Kayak Camping Trip to Antelope Canyon

Though it’s only a mile from Lake Powell’s Antelope Point launch, visiting Antelope canyon on a two-night trip made our trek up the canyon leisurely, and we avoided the biggest crowds.

Another good reason for us to get in the water was the heat. We drove up to Page from Tucson – arriving around 4:30 az / 5:30 navajo time- and figured a night in the tent after an evening swim would feel way better than a dusty hot camper boondock.

We used our Sevylor inflatable kayaks loaded with a small tent, a down duvet (stuffed in a dry bag it’s smaller than three sleeping bags and little pack pillows, our required toilet solution (chemical bags in a small sealable igloo thermos), food and cooking stuff, water bottles and filter, and my little solar charger. Most was shoved in dry bags behind our seats, though the bigger food, pots, stove, and sweatshirts were in a huge dry bag bungeed to the top of my kayak.

Though weight wasn’t as much of an issue as with backpacking, we still kept it light and minimalist for ease of packing.

It was a lot to lug down the huge ramp from the parking lot, but I wasn’t comfortable driving our camper down there to compete with boat loading and unloading space. There is designated kayak loading on the lower left of the ramp.

That first evening was a bit rough. Literally. The water was super choppy and wind whipping hard. All we did was paddle around the bend to the left (westward) from the Antelope Point ramp and pulled up on a fun rocky outcrop between two beaches. The beaches had a couple families out swimming for the day.

We also swam to bide our time and soon enough those folks hiked back up to the parking lot and we pitched the tent. It was a gorgeous star-filled evening. Got quite cool, too, so we were happy for sweatshirts and that down comforter.

In the morning, at 6:30 two groups of 7-8 people on guided trips kayaked past in double sit-on-tops. My kids were still sleeping but roused soon after, had some oatmeal, packed, and we paddled the remaining .9 mile to the Antelope canyon entrance.

The time of day worked well for us – by 7:30 the guided tours were already past us, but the afternoon arrival of kayak rentals hadn’t started.

We saw very few other people as we kayaked up the canyon watching the walls grow higher and closer.

We even stopped to do some swimming and cliff jumping. At this point, I think, Avi’s rudder got pulled off. He had scraped it when pulling it out of the water and I think it came off then. It was an older model, but still a bummer; hoping I can find a replacement. He didn’t notice until we were back in the water and he couldn’t track straight. But, with the winding canyon, he did fine.

The water just ends about 2 miles up the canyon. It was about 6 feet worth of mud, muck, and what looked like mulch about 2 feet deep to dry land. Too thick to navigate, so we had to step in and drag them through. Luckily it didn’t smell too badly.

Just as we secured our kayaks, the two bigger tour groups came out of the canyon and left. There were two other kayaks, but we passed that couple coming out as we hiked. So, we nearly had it to ourselves!

The hike up the canyon was also well timed. It was about 10 am, so there was still plenty of shade as we hike up into the slot.

Avi was beside himself talking about the rocks. We admired the swirling patterns, the unique formations, the tight spots, and the way the sun played up the reds. It was a magical hike.

After an hour or so, we finally decided to turn around. Avi and I could’ve kept going forever, as every turn and bend seems to show more magic. But Zoe was hot and wisely pointed out that the sun was overhead now. So, turnaround we did.

It had gotten hot, with way less shade spots at noon. We also passed three groups of people on the way out, and were shocked to see maybe 30 kayaks parked in the muck when we returned… with more people coming. It was a good time to get out!

The paddle back out of the canyon felt longer, since I was giving one kayak a tug to keep it straight. Zoe and Avi traded off who got the tug. There were also noticeably more people heading up the canyon than out.

We stopped again when we got hot for some swimming and jumping. Having no time constraints left us with the whole day to enjoy.

Out of the canyon around 2pm and the water was again very choppy, so we stopped at a small inlet for an afternoon break. The kids swam in the waves, and I pitched up the fly for a shade.

As evening came, the wind really kicked up so we paddled on along the route back to Antelope Point and found another great little beach to camp for the night.

Again the water was super calm in the morning. It was gorgeous for a morning swim and short paddle back to the ramp (which was full of boats loading).

Lugging our stuff back up that long ramp was a really tough thing to suck it up and do. I helped each kiddo individually, which meant a few trips for me.

In all, however, we had a blast turning what most people do as a quick afternoon or day trip into a two-nighter. I love camping on beaches and the lower part of Lake Powell seemed pretty quite for motor boated traffic.

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