In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower pressed a button on his desk in Washington, D.C. that sent off a cap blast of dynamite in the Glen Canyon of the Colorado river. What followed was the construction of the massive 710-foot concrete arch Glen Canyon dam and its breathtaking reservoir, Lake Powell. From that project came the small town of Page, now one of the hottest spots on the Arizona tourism scene.
Construction of the town started in 1957 on the Manson Mesa for the families of those working the dam project – which today hosts tours of the facility and a visitor’s center. Over the last half century though, the natural beauty and history of the Great Basin Desert surrounding the dam have drawn admirers and fans. Today Page – a town of just over 7,000 – draws over three million visitors a year.
Located within the nearby Navajo nation reservation is Antelope Canyon, a geographical oddity called a slot canyon that has become a magnet for professional and amateur photographers from around the world coming to capture the ethereal shafts of light that make the undulating rock walls shimmer and glow. There are three outfitters in Page, as well as another at the Tribal Park entrance that will take you through one of the most photographed spots in the Southwest.
Just five miles south of town, there is the now iconic view of Horseshoe Bend– with no fees, no gates, and no guard rails (be warned). Stand back and take in this breathtaking wonder.
For further flung adventure, 20 miles outside of town, the natural wonders emerge all around the desert landscape – Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a many-facetted jewel with fantastic rock formations created by the Escalante river, stretching from Bryce Canyon through Zion National Park and finally Grand Canyon National Park. Featuring plateaus, rivers, wonderous canyons and sights that will make your jaw go slack.
Of course, the centerpiece is Lake Powell itself, named after John Wesley Powell, who led the first rafting expedition down the river to map this area. Today the lake supports several full marinas along hundreds of miles of Arizona and Utah shoreline, as well as the Latitude 37– the lake’s floating restaurant at Wahweap Marina. Accessible by water and land, the stunning views of Castle Rock and Navajo mountain are complementary.
Page, while cozy, is young, with an average age of 33-40 years old. This youthful spirit ensures that adventures can be found in town as well. Sanderson’s Into the Grand is part restaurant, serving unique Navajo tacos, and part museum with indigenous dances performed and a Colorado river rafting exhibit. This is a #1 rated destination of Trip Advisor, so reservations are strongly recommended.
The Powell Museum offers further local history on a number of topics, including granddaddy of Colorado river rafting himself.
The aptly named Dam Plaza you can find the Dam Bar and Grille which offers steaks, seafood and pasta in a relaxed, but elegant, atmosphere. The nearby Blue Buddha Sushi lounge serves up raw and fresh fare in 60’s meets Asian decor. If it’s more comfort food you’re seeking, The Birdhouse delivers with fried chicken and a variety of beer. Gone West is a family style restaurant with Western flair.
From its history as a frontier town, Page has grown to be a contemporary destination - a bridge between the natural and modern. It is a connection that can only be understood by experiencing it.