With a shore-length of 1,900 miles, Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States. Named after a Civil War veteran, John Wesley Powell, Lake Powell is located primarily in Utah, yet, also in Northern Arizona. John explored the Colorado River in 1869 by means of three boats. Lake Powells primary in- and outflows are the Colorado River, Escalate River and San Juan River. Due to its stunning landscape, Lake Powell has been a popular shooting location for many TV series and movies, such as Planet of the Apes, Gravity and Doctor Who.
Attractions at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
When thinking of Lake Powell, your mind automatically wanders to the water, water-sport activities and to delicious fresh fish. Understandable! Yet, there is so much more to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area than meets the eye. Below we touch on just a few of the many geographical points of interest that may be of interest to you:
Glen Canyon Dam
The dam that formed Lake Powell was built from 1955 to 1966. With a height of 710 ft it’s one of the largest dams in the United States and a popular tourist destination. Tours are offered by Glen Canyon Conservancy; yet, as it is a federal facility don’t be alarmed by the established security measures. If you’re looking for a great photo opportunity or just want to enjoy a great view of the dam stop by the Glen Canyon Dam overlook. The overlook can be reached via the Glen Canyon Dam Scenic Drive. From the parking lot you take a short walk down a set of stairs. You will be able to see the mighty dam upstream from the viewpoint.
Although rather difficult and time-consuming to get there, it’s definitely worth the effort to experience this majestic natural bridge. With its 290 ft height and 270 ft length it’s one of the largest natural bridges in the world. Accessible by boat, by foot, or on horseback, the best times to visit the Rainbow Bridge are April through early June, September, and October. During summer, average temperatures are around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you to stay hydrated!
Hite Crossing Bridge
Located near Hite Marina on Lake Powell, Hite Crossing Bridge is the only bridge (UT State Route 95) accessible to automobiles which spans the Colorado River. Other crossing bridges are Glen Canyon Bridge (185 miles downstream) and US Route 191 Bridge (110 miles upstream).
Defiance House Ruin
Occupied by Anasazi, ancestors of Puebloans, Defiance House makes for a great day excursion. Only accessible via boat, the remnants of Anasazi are located in “Forgotten Canyon.” It’s speculated that the ruins were once occupied by two families of 15 – 20 people.
Cathedral in the Desert
Named after its resemblance of a Cathedral this attraction is a hidden gem. In 2005 the water levels were so low that visitors were able to see the floor of Cathedral in the Desert. However, now that the water has risen again you’ll be able to access the upper chamber by foot, boat and/or Kayak. Inform yourself of the water level before visiting – the lower the water level, the more impressive and iconic the experience!
Lake Powell’s busiest time of the year is during summer months as the water temperature is at its warmest, averaging around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid the crowds, we recommend to visit during springtime or fall.
A Vacation for the Entire Family
Lake Powell is the perfect destination to pursue any kind of water sport. On the one hand you can sign up for guided boating tours to Antelope Canyon or float trips down the Colorado River. On the other hand spending the day out on the lake boating is considered the most popular activity. Boats can be rented along with Kayaks and stand-up paddling boards. Other fun activities include sailing, wake-boarding and water-skiing. Designated swim beaches are perfect for picnics, lounging in the sun and enjoying the day with the occasional dip into the water to cool off.