Anchoring A Houseboat

How Should I Anchor My Boat?


WE ALL THANK the many boaters who anchor only in ways that preserve the resources we all love, while ensuring the safety of future users!
 
Houseboat on a sandy beach. Labels identify how it is properly anchored.
Properly anchor your houseboat.

NPS Photo

 
  • At a slow idle speed, approach a sandy beach in a location protected from wind or away from large areas of open water, like a cove.
  • Position the boat just far enough offshore so its bouncing does not create a divot on shore. Or place an old tire under the bow to protect the rock (and your boat) from being damaged.
  • Place anchors on the beach at a 45 degree angle from the cleats on the stern of the houseboat. for more stability, place similar lines from the cleats midway down the sides of the houseboat.
  • Dig 2-foot holes and bury the anchors with the points down and toward the boat.
  • Be sure to check the anchor lines every morning/night for tightness. You may have to adjust lines as the lake rises or falls.
  • When you leave, fill in the holes on the beach with sand and leave the area looking like you were never there. This is how temporarily burying anchors in sand will leave the area unimpaired for future generations, a requirement for all NPS lands. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
 
Montage of people burying boat anchors on beaches.
Bury Your Anchors

NPS Photos

 
Back end of a boat with lines attached to staked in the sandstone.
Houseboat staking is a problem on Lake Powell.

NPS Photo

 

What is Houseboat Staking (pin anchoring, stake anchoring, etc)?


Lake Powell has a unique shoreline. Sometimes a sandy beach is hard to find to park your houseboat. In these cases, some people have improvised - drilling holes into the sandstone itself, in order to place large pieces of rebar or stakes to tie their anchor line.

What is wrong with Houseboat Staking?


Drilling holes in rock for pin staking is illegal because it impairs the resources. All units of the National Park Service are guided by the Organic Act. This Congressional mandate defines the dual mission of the National Park Service, both to conserve park resources and provide for their use and enjoyment in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.

Federal Code of Regulations. Title 36, Chapter 2.1 (a)(1)(iv) covers the Preservation of Natural Resources.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following is prohibited:
(1) Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or disturbing from its natural state:
(iv) A mineral resource.


Houseboat Staking is also considered vandalism. (Reference 36 CFR 2.31 (a) (3) Vandalism. Destroying, injuring, defacing, or damaging property or real property.)

 
Beach with a rope held down by a large rock

Because I can't find a sandy beach it's not safe to anchor my boat without drilling a few holes.


If you cannot find a sandy beach on which to properly anchor your boat, you can tie your line around a boulder, or hold it down with a temporary weight. If you are doing it right, it should take four-six anchor lines at the most.

We also do not recommend using climbing gear as temporary anchors. Sandstone is not solid enough to firmly place this gear. The movement of the water and lines could dislodge climbing cams, and the spreading nature of the cam may further destabilize the rock..
 
Satellite view of Lake Powell, with many red marker points
Screen capture of a satellite image of a cove near Labyrinth Canyon. Red waypoints indicate 34 drilled holes last winter. The area involved covers only about 200' by 200'.  These holes measure about 1-1/2" in diameter and are 2-3 feet deep.

NPS Image

But the holes were here when I got here. I'm just reusing them.


"Reusing" holes only make them deeper and wider - every time someone "cleans the hole out" with drills more of the sandstone is scraped away. This weakens the sandstone and accelerates crumbling and damage. In addition, you might think you need a few extra holes, just to make sure your boat is good and tight. That's how these rock beaches end up with dozens of holes.
 
A group of swimmers at the edge of a rocky beach.
Swimming at the rocky slope is so much more fun without having to worry about getting impaled.

Why else should I care?


Lake Powell is constantly changing. The beach you see today may have been fully underwater a few months ago, and the deep water you just swam in today may be completely exposed rock in a few months. When a boat pulls up to a rocky beach, the captain cannot see directly underneath the bow. If there are stakes left in the rock, they could possibly rip through the hull of the unsuspecting boat. Swimmers are also at danger on the sides of rocky beaches.
 
Logo for the Powell Watch Program

What can I do to help prevent the destruction of Lake Powell's shoreline?

Education first, then enforcement.


Everyone who loves Lake Powell is encouraged to help by using the Powell Watch Program, “if you see something, say something.” Help us out on Lake Powell! If you see any boaters pounding stakes into the rock, or drilling holes in order to set stakes, text a message to 928-614-0820. The message will go to our Dispatch Center and will be processed accordingly. This is a text-only, information line. In an emergency, call 911 or hail National Park Service on Marine Band 16.

If boaters don’t respond to education, enforcement is the next step. Violations for pin anchoring come with a big price: $280 per hole.

Thank You to the boaters who enjoy the resources we all love, while protecting them for future generations!
 
Red line through a picture of stakes and lies on a rock beach
Do Not Stake Houseboats

NPS Photo

Last updated: September 5, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040

Phone:

(928) 608-6200
Receptionist available at Glen Canyon Headquarters from 7 am to 4 pm MST, Monday through Friday. The phone is not monitored when the building is closed.

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