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COLOMBO NICOLA / Shutterstock
With a shoreline longer than America's Pacific coast, Lake Powell is the heart of the huge 1,255,400-acre Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Created by the Glen Canyon Dam—a 710-foot wall of concrete in the Colorado River—Lake Powell took 17 years to fill. The second-largest man-made lake in the nation, it extends through terrain so rugged it was the last major area of the country to be mapped. Red cliffs ring the lake and twist off into 96 major canyons and countless inlets with huge, red-sandstone buttes randomly jutting from the sapphire waters. You could spend 30 years exploring the lake and still not see everything. Several years ago, the Sierra Club started a movement to drain the lake to restore water-filled Glen Canyon, which some believe was more spectacular than the Grand Canyon, but the lake is likely to be around for years to come.
The most popular thing to do at Lake Powell is renting a houseboat and chugging leisurely across the lake, exploring coves
and inlets. You'll have plenty of company, however, since more than 2 million people visit the lake each year. Fast motorboats, jet skis, and sailboats all share the lake. It's a popular spot for bass fishing, but you'll need a Utah fishing license from one of the marinas. Remember also that the lake extends into Arizona, and if your voyage takes you across the state line, you'll need a fishing license that covers the southern end of the lake. Unless you love crowds and parties, it's best to avoid visiting during Memorial Day or Labor Day weekends. It is important to check with the National Park Service for current water levels, closures, and other weather-related conditions.
Guided day tours are available for those who don't want to rent a boat. A popular full-day or half-day excursion sets out from the Bullfrog and Hall's Crossing marinas to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the largest natural bridge in the world, and this 290-foot-high, 275-foot-wide span is a breathtaking sight. The main National Park Service visitor center is at Bullfrog Marina; there's a gas station, campground, general store, and boat docks there.
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