Coming out of the Grand Canyon, we ended up with a couple open nights… This was due to our canceling some reservations at old National Park lodges that we’re not really accessible to Mrs Bear’s locomotor limitations. So I looked around for a filler between the Canyon and Moab, Utah… And what I found was Lake Powell and the Glendale Canyon National Recreation Area. I had heard of Lake Powell, but thought it was a retirement area for seniors.
Lake Powell was built in the 1950-60s as a second major dam and man made lake on the Colorado River. It is upstream from Hoover Dam and Lake Meade. Originally the dam was supposed to be built on what is now Dinosaur Tracks National Monument, but a concerted effort by ecologists moved the sight to Glen Canyon. Since then, there has been controversy and regret over flooding Glen Canyon, to the point where there have been recent court documents requesting that the dam be removed.
Initially, we were concerned that there wasn’t much that Mrs Bear could do. We scheduled a boat cruise on the lake. But the other major attractions, the Navaho Cultural Center, Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River, and tours of Antelope Canyon, didn’t have the paved paths she needed.
So we did the cruise and had a great time, We also learned a few things. First, there is a difference between National Parks and National Recreation Areas.. Our guide said you can’t have any fun in a National Park. “ All you can do is look at things.” In a National Recreation Area, you recreate. At Lake Powell, people boat, fish, swim, knack, and jump off the ledges. The only things you can’t do are hunt and fly drones. More specifically about Lake Powell, we learned that this long, skinny, and deep canyon has hundreds of smaller slot canyons, like the ones you see in the pics. In fact, our cruise never made it to the main body of the lake. Our slot became narrower and the limestone walls became higher. But that didn’t stop the locals from jumping into the 65 degree water. Our guide told us that the water reached the high 80s earlier this summer when the outside temps broke 110 in July.
We also learned how deep Glen Canyon was, and is. As we cruised out of the marina, the water depth was about 475 feet. As we entered the slot canyon, we cruised over a cliff and the water depth fell to about 250 feet !! Third, we learned that water transportation is the only way to get to some really interesting places. The lake is really a long river with aneurisms that widen it enough to call it a lake. We met a couple that told us about a great trip they made to Rainbow Bridge National Monument…But the trip was a two hour boat ride upriver (or uplake). They shared a pic which I’ll pass on to you:
One of the big attractions here is to rent a houseboat and cruise the lake. We heard stories of “rookies” getting lost in the slot canyons and running out of gas. This seems pretty easy to do… Look at the photo below… Lake Powell has more shoreline than the entire USA Pacific Coast. But don’t let me scare you…All this makes me want to come back and rent a houseboat, probably in September.
The photo above sets up our next activity. Leave it to Mrs Bear to find the silver lining. She can’t hike to the vistas…OK, we’ll fly over them!! And land on one of them!!
Mrs Bear is doing much better. She was able to transfer into the helicopter with minimal help. And she was thrilled to put me in one of these for the first time. So our flight had two parts: First, we flew over the Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bay. The copter made a run back and forth so both sides could take pics.
Then, it was on to the main event: Tower Butte… This very small geological feature ( from a distance) is actually 1000 feet high and about the size of two football fields on top.
We circled around enough to make me a little nervous, and then came in for a perfect landing. We were able to get out, walk around on a very sandy surface with surprising black lava rock mixed in with the sandstone, and take pics of the lake.
Too soon, it was time to leave. As we flew back to the local airport, I was already thinking how cool it would be to repeat this in Hawaii in a few months…I better start saving my money!!