west any day over the sounds of tornado sirens that I grew up with in the Midwest. Our search for ‘perfect’ weather continues … I know, that search’ll never end!!!

  15. Where do those well-prepared, tuned into the weather RVers go when high winds are predicted? Where do you escape to in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah when that happens? It seems to me that the winds cover a huge area. Maybe away from the desert and near concrete landscapes? One thing I’ve certainly learned this spring is to avoid these windy areas (including New Mexico!) during March and April!

    • Yes, the winds are part of the weather in the west. It’s something you learn to live with and figure out like parking the RV nose into the wind so you don’t get blasted from the side. At least we try, even though it doesn’t always work. And don’t camp on a beach 😆 I grew up in the Midwest (tornado country) and I’ll take the winds in the west any day over the weather in the Midwest. I would think as a sailor out on the ocean, you’ve dealt with plenty of wind.

      • Yep, we’ve dealt with plenty of wind on our sailboat, just didn’t think it would ever effect us on land like this. Ignorance… 🙂 On the water, you always anchor nose into the wind. In the desert, it makes sense to do the same, but I’d worry about all the dust and sand getting into the engine. Stern (back) to the wind might work as well, maybe?

        Did you figure out where those RVs go when the wind is bound to pick up? I assume an RV Park with more protection? Good to know it’s a way to spend in peace, when it’s windy. 🙂

        • Where RV’s go in the wind? Endure!!! It is rare for us to camp on a beach thus the sand blasting is not the norm for us …. well, desert dirt comes in second 😄 We did turn the truck around so the back of the truck would get pummeled instead of the engine. Now that we’re in a RV Park with full hook-ups, the cleaning shall commence. Think of it as the regular washing maintenance of cleaning salt water off the sailboat. Lots of similarities between a boat and a RV … the tasks are just a little different – RVing is still easier than sailing in my opinion. Although these high winds in the west can get a bit scary in a RV, traveling through tornado country during spring and summer is much more unsettling for me.

  16. We were never around Lake Powell..We did go to Lake Havasu and made a stop at Cattail Cove SP North of Parker along the Colorado River..I miss Rving out West, which only did a couple times..One of our favorites was HickiwanTrails RV Park in Why, AZ…just South of Ajo…We spent 6 weeks there in the Winter and headed out in time to get to Panco Villa SP in NM just in time for Pancho Villa Days…Love that part of New Mexico!! By the way, that slot canyon looked amazing!!!…Enjoy safe travels, you two!

    • Ah, comparing Lake Powell and Lake Havasu are like comparing apples and oranges. So vastly different. We were fortunate to have spent 2 1/2 months in Havasu and a month at Powell and love both places. Each is unique in their own right and I feel fortunate to be able to enjoy both. So many fabulous places that I love out west.

  17. Thanks, Ingrid, for sharing the other side of traveling in a popular place like Page. What jumped out most for me during our visit was the number of RVs in Walmart’s parking lot. It’s like a community on its own. I hope that the town has a plan to accommodate more and more RVs that need a place to stay.

    • I know, wasn’t that crazy to see the Walmart parking lot in Page? There really aren’t a whole lot of other choices to overnight if folks don’t have a reservation. And many are afraid to camp at Lone Rock which is a justified concern as we witnessed many a RV/car getting stuck in the sand. We still had a fabulous time and even with these downsides plan on returning.

  18. Tour buses are like too much TP. Guaranteed to cause a backup! 😊

    We’ve noticed how regional impatient drivers are. It really varies from area to area. It’s not always cities that are the worst.

    • OMG … too funny, but oh so true! Al always laughs at me as I’m know to say to other people, “Chill! We’re on RV time” – whether or not they can hear me is another story 🤣

  19. Waking up to that view would definitely give one a new perspective on life. It’s gorgeous. But I can see where things might get a bit much with all the tourists and the windy sand blasts in your face. 😁 Still, it’s an incredible place.

    • We have since moved on, and I am definitely missing those killer views. That wild beauty made the sandstorms and crowds worth tolerating. I’m already trying to figure out when we’ll be able to return for more explorations 😊

  20. Super post and images. I could relate to a lot of this … especially the part about the tourists. We live in Ouray County, Colorado … a hot spot for tourism. We love (most of) our tourists … because they bring their wallets. The frustrating part of tourism is with the few that don’t know how to behave when they come to our backyard. Tourism brings tailgating, driving too fast (instead of enjoying the scenery), unnecessary idling (turn that engine off when you get out to take your selfie please), littering and failure to leave no trace. Unfortunately those that misbehave give ‘tourists’ a bad name.

