Glen Canyon Dam - Page 1 of 1

[Base of Glen Canyon Dam.]   [Generator room interior.]
This is looking down at the base of Glen Canyon Dam, as seen from the crest. I took this picture while on the guided tour.   The interior of the generator room, which is the rectangular building at the base of the dam in the previous picture.

Glen Canyon Dam serves two purposes: to regulate the flow of water on the Colorado River and to generate electricity. There are several dams on the river so the various regions can store excess water. This allows a region to use its maximum allotment of water, while still releasing enough water to meet obligations to downstream regions.

Construction on the dam began in 1956 and was completed in 1964. It took 17 years for the reservoir to fill (Lake Powell). Glen Canyon Bridge was built in 1959 as part of the construction project, providing an easy way for construction trucks to cross the river at the dam site. During early stages of construction before the dam roadway or bridge were completed, workers had to drive 200 miles to get from one side of the river to the other. The town of Page, Arizona was created to house construction workers.

The dam is 710' high with a crest length of 1,560'. The dam is 25' wide at the crest, and up to 300' wide at the base. Water depth at the dam face is 560', with a hydraulic head of 510'. The powerhouse has eight 155,500-horsepower turbines driving generators that produce 1,296 megawatts of electricity. The dam has a visitor center that offers free guided tours.

After touring the dam, we stopped at the large put-in on Lake Powell and went for a short paddle. The water was very clear and cool, with small waves due to boat wakes. There are many wide open spaces, so strong winds could build up some serious waves. Distances on the lake are vast and easy to underestimate. Something that looks two miles away is really about five miles away. Boat traffic was very light in the off-season. There were many moored houseboats, most of which looked like small house trailers on barge-like hulls. There were some powerboats in the marina but I didn't see any sailboats.

[Glen Canyon Bridge.]   [Another view of the bridge.]
Glen Canyon Bridge, just downstream from the dam.   Another view of the bridge.

[Bridge and transmission towers.]  
A view of the bridge with electrical transmission towers in the background.  

Internet Links

Glen Canyon Dam - official site from the Bureau of Reclamation
Glen Canyon Dam - from the DesertUSA site, pretty good
Glen Canyon Dam - from the Lake Powell visitor's guide
Lake Powell - tourist and visitor's guide
Page, Arizona - good site about the town next to the dam
Map of Glen Canyon Dam - from Mapquest
Aerial photo of Glen Canyon Dam - from TerraServer

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