Kayaking Lake Powell’s Slot Canyons — a Surreal Experience

Russ and Margie Hanson explore one of Lake Powell’s many side canyons in their Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak.

What do you get when you take a houseboat, a speedboat, a Sea Eagle 330 kayak, eight family members and friends, and plunk them in the middle of Lake Powell? You get the family vacation of a lifetime.

That’s what the Hanson family had recently. Russ and Margie Hanson, of Phoenix, hosted their family on a scenic, adventurous, and unusual family boating vacation.

1 houseboat, 1 speedboat, and 1 Sea Eagle inflatable kayak

The Hansons, their twenty-something kids (plus their kids’ friends), and Russ’s sister and her husband spent an entire week boating and exploring the southern half of Lake Powell from Glen Canyon Dam at Page, Arizona to Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah.

“We rented a houseboat to live in, and a speedboat to get around in, at a marina on Lake Powell,” said Russ. “And we bought a Sea Eagle 330 kayak to explore some of the lake’s side canyons.”

Canyon kayaking is otherworldly

The Hansons kayaked deep into still, silent, surreal slot canyons.

“We’d paddle our way into the canyons as far as we could go,” said Russ, “until they were as narrow as our kayak.” Sometimes they had to back their way out stern first.

“Kayaking in a slot canyon is a surreal experience,” said Russ. “The canyon walls can be two or three hundred feet high and you can’t see the sky in some places because the rocks overhang.” The canyons are totally silent with just the echo of your voices and rippling water. “Our Sea Eagle kayak got us into places other people just can’t go,” Russ says. “It was an otherworldly experience.”

Back to boating

Russ is not new to boating. “I grew up in Montana,” he says. “My dad and I did a lot of canoeing and fishing when I was a kid. I enjoyed that a lot and wanted to get back to it.”

But the Hanson boating expedition was their first family boating adventure. “Our family is very close,” says Russ, “but we’re scattered all over the country so we look for opportunities to get together.” And now that their kids are grown, the Hansons feel it’s even more important to create family experiences.




Members of the Hanson party went ashore long enough to visit Rainbow Bridge National Monument.


Easy portability

Russ says he wanted an inflatable kayak because they’re easy to transport. “Everything fits in the Sea Eagle bag. I can throw it in the back of my GMC Yukon and go.”

He sought an inflatable kayak under $400 because he wasn’t sure how frequently he’d be able to use it. “The Sea Eagle came out tops for quality and value,” he says.

And it looks like he’s getting his money’s worth: Russ and family have their next adventure in the planning stages already.  They’re checking out the lower Colorado River, downstream from Hoover Dam. The river’s calm there with many scenic areas, caves, and hot springs to explore. “Companies do kayak tours there,” says Russ. “We think we’ll just take our own kayaks and go.” See you on the river!

3 thoughts on “Kayaking Lake Powell’s Slot Canyons — a Surreal Experience

  1. I have hoped to do the same trip into the slot canyons. My daughter, her husband would rent the houseboat. Where to rent it? Cost for a week. Best time of year?. i did the slot canyons on my own in May 2007 and the temperature was 103 degrees.

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