Day Trip to Page, AZ & Glen Canyon Dam
Saturday, April 28th
Page, AZ is about 30 miles east of my camp on the Paria River. It is on the east side of the Colorado River at the location of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. In addition to sightseeing, I need to go to the grocery store and there is a Safeway in Page. Saturday morning I take a drive over there.
On Highway 89 at the western end of Lake Powell is the Lone Rock Camping area. I have read about this area and stop by to check it out.
There aren’t defined camping spaces. One picks out a spot they like and sets up camp. You can camp right down on the lake shore or up from the lake. Since I am here on a Saturday, there are lots of RVs. The shoreline is pretty much filled. The western end of the shore camping area has fairly hard packed sand.
The eastern end was pretty soft though. Just driving my truck in it was not easy. I wouldn’t pull my Nash down there. There was a big 5th wheel there however. Hopefully he can get out. According to the ranger I spoke to, if you get stuck and have to call a wrecker, they charge $400 to $500!! And most days at least one rig gets stuck.
This would be a great place to camp if you have some type of watercraft. Otherwise there isn’t much else going on here – other than the pretty lake view of course.
After looking around, I continue east on Hwy 89. I make a quick stop at the Glen Canyon Dam visitors center and sign up for the 2:30pm dam tour. Then I head on into Page, which is just across the river.
One of the biggest sightseeing attractions on this side of the river is the famous Horseshoe Bend. It is about four miles south of Page. From the parking area, it is a three-quarter mile walk to the river gorge. There were lots of people and tour buses!
Here the Colorado River makes a 270° bend; it is a beautiful sight! The river gorge is about 1,000 feet deep. I spent about 30 minutes walking around the observation area before heading back to the truck.
Back in Page, there is another river overlook that is just below the dam. It is on Scenic View Road just behind the Denny’s restaurant. There is a path down the sandstone rocks that goes to an overlook that is right on a bend in the river, so you are looking right up river at the dam.
I saw this guy running around down there. The tail makes me think is it a zebra lizard, but the body looks too wide. The horned lizards have a wide body like this, but this one doesn’t have horns. Maybe a herpetologist will read this and tells us what kind of lizard it is.
After a trip to the Safeway, I headed back to the visitors center for the dam tour. This photo of the bridge was taken from the visitors center. It’s interesting, before construction could start on the dam, the bridge had to be constructed. The nearest bridge over the Colorado River was the Navajo Bridge, which required a 200 mile trip to reach the dam construction site. The dam was closed in 1963 and Lake Powell began to fill. The dam was constructed and is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. Lake Powell is the second largest impoundment on the Colorado River, Lake Mead being the largest.
The guided tour goes across the top of the dam to the second tower. There we take an elevator down into the dam.
From the top of the dam you can look down at the electric power generator building.
This is the inside of the power generation building. Each of the round yellow structures contains a turbine. You can see the first one in the lower right of the photo is disassembled. It is under repair as is the one on the opposite end.
The photo below was taken from the top of the dam. The top of the white sandstone marks the high water level when the dam is at full capacity. Currently Lake Powell is at 52% of capacity and is roughly 92 feet below the level when full.
The tour was quite interesting and our tour guide was very knowledgeable. There was good information on how the water coming into Lake Powell is managed and the various parties involved in the management.
After the tour, I was interested in learning more about Colorado River water management. I found this Bureau of Reclamation web page which details the 2018 management plan. The information below is from this web page. I am including a link to the website if anyone is interested in more detail. It does get a little wonky, but I like learning about these things 🙂
For the 2018 water year, the annual minimum amount of water to be released is 8.23 million acre-feet (maf) and not more than 9 maf. (The 2018 water year goes from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018). The management policy for 2018 is to balance the levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Lake Mead is at about 40% capacity. The excess water released over the 8.23 maf minimum will stay in Lake Mead to try to balance the levels between the two lakes. The projected 2018 inflow to Powell is 5.6 maf.
Okay, enough of that! After the tour I headed back towards home. Just a few miles west of the dam is an overlook. I stopped there quickly. I couldn’t spend too much time as I had groceries. There is a nice view towards the Wahweap Marina to the west.
Then looking east to Navajo Mountain in the distance. It was a busy and fun day!