A report on Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam

Image of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area taken from the International Space Station
The Grand Canyon from an airplane, with the Colorado River visible
Panorama of Glen Canyon Dam showing Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam and Carl Hayden Visitor Center.
Grand Canyon, Arizona, Nevada, Lake Powell to Lake Mead, June 27, 2017, Sentinel-2 true-color satellite image. Scale 1:450,000.
A boater on the river in Glen Canyon before damming, circa 1898.
Diagram showing the placement, age and thickness of the rock units exposed in the Grand Canyon
Map showing locations of major dams in the Colorado River Basin, with Glen Canyon near the center of the basin.
Rockfalls in recent times, along with other mass wasting, have further widened the canyon
Echo Park, looking south with the Yampa River (left) joining the Green River. The USBR proposed damming the Green a short distance downstream, behind the large cliff (Steamboat Rock) at right.
Ancestral Puebloan granaries at Nankoweap Creek
Near Music Temple in Glen Canyon during the 1870s
La conquista del Colorado (2017), by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau, depicts Spanish Captain García López de Cárdenas 1540 expedition
Glen Canyon damsite from the air in November 1957, prior to construction of the Glen Canyon Bridge
William Bell's photograph of the Grand Canyon, taken in 1872 as part of the Wheeler expedition
Architectural plans for the Glen Canyon Dam and ancillary structures
Noon rest in Marble Canyon, second Powell Expedition, 1872
Glen Canyon Dam under construction, 1962
Desert View Watchtower in 2004
Lake Powell filling underway, 1965
1923-built steam locomotive No. 4960 at the Grand Canyon Depot
Glen Canyon Dam releasing floodwater in 1984, testing repairs of the spillways which were heavily damaged in 1983.
Grand Canyon covered with snow
The right spillway gates during 1983 flood, showing flashboards that were installed to increase the water level
Smoke from prescribed fires on the South Rim, as seen from Yavapai Point, April 2007.
Low water levels on Lake Powell in April 2006, seen from Hole in the Rock. The water is 107 ft below the top of the "bathtub ring" along the reservoir shore.
Natural fog sometimes fills the canyon, during temperature inversions
An aerial view of Glen Canyon Dam from upstream, showing the spillways to lower left and right, the Glen Canyon Bridge and the electric switchyard to the right of the bridge.
Grand Canyon Climate Summary Chart (NPS)
Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell
A bighorn ram perched on a cliff in the Grand Canyon
Francis turbine runner on display
A bighorn ewe at the Grand Canyon, 2008
A generator being repaired with rotor removed
A California condor in flight, photographed from Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon, 2008. Wild condors are numbered to aid wildlife researchers. As of April 2009, there were 172 wild California condors known.
View of the power plant and grass lawn
Red-tailed Hawk flying at the south rim of Grand Canyon
Inside the turbine hall at the Glen Canyon Power Plant
An elk searching for water at Grand Canyon National Park in 2018.
View of the Colorado immediately downstream of Glen Canyon Dam (right). The green, clear water is caused by the dam trapping sediment, which would naturally cause the river to have a reddish-brown color.
Rafters in the Grand Canyon pass one of the rapids of the (mud-)"colored" Colorado River
The Colorado River is now much calmer and colder than before the dam was built.
Guano Point – a popular vantage point for tourists, situated on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, Hualapai Indian Reservation
River outlet works are open during high flow experiment in December 2012.
Grand Canyon rescue helicopter, 1978
Map of Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon NRA
Ribbon Falls, near the North Kaibab Trail, represents ground water reaching the surface.
Chart showing daily water volume observations for Lake Powell, from Jun 28, 1963 to October 11, 2021
David Rust, ca.1910
Lake Powell surface area shrinkage
Railway Station and El Tovar Hotel, Facing WNW, Grand Canyon Village. 1994 photo, HAER
Fred Harvey postcard, The Towering Cliffs above Hermit Camp
Vishnu rock, Trail of Time, Grand Canyon

The dam is named for Glen Canyon, a series of deep sandstone gorges now flooded by the reservoir; Lake Powell is named for John Wesley Powell, who in 1869 led the first expedition to traverse the Colorado River's Grand Canyon by boat.

- Glen Canyon Dam

The canyon's ecosystem was permanently changed after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963.

- Grand Canyon
Image of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area taken from the International Space Station

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Overall

Colorado River

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One of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

