Photo Credit: Antelope Point/Debi LanderSpending a week aboard a posh houseboat off the shores of Lake Powell is an exceptionally distinctive vacation option. My temporary “ownership” of a luxurious floating-condo made me feel like Leonardo DiCaprio stretching out on the Titanic as “king of the world.”
The jagged shoreline of the massive 186 mile-long reservoir, adjacent to Utah/Arizona border, exceeds that of the entire western coast of the continental United States. Imagine sailing on brilliant turquoise water surrounded by shimmering red rocks, layered terracotta cliffs, salmon colored beaches and postcard views from every angle. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area epitomizes the desert southwest– bursting with hundreds of side trails, Indian ruins and awe-inspiring natural wonders.
During the off-season, five-star air-conditioned houseboats can be rented by the night, throughout the summertime a minimum weekly contract is required. Extended families or multiple couples adopt the immense, up to 75 feet long, boats as extraordinary floating-homes. Each of the four or five generously appointed bedrooms is fitted with double sized, lavish bedding and a flat screen TV positioned at the foot of the bed. Granite and chrome kitchens, worthy of Bobby Flay, sit adjacent to the combination family room/dining room –anchored around a theatre-style entertainment hub.
Complimentary transport along with a driving lesson for guests who desire assistance is provided by Forever Resorts, the premier firm offering the opulent aquatic-abodes. Many houseboats set their mooring lines in a romantic cove serving as home base for the duration. Others prefer to pull up anchor and cruise to a new beach or cove every day. Adult vacationers enjoy setting up folding tables and chairs for sunset al fresco dining while kids beg for beach campfires to share marshmallows and stories under starry skies.
Let the self-indulgence continue: lounging in a hotel-sized hot tub, playing bartender on the upper deck or slipping onto the curved sliding board and make a grand entrance into the crisp cool water. Renting a smaller powerboat offers added mobility and swift exploration of the waterways– think bobbing through the pages of National Geographic. Dawn and dusk outings challenge photographers with dramatic dancing shadows. Surrounding canyons shrink sinuously, the soaring walls caressing the bold adventurer.
Lake Powell came into existence following years of bitter controversy. In 1956 workers began pouring concrete for the arch dam and didn’t stop the round the clock labors for more than three years. Seven years after groundbreaking, Lake Powell was generating power and opened its gates for recreational activities. However, it would be seventeen years before the reservoirs water-level reached “full pool.” Today some three million people visit annually for memorable boating, skiing, kayaking and fishing adventures.
My one-night stay aboard a luxury houseboat on this jet-set playground could fill an entire episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Powell’s saffron colored landscapes with their stunning and dramatic formations contrast sharply with my East Coast background, where trees boldly border the shoreline. The simplicity and sereneness of the wind-swept southwest was tranquilizing to my eye. The forces of nature etched into my soul like grooves in the canyon floor.
In the afternoon, a rocket-fast speedboat journey to Rainbow Bridge interrupted my tranquility only to give way to an inland excursion ashore and the chance to peer at the vast natural archway– eternity personified. The stone bridge powerfully rises, draws a bold arc across the sky, then descends earthward with grace–a glorious natural wonder worth a once in a lifetime wander.
Next morning, I rose before dawn to watch the glinting sunrays dabble and paint the sandstone temples. While the ritual has repeated over millions of years, for me, this sunrise was profound. I ran back and forth around the top deck not knowing where to look because every direction was equally tantalizing. It would be unimaginable to ever tire of this sunsational way to start a day, truly life on Golden Pond.
This article originally appeared at CityRoom.com.