The Navajo Reservation border town of Page, Arizona
By Ron Goulet
(https://www.cityofpage.org/), lies on the Reservations northwest on the Utah state border. It is most famous for the 710-foot-high Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, a marvel or engineering, the resulting 186-mile long Lake Powell reservoir, and surrounding spectacular landscapes.
Page was founded in 1957 as a housing community for workers and their families during the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. The dam’s 17-square-mile site was obtained in a land exchange with the Navajo Nation. The city is perched atop Manson Mesa at an elevation of 4,300 feet above sea level and 600 feet above Lake Powell.
The city was originally called Government Camp, but was later named for John C. Page, Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation between 1936 and 1943.
Controversial from the start, the dam was built between 1956 and 1966. Page was officially incorporated on March 1, 1975 and the city grew steadily to today’s population of over 9,000. Because of the new roads and bridge built for use during construction, it has become the gateway to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell attracting more than three million visitors per year.
Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam forming Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. with a capacity of 27 million acre feet. Named for Glen Canyon, a series of deep sandstone gorges and an area of unparalleled beauty all it’s own before the lake, now flooded by the reservoir. Lake Powell is named for John Wesley Powell who led the first expedition down the Colorado, traversing the entire length of the Grand Canyon by boat in 1869.
An account and recreation of this spectacular adventure can be seen in the IMAX film “The Hidden Secrets” at the IMAX Theater Grand Canyon (60-foot screen), in Tusayan, Arizona, near Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim entrance.
Environmentalist first fought for, the decried the flooding of Glen Canyon as one of the major defeats and losses of the environmental movements in the U.S. Side canyons and archaeological sites were flooded forever. David Brown, executive director of the Sierra Club from 1952 – 1969 declared that flooding Glen Canyon under the depths of a stagnant reservoir would come to be America’s most regretted environmental mistake. He worked hard to stop Glen Canyon Dam from being completed and was only a few feet from the desk of decision makers the day the gates on the dam were closed, making one last attempt to keep the waters of the Colorado River from flooding the spectacular Glen Canyon.
Together with notable photographer Eliot Porter and the Sierra Club, Brower created the book, “The Place No One Knew,” as a testimony to Glen Canyon’s unparalleled beauty and as a reminder of the value of wild and natural places. From his fights to save Glen Canyon, David Brower went on to keep dams out of Marble and Grand Canyons for generations to come. Finding a copy of the spectacular book “The Place No One Knew” would require searching the Internet for a used copy or browsing the rare books section of used book stores.
A dam in Glen Canyon was studied as early as 1924, but these plans were initially dropped in favor of the Hoover Dam, completed in 1963, located in Black Canyon on the Arizona – Nevada border. It’s also a tourist attraction for drivers on the way to Las Vegas.
During years of drought, Glen Canyon Dam guarantees a water delivery to the Southwest states without the need for rationing in the more northerly states. In wet years, it captures extra runoff for future use. The Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams are major sources of hydroelectricity. Above the dam, the long and winding Lake Powell, known for its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities including houseboating, fishing and water-skiing, attracts millions of tourists each year to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Glen Canyon was one of the last dams of its size to be built in the United States; it’s been criticized for the large evaporative losses from Lake Powell, and its impact on the ecology of the Grand Canyon downriver. Today, environmental groupd still advocate for the dam’s removal. Periodic releases from the dam to mimic natural flooding downstream in the Grand Canyon are attempts to restore natural beaches and improve the impact on a variety of animal species. The flooding has delivered mixed and inconclusive results.
Tours of the Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Natural History Association is the exclusive provider of dam tours, in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The 45-minute tours are available year-round. Join the Natural History Association whose knowledgeable guides will give you a closer look at the surprising history of this awesome structure.
A maximum of 20 people are allowed per tour, including children and infants. Your can reserve spots on a tour in person only at Carl Hayden Visitor Center up to 24 hours in advance. Reservations are not taken by telephone or online. Tour schedules vary with the season. Ticket prices range from “Free” for children ages 0 – 6 (ticket required however), ages 7 – 16 are $2.50, and adults are $5.00; Seniors 62 and over are $4.00; U.S. Military and dependents are $4.00
All tour times are Mountain Standard Time (MST). Security screening is required. Please arrive at the tour desk 30 minutes before tour times to make reservations.
November 1st – February 28th — Tours are scheduled every two hours:
8:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 2:30 PM.
March 1st – May 15th — Tours are scheduled every hour on the half hour:
8:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:30 PM.
May 16th – September 17th — Tours are scheduled every half hour:
8:30 AM to 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM.
September 18th – October 31st: — Tours are scheduled every hour on the half hour:
8:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:30 PM.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell
Since first filling to capacity in 1980, Lake Powell water levels have fluctuated greatly depending on water demand and annual runoff. Operation of Glen Canyon Dam helps ensure an equitable distribution of water between the states of the Upper Colorado River Basin – Colorado, Wyoming and most of New Mexico and Utah, and the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (shortened to Glen Canyon NRA or GCNRA) is a recreation and conservation unit of the National Park Service that encompasses the area around Lake Powell and lower Cataract Canyon in Utah and Arizona, covering 1,254.429 acres of mostly desert. Plan your entire visit to Glen Canyon NRA and Lake Powell at the GCNRA website: www.nps.gov/glca/index.htm
The region surrounding GCNRA is an outdoors and environmentalist’s paradise of protected lands —
The stated purpose of Glen Canyon NRA is for recreation as well as preservation (whereas a national park may carry more emphasis on natural preservation). As such, the area has been developed for access to Lake Powell via five marinas, four camping grounds, two small airports, and houseboat rental concessions.
The recreation area borders Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park to the north, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to the west, Rainbow Bridge National Monument to the east, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and the northeastern-most reaches of Grand Canyon National Park to the southwest, and the Navajo Nation to the southeast. An entire lifetime of vacations could be spent exploring all of these areas alone!
The southwestern end of Glen Canyon NRA in Arizona can be accessed via U.S. Route 89 and State Route 98. State Route 95 and State Route 276 lead to the northeastern end of the recreation area in Utah.
Page Municipal Airport serves Page with scheduled, charter, and general aviation.
Services at Page, Arizona: Gasoline, dining, snacks, restrooms, grocery stores, auto repairs, Native American arts & crafts, souvenirs, lodging.
Look at Yelp and you will find a lot of options.
There are several options for nightclubs but the one frequented by the locals is called Windy Mesa. If you go, you will see a lot of Navajos.
There are several hotels and motels, but they get booked during the summer so make reservations early.
Weather: The climate at Page, Arizona is quite warm in the summer months and generally dry year-round. Summer temperatures in June, July and August are an average high between 90 and 95 degrees, with overnight Summer lows in the 60s. Autumn is still warm but more pleasant. October average high temperature is 70 degrees. High temperatures in the Winter months of December, January and February average in the 40s with overnight lows in the high 20s to 30 degrees. Rainfall in the wettest months of July, August and September averages a relatively low amount at about ½ to ¾ of an in of rain for the entire month! Any snow accumulation is extremely rare.
Dial 911 for Page, Arizona Police or emergency services. Police Department direct: (928) 645-2463.
Dial 911 for Page, Arizona Police or emergency services. Nearest hospital is Page Hospital, 501 N. Navajo Rd., Page, AZ 86040
Side trips near Page, Arizona
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Lake Powell
Glen Canyon Dam
Antelope Point Marina
Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Page, Arizona city website: www.cityofpage.org
Visit Lake Powell website: www.visitpagelakepowell.com