Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
|Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona (Steve Bly/Digital Visions/Getty)|
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area provides a dramatic example of one of nature's most inspiring settings combined with a hugely Promethean human project. Impounded behind the Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 200 miles to form Lake Powell, the recreational focus of the park. But don't overlook the more than 1.2 million acres of desert-and-canyon country that surrounds the lake. While the lake may be humming with motorboats and personal watercraft, the backcountry is mostly deserted and quiet.
Glen Canyon is one of the most controversial engineering projects in history, and the controversy still rages. Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963, inundatingby all accountssome of the most beautiful canyon country in the southwest. A movement is afoot to dismantle the dam. And of course, there's a counter-movement to keep it.
When it comes to preserving and protecting a beloved landscape, people can be mighty stubborn.
Hike Wiregrass Canyon
Hiking provides intimate contact with natural and cultural features, and gets you away from the lakeshores. Wiregrass Canyon is a sweet suggestion for stretching your legs and a good introduction to desert hiking. There is no trail as such, but it is easy to follow the wash, which extends for about three miles from the road to Lake Powell. Features include two natural bridges, and as you wander down the wash, you will see balanced rocks, small arches high in the canyon walls, and side canyons, which you are welcome to explore. Warning: This is not a hike for midday during the summer heat.
Kayak Lake Powell
One of the best kept secrets is the incredible sea kayaking in Lake Powell. Lake Powell has over 1,900 miles of eccentric shoreline, offering surprisingly rich sea kayaking. If your thing is day hikes to Anasazi ruins, photographing natural arches, hanging out in the wilderness, or fishing, you will find it here. The best time of year to paddle is September to May. That's when the weather is at its best and the vacationing power boaters are back at their day jobs.
Bike the Burr Trail
And if you like to do your desert exploration on the seat of a bike, Glen Canyon offers plenty of great trail choices. The Burr Trail takes the adventurous traveler into some of Utah's most high-drama country. The road connects Bullfrog and Boulder, Utah, and passes through the painted rock country of Glen Canyon. Views of the Henry Mountains, the colorfully contorted Waterpocket Fold, Red Circle Cliffs, and Long Canyon. Many hikes and side trips are available. This is a popular drive for the four-wheeling set, not exactly an isolated trip.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication