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Page, AZ

I really like visiting Page.   In the first couple of years, when we were keeping an eye out for possible places to establish a home base, Page went on my list.   I like the fact that it is remote (80 miles from any other towns), surrounded by classic southwestern recreation, has a massive lake, is in the desert, has good local services, and enjoys fine weather.

But we eliminated Page from the list because we ultimately decided that a home base needed to be closer to a city.   We wanted the option to conveniently fly out if needed, and the added resources that cities bring. These criteria also knocked the beautiful Owens Valley (CA) off our list.


At 4300 feet elevation, Page is also a little higher than I’d like for over-wintering.   Tucson made a better fit for its relatively low altitude, averaging about 2000 feet.   But Page is undeniably a nice spot.   From many places in town, you can see Lake Powell, a startling blue jigsaw puzzle piece sitting in the middle of sandstone formations just a few miles away.   I like seeing glimpses of it while in town doing routine errands.

The lake is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some controversy about it.   The Glen Canyon dam that created the lake prevents the Colorado River from seasonally flooding the lower river basin, especially in southern California.   It also generates over a gigawatt of electrical power (when the lake is full), and of course the lake makes a nice recreational spot.

The downsides of the dam are numerous, and you’ll hear about them from the National Park Service   rangers all over the southwest.   For example, the dam prevents silt and gravel from reaching points downstream, thus stopping the natural erosion of the Grand Canyon, and wiping out riverside beaches. The lake has altered the desert ecosystem, bringing in lots of non-native species and eliminating others.   The beautiful Glen Canyon is gone.   Loss of floods has eliminated the natural renewal of nutrients in the Imperial Valley, forcing farmers to use petroleum-based fertilizers.   The list goes on and on …

And the dam won’t last forever.   It will silt up beyond usability in 500 years, but long before that it will start to have age-related problems and eventually somebody is going to have to figure out what to do with it.   All of the dams built on the Colorado have the same issues.   Hoover/Lake Mead will get a little extra time because Glen Canyon is capturing more of the silt (being upstream).

So Page is a beautiful spot today but also temporary.   It was built as a worker’s town in the 1950s, enjoys its heydey right now, and will perhaps someday fade if Lake Powell disappears in the distant future.   It could happen.   You only need to look at the impact on Salton City, CA, as the accidentally-created Salton Sea evaporates today.

We’ve managed to get our shower drain working again, at least enough to be usable.   (I’m going to buy one of those gadgets that our friend “Gadget” used on his shower.)   We’ve refilled on groceries, propane, gas, and water.   We’ve done all the immediate work and online banking that needed to be done.   So with all that completed, we are going to leave Page today and head into Navajo country.

That’s not far — just to the edge of town — but from here the Navajo Nation extends to the New Mexico border, and beyond that are other Indian nations.   The entire northeastern corner of Arizona is Navajo and Hopi territory.   It is open, spread out, occasionally rugged, and very quiet.   Towns are scarce.   It’s really more of a series of scattered outposts, with amazing pre-historic gems here and there, and our intention is to visit several of them this week. Cell phone coverage is unlikely in most of the area, but if I can find some wifi I’ll update the blog as often as possible.

2 Responses to “Page, AZ”

  1. Roger Says:

    I agree about the Owens Valley. My sister lives in Bishop and they have to drive to Reno or Vegas for any type of decent flights. Might be a bit too remote, but beautiful. Hard to find the ‘perfect’ place to live.

  2. Airstreamer in Phoenix Says:

    We call it Lake Foul. It’s an eco-travesty. Again . . . read The Monkey Wrench Gang . . . you’ll love it. It is more or less satire, but rich and loaded satire. It’s set in the Colorado Plateau and Lake Powell . . . I mean Foul has a place in it (or at least the dam does).

    Happy trails.