Glen Canyon Dam is located near Page and, as a result of its construction between 1956 and 1966 along the Colorado River, Lake Powell was created. It is part of the Glen Canyon complex operated by the National Park Service, and it has the great fortune of being along the way most people who are planning a Arizona road trip.
Personally, I found the huge Lake Powell Dam a fascinating, though not an indispensable stop. However, it can be useful as a quick stop and it can be an opportunity to observe something different (unless you are already planning to visit Hoover Dam) from everything you have seen so far.
Glen Canyon Recreational Area: What is it?
Before I tell you about the dam, here is some background information about Glen Canyon. Many people who read its name on tourist guides or maps get a little confused, since they may not understand the boundaries of this blessed canyon.
Let’s set some records straight. As it was briefly mentioned, Glen Canyon is officially a National Recreation Area managed by the NPS, so the few areas that require an entrance fee are accessible by using a national parks annual pass or by paying admission. The Colorado River and all its main tributaries (Escalante River, San Juan River are the most important) flow through this area to the point where the famous Grand Canyon was born.
The main attraction of the vast Glen Canyon is Lake Powell in Page. In fact, the Carl Hayden Visitor Center is right here, not far from Glen Canyon Dam (the other one is in Bullfrog Marina, located in another part of Lake Powell).
Glen Canyon Nature Attractions
In fact, Glen Canyon is much larger and extends for many miles between Utah and Arizona. Looking at the map below, you’ll notice that the park’s boundaries go far beyond Lake Powell and Page’s surroundings, which appear to be just the southern end of the park. Glen Canyon actually stretches as far as Mexican Hat (east), Escalante (northwest), Green River and Canyonlands (northeast). This means that you can’t visit Glen Canyon all at once. Instead, you can explore its beautiful landscapes during multiple visits just days apart on a road trip of the West.
Here are the main places of interest that are part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area:
- Lake Powell: 60% of Glen Canyon is occupied by Lake Powell. The entire reservoir is located within the boundaries of the park and has a huge variety of things to see, although not all of them are easy to reach. One of them is the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. The most popular and most visited part of the lake is Wahweap Marina, near Page.
- Horseshoe Bend: This bend in the Colorado River is one of the most photographed spots in all of Arizona. It is located south of Page and is one of the main treasures of Page and Glen Canyon. Admission is free but there is a parking fee.
- Lees Ferry: This small harbor on the Colorado River marks the southern end of the park. At this point (inside Marble Canyon) the Glen Canyon ends and the Grand Canyon begins. Admission is free.
- Hole ‘n the Rock Road: Glen Canyon is not only made of rivers and lakes, but also canyons and gorges to explore. On Hole ‘n the Rock Road, which is accessible only from Utah Highway 12, there are plenty of canyons to explore. But the most famous is Reflection Canyon, a meander of Lake Powell, which can be reached via a trail that begins just down the road. Access to the road is free.
- Gooseneck State Park: The San Juan River, a very important tributary of the Colorado River, is located on the easter side of the park. One of the most beautiful views in the area belongs to the Gooseneck State Park, a hidden gem a stone’s throw from Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods, just outside the borders of Glen Canyon. Since it is a State Park, there is an entrance fee. The national parks annual pass is not accepted.
- Muley Point: This is simply one of the most beautiful views in the Southwest. This overlook is also located on the eastern side of the park. To reach it from Mexican Hat, you’ll have to take the daunting dirt road called Moki Dugway.
- Canyonlands: You may not know this, but the Orange Cliffs Unit of the remote Canyonlands district “The Maze” is part of Glen Canyon.
But now let’s talk about Glen Canyon Dam.
Glen Canyon Dam Directions and Map
The parking lot at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center is very easy to reach as it is located along Highway 89. If you are coming from the west and are heading towards Page, the parking lot will also be on your left before you cross the bridge over the Colorado River. On the other hand, if you are coming from Page, you must first cross the bridge and then you will find the entrance to the visitor center on your right.
The operating hours of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center are as follows:
- Summer (mid-May to mid-September) 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Winter (November to February) 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Rest of the year 8 am – 5:00 pm.
- Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving and January 1st.
It is always best to check the official website for any last-minute changes.
Things to See at Glen Canyon Dam in Page
The visitor center offers some interesting exhibitions with audio and video contributions about the history of the site and the construction phases of the dam. Of course, just in any tourist attraction, there is a gift shop and bookstore. From the railing near the parking lot and inside the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, you can observe impressive views of the dam and the surrounding area.
If you would like to learn more about this area, you will find all the information about tours of the dam in the following section.
Glen Canyon Dam Tour
As far as prices are concerned, I need to make some clarifications. If you are going to stop your car at the parking lot and just have a look at the dam complex and the visitor center, you won’t have to pay any entrance fee. This is the option that I chose, not because I wanted to save money, but because my wife is afraid of dams and so she forced me not to go on any tour. In order to maintain the peace, I had to give up going on the tour as I had intended.
However, if you are intrigued and have nothing preventing you from taking a tour of the facility, you can take advantage of the tours offered by Glen Canyon Conservancy.
The prices of the tours are as follows:
- Children (up to 6 years of age): Free
- Children (aged 7-16): $2.50
- Adults: $5
- Seniors (over 65 years old): $4
The tour lasts 45 minutes and the maximum capacity is 25 people. The frequency with which they are carried out varies depending on the time of year.
- November to February: One tour every 2 hours (8:30 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm)
- March to May 15: One tour every hour (8:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm)
- From 16 May to 17 September: One tour every 30 minutes (8:30 am-10:30 am and from 12:30 pm-4:00 pm)
- September 18 to October 31: One tour every hour (8:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 13:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm)
Schedules updated June 2017
The only way to book a tour is by going to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center no later than 24 hours in advance.
Glen Canyon Dam by Helicopter
Another option that offers an even more fascinating way to visit this property and the natural beauty that surrounds it is to take advantage of the many helicopter tours that fly over the dam and other wonders, such as Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. Click below to find information about all the tours available.
Glen Canyon Boat Tours
The boat tours departing from Wahweap Marina (Lake Powell), in addition to taking you to the meanders of the lake, allow you to admire the dam from a unique perspective. If you want to know how to book a cruise and what to see during the tours, read our in-depth section at the link below.
There are also many other kinds of tours of the Glen Canyon area. You can find them on this page.
Glen Canyon Dam Overlook
If you want to enjoy a unique view of the dam and of the Colorado River before reaching the much better-known Horseshoe Bend, you can head to Glen Canyon Dam Overlook. It’s very easy to get to the overlook, which is located at the end of Page’s Scenic View Rd. You’ll find more information here.
Where to Stay Near the Dam
If you want to visit Glen Canyon Dam and other attractions in the area, I suggest you use Page as your base. Click on the link below to find suggestions specifically for accommodations in the city.