Northern Arizona has much to recommend it and the small town of Page in Coconino County can offer visitors a friendly base and a huge number of activities on its doorstep. The Grand Canyon is a couple of hours away by road and certainly its relative proximity has been of benefit to Page.
Page is on the southern shores of Lake Powell and such expanses of water appeal to anyone wanting to be out in the fresh air getting some exercise. Page’s population is a mere 7,500 people, who benefit from a pleasant climate moderated by its altitude of around 4,000 feet.
It is a great place for campers and hikers and you can even rent a houseboat on the lake if you want to be even nearer to the water.
Here are 15 things to do in Page before you travel further on your journey.
1. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed sites in Arizona. It is located on Navajo land and you must have a Navajo guide to go into it.
A tour is the best way to see the canyon anyway, and it takes a little over an hour. When it comes to the best time to take photographs in the canyon, most people recommend late morning when the sunlight penetrates the canyon to its greatest effect.
The upper stretch is more popular and certainly the place for those with limited mobility to go, rather than selecting the lower section.
2. Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is the largest park in southwestern USA, at 1.8 million acres, although it was recently reduced in size by presidential proclamation. Monuments have been created by US presidents over the years and are administered by one of several federal agencies.
It crosses the state line with Utah, covering land between the Colorado River and Bryce Canyon National Park. Excavations over the years have revealed a number of impressive prehistoric animal fossils.
3. Carl Hayden Visitor Center
If you want to know more about the Glen Canyon Dam and its significance, head for this center near Glen Canyon Bridge. It is named after a congressman and senator who played an important role in water management in Arizona.
There you will learn about the history of water storage in the Colorado River Basin and specifically in Glen Canyon. You can see maps, watch videos, explore exhibits and browse the shelves in the bookstore.
4. Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam
When the Glen Canyon Dam was built in 1963, it created Lake Powell, not only storing water but also generating electric power for the region.
Lake Powell offers numerous opportunities for a day out. They range from boating and going up to the dam, which towers 700 feet above the lake, to fishing and kayaking on its calm waters. The local Natural History Association organizes tours of the dam itself.
It stretches for 186 miles, with a total surface area of around 266 square miles and an average depth of 132 feet.
5. John Wesley Powell Museum
A one-armed soldier, scientist and pioneer called John Wesley Powell was responsible for bringing the wondrous Colorado River to the notice of the public. His expeditions in fairly basic boats, almost 150 years ago, were a marvelous achievement.
The museum that bears his name tells the story of his expeditions as well as providing a great deal of information on the history of Page itself.
The section on geology and paleontology is fascinating, with some excavations dated at millions of years old. More recently, a further part of the museum tells the story of the early peoples living in the region, from the Anasazi through to Native American culture right up until today.
6. Coconino National Forest
Few forests in North America have the diversity of Coconino National Forest. Within its boundaries, you can enjoy desert and tundra, the ponderosa pine and the red rocks of Sedona.
If you enjoy hiking and camping, you will love this forest, where you will encounter small lakes, mountains and valleys, and streams with crystal clear fresh water.
The forest is home to more than 300 bird species, 100 mammals and plenty of reptiles and snakes.
Remember the nature-lovers’ mantra of “leave no trace” of your visit, and take all your trash with you.
7. Horseshoe Bend
In some places, it is impossible to take a photograph that will do it justice, creating an image that matches the experience your eyes gave you. Horseshoe Bend is arguably one such location. This horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River might be one of the most photographed pieces of scenery in the area, but it needs to be seen to be believed.
You can get as close as you like because there are no railings, nor even an entrance fee. How close you get is entirely up to you but it is important to exercise caution.
The hike to Horseshoe Bend and back is just 1.5 miles but you are certain to stop several times for photographs. For parts of the day, shadows impact on photographs so aim to get there around midday for the best image.
8. Waterholes Canyon
The trail in Waterholes Canyon goes through an area of red sandstone before reaching Glen Canyon. The water runs on either side of the US89 highway, becoming deeper the further it goes.
In recent years, restrictions have been placed upon access and just a short time ago, it was announced that it was both against federal law and tribal law for anyone to enter other than on an organized tour run by the Navajo. Local knowledge, of course, is always valuable and it makes sense not to travel these areas alone.
9. Lee’s Ferry
The history of Lee’s Ferry began in the early days of white settlers reaching the region. There are a number of old historic buildings close to the modern settlement, and a ferry crossing in Glen Canyon.
Page is less than 10 miles from Lee’s Ferry, where you can take a boat tour on the Colorado River, sailing down the river that is the border between Arizona and Utah. Alternatively, you may decide on a little fly-fishing for trout from the banks. Few places offer such good sport in such stunning surroundings.
10. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
White settlers only found this natural bridge about a century ago. Native Americans have known it for centuries and regard it as sacred. Soon after its discovery, president Taft pronounced it a national monument.
It is one of the largest known natural bridges in the world. Because of its importance to Native Americans, visitors are now being requested not to walk under the bridge. That is no great hardship because the best views are from a short distance back, to get the complete bridge in a photograph.
11. Vermilion Cliff National Monument
This monument covers almost 300,000 acres and includes the impressive Vermillion Cliffs, Paria Plateau, buttes and canyons. The elevation range is from just over 3,000 feet to 6,500 feet.
Tourists wanting to get away into the natural environment of Arizona can get local help for a backpacking holiday of a few days out in the monument, enjoying the landscape, flora and fauna.
Camping grounds are found just outside the Monument’s boundaries and then you can hike as you wish, but you must have a permit to do so.
12. Tower Butte
Helicopter Tours from Page Airport offer you the chance of getting up close to Tower Butte, a stunning rock that projects up from the desert below.
The flat top of the butte allows helicopters to land. It means you can get 360-degree panoramic views from there, as well as great photographs during the flight.
You will see Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, the Grand Staircase, and the Vermilion Cliffs, with your pilot able to point out the main features of the region.
13. The Rimview Trail
You can cover more territory if you decide to take a mountain bike ride rather than hike. Whether you decide to hike or bike may be dictated by time. The Rimview Trail runs around Page and is about 10 miles long. It perfectly suited for a novice on a bike or for a gentle walk, because it is largely paved.
You should wear comfortable footwear and take plenty of water with you on a hot day, because there is minimal shade. Dogs are permitted as long as they are completely under your control.
14. Into the Grand
Entertainment in the form of Native American song, music and dance, and eating from a selection authentic Native American food is what you will find Into the Grand. The location is an old warehouse and is fairly basic, but the concept does not require a 21st-century modern building. That might even detract from the experience.
You can expect a warm welcome from the host who will ensure your table is ready with complimentary snacks of chips and salsa before you order.
15. Navajo Village Heritage Center
This is a small family-run facility that is especially educational for those traveling with kids. You will be able to see a typical Navajo home, learn how such homes are constructed, and the reasons behind the design.
Watch how a Navajo rug is woven and the way the yarn is made and then dyed. The role of women in Navajo society is discussed as well as the tribe’s way of life.
To complete the experience, you will be entertained by some Navajo dancing.