Our final stop on day six (June 27th) of our family vacation to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, was to check out Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. It was more of a quick stop than our visit back in 1983 we we took the full tour of the 710-foot tall structure and even walked through the belly of the dam to observe the inner workings.
As a civil engineer who had just finished a masters degree specializing in ground water – I know how exciting – Bill was fascinated with getting the full tour. Even for me, it was a very interesting experience and I learned a tremendous amount about the inner workings of arch-gravity dams. Just don’t ask me any questions today…
Why Build a Dam
The Bureau of Reclamation’s damming the Colorado River in 1966 created a reservoir of water, known as Lake Powell, where deep sandstone gorges provided the perfect basin for collecting the backed up river water. It wasn’t until 1980 that the reservoir finally filled to capacity; however, water levels fluctuate as water is needed for irrigation during years of drought. Despite it being build with a very necessary function in mind, the gorgeous lake is a favorite recreational spot for water sports enthusiasts.
Finding Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell
The Glen Canyon Dam is located right along US-89 in Page, Arizona and can’t be missed! Wahweap Bay, one of the many fingers of Lake Powell, is also located just north of the dam on US-89 and is easily accessed via Lone Rock Road. Once at the Ranger Station, just show your National Park pass to save on the park entry fee because Utah’s parks honor the NP pass.
Views from the Carl Hayden Visitor Center
It was 95° by the time we got to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam and we were thrilled to be welcomed by cool air conditioning when we stepped into the building. After looking at the various exhibits, we walked over to the wall of observation windows overlooking the dam and the Colorado River. The following three pictures were taken from inside the building.
US-89 Bridge over the Colorado River on the south side of the dam…
The Glen Canyon Dam…
A Quick Walk Across the Glen Canyon Bridge
Back out in the heat, we chose to walk across the Glen Canyon Bridge suspended high over the Colorado River. Carefully placing my camera lens between the grids made by the chain-linked fence, I captured the following two pictures.
The Carl Hayden Visitor Center and the edge of the dam…
The Colorado River as it flows south away from the dam…
Behind the Visitor’s Center
Before we left the visitor’s center, we followed the parking lot that wound behind the center for a closer look. From there, we looked back at the imposing steel arch bridge crossing high over the Colorado River.
From this vantage point we had a better view of the water behind the dam. Notice the water marks on the sandstone rocks and the back of the dam from higher water levels.
Lone Rock Beach
If you check out this Google map, you’ll see that Lake Powell has many fingers. Wahweap Bay is the last finger protruding off of the Colorado River before it flows through the dam. We drove farther north on US-89 to Lone Rock Road where we parked and walked across a baron sandy beach to the edge of the bay.
As the name implies, Lone Rock Road leads to a massive lone rock in the middle of Wahweap Bay. This picture doesn’t do it justice.
Right at the water’s edge, there was a long line of parked RV’s…
Caught in a Sandstorm
After a quick look at the emerald colored water up close, we turned to walk back to the parking lot just as a sand storm kicked up. Even with covering our faces as best we could, we got sand in our eyes, ears, nose… and if you know me, you know that I’m not a fan of sand, especially when it gets on me.
Pretty Cool Restrooms
Again, if you know me, you know that I like to stay well hydrated which means frequent stops to use the restroom. I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of this rest area. The architecture of some restrooms make them worthy of sharing!
Well done, National Park Service, well done!
This Wasn’t the Lake Powell We Saw
A few months after we returned home I saw this picture under my favorite Instagram hashtag, #findyourpark. I immediately grabbed a screenshot and sent it to my family asking why this wasn’t how we spent our time at Lake Powell!
Final Thoughts on Lake Powell
Even though our visit to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell was very short, it was still very informative. The views of the dam, the lake, river, and the Glen Canyon Bridge from the visitor center are spectacular. Of course, it would have also been fun to spend the day out on the lake in a boat tucked away in a cave like in the picture above!
- • Have you visited Lake Powell?
- • What’s the coolest bridge you’ve crossed?
- • Are you afraid of heights?