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About Lake Powell

The sparkling blue waters of Lake Powell are magnificently framed by towering rock formations and soaring red cliffs which surround the area for as far as the eye can see. There is truly nothing like it anywhere on the planet. Each year millions of visitors, most from outside the United States, flock to the area to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and numerous water activities including boating, water skiing, scuba diving and fishing.

The lake was created following the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, a decade-long project beginning in 1956, and named for Major John Wesley Powell, a civil-war veteran and explorer.

Lake Powell stretches from the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona up the Colorado River through Utah, past the San Juan confluence to Hite for a total of 186 miles. Including the numerous flooded canyons, Lake Powell has more than 2,000 miles of shoreline, more than the entire west coast of the United States.

Although the sheer size of this body of water and the close proximity to many national parks draws visitors to its shores, it may be the rugged landscape and the surprising stillness of the area that keeps them coming back for more. Other than the National Park Service authorized concessionaire, you won't find the hotels, restaurants or other businesses choking the shoreline and destroying the views. Except for Wahweap Lodge and Marina, hotels and shopping can be found only in neighboring Page, Arizona, just 15 minutes by automobile from the lodge.

Early explorations

Prior to the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, the mighty and muddy Colorado River dominated that area. Deemed the most treacherous waterway in the northern hemisphere, the river meandered through Utah and Arizona, cutting its way through the soft sandstone to the floor some 700 feet below. Major Powell, one of the most famous early explorers, began his river journey at Green River City in Wyoming down to the mouth of the Virgin River in Arizona near the Grand Canyon. Powell conducted the first scientific and geological survey of the canyon in 1869.

Before Powell's expedition, Lt. Joseph C. Ives led a party through the area in 1858, commenting in his diary, "Ours has been the first and will undoubtedly be the last party to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed."

Lake Powell Today

Today visitors will see a lake teeming with activity as recreation enthusiasts explore the secrets of Powell by houseboat, jet boat, personal watercraft or even diving. Even with thousands of people enjoying the bounty of recreational opportunities, Lake Powell never seems crowded. There is always a deserted sandy cove or hidden canyon just around the corner.

A 50-mile run from Wahweap will take you to Rainbow Bridge, a stone arch spanning 275 feet and rising more than 290 feet. La Gorce Arch is another natural rock formation 100 feet wide and 75 feet high located in the Escalante Arm at Davis Gulch.

Other surprises await the patient explorer, including ancient Native American petroglyphs and ruins. Even the names inspire adventure: Hidden Passage, Anteater Arch, Whirlwind Mine, Lost Eden Canyon and hundreds more

© 1995-2017 Shelly James
Page and Lake Powell, Arizona
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