Lake Powell Facts

Lake Powell Facts
Crystal clear Lake Powell is a huge recreational mecca, a long bulge in the Colorado River with tentacles reaching into the outlets of creeks and rivers which cut through surreal canyons and red rock buttes in Arizona and Utah. The lake exists by forfeit of Glen Canyon to the 710-foot high Glen Canyon Dam, which was completed in 1963. As the lake behind the dam filled over the following 17 years, the canyon's spectacular assets were submerged. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area surrounds the lake, which is principally fed by the San Juan, lower Dirty Devil, Green, Escalante and Colorado Rivers.

Naming Lake Powell

Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell led a daring expedition in wooden boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869 and is honored in the lake's name. He mapped and named the Grand Canyon.

Construction of Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Dam's construction, begun in 1956, went on day and night until 1963.

Size of the Lake

In 186 miles of length, Lake Powell's shoreline exceeds 2000 miles and it holds more than 3 trillion gallons of water when full, the second largest man-made reservoir in the U.S.

Purpose of the Lake

The lake's most important use is water storage for use in Arizona, California and Nevada in times of drought, although it also generates a yearly average of 451 megawatts (1300 megawatt capacity).


Over 3,000,000 people visit Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area each year for swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, jumping off high rocks, exploring canyons, searching for Anasazi ruins, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful stark landscape.


Six marinas serve the boating public on Lake Powell. Wahweap and Bullfrog Marinas have the most elaborate facilities and the most surrounding hotels and services.


Water level in Lake Powell has lowered considerably in recent years because of severe drought. One result is the uncovering of some of the Glen Canyon's lost beauty.

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the largest natural bridge on earth, is the most popular destination on the lake.


Lake Powell has become somewhat renown for its ambulatory houseboats, which can be rented or bought as time-share.

Opposition to the dam

The Glen Canyon Dam was the target of the eco-militant "Monkey Wrench Gang" in Edward Abby's 1975 novel. The dam's existence has been opposed throughout its construction and life by the Sierra Club, among others, who would have the Colorado River's natural flow restored.

Article Written By Barry Truman

Barry Truman has published many outdoor activity articles in the past five years with International Real Travel Adventures, the Everett Herald and Seattle Post Intelligencer newspapers, Backpacking Light Magazine and He has a forestry degree from the University of Washington.

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