The first time I went to Lake Powell was in 2012 not long after my final CrossFit Regional competition. Back then I had gone a long time without drinking or going out or doing any sort of socializing while I was training for competitions. Then, for some reason I’ll never quite understand, I got an invite to Lake Powell with a group of 30 other people who love to party HARD. Every year they would rent a houseboat and go big. I had heard all sorts of stories about these trips and was so nervous to go on it. The trip cost $500/each for the boat, gas and food and I had to borrow $250 from my best friend so I could still make rent while going on the trip. But I decided that I had to get outside of my comfort zone and do things that made me feel uncomfortable. I was scared out of my mind to be in a swimsuit all week long, around people who were good at drinking, and hanging out with people I barely knew. But I did it. And I fell in love with my husband there. And I witnessed one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been. And I never regretted borrowing money so I could take a trip that made me feel like a different person.

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

I’ve been to Lake Powell on three separate occasions and this fourth trip was completely different than the first three. On the first three trips, we stayed on a houseboat while having 1-2 wakeboard boats with us. So every night we would be able to come back to the houseboat, tie the wakeboard up, then cook dinner and feel at home and relaxed on the houseboat. And every morning would start the same too – relaxed, breakfast, head out on the water when you’re ready. We either rented a huge houseboat from Bullfrog marina to hold 30 people for the week or we stayed on our friend’s houseboat that he shares with a few of his friends. Either way, we stayed on a houseboat with a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and sometimes even a hot tub and bar on the roof. And it was always awesome.

But this year we planned our trip to Lake Powell last minute. And with only 5 people going and our friend’s houseboat getting repaired, our only semi-affordable option was staying in hotels in the different marinas. So that’s exactly what we did! We left early in the morning and drove the 7-8 hours to Bullfrog Marina in Utah with a wakeboard boat in tow, checked into Defiance House Lodge then dropped the boat in the water for a little evening cruise and wake surfing!

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

Bullfrog Marina is in the middle of nowhere and has two options for lodging – the Defiance House Lodge or the Family Units. The Defiance House Lodge is super easy because it’s right by the dock and it has a restaurant attached to it so you can get breakfast, lunch or dinner while overlooking the water. Having a full meal is super important to me, especially if we are going to be out on a boat all day with limited hearty food. And their breakfast was always delicious and they had pretty decent options food. Both nights that I ate there, instead of ordering pizza or something that would make me feel like dog sh*t, I just ordered the salmon with rice and veggies and felt awesome! However, they do spell it rise on the menu which makes you a little worried, but all was well. The rooms at Defiance House Lodge are nothing special, they are definitely a bit old and rundown, but they did the trick for sleeping and showering. JK, I rarely showered. And they have wifi, not great wifi, but I was still able to get some work done while we were at the hotel which was great.

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

So after our first night in Bullfrog, the next morning we woke up, had some breakfast to-go from the hotel restaurant then set out on the water. The weather said it was going to start raining by 11am but the clear skies and warm morning was saying differently. It was my brother-in-laws birthday so we started the morning drinking mimosas while we ate breakfast, then once we got on the water, we surfed and wake boarded through the morning. And it was awesome…until 11am hit. If you’ve never been in a microburst storm, it’s f*cking crazy. In seconds, the wind picked up to over 50 mph, it started dumping rain, then hail, and we couldn’t see even a foot in front of us. And if you’ve ever driven a boat, you know that you want to see in front of you because if you can’t, you hit something, and capsize. The other problem was we were almost out of gas. So we couldn’t see in front of us, we were getting pelted by hail, and we couldn’t see the next marina. Luckily, as we floated along, we found Antelope Point where we took cover while helping other people pull their boats in. Then we watched on as people tried to pull their houseboats in but couldn’t because of the wind gusts, and then the dock pretty much broke in half and killed the power, leaving a ton of people without gas. It was all a complete hot mess. We even heard that a woman ended up losing her arm in the storm when the storm blew their houseboat to shore. Absolutely insane. In all the times I have been in Lake Powell, I’ve never experienced a storm like that.

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

And as quickly as the storm came, it went. We had to buy extra gas off of someone at the marina to get out of there and continue our trip onto Wahweap Marina in Page, Arizona. But after that, we had clear skies again. And were back to surfing and exploring. Lake Powell has all sorts of canyons and cliff sides to explore, jump off of and climb. We climbed random cliff sides, explored Clear Creek Canyon in the Escalante River, then stopped by Rainbow Bridge to hike and see the famous canyon.

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell


PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell


After staying one night in Bullfrog, braving the crazy ass storm, we finally got to Wahweap Marina in Page, Arizona. Bullfrog is about 100 lake miles from Wahweap so it takes a few hours to boat there and even more when you are surfing and turning around multiple times to pick people up. This was my first time in Page which was a cool experience because it’s extremely different than Bullfrog. Wahweap is almost a resort feel with their Lake Powell Resort. This hotel holds a ton of people with hundreds of rooms that overlook the beautiful water, an amazing restaurant that has a ton of gluten free options, a coffee shop, free wifi (that’s pretty bad, just FYI if you’re planning to work there), and boat tours to explore the water.  The resort also has pools, hot tubs and fire pits to hang out around at night!

The other cool thing about being over near Page is the huge speed boat scene. In Bullfrog, you never see that. But Wahweap has hundreds of speed boats flying by at 100+ mph. These boats cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and have multiple engines that waste gas in seconds. It’s insane that people own these and maintain them, but they are awesome to look at. And they have races all day so they are constantly flying past you.

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

We stayed two nights in Wahweap before boating back to Bullfrog and staying one last night before leaving. After experiencing houseboating vs hotels, I would highly recommend staying on a houseboat if you can. Since we had to pack all of our food with us every single day, we ran into issues like the gluten free wraps getting wet when the ice melted and certain items not drying. And when you’re on a houseboat, you never run into those issues because everything is in a fridge! All food and drinks stay dry, cold and fresh. And when you’re staying in a hotel, you have to unpack the wakeboard boat every night and cover it then carry all your stuff to the hotel room. It’s just much more of a process instead of a relaxing experience. And Lake Powell should be relaxing. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and every single turn is more stunning than the last. After experiencing both houseboats and hotel stays and going at different times a year, in the future I will definitely go earlier in the season like early August to make sure we don’t run into as many storms, and we will stick to the houseboat trips no matter what.

If I can recommend anything, it’s go to Lake Powell. It’s one of the most stunning, serene, peaceful places I’ve ever been. And many places you stay throughout the lake have absolutely no cell service so you have to turn off for the week. There are some places that you go to and are beautiful but you don’t feel like you need to go back…that’s not the case in Lake Powell. It’s a place I hope to go to every year for as long as I can!

PaleOMG Travel: Lake Powell

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  1. Laura says:

    I am OBSESSED with Lake Powell! Haven’t been in a few years, but after seeing your photos I neeeed to get back. Also – semi unrelated – but I haven’t received a Friday newsletter from you in a couple of weeks. Did I get unsubbed or have you just not sent one out? Thanks Juli!

    1. juli says:

      i couldn’t send out one last week since my wifi signal wasn’t strong enough while in Lake Powell but they’ve gone out every other week and i haven’t removed anyone!

  2. Brigett says:

    You have such honest reviews of places. Have you ever visited Aspen? My husband is speaking at a conference there and we are turning it into a vacation. We are staying at Aspen Meadows. Any recommendations on places to eat and sites to see?

  3. Kaelin says:

    Thanks for sharing! That storm sounds insane. My husband and I are all about boating and that #lakelife. We have a ski/wake board boat and pretty much spend as much time on our lake as possible in the summer. You definitely piqued my interest on renting a houseboat and traveling to other lakes like Powell!