    • Oh, how I love Ouray. Lucky you to call it home, but I can relate to living in a tourist community. We lived in Colorado Springs for a number of years and my brother lives in Grand Junction. This will be the second summer we won’t be returning to CO and I’m missing it dearly. Tourism can be good as well as bad 😏

  21. Thanks, Ingrid, for this enlightening article. And for the great pictures. I agree with you on the tourists: they are a boon and a bane at the same time. It’s good for people to marvel at the wonders of this world. Well, I hope that they will then try to conserve them. But at the same time they contribute to their destruction. It’s a problem that, to my mind, can’t be solved as it is a catch-22 situation.
    As for myself: as much as my wife and I love travelling [we’ll be on another “RailTrailsRoadTrip” again soon] I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t do our world more good if we simply stayed at home. We definitely would do the environment more good. Even those “innocent” activities like hiking or biking can be detrimentat tothe environment. It’s just – as with all form of (mass) tourism – a question of how much and where.
    To end on a less serious note: we always joke about ourselves and tourists here in Fredericksburg. Now that we live here, we talk about “TDT” [= those damned tourists], and then laugh about that as we were tourists here ourselves many times before we moved! 😀
    Enjoy your Sunday,
    Pit
    P.S.: I talked to Mary about that just recently re tourism in Antarctica. Both of us believe it’s not good for that delicate environment.
    P.P.S.: Environmental concerns were why I gave up skiing.

    • It is definitely a catch 22, and I totally agree with you on all accounts. You certainly understand considering you live in a ‘tourist’ community as did we in Colorado, but I don’t recall it being so overly crowded like some of the places we visit in Arizona. Perhaps it’s the increase in international travel. The Galapagos Islands and Antarctica were both on my dream bucket list, but I recently told my daughter (my travel companion for either of those adventures) that I was no longer interested for various reasons.

      • I’m excited to find out what the different places on our next trip will be like. The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smokies might be crowded. But then, I’ll have the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama and the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia for bicycling, and that should be really lovely.

  22. Ingrid, Last year this time Lewis and I were in Yellowstone and it was a total disconnect to deal with several busloads of tourists at every single stop in spite of 6 inches of snow. I asked what happens in the summer.. the answer was total gridlock on all roads. Maybe May wasn’t so bad after all.

    Sent from MailDroid

    • We have close friends that have decided not to visit/return to most of our National Parks due to the crazy crowds. One would think 6 inches of snow would deter many of the tourists, but then again, reservations for these trips are usually made many, many months in advance with little room to reschedule. Oh well, all we can do is try and visit during the “off” time which then makes it not an “off” time 🤔

  23. Definitely a place with a lot of people, but like you said, definitely worth it. We always limit our time there as we pass through- too many crazies.

    • Turns out mid to end of April was almost perfect …. well, except for that wind. There seems to be a lull in tourism which we savored. We’d like to return in the fall which our local Indian boat guide recommended. He shared some of his photos with me that were absolutely amazing.

  24. You hit this one right on the money! We LOVE Northern AZ and at times it’s difficult not to let the negatives overshadow it’s beauty. The international tourism has increased dramatically in the past 5-10 years with the “tour the Wild West” internet theme. We just drove 58 miles from Northern Nebraska to Hot Springs, SD and saw 1 car 😁. Being from AZ it’s fun for us to see new things, take in a different kind of beauty, and be grateful that there are still a few places you can get away for that much needed solitude. Beautiful pictures Ingrid!

    • I did not know about the “Tour the Wild West” theme. Makes perfect sense now why we’ve seen such an enormous increase in international tourism because traffic in northern AZ was nothing like this a few years ago. Although the influx of money is good for small towns like Page, there are downsides. It is fun to get out there and enjoy roads and scenery all to ourselves!

  25. I had to laugh when I read about all the tour buses filled with tourists taking selfies! It reminded me of the day we finally made it to Alaska after 30 days of traveling from Georgia. The parking area at the Welcome to Alaska sign on the way to Skagway was filled with buses and each individual had to have their picture made with the sign. I managed to get a picture of the sign without anyone beside it but we had to go back the next day to get OUR picture made with the sign! Oh well, the things we have to put up with to enjoy our beautiful country!

    • I hear ya on those popular photo-op spots … we’re as guilty as the next tourist. I’m just glad I’m not part of any of those tour buses needing to wait my turn. The freedom of the RV is the best way to travel. Now if everyone else would just get out of my way, I’d be one super happy camper 🤣

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