Planet of the Apes Meets Lake Powell

“The topography of the planet bears little resemblance to our own,” the script reads. Much of it is obstructed by cloud cover; even more of it appears to be cratered desert of reddish hue. We can, however, make out a few ‘green belts’ and a patch of blue water.”

That’s how Michael Wilson describes the view from outer space on page 4 of his 1967 screenplay for Planet of the Apes.

What makes Lake Powell so memorable is the contrast between the deep clear blue waters and the surrounding landscape—stark red sandstone rocks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What makes Lake Powell so memorable is the contrast between the deep clear blue waters and the surrounding landscape—stark red sandstone rocks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“In the final shots of this sequence,” he continues, “we see the strange planet as it would be observed from a spacecraft plummeting from twenty thousand feet to one thousand feet. It appears the ship will fall into a vast lake surrounded by soaring sandstone pinnacles. The water is blue-black, the pinnacles vermillion.”

At the end of that action, in a parenthetical. Wilson writes: “This is the Lake Powell location at Lone Rock.”

If you’ve never been to the big lake, Lone Rock is a solitary monolith in the middle of Wahweap Bay, which is the launch point for many of the 3 million people who visit Lake Powell every year. Some of them rent houseboats, others explore with kayaks and paddleboards, but they’re all there for the same reason that Hollywood showed up: the breathtaking landscape.

Lake Powell has become a major center for many leisure activities including fishing, swimming, water sports, and houseboating. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell has become a major center for many leisure activities including fishing, swimming, water sports, and houseboating. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In his essay Reflecting on the Water, writer Larry Cheek described the landscape as “a starkley dramatic juxtaposition of pink stone, sapphire sky, and turquoise water.”

The second largest man-made lake in the U.S., Lake Powell is without doubt the most scenic, stretching 186 miles across the red rock desert from Page, Arizona to Hite, Utah.

What makes Lake Powell so memorable is the contrast between the deep clear blue waters and the surrounding landscape—stark red sandstone rocks with little or no vegetation and innumerable steep remote side canyons. Spires, ridges, and buttes that once stood high above the Colorado River now form cliffs at the lakeside or are semi-submerged as small islands.

Wahweap Marina offers boat launch ramps, swim beaches, boat tours, and houseboat and small boat rentals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wahweap Marina offers boat launch ramps, swim beaches, boat tours, and houseboat and small boat rentals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell has become a major center for many leisure activities including fishing, swimming, water sports, houseboating, backcountry hiking, and four-wheel drive trips.

It began filling in 1963 following the completion of a dam across the Colorado River near the south end of Glen Canyon, and was not completely full until 1980. In 1972 Lake Powell and the surrounding countryside was incorporated into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Access to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon by road is very limited. Activities are concentrated at the western edge, near Page, where various beaches, resorts, marinas, and campsites are found along the shoreline.

Lone Rock is a solitary monolith in the middle of Wahweap Bay. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lone Rock is a solitary monolith in the middle of Wahweap Bay. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the far northeast end of the lake there are basic services and a few tracks leading to the water at Hite, though decreasing water levels have left this village quite far from the shoreline.

The only other paved approach roads are to the Bullfrog and Halls Crossing marinas two thirds of the way up the lake, which are opposite each other and linked by a car ferry.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is open year-round. The highest visitation is during the summer season.

Lake Powell is abundant with camping opportunities, whether you seek developed campsites with RV pads, putting a tent up on a secluded beach, or anchoring your boat in a quiet cove.

Wahweap RV Park & Campground offers 139 full hook-up sites with 30/50 amp electric service and free Wi-Fi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wahweap RV Park & Campground offers 139 full hook-up sites with 30/50 amp electric service and free Wi-Fi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a National Park Service campground at Lees Ferry. Concessioner operated RV campgrounds are available in Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Halls Crossing. Primitive camping is available at the following vehicle accessible shore line areas: Lone Rock (Wahweap area), Stanton Creek, Bullfrog North and South (Bullfrog area), Hite, Dirty Devil, and Farley Canyon (Hite area). These sites have no facilities except for pit toilets.

Centrally located adjacent to Wahweap Marina near Page, Wahweap RV Park & Campground offers 139 full hook-up sites with 30/50 amp electric service and free Wi-Fi. With a stunning view of Wahweap Bay, sites accommodate RVs up to 45 feet in length. All campsites have charcoal grills and picnic tables. Only a short distance to boat launch ramps, swim beaches, boat tours, and small boat rentals. Our home base while exploring the National Recreation Area, we would return to this 5-star RV park in a heart-beat.

We would return to Wahweap RV Park & Campground in a heartbeati. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We would return to Wahweap RV Park & Campground in a heartbeati. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With 1.2 million acres of golden cliffs, lush hanging gardens, impossibly narrow slot canyons, and the brilliant blue of Lake Powell to visit, you may find yourself coming back again and again.

Worth Pondering…

…a starkley dramatic juxtaposition of pink stone, sapphire sky, and turquoise water.

— Larry Cheek, Reflecting on the Water

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