    1. juli says:

      it’s the best! you definitely need to check one out!

  4. Shaun Hammer says:

    I’m sure you meant to say Dangling Rope Marina where you encountered the wild storm. Antelope point is just a few miles from Wahweap.. Great story

  5. Tracy Sapp says:

    My husband and I were at Lake Powell the next day after the microburst storm. The storm was on Thurs the 14th and we got to Bullfrog on Friday the 15th. The houseboat docks at Bullfrog were torn up a bit.
    Friday after we were fishing near the mouth of Halls Creek Bay when we heard what sounded like a fighter jet. We have seen & been flown over by many fighters jets at Lake Powell for years. We looked overhead but did not see a fighter jet. Then the noise became louder and from behind a small mound of sandstone rock appeared 5 of those huge jet boats you mentioned. They were racing each other up the lake. About 10 more large ones followed then about 5 smaller jet boats then one very large fancy pontoon boat with 2 large outboard motors.
    Some went to Bullfrog marina to refuel and some went to Halls Crossing Marina to refuel. Then they jetted off back down the lake. They were beautiful and fast and fun to watch.
    We have been going to Lake Powell since the 1990’s. It is so beautiful there. So relaxing. You lose track of time there.
    We have shore camped from Hite Marina at the North end of the lake to South of the Escalante. Stayed on rental houseboats and on houseboats owned by my father. We have stayed at Defiance House Lodge and at Ticaboo Lodge.
    We aren’t as young as we used to be and I can no longer shore camp due to health reasons. But I am just happy to get to Lake Powell and ride in the boat and watch the beautiful scenery go by. Or catch some fish in the back of a canyon. I have seen beaver and otter and bighorn sheep there. Oh, and saw Kenny Rogers at Halls Crossing Marina. He loves Lake Powell and has a houseboat there.
    Sorry this is so long. Your article and pictures just brought out that feeling of peace that Lake Powell gives me. I want to go back this weekend!
    Thanks for the memories!

  6. Courtney says:

    Adding this to my travel to-do-list!

    I am going to Denver this weekend and can’t wait to use your posts to determine what to do! 🙂 The Mayan Theater looks pretty neat.

  7. Kenna Covington says:

    Love your review of Lake Powell. I actually live there and am staring at the lake as I type this from my living room. The lake is beautiful always, but the storms can be extremely dangerous. They don’t just occur in September though. It can happen anytime during our monsoon season. We happened to be in Colorado on vacation when this one hit, but saw all the reports and heard first hand from my folks. Since I do live here, I thought I would share a few tips for your next visit. While in Page, visit Horseshoe Bend … also, while extremely crowded, Antelope Canyon is famous around the world for its incredible beauty. I think it’s one of the most photographed places. For a great workout, hike up the sand hill, just across the lake from the state line launch ramp out of Wahweap. (Or for that matter just walk up the Wahweap ramp (not state line), it’s a killer! The big fast boats you saw were not an everyday occurrence here. You happened to catch the Lake Powell Challenge. It is a annual event that raises money for Type 1 Diabetes. As for lodging in the Page area, houseboats are always the best option, but there are several hotels in Page. If a houseboat is not available, I would suggest a VRBO. Some of our friends own some here in town and they are quite nice. Enjoy your day!

  8. Val says:

    As I’ve never been to Lake Powell ever (I know, shame on me!), should I be considering AZ or Utah to rent a boathouse? Or is it that easy to go from one state to another? Thanks 🙂

    1. juli says:

      for us, we always go to Bullfrog because it’s a much easier drive. so i would choose based on that maybe? it would take a good chunk of time to drive a houseboat from Utah to AZ since they go so slow. for me, I would rather rent a houseboat in Bullfrog (Utah) because I think the canyons and landscape in more beautiful over there, but that’s just me!

  9. sadie says:

    INCREDIBLE views. What an amazing place. Thanks for sharing. 🙂