Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: America’s Amazing Natural Wonder


Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a recreation area located in Arizona and Utah. The recreation area consists of Glen Canyon, which is a canyon of the Colorado River, and surrounding areas.  The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was established in 1972 as Lake Powell National Recreation Area. In 1980, the recreation area was renamed to its present name. The recreation area is managed by the National Park Service.
Glen Canyon is a large canyon formed by the Colorado River that was cut into the Colorado Plateau. The canyon stretches for 170 miles long and is up to 18 miles wide. It was created over a period of 6 million years when the Colorado River wore away layers of rock as it flowed westward through it. The canyon reaches depths of almost 2,000 feet below sea level and ends in Marble Canyon.


The recreation area includes portions of both Arizona and Utah with a total area of 3,816 square miles (9,726 km2). The boundary between the two states runs north-south through the centerline of Glen Canyon. The northern boundary is along Interstate 70 and then east-west along U.S Route 89 to its intersection with Arizona State Route 98 at Lees Ferry on the Colorado River which forms most of its southern boundary


The recreation area also includes parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Kaiparowits Plateau, Dixie National Forest, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

The recreation area is open year-round, but there are no services available in the winter. The North Rim of the canyon is open to visitors from mid-May through mid-October, while the South Rim is open year-round.


The Glen Canyon Recreation Area is an exceptional destination for outdoor recreation. It offers a wide variety of activities that appeal to all ages and skill levels. Visitors are able to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Colorado Plateau, hike in slot canyons, explore ruins from ancient cultures, swim in desert rivers, and enjoy the company of friends and family. The recreation area is a popular destination for boating, water-skiing, jet-skiing and scuba diving. The recreation area also offers river tours and river running. There are several tour companies that provide guided trips down the Colorado River through the recreation area. The tours range from half-day to multi-day trips.

There are also several outfitters that provide equipment for self-guided trips on the Colorado and its tributaries. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is managed as a multiple use area by the National Park Service (NPS). As such, it provides opportunities for many different types of recreational activities in addition to being a protected ecosystem. Among these activities are camping, hiking, fishing and hunting as well as boating and water sports in Lake Powell which covers much of the eastern side of Glen Canyon NRA along with rock climbing at Horseshoe Bend on Lake Powell’s west side near Page AZ.


The steep walls of Glen Canyon provide a spectacular backdrop for many activities including hiking, camping, picnicking, boating and fishing. The lower elevation areas around the lake are popular spots for golfing and other outdoor recreation activities. The main visitor center is at Lee’s Ferry where there is a marina with boat rentals and mooring for private boats. Hiking opportunities include trails leading from several campgrounds to scenic views such as Horseshoe Bend and Navajo Bridge. There are also trails leading into side canyons in the national recreation area such as Wire Pass where there is a trailhead for hikers wanting to explore Buckskin Gulch or hike into Hall’s Crossing on Lake Powell. Other popular hiking areas include Coyote Buttes North and South which have steep cliffs that provide excellent rock climbing opportunities as well as remote canyons like Dark Canyon which offer excellent backpacking opportunities. Scuba diving on Lake Powell includes explorations of Rainbow Bridge National Monument which sits in mid-lake while kayak tours take visitors through narrow canyons such as Antelope Creek which is accessible only by watercraft.


Visitors may camp at established campsites along Lake Powell or at numerous primitive sites along many of the tributary canyons within Glen Canyon NRA including Buckskin Gulch, Chimney Canyon, Coyote Gulch and Dark Canyon. There are also two campgrounds on the lake for boat-in camping. Rainbow Bridge National Monument is another popular destination for visitors to Glen Canyon NRA. The monument features a large natural stone arch that is considered sacred to many of the Native American tribes in the area. Other popular destinations include Hopi Salt Lake and Navajo Bridge which are located along Highway 98 in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.


Lake Powell is home to several species of fish including rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and yellow perch as well as native fish such as the flannelmouth sucker and Colorado squawfish. Fishing is allowed year-round on the lake but there are several regulations that must be followed including a limit of six fish per day with no more than one over 18 inches long as well as a limit of three fish over 15 inches long per day with no more than one over 18 inches long or two over 24 inches long in designated wilderness areas around Rainbow Bridge National Monument where fishing is prohibited year-round.


Lake Powell offers excellent fishing opportunities for rainbow trout and smallmouth bass during most of the year. The best fishing usually occurs in the spring and fall although good numbers of both species can be caught year-round in the deeper waters along the southern end of the lake including Halls Crossing, Lone Rock, Bullfrog and Hite Crossing.


This national park is also a great place to visit if you are interested in Native American culture and history. There are many museums and cultural sites dedicated to telling the story of the original peoples of this land, such as the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park.The scenery is also very beautiful, with red rock cliffs, desert landscapes, and the Colorado River running through the canyon.

You have to see Glen Canyon for yourself! The views are breathtaking and there are plenty of activities for everyone in the family.


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