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Red-rock canyon walls, sandy beaches, deep blue water and an always stunning night sky. Lake Powell, straddling the border of Utah and Arizona, is no-doubt a magical destination. Power boats and wave runners zip about while houseboats slowly wend their way deep into side canyons. The second largest man-made lake in the United States attracts nearly 3 million visitors annualy. Lake Powell is 186 miles (about 300 kilometres) long and has 1,960 miles (over 3,000 kilometres) of shoreline, which is longer than the entire west coast of the continental United States. There are 96 major canyons to explore though you'll need a water craft for the majority of them since access is limited because there are few roads. Glen Canyon Nation Recreation Area, established by Congress in 1972, is the home of Lake Powell. The area is comprised of 1.25 million acres with the lake occupying only 13%, or 161,390 acres, of the total area, which leaves a lot to be explored by four-wheel drive or on foot.
Lake Powell is named for Civil War veteran Major John Wesley Powell, who explored the Green and Colorado rivers in 1869 down through Grand Canyon. In August, 1869, Powell and his eight companions passed through the site of present day Glen Canyon Dam. Extending nearly one-third of a mile across from canyon rim to rim, the dam created the reservoir known as Lake Powell.
The lake, which lies partly in Arizona and mostly in Utah, is more than 500 feet (150 metres) deep in places. While Utah has the lion's share of Powell's crystal clear water, Arizona lays claim to the most important part - the dam. It took 17 years, from March 13, 1963 to June 22, 1980, to fill to the planned level of 3,700 feet above sea level. Lake levels fluctuate depending on the spring runoff from the mountains and the releases needed to produce electricity from the dam's eight generators.
Lake Powell's tributaries include the Escalante and San Juan rivers. Both are popular fishing areas. Types of fish found in the lake are striped bass, large and smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish and carp.
Boating is the most popular activity at Lake Powell. Most visitors arrive with a boat behind their vehicle and make way from one of the marinas out to a hidden cove or park in a wide open bay. Many people rent boats, personal watercraft or kayaks for their vacation. There are quite a few options to get on the water. One of the options are tour boat cruises - from one hour up to seven hours - offered year round at Wahweap and Bullfrog Marina for example. Once you travel by boat a few miles from any of the marinas you'll find yourself in another world with a skyline unmarred by signs of civilization.
Other lake activities include swimming, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, hiking and sightseeing. Photographic opportunities abound. You can even take a scenic flight by plane or helicopter over the lake, which provides a bird's eye view of how far some those 96 canyons extend from the main channel.
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Boat cruises are operated by Lake Powell Marinas and more information can be found by viewing their website. There are several options for renting boats at either end of the lake. Below is a list of boat rental companies and their respective area of the lake:
Around early June, the lake's waters begin to warm and stay that way well into October with a clarity unrivaled in other fresh water lakes. While the climate is arid and humidity is generally less than 40%, Lake Powell is classified as a "high desert" area due to it's 3,700 feet (around 1,200 metres) elevation. Water temperatures cool significantly in the winter then rise into the high 70's F (around 25 °C) in the summer. When it does snow at Lake Powell, the contrast of the white against red-rock cliffs and azure blue waters makes for beautiful photographs and memories.
Lake Powell is best accessed by car, although there is a municipal airport in Page, Arizona near Wahweap Marina and landing strips serving Bullfrog Marina and Halls Crossing Marina. Lake Powell has two main access points: the marinas serving Page at the south end and the marinas serving the Bullfrog Marina area at the lake's north end. Bullfrog and Halls Crossing Marinas are the most convenient enrty points for boaters travelling from Utah and Colorado, and are located in Utah. Wahweap and Antelope Point Marinas are located near Page and most convenient for boaters travelling from Arizona, Nevada and California.
Dining at Lake Powell follows suit with sleeping - there are many restaurants near Wahweap Marina in the city of Page and a limited selection near Bullfrog Marina. The best resource for a complete unbiased list of area restaurants is at Go-Utah.com.
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