From the Road: Another Page

The whole point of going to Page is to experience nature — and the options for doing it are almost endless. Located in Arizona on Utah’s southern border, Page boasts some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenery. Close to Lake Powell’s stunning red rock formations, the area is a summer favorite for boating, fishing, kayaking and swimming. It’s also become an important hub for tourism, thanks to its close proximity to Grand Canyon National Park and Monument Valley.

But as temperatures cool, an argument can be made that winter is the ideal time to visit Page. With fewer crowds, it’s easier to enjoy the area’s natural landscapes and hidden gems. So, my 19-year-old son and I recently decided to test the theory with a weekend trip.

Our home for our two-day adventure was Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell. Nicely situated in proximity to 11 national parks, 16 national monuments and 20 scenic byways, as well as a slew of day-trip destinations, the select-service hotel makes a perfect basecamp. Its 102 suite-style guestrooms and patios offer boundless views of Arizona’s landscape and all the comforts you would expect. Still, the hotel clearly knows that guests are there for the scenery.

In fact, Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell offers an Adventure Concierge program unique to the property that aims to provide guests with expert help building customized itineraries that fit their outdoor abilities and desires. 

On the first morning of our trip, the property’s signature restaurant, Prickly Pear Kitchen, packed up a hearty picnic so we could enjoy lunch on the road. The hotel also arranged for us to visit one of the most photographed spots in the Southwest — Antelope Canyon.

Known for its spectacular red rock walls and shifting beams of sunlight, Lower Antelope Canyon has become a bucket list destination for photographers, tourists and visitors from around the world.  

Sculpted by millions of years of water and wind, the sandstone has taken on incredible textures, shapes and forms. Throughout the day, ever-shifting sunbeams bounce light across the canyon’s walls, creating breathtaking color, light and shadow displays.

Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Nation land, and all tours must be led by a Navajo Nation-approved tour operator. Ours was Ken’s Tours, which has been leading tours of the canyon for more than 30 years. 

Ro, our guide, told us about the geology and history of Lower Antelope Canyon, which is called Hasdeztwazi or “Spiral Rock Arches” in Navajo. Ro was a whiz with several phone models and happily perfected light settings while pointing out photo ops. He snapped pictures of everyone in our group and even played a Navajo flute so we could hear its resonance in the narrow canyon.

After we emerged from underground, my son and I decided to drive a half hour to cross the state line into Utah. Our destination: the Toadstool Hoodoos. Nestled in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the destination is an often overlooked stop that showcases balanced rock formations shaped like mushrooms standing tall in the desert. 

We took a fairly easy 1.5-mile hike from the trailhead to see whimsical formations created by 30 million years of erosion. Without the crowds, we had the trails to ourselves and couldn’t hear a sound. In fact, we both remarked that we had never heard quiet like this before — it was a unique and otherworldly experience.

Of course, outdoor efforts require outsize eating, and Page does not disappoint. The town has more chain restaurants than you’d expect from a place with a population of 7,375. But it’s the mom-and-pop eateries that give Page its pulse.

Start the day at Hot N Sweet Coffee and Donut Shop, a can’t miss stop for anyone visiting Page. In addition to pillowy donuts and hearty breakfast burritos, they have free arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man to keep diners entertained.

Craving fried chicken? Look no further than Bird House, which serves up delectable fried chicken and cold beers in a former Sonic. Or consider Canyon Crepes for a variety of savory, sweet and vegetarian options.

To learn about the Indigenous culture, check out Red Heritage, a Navajo-owned and operated dinner theater that showcases Native American dancing, drumming, singing, flute playing and Navajo-inspired food — including Navajo Tacos. 

After a couple days of fun, it was time to head home, but we saved a must-visit destination for the ride. A mere 5 miles south of Page sits Horseshoe Bend, the horseshoe-shaped canyon carved by the Colorado River.

Horseshoe Bend is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but the parking lot is on city land. So visitors have to pay for parking at the trailhead, then take an easy walk over a hardened path. Their reward is the photogenic 270-degree bend in the Colorado River that has become an Instagram darling. But here again, winter has its rewards, because the season offers a chance to snap a rare shot of the setting dusted with snow. 

Page is perfectly suited for a short getaway like ours, or for a longer vacation. We could have easily enjoyed more days of active fun and dazzling scenery. On our list for a future trip is Skylight Arch, a natural sandstone formation that’s a 40-minute drive from Page. We also talked about mounting excursions out of Page to Monument Valley (a 2½-hour drive) and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (2½ hours away). 

Ultimately, we agreed that our short jaunt felt like a real trip, instead of a winter weekend away. Page boasts excellent lodging, hearty food and abundant activities but, in truth, it’s all about the outdoors.

In every season.  

About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.
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