Updated: Sep 1
Wahweap Overlook is located only 5 minutes from Wahweap and Page, and gives a marvelous view of Wahweap Bay, Antelope Island, the Colorado Plateau, and Lake Powell. The overlook can easily be driven to and is a must-see view. Wahweap Viewpoint and Navajo Mountain Viewpoint are less than a mile away, and Glen Canyon Dam is only 3.
In this blog, we’ll go over everything there is to know about Wahweap Overlook, including its geological importance, directions, the view of the landscape, and even more fun locations to travel to.
The Importance of Lake Powell
As basically every American knows, the western United States is almost always in a drought. Lake Powell holds 26 million acre-feet of water, making it the second largest human-made lake in the country. This makes the lake of vital importance in securing water storage (from rain and snowmelt) for when the west inevitably goes through another drought. When you are at this location, you will definitely see light-colored rings just above the water. The top of these rings is where the water level is at its maximum. You can see even more drastic rings at Lake Mead.
Once the water is released through Glen Canyon Dam, it enters the beginning of the Colorado River. Not long after, it flows through Marble Canyon and Navajo Bridge, which you can see all the way from House Rock Valley Overlook, and then the Grand Canyon. This river has given this national park its unique erosion patterns that people from all over the world want to see. We have talked about Angels Window, Moran Point, and Navajo Point in our other blogs, which all give amazing views of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River at the bottom.
The Colorado River travels hundreds of miles to Lake Mead. Once the water from Lake Mead is released through the Hoover Dam on the border of Arizona and Nevada, it continues until it drains into the Gulf of Mexico; it also generates a massive amount of clean electricity. 40 million people rely on the Colorado River and is vital to many states’ economies. To sum it up, Lake Powell provides the water that humans need to drink or grow food with.
How to Get to Wahweap Overlook
There is only one road leading to the viewpoint, which branches off from US Route 89. If you are in the town of Wahweap, drive west on Wahweap Boulevard for 3 miles and then turn left. People coming from Big Water in Utah will be in this area, too. Drive for a little more than a mile southeast and turn left. You will see a “Scenic View, Wahweap View” sign 1,000 feet before the turn (there is a picture below of this sign). Drive up this road for a mile and you will reach a dirt parking lot.
If you are driving from Page, Arizona, you will drive on US Route 89 across Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, which is surprisingly next to Glen Canyon Dam Overlook. Drive for three miles northwest and turn right. You will see another “Scenic View, Wahweap View” sign 700 feet before the turn; there is a picture below of what this looks like. This spot is only 2.8 miles north of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. Drive up the road for roughly a mile and you will reach the dirt park lot. There are no lines for spaces, so don’t block other cars in. If you get lost, the GPS coordinates are 36.968, -111.499.
The History of Wahweap
Before we jump into the Wahweap Overlook, it is very important to both learn and teach others about Native Americans. The name “Wahweap” is from the Paiute Tribe and translates to “bitter creek” or “bitter water.” Due to lots of erosion and high mineral content in the water, it can have a bitter taste. Indigenous peoples often named things after the characteristics of an area, so the name can tell an entire story if you’re willing to learn.
There is a very large viewing area that is 200 feet across, and that is excluding the parking lot. There are plenty of trash cans, so leave no trace (that means no littering and minimal impact on the environment). There are a couple of benches underneath a shade cover. This is a great thing to have when it is extremely hot in the summer! Next to these benches is an interpretive sign. Although it is not a full picture (above), you can see that it talks about the history of the area, including Navajo Mountain, Tower Butte, Glen Canyon Dam, Sentinel Rock, and Wahweap Creek.
Lake Powell stands at 3,652 feet, and Wahweap Overlook is at 4,252 feet. This means that you are 600 feet taller than the lake, giving you a gorgeous view of everything. There are no bathrooms here; make sure to go to Wahweap if needed.
