5 Best Sights in Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, Northeast Arizona

Antelope Canyon

Fodor's choice

You've probably seen dozens of photographs of Antelope Canyon, a narrow, red-sandstone slot canyon with convoluted corkscrew formations, dramatically illuminated by light streaming down from above. And you're likely to see assorted shutterbugs waiting patiently for just the right shot of these colorful, photogenic rocks, which are actually petrified sand dunes. The best photos are taken at high noon, when light filters through the slot in the canyon surface. Be prepared to protect your camera equipment against blowing dust and leave your tripod and monopod at home. Navajo Nation and Recreation no longer permits photography tours of the canyon, and while regular tours permit you to take photos, you won't be able to set up your tripod or monopod during your visit.

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Glen Canyon Dam National Recreation Area

Fodor's choice

Once you leave the Page business district heading northwest, the Glen Canyon Dam National Recreation Area and Lake Powell behind it immediately become visible. This concrete-arch dam—all 5 million cubic feet of it—was completed in September 1963, its power plant an engineering feat that rivaled the Hoover Dam. The dam's crest is 1,560 feet across and rises 710 feet from bedrock and 583 feet above the waters of the Colorado River. When Lake Powell is full, it's 560 feet deep at the dam. The plant generates some 1.3 million kilowatts of electricity when each generator's 40-ton shaft is producing nearly 200,000 horsepower. Power from the dam serves a five-state grid consisting of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, California, and New Mexico, and provides energy for more than 1.5 million users.

With only 8 inches of annual rainfall, the Lake Powell area enjoys blue skies nearly year-round. Summer temperatures range from the 60s to the 90s. Fall and spring are usually balmy, with daytime temperatures often in the 70s and 80s, but chilly weather can set in. Nights are cool even in summer, and in winter the risk of a cold spell increases, but all-weather houseboats and tour boats make for year-round cruising. Boaters and campers should note that regulations require the use of portable toilets on the lake and lakeshore to prevent water pollution.

U.S. 89, Page, AZ, 86040, USA
928-608–6200
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $30 per vehicle or $15 per person (entering on foot or by bicycle), good for up to 7 days; boating fee $30 up to 7 days

Lake Powell

You could spend 30 years exploring the lake's 2,000 miles of shoreline within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and still not experience everything there is to see. Most of us have only a few days or a week, but that’s still plenty of time for recreation in the second-largest reservoir in the nation. Every water sport imaginable awaits you, from waterskiing to fishing. Renting a houseboat and camping are popular within Lake Powell, though small communities around marinas in Page and Wahweap have hotels, restaurants, and shops where you can restock vital supplies.

South of Lake Powell the landscape gives way to Echo Cliffs, orange-sandstone formations rising 1,000 feet and more above the highway in places. At Bitter Springs the road ascends the cliffs and provides a spectacular view of the 9,000-square-mile Arizona Strip to the west and the 3,000-foot Vermilion Cliffs to the northwest.

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Powell Museum

At the corner of North Navajo Drive and Lake Powell Boulevard is the Powell Museum, whose namesake, John Wesley Powell, led the first known expeditions down the Green River and the rapids-choked Colorado through the Grand Canyon between 1869 and 1872. Powell mapped and kept detailed records of his trips, naming the Grand Canyon and many other geographic points of interest in northern Arizona. Artifacts from his expeditions are displayed in the museum. The museum also doubles as the town's visitor information center. A travel desk dispenses information and allows you to book boating tours, raft trips, scenic flights, accommodations in Page, or Antelope Canyon tours. When you sign up for tours here, concessionaires give a donation to the nonprofit museum with no extra charge to you.

6 N. Lake Powell Blvd., Page, AZ, 86040, USA
928-640--3900
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, donations accepted, Daily, 9-5

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

The 290-foot red-sandstone arch is the world's largest natural bridge; it can be reached by boat or strenuous hike and can also be viewed by air. A boat tour to the monument ($126) is a great way to see not only the monument but also the enormity of the lake and its incredible, rugged beauty. The lake level is down, however, due to the prolonged drought throughout the region, so expect a 1-mile (or more) hike from the boat dock to the monument. To the Navajos this is a sacred area with deep religious and spiritual significance, so outsiders are asked not to hike underneath the arch itself.