Lees Ferry

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Long stone building in ruin near the Colorado River
Buildings in the Historic District had many lives, as different people drifted through the area.

NPS/Brent & Dawn Davis

Lees Ferry is the only place within Glen Canyon where visitors can drive to the Colorado River in over 700 miles of canyon country, right up to the first rapid in the Grand Canyon. A natural corridor between Utah and Arizona, Lees Ferry figured prominently in the exploration and settlement of northern Arizona. Lees Ferry is now a meeting of the old and the new.

Here at the very start of the Grand Canyon, adventurous river runners launch their boats for trips down the canyon. Fishermen enjoy world-class trout fishing upstream to Glen Canyon Dam. Backpackers finish their 4 or 5 day hike through the Paria Canyon Wilderness Area here. Hikers can explore canyons and desert ridges. Learn more on the Day Hikes page.

Learn more about Lees Ferry History.

 

Getting to Lees Ferry

Lees 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.

 

Boating the Colorado River at Lees Ferry

The Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry is a very different area for recreation than Lake Powell.

The cold, clear water makes for a world class trout fishery. Our ongoing Brown Trout Incentivized Harvest is intended to reduce the population of this introduced species and help restore the sizes of the Rainbow Trout population. Anglers visit for the thrill of the catch in the stunning calm scenery.

Kayaking has increasingly become a popular activity on the river. With the flow usually steady and not extreme, people can paddle upstream and float back down to the ramp, or hire a backhaul company to do the hard part.

Visit our list of authorized guided services to pick the fishing or kayaking guide for you.

There are restrictions on certain types of vessels on the Colorado River. Please know them. The river is too shallow for some boats, too cold for others, and too narrow for still more. Read on.



 
View from top of cliff down at launch ramp, river, and sandstone cliffs
Lees Ferry lunch ramp from atop the Spencer trail

NPS

Multi-use Launch Ramp

The launch ramp at Lees Ferry is divided into the gravel section downstream for loading and launching downriver trips, and the paved section upstream for all upstream use. All river users need to be able to access these ramps in a timely manner for their intended purpose, so it is important not to block the paved section. Ready your boats and kayaks before you launch.

All public access courtesy docks and ramps including paved and dirt within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area have an established 30 minute length of time for any party or group, to include launching retrieving and derigging of any vessel. A special use permit is required for anytime longer than the 30 minute regulatory timeframe. The permits issued to commercial and private downriver rafting trips by Grand Canyon National Park should include this permission. All persons issued a river trip permit shall comply with all terms and conditions of the permit.

 
launch ramp busy with fishing boats and kayaks
Share the space with your fellow boaters.

NPS

River Restrictions

Follow all boating laws for Arizona when boating on the Colorado River. Because of the nature of the river, there are additional restrictions for your safety.

Federal Restrictions on the Colorado River
In Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Superintendent's Compendium defines laws specific to Glen Canyon. These laws include:

36 CFR § 1.5 Closures and public use limits

  • Colorado River mile -15.1 R near Kayak Beach (NAD83 12S 457135, 4086805 UTM) shall be closed annually to all recreational use during the Osprey breeding season (March 15 - September 1)
  • Fishing is prohibited in the following areas: All structural parts of the Charles H. Spencer Riverboat (Historic Structure) at all times whether submerged or exposed above water. The Charles H. Spencer Riverboat is located on river right upstream from Lees Ferry.
  • River Travel Upstream of Lees Ferry - Prohibited: River travel is prohibited upstream of the three (3) closure buoys, approximately 1/4 mile downstream of Glen Canyon Dam without a permit from the Bureau of Reclamation. A sign is posted on the shoreline on both sides of the river designating this closure.
  • Horsepower Limitations Upstream of Lees Ferry - Restricted: When releases at Glen Canyon Dam reach 35,000 cfs or above, a minimum of a 25 horse power motor is required for upriver travel from Lees Ferry.

36 CFR § 3.12(a) Water skiing: designated waters

  • Any towing of persons by vessels is prohibited on the Colorado River, between Glen Canyon Dam and the downstream river boundary of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area where it adjoins Grand Canyon National Park.

36 CFR §7.70(e)(i) Personal Watercraft in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

  • A person may not launch and operate a PWC in the following area: On the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and the downstream river boundary of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area where it adjoins Grand Canyon National Park.

 

Camping

Both the Lees Ferry Campground and the five primitive sites along the Colorado River are on a first come-first served basis.


 
Two people stand in the doorway of a one-story wooden house.
Visitors peek into one of the stuctures at Lonely Dell.

Lonely Dell Ranch Historic Site

This historic ranch, near the mouth of the Paria River, was home to the families who operated Lees Ferry. The place was so isolated that the families working at the crossing needed to be self-sufficient, growing food for themselves and their animals. Hard labor changed the barren desert into a green oasis. The main ranch buildings are about 700 feet (213 m) up the dirt road from the parking area. The complete self-guided walking tour of the orchard, log cabins, stone ranch house, and pioneer cemetery is about a 1-mile (1.6-km) round trip. There are picnic tables and shade trees at the ranch. Take drinking water with you.

Lonely Dell Orchard

Walk among the fruit trees in the orchard and search for a ripe snack. Collection of fruit at Lonely Dell Ranch Orchard is permitted for personal consumption only and not for purposes of sale or exchange. Fruit collected at Lonely Dell Ranch Orchard shall not exceed 5 gallons per person per day.

 

Lees Ferry Historic Site & River Trail

Just upstream from the Lees Ferry launch ramp is the ferry crossing site and several historic buildings. Different ferryboats and pioneers, miners, Indians, and tourists crossed here from 1872 until 1928. Of special interest is Charles H. Spencer’s attempt to extract gold from the clay hills here in 1910. Two of the stone buildings, a steam boiler, and the remains of a sunken paddlewheel steamboat remain from his efforts.

The trail is about a 2 mile (3.2 km) round trip over mixed terrain with nominal elevation gain. Take the steep Spencer Trail spur and climb over 1,500 ft up switchbacks. There is little shade, so do not hike in heat of summer. See the Day Hikes page.

 

Walks in Lees Ferry

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    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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