Lake Powell

Spending a few days living aboard a houseboat on Lake Powell is a unique experience. The lake was created by the Glen Canyon dam that holds back the Colorado River and creates a huge reservoir.

Since its construction in the early 1960s, the dam has been controversial. Beautiful canyon areas were flooded to create the lake and significant damage was done to the river ecosystem.

By sailing on the lake, visitors can now easily reach canyon areas that years ago would have required days of travel on foot or horseback. People will differ on whether this is good or bad. But few will dispute that the views throughout the 186-mile long lake are spectacular. Of special note is Rainbow Bridge, a natural sandstone arch that stands 290 feet high and 275 feet across.

2004 Update: The photos presented here were taken in 1996. Since 1999, Lake Powell has lost more than 60% of its water, both as a result of an extended drought in the American southwest (possibly the worst in 500 years) and through use and natural evaporation. The surface of the lake has dropped almost 130 feet in the last five years. Some of the side canyons that were easily navigable in 1996 are now impassable by boat. There has even been some talk of removing the dam altogether and restoring the area to its original condition, though that prospect seems unlikely. But receding water levels have also revealed spectacular canyons and other sights that have been hidden underwater for several decades. The areas lost to boaters have become a boon to hikers.

For more photos from this part of the U.S., check out the Arizona, Canyon de Chelly and Grand Canyon pages.

For more information about U.S. National Parks in general, visit the web site of the National Park Service.