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Lake Powell: Arizona's Blue-Water Playground feature image

Lake Powell: Arizona’s Blue-Water Playground

by Peg Matteson, The Maverick Magazine Arizona Historian

Now don’t get upset with me ’cause I REALLY DO KNOW we have lots of awesome lakes here in the White Mountains… but… I found the long history of beautiful Lake Powell and decided to share it with YOU—our wonderful readers! After all, everyone needs a new place to see and visit in the summertime (or winter…whatever!) don’t they?

Lake Powell, which is  straddling the Arizona-Utah border, is a vacationland second to none. Every year the lake, which surrounds the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area comprises the ultimate destination for more than 2 million sportsmen and vacationers. Perhaps nowhere else in the world does so much varied and spectacular scenery exist as it does in this area.

Possessing a shoreline longer than that of the entire west coast, Lake Powell in its own right is a playground for power boating, sailing, house boating, water skiing, and rafting the white waters downriver or floating the placid lake upstream—and from what I hear, it is one of America’s most popular fishin’ holes, where a day’s catch MAY include rainbow and brown trout, largemouth and striped bass, black crappie, channel catfish, walleye and northern pike, bluegill, and carp…. (Did I forget anything?)

Rainbow Lake is the result of 250 million years of canyon cutting by geologic upheavals, wind, weather, and the Colorado  River, plus many years of water collecting behind Glen Canyon Dam. The waters have so invaded and inundated the deep canyons the lake now stretches at least 186 miles upriver and the lake’s shoreline exceeds 1,900 miles. Powell is one of the youngest, and in terms of water capacity, one of the largest of America’s man-made reservoirs.

Now, Rainbow Bridge was landlocked in the uninhabited fastness of chasms and cliffs when it was discovered in 1909 and for the next six decades it was only seen by maybe as few as 200 people, which included Zane Grey and U.S. senator Barry Goldwater. Today, the delicate stone-rainbow arch has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors—some even on horseback trips and via private or tour boats with a half- or day-long junket from Wahweap or Bullfrog marinas to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which is one of the lake’s most popular tourist attractions.

Gateway city to Lake Powell—and a logical departure and return point for the Grand Circle Tour—is Page, Arizona… a town that had its genesis as a place to lodge construction workers while Glen Canyon Dam was being built, and is today still a fast-growing and popular city.

And so dear readers… we have been given history once again of a fairly far-away spot in our beautiful state of Arizona… our state with a heart.

See you next month!

Lake Powell: Arizona's Blue-Water Playground 1 image