From Wahweap Overlook, there are so many unique places visible. Wahweap Bay, Lake Powell, and Antelope Island are unmistakable. To the southeast and northeast, Navajo Mountain Viewpoint and Wahweap Viewpoint can be seen (the overlook is better, though, because you are so much higher up). If you have some binoculars, you can see Wahweap Window to the north across the lake. To the south, you may have a little glimpse of Horseshoe Bend and Waterholes Canyon.
This viewpoint is also good for stargazing but is not perfect. Light pollution from Wahweap and Page will block out some stars, so I recommend driving in any other direction. The Grand Canyon has some amazing views of the Milky Way because there is so little light pollution.
Wahweap Overlook is a great place to hang out for hours if the weather permits. You can see both the sunrise and sunset and even have a picnic with your family or friends. I still recommend seeing all this area has to offer; it is too much to see in a single day.
The busiest days are Tuesday and Sunday, while Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the least busy days. As for specific times, the morning is the best time to go (the least amount of people). 4 PM is the busiest time on the weekdays, and 12 PM is the busiest hour on the weekends.
The Traveling Bear says that "This is a great way to see the beauty of Lake Powell. This overlook is located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area so it does cost $30 to enter, unless you have a National Park pass or if you enter after a certain time. We were the only people there just before sunset."
Bonus Hikes and Locations
Wahweap Viewpoint and Navajo Mountain Viewpoint are only half a mile away (a 5-mile drive) but provide a close-up view of Lake Powell. Both locations have parking lots, shade, benches, and interpretive signs. Unfortunately, there are still no bathrooms. You can spend a minute or an hour at each of these places.
Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is a must-see spot past Lake Powell. It puts you right on the edge of the canyon and the Colorado River, and you can see the Glen Canyon Dam not far away. It’s only a couple of minutes of walking to get the view!
Last but not least is Waterholes Canyon. It has slot canyons but requires hiking. There is a path down to the Colorado River. Unfortunately, you may need a permit and those can cost a lot of money (sometimes north of $70). If you’re not up for a long and expensive hike, you can go to Horseshoe Bend right next door. The hike is only a mile and is the most famous spot in the area by far.
As I said earlier in this article, there is so much to see. If you’re only in the area for a day, don’t spend too long at any one spot. You can always come back if you missed a cool spot; erosion doesn’t happen very quickly here.
When Is Wahweap Overlook Open?
It is open year-round, but there is a $30 fee per vehicle for a 7-day pass. This is because Wahweap Overlook is located inside the Glen Canyon National Conservation Area. This helps to protect the area and restore it to its former glory. The weather can obscure the view, so try going on a sunny or partly cloudy day.
Packing List for Visiting Wahweap Overlook
Sunscreen. The sun can be beaming down on you if you are outside for hours (which you should be in this area). There is a small shade cover there to protect yourself from the sun. Sunburns are not fun.
Food. You never know when you will be hungry, so having food nearby is great. You won’t need to return to Wahweap or Page for food, which means more time exploring!
Water. It can be very hot in the summer, so be sipping water throughout the day. Summertime temperatures can reach 100 degrees.
Bring layers. In the winter, it can get below freezing and snow. Having gloves and a sweater can get you through the day without being too cold.
Flashlight. You may stay out past sunset, so bring a light source. There can be random cliffs that cannot be seen without light (although not at the overlook). There have been plenty of people that have died at the Grand Canyon from this.
Camera. Hopefully, you bring your phone that you always have with you. If you have a nicer camera that has more detail, I recommend bringing that. You can get some fantastic pictures throughout your time at the Glen Canyon National Conservation Area.
While this is not a complete list, it includes some of the more important items to bring on your trip.
Wahweap Overlook is a great and quick way to see Lake Powell and the surrounding landscape. It’s only a couple of minutes off the highway and is accessible to everyone. You can spend all day here or be in and out in 5 minutes if you want. There are so many other things to see nearby that are unique only to this area. The Grand Canyon is also somewhat close. Enjoy your time at Lake Powell!