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2008 West Vacation - Southern Utah and Colorado, Part 5


My 2008 West Vacation. 16 days, 4596.3 miles.
Day 9, Glen Canyon Dam to Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Day 9. Hotel: Lake Powell Resort, Page, Arizona.

Lake Powell Resort, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - September 20

Sunrise happens about 6:15am local time. Very nice, better than our sunset. It does get bright in a hurry though.

We have a 8:15am date with the dam, and at 7:45, we're out the door and to the dam.

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Glen Canyon Dam and Tour - September 20

Even with a stop to take some pictures of the up-river side of the dam, we get there a couple minutes before the visitor center opens.

A lot has probably changed since 9/11, they have metal detectors at the door, and don't allow any sort of bag into the facility. We pass muster and are allowed in. We have time, so we look at the exhibits, and browse the bookstore.

Our tour starts at 8:30am (check in at 8:15), and it takes one hour. And it's "free". It's a damn good dam tour. (Had to fit that in somewhere...) The first elevator takes you to the top of the dam, and a second elevator to the power generators. No stairs. I like that. (A few levels below that is where they're keeping the Decepticon. The Hoover Dam thing was to make it all sound ridiculous.)

If you want to take the tour, go there first thing to get a reservation. There aren't that many tours per day, and 20 people per tour means they only take 160 to 200 people per day.

Glen Canyon Dam
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US-89 - September 20

Dam tour over, we head South on US-89 to the Lee's Ferry unit of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

It's only about 8 miles as the crow flies from the Dam to Lees Ferry, probably double that in river miles, which would make a nice afternoon float trip. But it's over 40 miles if you drive.

First you have to make your way South to Antelope Pass, which is one of the two places where you can cross the Echo Cliffs. (The other, is at a place called "The Gap" 26 miles to the South.)

NOTE: If you are somehow using this information to plan a route or a vacation, you should know that there was a collapse of US-89 that travels up the Echo Cliffs to Antelope Pass in February 2013. The road from The Gap to Page has been paved, and is called US-89T (for temporary). This becomes a problem if say, you're going from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim. What was a 50 mile (round trip) detour to Page for lodging and seeing Lake Powell, now becomes a 100 mile detour.
Once through Antelope Pass, you descend down into the valley and turn right on US-89A, which used to be US-89 until the bridge by the Glen Canyon Dam was completed. On US-89A, you cross the river at Marble Canyon, which is only 12 miles from the bridge at Glen Canyon dam, but the next time a road crosses the Colorado River is near Las Vegas. (There is a ferry 55 miles up-river from the Glen Canyon Dam, but the next road to cross the Colorado is at White Canyon, 90 miles from US-89.

It's one of the main reasons there are only so many routes you can take through the area...

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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, AZ / Lees Ferry Unit - September 20

We find the rock we took pictures on in 1997, and...take some pictures. We then head for the boat launch, and to John D. Lee's house when he ran the ferry. Before he was shot by a firing squad. But that's another website.

Went out to the balanced rocks, then sped back to Lake Powell Resort, where we had a date with a boat to Rainbow Bridge.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area / Lees Ferry
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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, UT / Lake Powell - September 20

The Boat was a large tour boat, which slows down when passing houseboats due to the wake. Having been on a houseboat for a week on Lake Kentucky, I can see how it's appreciated, but it makes for slow going close to the resort. Water levels are up, so we can go through "The Cut" which saves a bunch of river miles, but the lake is still 70 inches below full.

We get some amazing views from the boat of what was Glen Canyon, but is now Lake Powell. Believe it or not, we will travel 50 river miles to get to Rainbow Bridge. What we didn't know, was this was the nice leg of the trip.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Day 2) / Lake Powell
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Rainbow Bridge
HDR photo of Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument - September 20

Rainbow Bridge, is BIG. 290' high, 275' span. I studied Google satellite maps to determine when we should go there, and the way the bridge is situated, we should go in the afternoon. Even though it was a mostly sunny day, it was cloudy when we were there. Go figure. When the hell does it get cloudy in Southern Utah?

The walk from the boat dock to the Bridge wasn't too bad, maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile. You can see how the walk could get up to a mile when the water level is really low.

After doing your normal stupid human tricks and talking with the Ranger with the T-Rex, we notice most of our group is gone, and we head back to the boat.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, UT / Lake Powell, Return Trip

Boat trip on the way back was miserable. High winds, with the sun in your face most of the time. Clouds were a blessing. Jo was beat up by her hair. Well, I did offer her my hat, and she turned me down. Well, too bad. I can only be chivalrous once per day. My hat has a chin strap, or it would have been long gone...

We were pretty tired when we got back, we decide to go to the pizza and pasta joint right next door. Pretty good., but question all the taxes added on. We'd find the big whammy tomorrow when we left, and I could examine the bill.

The boat ride really fatigued us, more than we imagined it would. Probably from fighting the wind, trying to keep your body level on a moving boat, and just having the sun beating on you most of the day. (There was a lower level on the boat, which would have put us out of the sun and the wind, but you lost the majesty of the views...

Long day, we're beat, and the shower is mediocre. Oh well. Moon rise is 9:48 tonight. We didn't last that long.

Return Trip to Resort
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End 2008 Southwest Vacation - Part 5.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

  • 02/25/2009 - Initial Deployment
  • 08/15/2013 - Update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2