Lees Ferry: Official Entryway to the Grand Canyon
Roughly 42 miles from the town of Page, Arizona, Lee's Ferry is an historic site on the Colorado River that once offered ferry service over this calm stretch of the mighty river. Today, many travelers begin their Marble Canyon and Grand Canyon river journeys at Lee's Ferry which specializes in tours from commercial rafting businesses that provide trips that last as long as a half day or as much as a few weeks. Lee's Ferry is the premier site to launch a raft trip down the Colorado River into the canyons beyond.
Lees Ferry History
With a past straight out of Old Western legends, comes the true story of the site's founder, John D. Lee who established his ferry service in 1871 at the request of the Mormon Church. The calm waters of the site and beds of shale deposits allowed for safe passage across the river through the nearly impassible canyon terrain. Because Lee moved around considerably, the ferry was essentially run by his wife Emma, one of his seventeen wives.
The law caught up with Lee in 1877, however, when he was executed by law enforcement officials for his actions in the Mountains Meadows Massacre of 1857. A few years later, Emma Lee sold the ferry service to the Mormon Church, which had provided the seed money for its beginnings under John Lee. The ferry continued to provide service until the 1920s when it was replaced by the Navajo Bridge. The site still bears its founder's name today.
Lee's Ferry Recreation
Many visitors have called the Colorado waters near Lee's Ferry the best trout fishing site in all of the southwest. Guided fishing trips are available at Lee's Ferry and fishermen rave about their catches amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the rock formations. Be sure to pick up your Arizona fishing license; they are conveniently sold at the Marble Canyon Lodge.
Rafting trips from Lee's Ferry can be found to suit all skill levels and the guides for the trips really know their stuff. Short trips and extended trips set out from Lee's Ferry and the journeys are filled with breathtaking scenery and a myriad of information from the guides who seem to have a story for every bend of the river. The longer trips allow travelers to hike as well for an added dimension to their experience.
Travelers will find a ranger's station at Lee's Ferry along with a camp ground, launch ramp, a courtesy dock, and even a fish-cleaning facility for added convenience. The town of Marble Canyon, about three miles away, features a restaurant and filling station.
Lee's Ferry is accessible from U.S. 89 to U.S. 89A. One mile past the Navajo Bridge is a turnoff that leads to historic Lees Ferry, which is roughly three miles from the Marble Canyon Lodge. It is considered to be the official beginning of the Grand Canyon and the site sits on a sharp river bend at the intersection of the Echo and Vermillion Cliffs.