You may not have heard of Alstrom Point, but chances are, you’ve seen photos of it. This scenic spot overlooks Lake Powell and is one of the coolest camping spots in Utah. If you have 4WD capabilities and want to enjoy Lake Powell without the crowds, Alstrom Point is the perfect spot for you.
Where is Alstrom Point?
Alstrom Point is located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which includes Lake Powell on both sides of the Arizona-Utah border. Specifically, Alstrom Point overlooks Gunsight Bay in Lake Powell, which is towards the western side of Lake Powell, not far from Antelope Island, as the crow flies.
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How Do You Reach Alstrom Point?
The challenging access to Alstrom Point is what makes it so special. If it were easy to reach, it would be crowded all the time. This is not Horseshoe Bend where you can just follow the line of cars to your destination. Be sure you have 4WD, high clearance, excellent driving skills, and a working GPS.
From Page, Alstrom Point is a 42-mile drive, which takes around 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on road conditions and how often you stop to take photos. From the town of Big Water, Utah, you take NP230 east for 25 miles until you reach Alstrom Point. There are rocks, sand, and river crossings, so I can’t stress enough that this is not for rental cars or regular passenger vehicles.
The GPS coordinates for Alstrom Point are 37.0589° N, 111.3647° W.
Alternative 4×4 Ways To Reach Alstrom Point!
Of course, the Misadventures family never does things the “easy” way. We want to take the path less traveled. The one with greater opportunities for breathtaking landscape photography points. So when we made our trek to Alstrom Point, we drove from White Pocket, where we had spent an evening capturing the stars through Cottonwood Canyon with more photo opportunities and then traversed part of the Grand Staircase Escalante. This is a LONG drive, over 100 miles of it on 4×4 roads, but we say “go big or go home” and if you want to be in the middle of it all without sharing it with others, this is the way to go!
If you don’t camp at White Pocket, that is fine too, you can start at Page, Big Water, or Kanab and pick up Highway 89. (Or the Byrce Canyon area and pick up Highway 12.) The rest of the directions are below.
4×4 Directions with GPS coordinates
- From Highway 89 (direction Big Water/Page) turn left onto Cottonwood Canyon Road at: 37.10496, -111.84687
You will stay on Cottonwood Canyon for 46 miles (all 4×4). There are PLENTY of spots for fantastic landscape photos like Yellow Rock at 37.25663, -111.90934 or Grosvenor Arch at 37.45585, -111.83176.
- As you pass Georgetown, stay right. Cottonwood Canyon becomes Kodachrome Way.
- At the small town (you are in Utah now) of Cannonville (a gas opportunity) turn right onto Highway 12 direction Escalante. By the way, this part of Highway 12 is stunning!
- At the town of Escalante (last chance to get gas) turn right on South 500 West. The road turns into Smokey Moutain Road which you will follow for 64
miles (all 4×4). This will take you through the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Both this road and Cottonwood Canyon must only be done in good weather and dry conditions. Added to the excitement, Smokey Mountain Road is not for the faint of heart, there are lots of boulders to traverse which means slow going, but the views and landscape make it worth it if you are equipped correctly!
- Turn left on Rec Road 340 at: 37.13567, -111.48206.
- Turn right on Rec Road 264 at : 37.13067, -111.41448.
- Follow the “road” to Alstrom Point: 37.06059, -111.36583.
I “wrote” about my experience on Instagram the day we made the drive from White Pocket to Alstrom Point – this was my in the moment thoughts:
View this post on Instagram
This is how my hubby the photographer gets us into misadventures. “Let’s go camping at White Pocket, I want to shoot the Milky Way and the stars.” He tells me this as we’ve already been twice this year and he needs a good reason to get me to go back a third time (instead of going somewhere else). Then he says, “oh but the second night we’re camping at Lake Powell.” I say Lake Powell on a holiday weekend? Are you crazy!? He says, “well actually not Lake Powell but BLM that has a view of Lake Powell.” I say okay. “Oh, and by the way, we’re going to take a 4×4 road through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to get there,” I say okay. That route happened to be 6 hours of 4x4ing 3 hours of which my insides were so stirred up I thought I was a premium shaken margarita! Then after we enter Glen Canyon National Recreation Area there is the last 5 miles to get to “the spot” of which the last 2 will liquefy your insides! And ta-dah! Or et voila! Alstrom Point a spot known to landscape photographers but not many more. It has a gorgeous view of Lake Powell. He was right and our misadventures result in another success! ⛺⛺⛺⛺ #ontheblog today I am sharing the love for #TeamTepui. Our @tepuitents has changed our life – camping and road trips are way more fun now! https://bit.ly/mwaTepui #outdoors #optoutside #havefun #getoutside #desertdweller #desert #desertlife #redrock #lifeofadventure #doyoutravel #desertliving #exploringthesouthwest #beautifulviews #southwestisbest #southwest #takemoreadventures #mwatepui
Are There Other Ways to Reach Alstrom Point?
