Like a rocky moon in orbit around a magnificent gas giant, the city of Page, Arizona, has always been overshadowed by Lake Powell – and s¬ustained by it, too, of course. This is what happens when you build a community in the shadow of one of the world’s great man-made wonders.
For years, city leaders have been telling anyone who’ll listen that their high desert community is more than just a place to stock up their houseboats before hitting the lake, so we finally took them up on the challenge and paid a visit – with the express purpose of not getting wet.
The Flight: Contour Airlines (contourairlines.com) offers multiple daily nonstop flights ($79 each way) from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Page Airport – a short, sweet, 45-minute hop that’s massively preferable to the 5-hour drive alternative, and not just for the time you’ll save. In a 50-seat Embraer ERJ135 about the size of a large business jet, you’ll embark on an unusual flight path over the middle of Arizona and gobble up greedy eyefuls of the high country, from Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon itself.
Finding a Room: Perhaps because it’s owned by the same international hospitality group that runs the ultra-luxe Amangiri resort just over the border in Utah, the Hyatt Place Page (hyatt.com, starting at $294/night) performs like a luxury hotel, with scratch-made Southwestern fare at on-site Prickly Pear Kitchen, a craft-cocktail lobby bar and an “adventure concierge” to help you plan your Page stay. And the breakfast buffet goes well beyond cereal and bagels (think: lox, omelets, etc.).
The Canyoning: Horseshoe Bend needs no introduction. As PHOENIX magazine’s art directors will tell you, the distinctive U-shaped curve in the Colorado River is one of the most photographed and published natural features in Arizona. Thanks to recent improvements, it’s also accessible and safe, with a 1,200-foot observation deck and walking path from the parking lot. The same principle led to tourist-friendly improvements at Page’s other great canyon-centric attraction: Lower Antelope Canyon, formerly accessible only to the heartiest rappelers and climbers, now grandma-friendly and accessible via guided walk with slot-canyon specialist Ken’s Tours (lowerantelope.com).
Golfing & Biking: As Page’s economic development director, Gregg Martinez does everything from recruiting restaurants (Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery recently opened an outpost in downtown Page) to providing taxi services to visiting journalists. And during his downtime? He hops on his bike and attacks the Rim Trail, which neatly circumnavigates the mesa on which Page sits. “You get just devastating views of the lake, the canyons, the desert – it’s amazing,” he says. Also on his Page rec list: golfing at Lake Powell National Golf Course, with its mythical, 200-foot-drop 15th hole.
Native Experiences: Though the city itself sits outside tribal land, Antelope Canyon and many other experiences and landmarks associated with Page reside within Navajo Nation borders, and the whole of Page is permeated with Native history and art. You can ingest Navajo culture – both figuratively and literally – at Red Heritage, a Native American dinner theater (red-heritage.com) showcasing local dancers and artists in a colorful on-stage powwow of dancing, flute playing, live drum music and storytelling.
Misc. Adventure: Who’s fooling who? You come to Lake Powell and you don’t get in the water? Even in its present, depleted condition, it’s bucket-list caliber. Book a boat tour out of Wahweap Marina through Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas (lakepowell.com) or kayak nearby slot canyons with Antelope Canyon Boat Tours (antelopecanyonboattours.com). Or stay higher and drier than your friends and see the lake from the air with Papillon Helicopter Tours (papillon.com). Run out of Page Airport, the flight culminates with an exhilarating landing on Tower Butte, a natural sandstone summit that lords 1,000 feet over the surrounding terrain. It makes a fitting capstone for your trip – and proof positive that Page has more going for it than that 160,00-acre water feature to the north.