Written by Barbara Toombs
Arizona has become synonymous with desert – a fair analogy, given it is the only state in the U.S. with four deserts: the Chihuahuan in the southeast, the Mojave in the upper west, the massive Sonoran taking up most of the southwest and central part of the state, and part of the Great Basin Desert in the northeast.
But many visitors are surprised to find that Arizona is also home to 128 lakes and five major rivers, beckoning outdoor enthusiasts to hike, raft, boat, ski and fish year-round.
One of Arizona’s true jewels that’s definitely worth a visit either before or after the always-exciting Scottsdale Auction is Lake Powell. Straddling the Arizona-Utah border, Lake Powell was created in 1963 when the Glen Canyon Dam held back the waters of the Colorado River. The result was a vast blue lake surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful sandstone walls. Remarkably, it took 17 years for the lake to fill the canyon to the high-water mark (3,700 feet above sea level), giving America its second largest man-made lake (only Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border is bigger) – and a playground like no place on Earth.
Sure, you can hop a flight on a small regional airline from Phoenix to Page (the tiny town that serves as the jumping-off point for exploring Lake Powell) – but we’re car people, right? Get behind that wheel and enjoy the incredible scenery on one of Arizona’s ultimate road trips.
It would take you a hair over 4 hours to drive from WestWorld of Scottsdale to Lake Powell, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend an overnight stop along the way in another of the state’s stunning destinations: Sedona, a little less than 2 hours away. This geological wonderland is a place to nourish the soul and pamper yourself in luxury; a place where soaring red rock monoliths cradle an array of resorts, spas, art galleries and boutique wineries.
While Sedona hotel accommodations are plentiful, there are decidedly some standouts, including the Enchantment Resort, set on 70 acres of panoramic natural terrain and surrounded by the towering red rock walls of Boynton Canyon, and offering a number of top-notch dining options. Another superb choice is L’Auberge du Sedona, nestled on the banks of the picturesque Oak Creek in the heart of Sedona, featuring tranquil creekside cottages, an idyllic nature spa and award-winning dining. Among the wealth of restaurants in the area, be sure to check out the acclaimed Elote Café for flavors of Mexico and the Southwest (reservations required; they are booking about one month in advance) or Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano – the most-awarded fine dining restaurant in Sedona – for signature interpretations of Italian classics.
After a night (or more) in Sedona, continue your journey north to Lake Powell. The lake isn’t the only attraction here. Within the nearby Navajo nation reservation is the incredible Antelope Canyon – a geographical oddity known as a slot canyon, where ethereal shafts of light make the undulating rock walls shimmer and glow (book tours well in advance). Just 5 miles away is Horseshoe Bend, a nearly 360-degree curve of the Colorado River that affords some breathtaking views of what is often referred to as the “east rim of the Grand Canyon.”
Then there’s Lake Powell itself, of course. With over 2,000 miles of shoreline and a wealth of remarkable canyons, it is naturally best explored by boat. Guided boat tours are offered from the Wahweap Marina at the Lake Powell Resort, on which you can enjoy the romance of a sunset dinner cruise or learn the fascinating story of building the Glen Canyon Dam on a scenic cruise.
Many visitors to Lake Powell rent private houseboats (well in advance!) to explore on their own. Pontoon boats, power boats and jet ski rentals are also available.
For an unparalleled overnight experience, consider a stay at the nearby Amangiri Resort, a 600-acre sanctuary of wilderness and isolation in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. This incredible destination offers the ultimate personalization of bespoke adventures and cultural activities, as well as the 25,000-square-foot Aman Spa, privileged access to National Parks and Lake Powell, and dining that features sustainable, seasonal menus inspired by the culinary heritage of the Navajo and the American Southwest.
We at Barrett-Jackson are undeniably proud of our home state of Arizona, and encourage you to extend your stay here and explore!