Stay cool this summer by getting on, in, or near the water at one of these stellar recreation spots across the West.
Lake Powell, Utah
In sheer grandeur, Lake Powell defies comparison. The man-made lake, one of North America’s largest, winds through the vast ruddy landscape of southern Utah and northern Arizona like a sinuous blue dragon. This beast of a waterway took 17 years to fill after Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River was completed in 1963. Today the lake’s crinkly shoreline adds up to 1,960 miles—more than the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts combined—in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Heat lovers descend on Lake Powell during the summer months, when the mercury typically rises above 90 degrees, to spend time on or in the water. Antelope Point, Bullfrog, and Wahweap marinas rent all types of vessels: You can navigate the lake’s countless inlets by speedboat, or park a houseboat near a sandy strand such as Lone Rock Beach, jump in, and splash around. Tour operators ferry visitors to geologic gems, including Rainbow Bridge National Monument, where over 200,000 people a year stand gobsmacked in the presence of a sandstone arch so high and wide that the U.S. Capitol dome could almost fit underneath it. Perhaps the only sight more breathtaking comes near dusk, when the sun sinks low and transforms the whole scene—sky, water, cliffs, buttes, and mesas—into a radiant tableau of reds, oranges, and purples.