Take a trip below the waves
In 1956, President Dwight David Eisenhower triggered, by telegraph, an explosion on the rim of Glen Canyon, a remote and wild stretch of desert canyon carved by the Colorado River. Over the next ten years, construction would continue on what would become Glen Canyon Dam and the associated structures that helped make the dam become possible; Glen Canyon Bridge, the power house where the generators were housed, 100 miles of road snaking into Utah and Arizona, and the town of Page. In 1966 the last generator was installed into the power house and Ladybird Johnson, wife of Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the dam. Glen Canyon Dam backed water up 186 miles when it finally reached full pool in 1980, covering one of the least known and hardest-to-reach stretches of canyon in the country. In its place rose an otherworldly reservoir; Lake Powell. While many people decry the lake, and others applaud it, there can be no denying that Glen Canyon Dam is an amazing achievement of human engineering and ingenuity. You can explore this massive, 10,000,000 ton structure firsthand, if you wish, by joining a guided walking tour at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, perched just above the dam.
After going through a security checkpoint (remember to leave pocket knives, bags, purses, etc. in your car), sign up for a guided tour at the tour desk. Pay the fee (listed below). While waiting for your tour to start, look around the Visitor's Center at the enormous carved relief map in the center of the rotunda, out the windows at the dam, at the endangered Colorado River fish aquarium, or any of the interesting displays located within the Visitor Center.
When your tour is called, you will follow your guide to a set of elevators which will take you to the level of the dam. After walking through a tunnel blasted out of the Navajo Sandstone, you'll find yourself on the crest of the dam. Your guide will talk about some of the features of the dam and how it was constructed before walking across to a very large elevator shaft - over 500' deep; the second longest public elevator shaft west of the Mississippi River. It will take your group down to the bottom of the dam, where the temperature is between 55-58 degrees F, year round, due to the enormous thermal mass of the concrete on either side of you. Your guide will talk a bit more about the construction of the dam before leading you outside to a breezeway between the dam and the power house. Looking up from the bottom it is a lot easier to appreciate the size of the dam! Soon after that, you enter the powerhouse where you can see the 8 generators in action across the powerhouse floor. From there your guide will tell you a little bit more about how the dam functions and then will lead you back to the Visitor's Center via the route you came.
Despite being almost entirely flat, guided, and punctuated by two elevator rides, the tour of Glen Canyon Dam is still very interesting and measures out at about a half a mile; an informative "hike" that you can take the family on without having to worry about sand or tought climbs. Check it out next time you're in the Page area!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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