Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Sights to See

Escalante Canyons

Accessed by boat or trails, the Escalante River canyons draw visitors to their cool, serene depths, their natural bridges and arches—including Stevens Arch, the largest in Glen Canyon NRA, and LaGorce Arch—and the relatively profuse flora and fauna of their riverbanks. For camping, backpacking and other information, contact the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at (435) 826-4315.

Orange Cliffs

One of the least-visited areas of Glen Canyon NRA, the Orange Cliffs area offers hiking and camping opportunities as well as spectacular vistas into Canyonlands National Park, which borders Glen Canyon to the northeast. Access this area east off Utah Highway 24, north of Hanks-ville, Utah, or just north of the Highway 95 bridge across the Colorado River. The Flint Trail offers excellent hiking and mountain biking. Permits (fee charged) are required for all overnight backcountry use. Camping is allowed only in designated areas. Advance reservations are encouraged; fax or mail requests are accepted. For more informa-tion, contact the Backcountry Reservations Office, Canyonlands National Park, 2282 South West Resource Boulevard, Moab, UT 84532; (435) 259-4351, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday—Friday; fax (435) 259-4285. 

The Rincon

This unusual Colorado River formation between Long and Iceberg canyons, down-lake from Bullfrog, was created when a loop of the river changed course, leaving a sandy river bottom that makes for interesting hikes. You can only access it by boat or on foot.

Romana Mesa and Alstrom Point

From Warm Creek Road, turn off to Romana Mesa. This 4-wheel-drive road ends with jaw-dropping overviews of Lake Powell's Padre Bay and Gunsight Butte, a favorite vista for professional photographers. Mountain bikers can also enjoy biking along this road.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge is a must-see for visitors to Glen Canyon NRA. Its size, symmetry and color reveal how special it is. Reaching a height of 290 feet, its red, sandstone arch spans 275 feet, with a thickness at the top of 42 feet. Natural bridges, such as Rain-bow, are formed by extremely rare natural events. An arid climate, a stream with good flow rates and rock like Navajo Sandstone—which is firm enough to form cliffs hundreds of feet high, yet soft enough to erode quickly—create an environment that makes the bridge unique.

The geological significance of Rainbow Bridge led to its designation as a national monument in 1910, but long before its discovery by white explorers, American Indians considered Rainbow Bridge a sacred religious site. In 1995, the National Park Service began working with Navajo, Hopi, Kaibab Paiute, San Juan Southern Paiute and White Mesa Ute tribes to identify and implement culturally sensitive management practices for the monument. Rainbow Bridge is still considered a sacred place to many American Indians, and the viewing area at the end of the trail provides an opportunity to see the bridge and honor its significance.

For more information about guided tour boat trips to Rain-bow Bridge, please call Lake Powell Resort at (928) 645-1070, Bull--frog Marina at (435) 684-3000, or call (800) 528-6154. You can also hike to Rainbow Bridge via a 14-mile trail that crosses the Navajo Reserva-tion. A permit is required. For information, write to Navajo Nation, P.O. Box 9000, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

Defiance House

This archeological site is asso-ciated with the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) people who occupied much of this region between A.D. 600 and 1300, farming in the river valleys and living in shelters such as these in south-facing alcoves. Eleven separate structures were originally recorded, including: a retaining wall; a series of contiguous room blocks; storage units for corn, grain and squash; and one kiva where religious ceremonies are believed to have been performed.

An Ancestral Puebloan clan constructed this community cliff dwelling in Forgotten Canyon at the peak of their culture. Along the back of the alcove are rock art panels and a series of what archeologists call anthropomorphs, which are animal-like figures with human characteristics. The name "Defiance" refers to the pictograph of the three warriors carrying shields. Archeol-o-gists believe that as many as 20 individuals, two-to-three families, inhabited this site for months at a time. 

Glen Canyon Dam

Constructed between 1956 and 1966, the Glen Canyon Dam was erected amid great controversy and compromise over the fate of America's western water resources and vast wilderness tracts. 

Water began to back up behind the dam's 587-foot wall in 1963, reaching its "full pool" in 1980. Much of the Colorado River's original canyon (Glen Canyon, for which the park today is named) disappeared from view and Lake Powell was created. 

Check at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center for additional information and dam tours or call (928) 608-6404. 

Glen Canyon Bridge

At 700 feet above the river, this is the second-highest steel-arch bridge in the world. Before the bridge was opened on February 20, 1959, the road distance from one side of the river to the other was 197 miles. 


Twenty-eight miles down-lake from Bullfrog, you can gaze up this monumental, man-made crevice in the rock cliff. If you drive to the top from Escalante, Utah (State Highway 12), you can look down to better understand and appreciate the courage and deter-mination of the Mormon pioneers as they struggled to cross the Colorado River in the winter of 1879—1880. Visitors can still walk the steep trail that the pioneers cut and blasted down the rock face so that they could lower their wagons and drive nearly 1,500 head of livestock to the canyon bottom. The Hole-in-the-Rock Road is 55 miles long, and the last six miles require high- clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. Normal vehicles will find the road in good shape (barring storm damage), with the exception of the last six miles. The entire route on the east side of Lake Powell requires a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.

Lake Powell

Named for Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell, the lake is 186 miles long and backs up into more than 96 major side canyons. Its 1,960 miles of shoreline are longer than the length of the whole western coast of the continental United States. With storage capacity of 27 million acre feet, and a surface area of 161,390 acres, Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made lake in the U.S., after Lake Mead.

Lake Powell is the result of a single dam with a concrete crest that extends nearly one-third of a mile across the sandstone rim of Glen Canyon. The lake's blue waters, more than 500 feet deep in places, are the product of a score of rivers draining large portions of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. 

Lees Ferry/Lonely Dell Ranch

This historic river crossing opened travel from Utah into Arizona territory and enabled primarily Mormon settlement of the Four Corners region. Mile 0—the dividing line between the Upper and Lower Colorado River basins—is the starting point for white-water river trips through the Grand Canyon. A fort, a post office, ranch buildings and a cemetery remain to remind us of a colorful past. Walk along the banks of the river and look for the remains of an old steamboat used by the Spencer gold- and coal-mining operations.