One of the reasons Tom and I decided to work at Pipe Spring National Monument was the location. Location, location, location! Southern Utah, the Grand Canyon – thirteen national park sites within a two-hour drive. Some of the most beautiful places in the United States. We figured we would have plenty of new places to visit as well as some old favorites. On a recent day off we visited a new place: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was created by the damming of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon. Today over two million visitors come every year to boat on and hike around Lake Powell. The city of Page, Arizona, is largely dependent on the tourist industry. The dam produces hydroelectric power for four million people from Wyoming through southern Arizona. The phenomenal growth of Tuscon and Phoenix would not have been possible without the Glen Canyon Dam.
Although the water level is currently about 100 feet below its record high in the 1980’s, the lake is still impressive. When Tom and I drove over the final rise before the lake, we were stunned to see so much water in the middle of the very dry desert. It is odd to drive through seemingly desert towns and see boat storage facilities.
We headed first to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the Glen Canyon Dam. Watching two of the three movies they have available, we marveled at the building of the dam as an engineering feat. We spent considerable time reading about Glen Canyon before and after the dam. People who lived here before the dam was built still mourn the loss of solitude and the miles of slot canyons covered up by the water.
We snapped a few pictures of the dam but opted not to do the dam tour. The tour is very popular, but we did the dam tour at Hoover Dam and I don’t think anything could be better than that. I got my Passport book stamped and then we drove to the Wahweap marina to take a tour of the lake on one of the boat concessionaires.
The best way to see Lake Powell is by boat. The few roads are mostly around the Page end of the lake. Many people rent houseboats on Lake Powell and stay on the lake for a week at a time. We saw lots of houseboats and it looked like a fun way to see the area. Houseboats can “park” almost anyplace along the miles of shoreline for the night.
We were on the boat for four hours and traveled 50 miles each direction on Lake Powell. Our boat captain told us some personal anecdotes but mostly he played a recorded tour. It was interesting with plenty of beautiful views along the way. I’m glad the captain knew which way we were going because I would have ended up a canyon without a paddle (ha ha). Whenever our big tour boat went by a houseboat, the captain slowed down to leave less of a wake, and we all waved.
On the trip out, Tom and I enjoyed the sun and breeze on the open-air top deck. With higher temperatures later in the day, we opted for the air-conditioned cabin on the lower deck.
After an afternoon on Lake Powell, we had supper at the Wahweap Grille at the Lake Powell Resort and Marina. It wasn’t the best food ever but we were hungry and we had a great view of the lake while we ate.
We enjoyed our time at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area very much. We never made it into Page and we still want to go to Antelope Canyon. So we will definitely be going back before the end of the summer. I’m glad we took the boat tour because it was definitely the way to feel like we had seen the lake.