Ask most people where they’re going this summer and it’s likely to include answers like going to the beach or heading to the mountains for a lake getaway. But what about a houseboat vacation on a lake in the desert? Odds are it’s probably not on your travel to-do list for this summer. However, that’s what you can expect to find at Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border.

With its location in the middle of the desert, Lake Powell is a multi-faceted attraction in and of itself. There’s no nightlife. There’s no urban metropolis. It’s just you and miles of shoreline. And when I say miles, I mean hundreds and hundreds of miles, since Lake Powell has more shoreline than the entire west coast of the U.S. With so much coastline and water, the only way to really experience it is via boat.

For many people visiting Lake Powell, the lake itself isn’t the attraction, but rather a stop-through for road-trippers. That’s because the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park are all three hours away. That’s a lot to compete with. For those stopping through, there are plenty of opportunities to get on the water, even if you just have a day, such as renting a boat or jet ski, or doing a boat tour. Boat tours leave from Wahweap Marina, near Page, AZ, and vary depending on your time and what you want to see. Some of the boat tours include Rainbow Bridge, the largest stone bridge in the world, as well Antelope Canyon, famous for its slot canyons.

However, like you’d expect from a vacation, I encourage you to stop and stay for a little longer than just an afternoon. Located near Page, Arizona is Lake Powell Resort, which provides a beautiful perched view over Lake Powell, but is more of a hotel than what you’d expect from a resort. This may be preferable if you only have a couple days and intend to mix boating on Lake Powell with exploring some of the local area by car. The resort is convenient to Wahweap Marina if you want to spend a day on the lake.

But its house boating that makes Lake Powell what it is. There are few lakes in the world where house boating is so prominent. It is in effect a hotel on pontoons. Like the hotel options you have when planning a vacation, such as budget and luxury, so there are similar options when choosing a houseboat on Lake Powell. Know your way around a boat and want something to stretch out on? Consider the 75′ Excursion, which is quadruple the size of my apartment, sleeping 12 – 20 people. For something smaller and economical, consider one of several options, such as the 46’ Expedition, which sleeps up to 12 people. All boats come with a full kitchen, living and eating space, entertainment system, and mini wine cellar, and can be rented from three to seven days.

Not comfortable piloting a hotel on pontoons? You’re not the only one. Lake Powell recently started a house boating 101 course for those who have never piloted a boat or don’t feel comfortable doing so. The course includes two nights at the resort for two with daily breakfast and a hands-on introduction to house boating. Guests go out with a captain and go through the entire house boating experience, from parking, to piloting, to anchoring, to beaching, to towing a powerboat. The house boating 101 course is $299 and is a good weekend course for anyone who has ever wanted to stay on a houseboat, but never had the opportunity or didn’t feel comfortable piloting one.