It’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Located in the southeast corner of Utah and surrounded by dramatic cliffs, Lake Powell is the sparkling gem of the desert land, covering 186 miles of Glen Canyon. A sanctuary of recreation and adventure, millions of visitors world-wide flock to this shimmering man-made lake for five-star fishing, boating, water sports, and majestic canyon scenery.
It took 17 years to fill the canyon to its current height of 3700′ above sea level. Created in 1963 as part of the Glen Canyon Dam project which held back the waters of the Colorado River, the blue lake is named after the famous expeditionist, John Wesley Powell, who pioneered exploration of the sacred canyon grounds in the 1860s.
In 1881 the first ferryboat service across the Colorado River was established, providing the first accessible canyon crossing. But it wasn’t until August 14, 1909 that Rainbow Bridge, the world’s largest natural stone bridge, was discovered in a pioneer expedition. Excitement over the natural wonder was paramount among explorers, but knowledge of the bridge’s existence had been known by Native American Tribes for decades, passed down through oral tradition.
Rainbow Bridge was designated as a National Monument by President William H. Taft on May 30, 1910, and remains the most popular Lake Powell destination point to this day.
On October 20th 1956, President Eisenhower detonated the first blast to begin construction on the Glen Canyon Dam, and in March of 1963, the two diversion tunnels at Glen Canyon Dam closed down in order to allow Lake Powell to begin filling. It wasn’t until June 20, 1980, that Lake Powell reached its current height of 3700’ for the first time.
Lake Powell’s recreation area stretches from Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, and envelopes a variety of stunning vistas, geological marvels, and ancient native ruins. Sitting at an elevation 3,700 feet, this unusual canyon landscape is best enjoyed from the water.
Visitors partake of the lake’s charms by boat tours, sea kayaking, private fishing boats, or many spend their vacation days living on the surface of the lake in houseboats.
Main Access Points
Two of the five marinas on Lake Powell, are Halls Crossing and Hite. These small arenas are located in San Juan County and provide visitors with fuel, fishing gear, food, boat rentals, water recreational toys, and lake tours.
The wilderness around Lake Powell offers a few short hikes that wander among the sandstone cliffs and abandoned canyons, while boat tours to Rainbow Bridge National Monument leave daily from Halls Crossing Marina. Cal Black Memorial Airport gives visitors the opportunity to discover the grandeur of the Lake’s deserted landscape from a bird’s eye view with scenic flights.
Visitors to Lake Powell are situated near the beautiful parks of Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park , Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, and Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. These vast canyon lands offer unparalleled backcountry adventures through the breathtaking and forgotten Native lands of Utah.