Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Rec Area
Glen Canyon National Rec Area (courtesy, NPS)

The secret to having a good time at Glen Canyon is knowing where to go. Because the facility encompasses a huge and diverse area, you can pick the terms of your experience—wild and risky, or tame and laid-back. To point you in the right direction, here's a rundown of the major areas. All these areas are indicated on the overview map.

Downriver from Glen Canyon Dam, Lees Ferry lies in the break between Glen and Marble Canyons. A natural corridor between Utah and Arizona, Lees Ferry figured prominently in the exploration and settlement of the surrounding canyon country. Because of unrest between settlers and Navajo, a stone fort and trading post were built in 1874. Warren Johnson and his son ran the ferry from 1873 to 1896 for the Mormon Church. The post office established here around 1913 was a focal point for far-flung miners working the canyon country. Remains of the post office and fort persist. Just up the Paria valley are the Lonely Dell Ranch buildings, an orchard, and cemetery. The upriver ferry crossing and the Spencer steamboat are still visible.

Today's Lees Ferry offers a ranger station, launch ramp, campground, and, upstream toward the dam, prime trout habitat. River trips through the Grand Canyon begin at Lees Ferry; permits are required and should be secured a year or more in advance.

Many people find the region around Hite to be the most scenic in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Just uplake from the present site of Hite Marina, the Dirty Devil River meets the Colorado, making good catfish habitat, while the Colorado itself courses through scenic Narrow Canyon. The National Park Service offers a ranger station, launch ramp, and primitive camping.

Cass Hite originally named this country Dandy Crossing because it was the best ford in the Colorado above Lees Ferry. Prehistoric peoples also used the crossing. Remains of their structures can still be seen nearby. During the 1880s and 1890s, gold miners would rendezvous here, for Hite had the only post office in Glen Canyon. Today, Hite, the Dirty Devil River, and the upper stretches of Lake Powell are reached by paved Utah Hwy. 95.

Wahwheap is where the crowds are—a good place to take care of business, then leave. Wahweap Marina, 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) from the visitor center along Lakeshore Drive, is the largest marina and lodging facility in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The town of Page, Arizona, two miles (3.2 kilometers) from the dam and visitor center, has stores, motels, restaurants, churches, a hospital, and a museum. Page can be reached by surfaced roads year-round, and by air from Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City.

Dangling Rope Marina, accessible only by boat, offers a ranger station and normal marina facilities.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument lies about 50 miles (80 kilometers) by water from Wahweap, Bullfrog, or Hails Crossing. It can also be reached by a multi-day hike across rough canyon country on the Navajo Reservation. The trails are not maintained and are difficult—reportedly more so than the Grand Canyon. Hiking and camping permits must be obtained from the Navajo Nation, Recreational Resources Department, Box 308, Window Rock, AZ 86515; 520-871-6647.

The canyons of the Escalante River and its tributaries have long been favorites of modern-day explorers seeking the canyon country at its wildest. The mouth of Escalante Canyon meets Lake Powell about 70 miles (113 kilometers) uplake from Glen Canyon Dam. Some of its canyons can be explored from small boats.

Hikers can reach the backcountry on foot by trails from the unpaved Hole-in-The-Rock Road. Natural bridges, arches, narrow canyons, and remains of prehistoric inhabitants are just some of the region's attractions. Many people feel that the canyons of the Escalante are reminiscent of Glen Canyon before the dam was built.

Hails Crossing, reached from Blanding, Utah, via state highways, offers lodging, a ranger station, and boating facilities. The Cal Black Memorial Airport is located east of Hails Crossing.

Bullfrog Basin, set amidst the beautiful Waterpocket Fold country on one side and the Henry Mountains on the other, can be reached by paved state highways from Hanksville, Utah. A new visitor center offers human and natural history exhibits and a bookstore. The National Park Service also provides a launch ramp and a paved aircraft landing strip. The concessioner provides lodging, food services, stores, campgrounds, and full marina services. A regularly scheduled ferry (fee) runs between Hails Crossing and Bullfrog Basin.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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