How to Kayak, Packraft, and Paddleboard Horseshoe Bend and the Colorado River:
Want another epic adventure? Paddle the Colorado River around Horseshoe Bend!
You can easily pick up your gear here at our shop and then head down to begin your journey at Lee’s Ferry (a 45-minute drive from Page) and take an awesome back-haul boat trip up the canyon to the Glen Canyon Dam. There you will be dropped off with your gear and then you will float down the Colorado River approximately 16 miles back to Lee’s Ferry.
HOW IT WORKS: You cannot put in at the Glen Canyon Dam due to Homeland Security so you must get back-hauled up the river by boat. Rent your paddleboards, packrafts or kayaks from us to do the trip, and you will need to make prior arrangements to get back-hauled up the river by a separate company-we do not offer this service. Plan to go early in the morning (7 am) for the best conditions! NOTE: There is a $30 National Park entrance fee to access the river. Camping on the river and parking are included with the fee.
NOTE FOR PADDLEBOARDERS: Due to the long paddling distance, remoteness very cold water temperatures this trip is NOT recommended for beginner paddleboarders.
- Be sure to make your back-haul reservation first because in summer they do book up! Please call Kelly Outfitters for availability (48 hours ahead is preferred): 602-510-5511
- Send us an email and tell us you want to paddle Horseshoe Bend and want to reserve your kayaks, packrafts or paddleboards for OVERNIGHT.
- The day before you go come to the shop at 836 Vista Ave, Page AZ 86040, and pick up your gear after 3 pm.
We show you how to load the gear on your vehicle- racks are included with the rentals. We do not deliver to Lee’s Ferry- you must transport the gear on your own vehicle.
We will give you all the information you will need. You will leave Page and head to Lee’s Ferry- an easy 45-minute drive on paved roads. Your backhaul outfitter will meet you at the docks at Lee’s Ferry at your scheduled time.
Overnight parking and camping are available there. After your trip, you will just bring your gear back to us here in Page before we close. You can keep your gear overnight and return the following morning but you must notify us ahead of time.
You can get dropped off up by the Glen Canyon Dam and paddle the 15 miles back down to Lee’s Ferry, or if 15 miles sounds too far you can get dropped off lower down the river at the Petroglyphs (9-mile paddle) and still paddle down around Horseshoe Bend.
There are no rapids, it’s just a slow-moving current.
You will find many things to explore on your journey including ancient petroglyphs, side canyon hikes, and amazing views. Look for wild horses and Big Horn Sheep on the side of the river!
You can do it in one day, typically about 6-7 hours of paddling, or plan an overnight camping adventure and camp along the river in one of the campsites along the way. Make an overnight reservation with us so you don’t need to rush back before we close. Sunsets are beautiful on the river!
From there you will paddle down the river about 15 miles (25 km) to Lee’s Ferry-but you must make reservations ahead for the service. While beautiful, the river is extremely cold – about 48°F (9°C) degrees all year long so don’t plan on swimming!
BACKHAUL SERVICE: This is done by a separate company.
You will take a beautiful, fun ride upriver with incredible views of the canyon! Contact Kelly Outfitters at Lee’s Ferry to make arrangements for the back-haul. They will work with your schedule so you can plan your custom trip. There are other companies that offer the service if Kelly’s is booked however, we highly recommend them!
There are 5 campgrounds on the 15 mile stretch of river. (There were 6 but one was closed last year after someone blew up the outhouse!) Some have names, but most are known for their distance from the boat dock. There is also a campground at Lees Ferry which you will pass as you drive to the boat dock. (This is the only campground that requires a fee.) All upriver campgrounds are first-come, with no reservations.
Starting from the dam and moving downstream toward the Lee’s Ferry boat dock:
Ropes Trail Campground – is on the right at mile 14. This campground gets less use than others downstream but offers more privacy. It does have a steep climb from the river and remember to secure your personal watercraft as winds can happen unexpectedly. It has an outhouse, fire pits, several campsites, and petroglyphs behind the outhouse.
Ferry Swale Campground – is on the left at mile 11. This is a popular campground with an outhouse and fire pits and can accommodate several campsites.
Nine Mile/ Horseshoe Bend Campground – On the right in the middle of Horseshoe Bend. This is another popular campground with good facilities and fire pits. Expect crowds to be looking down on you from the top of Horseshoe Bend, so if looking for privacy, this may not be your best choice.
8 Mile Campground – On the right just downstream from Horseshoe Bend, this site offers more privacy than others. It is higher than the river which requires a brief climb. Be sure to secure your watercraft from the wind. This also has fire pits and an outhouse.
6 Mile Campground – On the right, this is the last campground available and offers fire pits and an outhouse.
Fires are permitted but bring your own wood for your campfire! Weather and water conditions can vary so you will want to check before you head out. Please check here for safety information.
Lee’s Ferry is 42 miles (61 km) from Page via Hwy 89 south and Hwy 89A west. It is 85 miles (125 km) from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon via Hwy 89A and Hwy 67. The Lees Ferry Junction and Park Entrance is in Marble Canyon, just west of Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. A paved road leads 5 miles (8 km) to the Ferry area. Services available at Lees Ferry include a National Park Service campground, dump station and public launch ramp. There is a gas station, store, and post office at Marble Canyon, next to the park entrance. More services are found west on Hwy 89A.
The Lees Ferry stretch of the Colorado River is a high desert climate, so it can be extremely hot with little shade. It’s normal for summer daytime temps to be over 100 degrees but the water is extremely cold so don’t plan on swimming! Be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen and of course, plenty of water and snacks! Click here for the latest weather information.
It’s an amazing journey you will always remember.
Contact Us for more information.