There is probably no better place in the world for a boy or girl to catch their first trout than the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, Arizona.
A youngster or seasoned veteran angler will find it hard to believe that a 16- or 18-inch rainbow trout swimming in this massive river will single out a size #20 zebra midge. But they will! And they’ll also grab an olive bead head wooly bugger cast on a sink-tip line. Try it. Exceptionally large trout in the 6- to 8-pound range are caught and released regularly.
If you prefer a spinning rod, flip a Mepps or Kastmaster into the river, crank it a few times and as the lure swings downstream, get ready for the tug of a lifetime. Just one tug and not only will the fish be hooked, but so will you! For a child, it can be the beginning of a lifetime adventure in America’s Great Outdoors!
The downstream or “tailwater” side of Glen Canyon dam is unlike others in the world. The river flows at varying rates, but the water temperature stays at a near-constant 48 degrees, a perfect environment for healthy trout. A year-round fishery, anglers catch 12- to 24-inch free swimming rainbows. And as the seasons change, so does the fishing. The summer months are a great time to target eager rainbows rising to big terrestrials. In the fall, spring and winter months there are aggressively feeding rainbows in the riffles and deeper runs. Trout at Lees Ferry gorge themselves on tiny midge larva, scuds, and aquatic worms. The tannins in the fish’s food source cause them to exhibit magnificent spawning colors which have become synonymous with Lees Ferry.
Lees Ferry Anglers’ up-river fishing trips take passengers 14 miles through Glen Canyon where they will experience why John Wesley Powell, the first explorer of the lower Colorado Basin, gave the canyon a name which connotes a sense of peace and tranquility.
With 13 full-time guides on staff we can satisfy every angler’s needs, from beginner to the most advanced.
Fishing trips include transportation in a covered Koffler Jet Boat (heated during the winter), lunch, rods, and guide service. If you need waders, we rent them in our fly shop. We are more than willing to help.
Should you not wish to utilize our guide service, try the walk-in section, which is adjacent to the Lees Ferry Boat Ramp for excellent fly- and spin-fishing opportunities. Additionally, our Lees Ferry Boat Rental offers 18-foot boats with Mercury Marine jet drives for full river access.
For reservations, email leesferry.com or call toll-free (800) 962-9755.
Call it a hike or a good, healthy walk, this part of Northern Arizona offers some of the best:
Two miles after the turn off to Lees Ferry from Marble Canyon is a pull out on the left hand side of the road. There is a Park Service point of interest sign here and the trail begins in the wash bottom another fifty yards down the road.
Hike Description: This is a two-hour round trip hike through limestone narrows to the Colorado River. There are a couple of short drop offs which can be avoided by hiking the upper shelves. The song of the canyon wren can be heard year round and an occasional red tail hawk can be seen. This canyon is subject to flash flooding during summer rain storms. Before entering the canyon, check local weather reports. The trail ends at the Colorado River in the Marble Canyon gorge where you can fish and enjoy the solitude. This is a day use area. Overnight camping is prohibited without a permit from the Park Service.
This trail ran right through the Cliff Dwellers Lodge property and was the historic old wagon road linking St. George, Utah with Lees Ferry on the Colorado River; and from there, to numerous settlements throughout northeastern Arizona. The route was used for several years by young married couples from Arizona seeking Temple marriage in what was then the only “Mormon” Temple west of the Mississippi River.
Hike Description: Much of the Honeymoon Trail is still visible. In some places it can be negotiated by car, although most of it is passable only by foot, horse or 4-wheel drive vehicle. Some sections are located on private land or Native American lands. The trail is sporadically marked on public lands from the Lees Ferry area to just east of St. George, Utah. As wagon trains and young couples moved along the trail, they stopped to leave their names carved in sandstone or painted in axle grease on the cliff walls in several areas. If one of your loved ones passed along the Honeymoon Trail, their signatures may be etched into the stones of Arizona.
Lower Paria Canyon/Lonely Dell
Trailhead for Paria Canyon begins at the historic Lonely Dell Ranch near the Lees Ferry boat launch. Before you cross the bridge at the Paria River, you will turn left onto a gravel road. This road is easy to drive and will not be an issue for any vehicle.
Hike Description: The lower Paria Canyon trail follows the creek bed, which flows year round with shallow muddy water fed by springs further up the canyon. Sandstone walls rise nearly 1,000 feet on either side. The canyon bottom is dotted with cottonwood and desert willow. The trail is easy to follow and allows the hiker to enjoy the scenery.
