Lee’s Ferry is the only place in hundreds of miles from which one can easily access the Colorado River from both sides. It historically served as an important river crossing and starting in the mid-19th century was the site of a ferry operated by John Doyle Lee, for whom it is named. Boat service at Lee’s Ferry continued for over 60 years before being superseded by a bridge in the early 20th century, which allowed for much more efficient automobile travel.
If travelling from Flagstaff, Arizona, from the south travel up highway 89 to Bitter Springs, the junction of highway 89 and 89A. Take 89A to the left to reach the Colorado River in 14 miles.
If travelling south from Page, Arizona, take highway 89 23 miles to the junction with highway 89A and then turn north up highway 89A 14 miles to the Colorado River.
If coming from the west take highway 89A from Fredonia, Arizona, 70 miles to the Colorado River.
The Navajo Bridge crosses the Colorado River at Marble Canyon.
There are several hiking trails in the Lee’s Ferry area; the Cathedral Wash hike, the River Trail, the Paria Canyon Trail, and the Spencer Trail.
Cathedral Wash Trail
This trail starts from the Lee’s Ferry road about 1 mile from highway 89A. The trail is a moderately strenuous trail of 2.5 miles return taking you to the Colorado River.
Paria Canyon Trail
The Paria River source is in the north west section of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah not far from Bryce Canyon National Park. This river crosses Utah highway 89 38 miles from Kanab, Utah, and 32 miles from the Glen Canyon bridge at Page, Arizona.
The hike down the Paria River from Utah highway 89 to Lee’s Ferry is 45 miles and is reported to be extremely difficult. It is possible to hike up the Paria Canyon Trail from Lee’s Ferry a few miles as a day trip.
This historic trail climbs 1700 feet up the cliff behind the Lee’s Ferry Fort. It is not regularly maintained but is reported to be passable for careful hikers.
The River Trail starts at the parking lot at the end of the main Lee’s Ferry road. From here it goes past the Lee’s Ferry Fort and other stone buildings. You will see an old steam boiler and other workings on the rise near the river. A little further along you will come to an overlook above the remains of the steamboat Charles H Spencer. It is from this point that the Spencer Trail heads uphill.
The trail destination is the Upper Ferry Site about 0.7 miles from the parking lot. The Upper Ferry Site GPS is 36.863838 N and 111.577320 W. This is important to know as you can easily miss this site and keep going upstream along a fisherman’s trail. On this occasion I missed the site and went a further 1 mile upstream before turning back. The Upper Ferry Site is a quiet spot with building ruins and the remains of the cable that held the ferry from 1898 to 1928.
This trail is fairly easy to the Upper Fairy Site but gets progressively more difficult as you travel further upriver.