One of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Colorado River in the Grand Canyon seen from Pima Point, near Hermit's Rest
Satellite view of the Colorado River valley near Yuma, Arizona; interstate 8 runs from left to right just below center.
Colorado River as it exits the United States into Mexico beneath the San Luis Colorado-Colonia Miguel Aléman Bridge (September 2009)
The San Juan River near Mexican Hat, Utah
The Green River at Mineral Bottom, just north of Canyonlands National Park
Annual Colorado River discharge volumes at Lee's Ferry between 1895 and 2004
Map showing the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basin, and adjacent areas supplied by Colorado River water.
The Black Suspension Bridge crosses the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch, Arizona.
Remnants of basalt flows from the Uinkaret volcanic field are seen here descending into the Grand Canyon, where they dammed the Colorado over 10 times in the past 2 million years.
Navajo woman and child, photographed by Ansel Adams, c. 1944
Pueblos and cliff dwellings such as this one in New Mexico were inhabited by people of the Colorado River basin between 2,000 and 700 years ago.
Two Mohave warriors beside the Colorado River in 1871
La conquista del Colorado, by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau, depicts Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's 1540–1542 expedition
Coronado Sets Out to the North, by Frederic Remington, c. 1905
Lithograph of Fort Yuma, c. 1875
Marble Canyon, one of the many gorges that Powell's expedition traversed
The steamboat Mohave No. 2 at Yuma, c. 1876
John D. Lee, date and photographer unknown. He established a permanent ferry across the Colorado.
Harrison Gray Otis, president of the Colorado River Land Company
Hoover Dam releasing water in 1998
The Grand Ditch, one of the earliest water diversions of the Colorado River, is still in use today.
Hoover Dam under construction, 1934
The Imperial Dam (bottom right) diverts water into the All-American Canal (center) running towards Imperial Valley.
Glen Canyon Dam, the largest dam of the Colorado River Storage Project
The main canal of the Central Arizona Project, crossing the Sonoran Desert
Lake Mead in 2010, showing the "bathtub ring" left behind by low water levels
Heavily forested banks of the Colorado River near Topock, Arizona
The Colorado was named for the reddish color caused by its natural sediment loads, but damming the river has caused it to acquire a clear green hue as seen here in lower Glen Canyon.
A rafting party on the Colorado River

Starting in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it flows generally southwest across the Colorado Plateau and through the Grand Canyon before reaching Lake Mead on the Arizona–Nevada border, where it turns south toward the international border.

During the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, environmental organizations vowed to block any further development of the river, and a number of later dam and aqueduct proposals were defeated by citizen opposition.

1938 poster of the park

Grand Canyon National Park

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15th site in the United States to have been named as a national park.

15th site in the United States to have been named as a national park.

1938 poster of the park
Grand Canyon Quarter
Grand Canyon regional map
From Powell Point on the South Rim
Sunset at Cape Royal Point, North Rim. Wotans Throne featured.
From Toroweap Overlook on the North Rim
From Desert View on the South Rim

The park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World.

(Later, the Glen Canyon Dam would be built upriver.) A second Grand Canyon National Monument to the west was proclaimed in 1932.

Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee's Ferry Recreation Area,

Lees Ferry

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Site on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona in the United States, about 7.5 mi southwest of Page and 9 mi south of the Utah–Arizona state line.

Site on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona in the United States, about 7.5 mi southwest of Page and 9 mi south of the Utah–Arizona state line.

Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee's Ferry Recreation Area,
Man fly-fishing on the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, AZ
Historic desert fruit orchard at Lee's Ferry Recreation Area.
Hiking trail along the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry Recreation Area.
View of the Colorado River from Lees Ferry
One of the surviving buildings at Lonely Dell, the settlement established by John D. Lee at Lees Ferry in 1870
Standing 467 ft above the river, the original Navajo Bridge (rear) superseded ferry operations at Lees Ferry in 1929. The second bridge was built in 1995 to accommodate modern traffic load requirements.
Map showing the Colorado River basin and some of its major reservoirs; Lees Ferry (slightly left of center) is located directly below Page, Arizona and Lake Powell.
Inflatable rafts lined up for launch at Lee's Ferry

Glen Canyon Dam impounds the Colorado a short distance upstream and completely regulates the river flow past Lees Ferry.

Today Lees Ferry is a well-known fishing and boat launching point, including for whitewater rafting trips through the Grand Canyon.

A map of the Colorado Plateau.

Colorado Plateau

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Physiographic and desert region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States.

Physiographic and desert region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States.

A map of the Colorado Plateau.
The Four Corners region and the Colorado Plateau. Click image to see state lines.
The Book Cliffs of Utah.
The Green River runs north to south from Wyoming, briefly through Colorado, and converges with the Colorado River in southeastern Utah.
MODIS satellite image of Grand Canyon, Lake Powell (black, left of center) and the Colorado Plateau. White areas are snow-capped.
The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah that makes up much of the famous prominent rock formations in protected areas such as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park. From top to bottom: rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone; layered red Kayenta Formation; cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone; slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation; layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation; and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone from the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah.
Castle Gate rock formation in Carbon County, UT.
Navajo sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park.
Sunset in Ojito Wilderness, near Albuquerque, NM
Castle Gate Power Plant near Helper, UT.

In the southwest corner of the Colorado Plateau lies the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

Construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s and the Glen Canyon Dam in the 1960s changed the character of the Colorado River.

Navajo Generating Station

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2.25-gigawatt , coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, Arizona, United States.

2.25-gigawatt , coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, Arizona, United States.

Railroad track hopper, boiler structures and stack during plant construction
Demolition of Navajo Generating Station, December 2020
Scrubber absorber vessel and flue gas stacks
Navajo Generating Station vapor emissions
Lake Powell, Page city area on the right and Navajo generating station in the background
Winter panorama showing the city of Page, the Navajo Generating Station, and LeChee Rock (left to right, looking east near center). Water vapor from the plant's stacks and cooling towers forms a large plume due to the cold air and relative humidity.
Satellite photo showing Page, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, Navajo Generating Station and Colorado River (North towards bottom, see arrow at lower right)

However, the proximity of the proposed dams to the Grand Canyon raised opposition, initially from the National Park Service and then more vigorously from a coalition of environmental groups which promoted construction of a thermal or nuclear power plant as an alternative.

The site selected for the new power plant was about six miles (10 km) east of Glen Canyon Dam and three miles (5 km) south of Lake Powell on 1,786 acre of land leased from the Navajo Nation.