Quick view of Glen Canyon Dam
The Glen Canyon Dam Overlook (sometimes called "The White House" by locals) isn't much of a hike. It's a simple down-and-back to a viewpoint on the rim of Glen Canyon. It certainly isn't a destination hike, and generally doesn't take more than 10 minutes to hike down, look at the river, and hike back.
The view however, is spectacular. At the base of the well-marked trail is a viewing area. Directly upstream from the viewing area lays Glen Canyon Dam, one of the largest dams in the United States, and the reason for Lake Powell's existence. From this vantage point the size of Glen Canyon Dam becomes very obvious. It's a huge concrete wedge spanning the entire width of Glen Canyon, dwarfing its power plant at its base. Depending on the time of your visit, you may see rafts being loaded up on the right hand side of the dam. These are one day float trips that run the remaining 18 miles of Glen Canyon from the dam down to Lee's Ferry, and provide a great way for the day visitor to experience Glen Canyon. Floaters are bussed down to the base of the dam via a 2 mile long tunnel cut through the cliff directly beneath the overlook. Built back in the late 1950s, the tunnel was built to facilitate the movement of heavy equipment from Page to the base of the dam. The tunnel starts near the Maverik gas station, and is guarded to prevent unauthorized access. It is a harrowing ride through the dark, narrow, wet tunnel.
Looking left from the viewpoint, the Colorado River makes a sweeping right hand turn before bending left and disappearing around the corner past The Ropes. Often times fly fishermen can be seen in the shallows, attempting to catch some of the Blue Ribbon Rainbow Trout that are found in the Colorado's clear, cold water. Before Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963, the Colorado River ran brown and warm most of the year, though occasionally rafts of ice would float down during the winter and spring melt. With most of the sediment from upriver now trapped in Lake Powell, the water became shockingly clear. The water from Lake Powell is run through turbines in the dam and released at its base, and is drawn from a Lake Level where the sunlight never reaches. The water in the river is now just around 40 degrees year-round, making the river perfect for non-native Rainbow Trout and the algae that they eat. Incidentally, its that very algae that makes the river appear green. Across the canyon from the overlook, you may be able to get a glimpse of a thin arch high on the canyon wall, near the right-hand bend. During a rain storm, a handful of muddy waterfalls make a dramatic plunge off the canyon's rim down to the bottom, spraying everything at the base of the cliffs with muddy water. A very impressive sight.
After taking in the excellent panoramic view, turn around and make the quick hike back to your car.
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.