Lake Powell / Page, AZ
Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir located in northern Arizona and southern Utah, created by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. With a capacity of over 24 million acre-feet, it is the second-largest reservoir in the United States and the largest in the Southwest. Spanning over 186 miles, Lake Powell offers an incredible variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.
This was our next stop after we departed Zion National Park and our plan was to spend one night in Page, AZ and explore Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. We also wanted to avoid a full day's drive into Durango, CO (our next pit stop) and stopping in Page, AZ allowed us to explore Lake Powell and then drive on to the Four Corners area.
- Lake Powell is named for explorer John Wesley Powell, a one-armed American Civil War veteran who explored the river via three wooden boats in 1869.
- Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity in the United States behind Lake Mead.
- Lake Powell has a maximum capacity of 30 cubic kilometers (7.2 cubic miles) or 30 trillion liters (7.9 trillion gallons).
- Lake Powell is roughly 300 kilometers (186 miles) long and 40 kilometers (25 miles) across at its widest point. It has a surface area of 252 square miles, with 1,900 miles of shore line.
- Lake Powell's average depth is 40 meters (132 feet), while the maximum depth is 178 meters (583 feet).
- Lake Powell's main body stretches up Glen Canyon, but has also filled many (over 90) side canyons.
- The 22 year long mega-drought has left Lake Powell just 24% full.
Where is Lake Powell?
It is more accurate to say that our destination was actually Page, AZ as well as Lake Powell & the Glen Canyon dam. We had selected this area as a stop-over on the way back to Colorado because it is a boater's paradise in the middle of a very arid desert.
You may have noticed on our "route map" that when we departed Springdale, UT we went west instead of the shorter route through the park? This is because the Mt. Carmel Tunnel was being operated one way (switching back & forth), as well as having height & width restrictions. When we entered the park, we did not have to wait to enter the tunnel, however on the western side of the tunnel there was a five mile backup waiting to go east through the tunnel. As we did not want to sit in a traffic queue for our departure, we decided to take the western route.
After 157 miles of desert driving, the first thing we saw as we descended route 89 (into Page) is Lake Powell off to our left and then you come up to the Glen Canyon Dam. The story about the Dam, it's construction and what issues the continued drought is causing, can be read in more detail here. The bottom line is that the Glen Canyon Dam may have to be removed (or bypassed) in order to save Lake Mead (close to Las Vegas).
The dam is a 710 feet high arch-gravity construction positioned such that bridge traffic into Page, AZ receives a full view of the dam as they cross the bridge. The steel arch Glen Canyon Bridge is 1,271 feet in length and is 700 feet above the river. It is the sixth tallest bridge in the United States (the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado is the tallest at 955 feet).
Lake Powell has over 2,000 miles of shoreline which is more than the combined states on the Pacific Coast. It is 400 feet deep, 186 miles long and has a water storage capacity of 27,000,000 acre feet of water.
Due to the continued drought, there are a number of launch ramps that are currently closed, you should check the National Park Service alerts list to see what is closed. There are also various webcams available online for sites around Lake Powell, click here to view that page.
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