Early in the morning view the cliffs with binoculars for bighorn sheep.
There is also the possibility of seeing one of the giant California condors effortlessly gliding through the sky. Spend some time poking around the historic Lonely Dell Ranch where first, John Doyle Lee and later the Johnson family lived. There is an interesting cemetery along the trail where many of Arizona’s first pioneers are buried. This is an easy hike and offers its visitors a glimpse into the labyrinth of Arizona’s canyon country.
Trailhead located a couple hundred yards upstream from the Lees Ferry boat launch. There is a sign and rock cairn where the trail takes off to the left.
Hike Description: The Spencer trail climbs to the top of the cliffs above the Colorado River. This hike is considered difficult and not recommended during summer months or to be done by anyone with a fear of heights. This hike will consume about 4-5 hours. Expect to do a lot of switchback hiking. It is recommended that you bring plenty of water, around 2-3 liters per individual. The view from the top is spectacular (absolutely jaw-dropping, guaranteed) and offers quiet and solitude not found anywhere else. While overlooking the launch point and the beginning of the trail, you will also be able to vaguely see the Navajo Bridge in the distance. Bring some snacks and enjoy the view once you make it to the very top.
Once you arrive at the top of the hike, you may continue straight for a couple hundred yards and you will see the approximate 6-mile turn of the Colorado River, in addition to the city of Page, Arizona in the distance.
Be careful not to become lost. It is absolutely crucial that you always have a sense of direction.
If bird-watching is on your vacation to-do list – or your lifetime bucket list, for that matter – the Lees Ferry area of the Colorado River is right up your alley.
King of the Hill is the California Condor, the largest wild bird in North America. Condors can reach wingspans of 9 1/2 feet. With exceptionally keen eyesight, they normally nest in caves on cliff faces up to 6,000 feet in elevation.
There are currently around 80 California Condors in the vicinity.
Part of a reintroduction project to attempt to boost the wild population, there are more wild condors in the Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry area than anywhere else in the world.
"...that the national park system, which began with establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, has since grown to include superlative natural, historic, and recreation areas in every major region of the United States...; that these areas, though distinct in character, are united through their inter-related purposes and resources into one national park system as cumulative expressions of a single national heritage; that, individually and collectively, these areas derive increased national dignity and recognition of their superb environmental quality through their inclusion jointly with each other in one national park system preserved and managed for the benefit and inspiration of all the people of the United States...."
Northern Arizona-Southern Utah is blessed with some of America’s greatest and most-visited National Parks, and with Cliff Dwellers Lodge on the road between the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon, it’s your ideal base of operations
Park experiences to consider:
South Rim, Grand Canyon
The most developed area of Grand Canyon National Park, the South Rim offers amenities such as bus service, hotels and water stations. Scenic highlights include Pipe Creek Vista and Yavapai Point. Use a Grand Canyon National Park Pass or a National Parks Pass.
North Rim, Grand Canyon
The North Rim is a quieter way to see the Grand Canyon with smaller crowds. While the facilities are closed from mid-October to mid-May, the Cliff Dwellers Lodge is open year round. In the summer, be sure to reserve your lodging at the Cliff Dwellers Lodge early. You may use a Grand Canyon National Park Pass or a National Parks Pass.
With beautiful canyons and many geological structures, there are plentiful places to experience firsthand. This is a hiker’s paradise! Take a scenic drive through the park in your own vehicle or on a free shuttle. For solitude and a quiet place to contemplate nature, take a day to visit Zion. You may purchase a pass at the gate or use a National Parks Pass.
Hoodoos are those tall, thin spires of rock dot the land known as Bryce Canyon. Hike, bike or camp. There are several programs geared to star gazing at night. Because there is so much diversity in the landscape, sunrises and sunsets are beautiful. Purchase a pass at the gate or use a National Parks Pass.
Sightseeing, hiking, bus tours or boat tours, the Lees Ferry and Cliff Dwellers Lodge area offers it all. Here are some things for you and your family to consider:
Lake Powell is located approximately an hour away.
Created in 1963 when the Glen Canyon Dam was being constructed, it took 17 years for the lake to fill. If you were to remove over 500 feet of water, you will find Anasazi ruins, many mining sites, among other fascinating history that would be sure to surprise you. Above, you will find yourself surrounded by magnificent rock formations and cliffs.
