Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Lake Powell

By Ron Goulet

Encompassing over 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation. The recreation area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, encompassing scenic vistas, geologic wonders, and a vast panorama of human history.

GCNRA is located at the center of the Colorado Plateau, providing for public enjoyment through diverse land- and water-based recreational opportunities, and protects scenic, scientific, natural, and cultural resources on Lake Powell, the Colorado River, its tributaries, and surrounding lands.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell, set dramatically against a backdrop of eroded red rock canyons and mesas, is the largest man-made lake in North America and is widely recognized by boating enthusiasts as one of the premier water-based recreation destinations in the world.  Houseboating has become an extremely popular way for visitors to see and enjoy Lake Powell, it’s cliffs, and side canyons.


The vast landscape of Glen Canyon contains rugged water- and wind-carved canyons, buttes, mesas, rivers, seeps, springs, and hanging gardens where diverse

habitats sustain an array of endemic, rare, and relict plant and animal communities.

GCNRA is significant for preservation as the Colorado River and its many tributaries, including the Dirty Devil, Paria, Escalante, and San Juan rivers, carve through the Colorado Plateau to form a landscape of dynamic and complex desert and water environments.

GCNRA preserves a record of more than 10,000 years of human presence, adaptation, and exploration. This place remains significant for many descendant communities, providing opportunities for people to connect with cultural values and associations that are both ancient and contemporary.

The deep, 15-mile-long, narrow gorge below the dam provides a glimpse of the high canyon walls, ancient rock art, and a vestige of the riparian and beach terrace environments that were seen by John Wesley Powell’s Colorado River expedition in 1869, providing a stark contrast to the impounded canyons of Lake Powell.

Rainbow Bridge is one of the world’s largest natural bridges and is a premier example of eccentric stream erosion in a remote area of the Colorado Plateau.

For many indigenous peoples in the Four Corners region, Rainbow Bridge is a spiritually occupied landscape that is inseparable from their cultural identities and traditional beliefs. 

Complete visitor information for Glen Canyon National Recreation is found at the National Park Service website for boating, camping, hiking and other opportunities: