An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

Lake Powell

[Originally posted on 8/4/08]

How would you like to be able to roll your wheelchair through the Grand Canyon? It might be a little bumpy, but taking a houseboat around Lake Powell is virtually the same thing, and one amazing ride.

Some history, before there was Lake Powell there was the Colorado River, which flowed through Glen Canyon and then down into the Grand Canyon. In the 60s, a dam was installed and Lake Powell came into existence. John Powell was a civil war hero who incidentally was also a amputee. He was one of the early explorers of the region.

Houseboats are like motorhomes. You need to get a lot of creature comforts in to a small space. Not surprisingly this limits how much accessibility you can offer. Well the folks at Forever Houseboats decided to break the mold and build one very accessible houseboat. My family and I rented Houseboat 750 for one week this July and had a magnificent time exploring Lake Powell.

For starters, the boat is big. She is 75 feet long, and 18 feet wide. And it takes quite a bit of skill to be able to maneuver her in tight spots. The boat has five bedrooms and two bathrooms. One bedroom is plenty accessible, and the bathroom next door offers a roll-in shower. The galley and family area is on the main floor and is easy to get around. Perhaps what makes boat 750 most accessible is the elevator that takes you up to the upper deck. It is here that I spent most of my time, and where I really got to enjoy Lake Powell, and Glen Canyon. Having a flat deck that is this long allows a wheeler to roll around and see everything on both sides.

Regardless of anyone’s abilities, such a big boat requires at least three or four good shipmates. At the end of the day, when the exploring finds you a good campsite, all hands need to assist in anchoring the vessel. This is not always a simple task when the canyons are solid rock. A good wind could slam her into something you don’t want to pay for. But that’s why there are four other bedrooms. So bring along some good people. When I say “good” I mean that they are not afraid to get their hands a little dirty and their feet a little wet, and that they can pitch in for the price of such a venture.

I had hoped that we could pull the boat up to some flatter areas and I could explore a little in my chair. This did not prove to be the case. We found one good campsite for this, and I’m sure there are many more if you knew the lake better, but thankfully the boat was big enough for even me to avoid cabin fever and co-exist with family for a week. My only regret is that we were not able to get back to Rainbow Bridge on this trip.

From the upper deck, which I should mention has a hot tub, albeit not too accessible, Glenn Canyon is every bit as spectacular as the Grand Canyon. Even in such a huge boat, you feel small in perspective. The canyon walls tower above you and everywhere you see magnificent colors that change as you pass. We brought along a kayak and a small boat which allowed people to get further back into the narrow canyons and really enjoy the unique peaceful nature of Lake Powell.

Antelope Point Marina (Page, Arizona) is where virtually all such trips originate. It’s very big, and the planners and operators have done a great job making it accessible. Where the ramps are too steep, and too long, golf cart taxis with ramps can zip you around. ThereĀ are plenty of courteous employees who really make the departures convenient.

Lake Powell can be explored on a smaller scale. There are day trips, and daily boat rentals and there are a number of locations accessible by land that I hope to explore some day.

The photos above have some elaborate descriptions at Flickr. If you are thinking about a similar trip, drop me a note.

For specific Lake Powell rental info click here

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2 Responses »

  1. Just wondering if the accessible houseboat is still available to tour Lake Powell? Are there guided tours using the boat? My husband is disabled and we are hoping to come down in the winter months. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  2. No tours to my knowledge but they still have the accessible boats. Theyre big. Which is great but you definitely want an experienced boatsmen at the helm.

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Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
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