Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the United States and offers a water playground to more than 2 million visitors each year.
- For much of history, the Colorado River rushed unimpeded through Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California on its way to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez.
- Melting snow from the Rocky Mountains filled the river. Some years, the river was so full that it flooded; during drought years, it was much drier.
- In 1956, under President Dwight W. Eisenhower’s leadership, construction began on a dam that would flood Glen Canyon, creating Lake Powell to contain and control water from the Colorado River. This water would be given, in part, to California, Arizona, and Nevada, three western states known for their dry conditions. In a compact with other western states, these three states receive 7,500,000 acre feet of water annually.
- The project was completed in 1963 at a cost of $155 million. Lady Bird Johnson dedicated the dam in 1966.
- Lake Powell was named for John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran who toured the area on three wooden boats in 1869.
- The dam was originally planned for Echo Park, which is now Dinosaur National Monument. Strong opposition from David Brower and the Sierra club led Floyd Dominy, the project manager to move the location to Glen Canyon, which sits on the Arizona-Utah border.
- Brower, who had never visited Glen Canyon, was dismayed when he took a trip to Glen Canyon and saw its natural beauty and Native American archaeological areas. In addition to Glen Canyon, over 80 smaller canyons were flooded by the dam, destroying the river ecosystem.
- Unimpeded: without any obstacles
- Opposition: disagreement
Questions and Answers
Question: What do visitors do at Lake Powell?
Answer: Lake Powell is a popular destination for fishing, waterskiing, and boating. People often stay on houseboats and explore the canyon walls. Some people camp on the beaches or stay in hotels. Summers at Lake Powell are very warm, with temperatures often above 100 degrees.
Watch a video about Lake Powell.