If you really want to visit Alstrom Point, but do not have the proper vehicle or driving skills, you can still see this special place. There are tour operators in Page that do day trips out to Alstrom Point. There are sunrise and sunset tours so you can experience the best time of day at Alstrom Point.
If you are traveling on Lake Powell by boat, you can see Alstrom Point from below in Gunsight Bay. You won’t be able to hike up to Alstrom Point to enjoy the fantastic views, however.
The dirt road is pretty decent until the last three miles or so, so you can drive part of the way and then hike in the remainder of the way.
What Are the Best Things to Do at Alstrom Point?
For us, photography is the best reason to visit Alstrom Point. Sunrise and sunset are both spectacular, so we chose to camp here to take advantage of the best light at the beginning and end of the day. The overlook faces east, so you can watch the sunrise over the lake, and sunset is equally mesmerizing.
If you plan to camp at Alstrom Point, you will need to be entirely self-sufficient. There are no designated camping sites or facilities, as this is truly backcountry camping at its finest. Be sure you have plenty of water for drinking and cooking, as you cannot just hike down to the lake for water. Additionally, securing a tent can be challenging as you are on a hard rock surface.
In addition to breathtaking landscapes and relative solitude, you’ll see some of the darkest skies you can imagine. Roughing it for a night is the best way to experience the changing light over the pink sandstone formations of Lake Powell.
Also, the drive in and out has some pretty spectacular monolithic rocks, sandstone landscapes, and bentonite formations.
When is the Best Time to Alstrom Point
Alstrom Point is in the Southwestern desert, so the height of the summer is not the best time to visit, although we camped there all alone 4th of July weekend – we prefer off-season even if we were a tiny bit uncomfortable sleeping. Rain will make the roads in and out unpassable, so you have to be wary of the weather in the spring, but it is a good time to visit as well as in the fall. If you are well-equipped for cold and the winter is dry, it is beautiful and peaceful.
What to Bring for Your Visit to Alstrom Point
There are absolutely zero facilities, you need to bring everything in and everything out. You need water. Lots and lots of water along with food for your meals.
- Container for extra gas
- Container for water
- Air Compressor
- Sand Bridges or Traction Mats
Besides the equipment, you will need if you drive, there are a few other items you should be sure to have whether for a day trip or for camping.
- Shade/Umbrella/Hat – there is no shade at Alstrom Point so if you are bringing your own car, bring something to create shade with a sunshade or shade shelter. Ours is from Kelty. Even if you are doing a day trip you may want to consider having something like this in your car, if you are road-tripping in the Southwest it is a nice thing to have. If you are visiting with a tour, consider an umbrella for additional shade. I always have several types of hats in the car at all times as well, including a baseball hat, a Wallaroo hat that protects me from too much sun and UV, and a knit cap for early morning and evenings when it gets cold.
- Sunscreen/UV protection – this is another must-have for any visit to the Southwest. Even if it doesn’t seem sunny, the UV is fierce. After ensuring you are well hydrated, this is the most essential thing you should do for your health and safety!
- Layers – depending on the season, the desert can be pretty chilly in the mornings and evenings, so consider layers that you can strip off as the day progresses.
Where to Stay Near Alstrom Point
If you choose not to camp at Alstrom Point, there are a few options for where you can stay nearby. The town of Big Water is closest to Alstrom Point, at about one hour away. There are a few hotels and bed-and-breakfasts here. If you are photographing sunrise or sunset, this is probably the best place to stay near Alstrom Point. Otherwise, the tourist towns of Kanab and Page are 90 minutes to two hours from Alstrom Point. They have more amenities, including hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants.
Despite the challenges of reaching Alstrom Point, the journey is well worth it.
How about you? Have you heard of Alstrom Point? Have I piqued your interest to visit or include it as part of a Southwestern road trip? Do tell!
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