Among the many attractions here, several deserve special mention as must-sees. We've arranged them geographically, from the south end of the lake to the north.
Lees Ferry -- Downriver from Glen Canyon Dam, Lees Ferry is a historic river crossing and the site of a stone fort built by Mormon pioneers in 1874 for protection from the Navajo. It was later used as a trading post. You can see remains of the fort and a 1913 post office. Nearby at Lonely Dell, you'll find 19th- and early-20th-century ranch buildings, an orchard, and a blacksmith shop. Upriver, during low water, you can spot the remains of a steamboat, the Charles H. Spencer, a 92-foot-long paddle-wheeler that was used briefly in the early 1900s to haul coal for a gold-dredging operation.
Lees Ferry is also the starting point for white-water river trips through the Grand Canyon, and is known for its trophy trout fishing.
Glen Canyon Dam -- Construction began on this U.S. Bureau of Reclamation project in October 1956. By the time the $155-million dam was completed in September 1963, almost 10 million tons of concrete had been poured, creating a wall 587 feet high and 3,700 feet long. It took until 1980 for the lake to reach its "full pool," covering much of the area that had been explored over 100 years earlier by Major John Wesley Powell. Today, the dam provides water storage, mostly for agriculture and hydroelectric power. Its eight generators, which cost an additional $70 million, produce more than 1 million kilowatts of electrical energy per day.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument -- This huge natural bridge is considered sacred by American Indians. The Navajo call it a "rainbow turned to stone," and in the summer of 1995, they briefly blocked the route to the bridge to conduct a blessing ceremony and to protest what they considered the bridge's commercialization. Located about 50 miles by boat from Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Halls Crossing marinas, the bridge is so spectacular that it was named a national monument in 1910, long before the lake was created. Believed to be the largest natural bridge in the world, Rainbow Bridge is almost perfectly symmetrical and parabolic in shape, measuring 278 feet wide and standing 290 feet above the stream bed. The top is 42 feet thick and 33 feet across.
Defiance House -- This archaeological site 3 miles up the middle fork of Forgotten Canyon, uplake from Halls Crossing, is believed to have been occupied by a small clan of Ancestral Puebloans between A.D. 1250 and 1275. The cliffside site includes ruins of several impressive stone rooms, food storage areas, and a kiva for religious ceremonies. The rock art panel, high along a cliff wall, includes a pictograph for which the ruin is named -- an image of three warriors carrying clubs and shields. The panel also contains paintings of sheep and men.
A Bird's-Eye View of Lake Powell--The quickest way to see the sights is by air. Westwind Air Service (tel. 800/245-8668 or 928/645-2494; www.westwindairservice.com) provides half-hour flights over the dam, Rainbow Bridge, and other scenic attractions, plus longer flights take in the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, and even Bryce Canyon, starting at $178 per person.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.