Dams, Bends & Dust
~Saturday, April 9, 2022~
Well, a few plans didn’t go quite according to plan. We had about 5 excursions planned for today as well as on Sunday: 1. Antelope Canyon 2. Rainbow Bridge National Monument 3. Glen Canyon Dam & Visitor Center 4. Buckskin Gulch/Wire Pass Trail and 5. Horseshoe Bend. Of the five, two of them, Antelope Canyon and Rainbow Bridge, would have only worked if we had the luxury of adding 2 more days to our stay in the Lake Powell Area. And that wasn’t going to happen since we already had booked/paid reservations for our next destination in Utah. We just found out that Antelope Canyon, one of the most magical slot canyons in the region, can only be seen through a guided tour and requires at least a few weeks advanced reservations that cost between $69 to $95/person. And on a side note, masks are required per Navajo National Government mandates. Then we found out that the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, one of the world’s largest known natural bridges (similar to what you would see at Arches National Park), has limited access due to current lake levels. The dock at Rainbow Bridge doesn’t even reach land at the moment and requires a 5 to 6 hour boat ride tour on Lake Powell to see it for a whopping $126/person (as it takes mostly all day) or via a 14+ mile hiking trail to its remote location. A backpacking permit from the Navajo Nation is required. What we did manage to get was a day use permit to Buckskin Gulch for tomorrow. $6.00/person, including $6.00 per dog. So we’re really looking forward to that.
For today’s agenda, it would be Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend. But first, a drive to Wahweap Overlook to get a glance at some of the “arm” outcroppings of Lake Powell. This vista point offers stunning picturesque views of Wahweap Marina, Navajo Generating Station, Glen Canyon Dam and miles of beautiful Lake Powell shoreline, despite low lake levels.
Next, we took a short drive to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, otherwise known as Glen Canyon Dam Visitor Center. The visitor center was named after U.S. Senator Carl Hayden who was a proponent for reclamation and consistently backed legislation dealings for public lands, mining and power in The West, particularly. At the entrance to the building, there are 2 memorials. One is to commemorate the 18 workers who died during the construction of the dam. The second memorial, a rectangular pool fountain, is dedicated to employees of Glen Canyon Dam who died in a plane crash near Montrose, Colorado in 1977. So sad.
The visitor center offers exhibits about recreation and addresses future water conservation as well as historic trends. And of course there is a lot of information about the construction of the dam itself and its purpose
in providing drinking water to millions of people, as well as hydroelectric power. They also offer guided tours. Here are a few interesting facts about Glen Canyon Dam:
Glen Canyon Dam took 8 years to construct and was completed in 1964, to tame the waters of the Colorado River and create massive Lake Powell, a popular recreation area along the Utah/Arizona border. Lake Powell is about 186 miles long and attracts nearly 3 million visitors a year.
The dam was constructed to allow electrical power generation, store water for the arid southwestern United States.
The dam, powerplant and switchyard cost $280 million in 1963 (a value of approximately $2.17 billion in 2015).
The dam is a concrete arch dam with a crest length of !,560 feet. It contains 4,901,000 cubic yards of concrete.
The dam is 25 feet wide at the crest and 300 feet wide at the maximum base.
It took 17 years to fill Lake Powell to full pool, making it the second-largest man-made reservoir in the U.S.
The Colorado River travels 1,450 miles from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Gulf of California in Mexico.
Since we had Sadie with us, Jeff and I had to take turns going into the visitor center. While Jeff was inside, Sadie and I met a very nice man and his dog (from Canada). He was a nurse up until November when he quit his job and decided to do an open-ended adventure throughout the Western U.S. He’s also here to retrieve his abandoned R.V. that he had to leave behind in the wake of COVID with all the border restrictions. Then out of nowhere, blustery winds picked up, and there went our great weather day in a snap. And it would stay that way until midnight.
Mid-afternoon we took another short drive to Horseshoe Bend for a 1-½ mile out/back hike to the overlook itself. This monument is managed by the City of Page, so a national park pass nor our Lone Rock lodging pass got us in. $10 wasn’t a big deal and of course goes to a good cause. From the minute we got out of the car, the wind was relentless. I guess my legs needed some extra exfoliating anyway. It actually kind of stung as we made our way to the overlook of Horseshoe, having to stop a few times along the way for poor Sadie’s sake. The Sandstone escarpment is visible from the guardrail overlooks and is one of the most recognized and visited places in the Glen Canyon area.
It actually looked much bigger than we thought it would. With the winds at top speed, you really had to be careful on the exposed ledges that didn’t have guardrails. It just takes one gust, right? About 1,000 feet from the rim, we saw a few rafting companies taking a rest on the Colorado River shores of the 270-degree horseshoe shaped bend.
Since we were going through the town of Page anyway to get home, we decided to stock up on a few more items before heading to no-man's land in a few days.
We were almost afraid to survey the wind damage when we arrived back at the campground. We were mindful to of course close the large awning before we left for the day's outings, but thought the smaller awning didn’t require it since it is structurally stronger and smaller. Luckily it was intact, but had the winds gone in another direction, they’d have been toast. We should have known better than to risk leaving it out. Chairs were toppled, the outdoor mat (anchored) was covered in sand. Hopefully Bille Jean has a good enough coating of wax on her to dodge any sand abrasion. But what about the inside? We had left 2 back bedroom windows open. Everything was coated in a light dusting of sand,
even the bedding. It must have been pretty bad here today forcing the poor Dyson to go into overdrive. I mean it was everywhere! The walls, the bed, the sheets, the carpet, the desk. It was the worst winds we’ve experienced with nothing to break its path but the trailer itself.
Had a great long conversation with my mom catching up on the latest like her latest car repairs, the Academy Awards drama and a new Netflix series she’s inspired by called “Home Edit”. Hmmm…..I may have to look into that one since I’m always interested in home organization tips.