A Photographer's Guide to North Lake Powell

Discover the best places to shoot on Lake Powell's quieter side.

After a recent trip to Bullfrog Marina on the north side of Lake Powell, I was inspired to share my tips for photographing the lake with others. The north side of the lake is much less photographed and visited than the south side due to the remoteness. This is all the more reason why North Lake Powell should be on the top of your bucket list!

Location

As I mentioned before, this part of the lake is incredibly remote. The best place to stay and enter the lake is Bullfrog Marina, which is located around 95 lake miles north of the Glen Canyon Dam. At about 5 hours from Salt Lake City, and 8 hours from Las Vegas, the trip out to the lake really is a trek. However, the drive to the lake is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on. We drove through nearby Capitol Reef National Park, which makes the drive much more interesting.

Lodging

As much as I know you’ll want to be up all night photographing the lake, I am here to tell you that at some point you will need to sleep. You have a few options, which are outlined below.

  • Defiance House Lodging

    • This is the only lodge at the Bullfrog Marina, and the food and quality of the rooms can’t be matched elsewhere. Our room was lakeside, so we had a beautiful view of Bullfrog Bay every night. The food was incredible and I highly recommend getting a meal at the lodge at some point in your trip.

  • Camping via Powerboat

    • Powerboats are available for rental at Bullfrog Marina, and are much cheaper than a houseboat. A powerboat is ideal for a party of 2-6. With a powerboat, you will be able to reach most canyons and it will allow for easy camping access. If you opt to camp with a powerboat, please note that the Glen Canyon National Recreation area requires all boats to have portable toilets. You will want to pack light since you will need to fit all of your gear into your boat. Do keep in mind that you will never be more than a 4 hour travel time from any marina, so should any emergency occur, you aren’t too far from help.

  • Houseboat

    • The final option, and best in my opinion, is a houseboat. This is the best way to photograph the lake since you will be able to be at the location you wish to shoot for sunset and sunrise, since you can camp nearly anywhere there is a beach. A houseboat is best for parties from 6-12 people and can be very affordable if you split the cost with friends. It is best to include either kayaks or SUP boards with your houseboat rental and a powerboat definitely doesn’t hurt either. You can add all of these to your rental at Bullfrog Marina.

If you can get a houseboat, this is definitely the way to go. Staying in the lodge is an amazing experience, but camping or houseboating on the lake is the best way to get the amazing photographs that North Lake Powell is able to provide. Most of the best locations to photograph are 30 minutes to 2 hours away from the lodge, and driving a boat in the dark is not recommended. In a houseboat, you can get to the location you wish to shoot at sunset, beach your boat, and spend the night at the location you wish to photograph. That way, you get a sunset, a sunrise, and a chance at shooting the stars if it is a clear night. Kayaks come in handy when the place you wish to photograph can’t be reached by a houseboat. You can have someone drop you off and come back later to get you, or you can beach your houseboat and paddle a short distance to your location.

Camera Equipment:

  • Wide Angle Lens

    • To shoot photos of the canyons in Lake Powell, I would highly recommend a wide angle lens. I managed my whole trip with an 18mm. I would look for something at 24mm or wider. If you have a telephoto lens, bring it too! It will be a bit harder to find opportunity for it, but it never hurts to have too much gear.

  • Polarizer

    • I find that I nearly always use a polarizer when shooting anything involving water. My polarizer helped remove much of the glare on the lake and let me see through to the beautiful green water.

  • Waterproof Backpack

    • This is always an essential for me, but if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to invest! Especially if you’ll be doing any kayaking. If you flip over in the kayak, the last thing you want to worry about is your camera!

The Best Shooting Locations

1. Lost Eden Canyon


This was my favorite canyon of the whole trip. You will want a kayak to do this trip. Kayaking into this canyon provides tons of great photo ops and if you stay to the left, you will eventually reach a spot where you can get out of your kayak and walk in a very narrow canyon, making for more amazing photos.

2. Forgotten Canyon


Forgotten Canyon is the home of the Ancestral Puebloan Ruins, which are very cool to visit and photograph. The ruins are best shot before 11 AM, when the sunlight will be uneven. There are also lots of great spots in Forgotten Canyon to camp or beach a houseboat for the night!

3. Clear Creek Canyon


This canyon off of the Escalante Arm was another one of the coolest canyons we visited. If you are in search of tall walls that are vibrant in orange color, then Clear Creek Canyon is the place for you. This canyon also has the opportunity to walk further once you beach your boat, which allows for endless photographic opportunities.

3. The Rincon


The Rincon is a cool thing to photograph, especially at night. We ended up camping a night across the lake from The Rincon, and I was able to shoot a vertical panorama of the milky way above it! There are many good places to beach your boat and camp for the night in this area, and this is a good stopping point if you are planning to head to the central part of the lake the next day.

4. Rainbow Bridge


Rainbow bridge is one of the largest natural bridges and is sacred for Native Americans. The bridge is especially great to shoot in the early morning light or later in the evening. The canyon even has a dock at the end where you can dock your boat and hike a short distance to the arch. You can’t reach the dock by houseboat, so I recommend taking a powerboat to the dock. Don’t forget your hiking shoes!

 

North Lake Powell was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! As a photographer, it is often hard to find places to bring my family and friends where they will still be entertained while I sit and take photos. However, we did not have this problem in Lake Powell. There is so much to do and see that even the week we spent there was hardly enough to scratch the surface. I highly recommend heading out to the Bullfrog Marina for as much time as you can spare. All lodging and rentals are right there at the marina and it will be an experience you’ll never forget!

Published: August 29, 2018

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Austin JacksonExplorer

Portland

Photographer and adventurer living in Portland, Oregon. Contact: austinjamesjackson@hotmail.com