Lake Powel has more shoreline than the nation’s West Coast. The water fluctuates from deep blue to a sea green depending on the time of day and weather.
There are rentals for boats or personal watercraft as well as boat tours that will take you to Rainbow Bridge, Antelope Point or, in the summer, dinner cruises. You can swim, fish, scuba dive or walk along the beach. Pay at the gate or you may use a National Parks Pass.
Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam can be viewed from two locations – top and bottom. The dam can be seen from Page, Arizona, and also while on the river from below.
There are free tours of the dam available throughout the day. The Visitor’s Center is located just off of US 89 near Page on the north side of the bridge. There, you can watch short films on the making of the dam, view photos from the early years of the dam or take one of the free tours down into the dam itself. Outside, you can enjoy a perfect view of Lake Powell and the Colorado River from the bridge.
Honeymoon Trail ran through the Cliff Dwellers Lodge property and was the historic old wagon road linking St. George, Utah with Lees Ferry on the Colorado River; and from there, to numerous settlements throughout northeastern Arizona.
The route was used for several years by young married couples from Arizona seeking Temple marriage in what was then the only Mormon Temple west of the Mississippi River. In some places the Honeymoon Trail can be negotiated by car; however, most of it is passable only by foot, horse or 4-wheel drive vehicle. Some sections are located on private land or Native American lands. The trail is sporadically marked on public lands from the Lees Ferry area to just east of St. George, Utah.
Dinosaur Tracks at Tuba City
From the south, you will pass very near a dinosaur track-way that deserves a visit. Or, this can be an easy side trip from Cliff Dwellers Lodge. It’s about an hour drive. The formation that the tracks lie in is the Moenkopi formation which is 160 to 200 million years old. When the dinosaurs were roaming this landscape, it was a swamp and low area. There are many visible three toed tracks mostly belonging to the dilophosaurus, a large herbivore.
Looking for a little nighttime fun and excitement?
Try stepping outside your accommodations at Cliff Dwellers Lodge and looking up at the sky. No switches, no buttons or no internet needed! Test your astronomy skills and see how many constellations or stars you can find.
Summer Viewing: Scorpius, Sagittarius, the Milky Way, Aquarius, Circlet of Pisces, Cygnus, Cassiopia, Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Draco, Virgo, Libra, Leo and others. Jupiter, Venus and Mars can be seen during various months as well.
Winter Viewing: Taurus, Pisces, Delphinus, Gemini, Cancer, Orion, Canis Minor, Canis Major, Head of Hydra, Lepus among many others. Saturn is visible during the late winter months.
For maps and viewing help, visit the science center of the University of Arizona.>
Whitewater trips are provided by certified local outfitters. They allow passengers to travel down river and see what explorer John Wesley Powell experienced in 1869 – the breathtaking beauty, fierce rapids, ancient ruins, side canyon hikes and the unique geological history of the Grand Canyon.
Start just down the road from us at Lees Ferry. Meet your fellow river rafters and guides at Cliff Dwellers Lodge and dine at our restaurant before your 279 mile adventure to Lake Mead. As you float through the Grand Canyon, the river drops 1,709 feet to the lake and produces some of the most challenging and exciting rapids in the world. You’ll encounter torrent waters and heart pounding thrills. While most river rapids are gauged on a 1 to 5 scale (5 being the most challenging) the Grand Canyon is rated 1 to 10. This fact alone assures an adventure that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
If you are a geology buff, a river trip allows you to venture back through geological history starting at the age of the Dinosaurs and ending 1.7 billon years ago when the Southwest was covered by shallow tidal seas.
The simplest and most affordable way of running the river is with one of the local rafting outfits. Most outfitters allow singles or couples to sign up for group trips; or you can spend your time in the canyon with friends and family on charter trips. Lees Ferry Anglers and Cliff Dweller Lodge works with Hatch River Expeditions. They have been operating on the Colorado River for the past 80 years with a fleet of experienced boatmen providing trips of virtually any duration from 4 days and longer. Folks of all ages are welcome, and many of the river outfits now offer trips for disabled patrons.
Visit the Hatch Family’s website at https://www.hatchriverexpeditions.com/ Toll Free: (800) 856-8966 or Local: (928) 526-4700.