The Glen Canyon Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the Colorado River through Glen Canyon. The Southwest is facing a water crisis and the Institute claims it’s unnecessary to maintain two half-empty reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Its suggested alternative is to consolidate most of the water from both reservoirs in Lake Mead and turn drained Glen Canyon into a National Park. I would propose that, should the Glen Canyon Dam be dismantled and Lake Powell drained, that the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument be expanded to become a National Park with its major visitor center near Page, Arizona.
Ruth and I were in Page in late March, 2015 and it’s buzzing. Page, present population about 7,200, was created to provide housing and workers’ facilities while the dam was being built. Construction of the controversial Glen Canyon Dam occurred between 1956 and 1966. Remote and hot with blowing sand, the dam’s site meant extreme hardship and 26 workers died. In 1962 the biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told was filmed in Page and residents became extras. A town “created by necessity” according to its Visitor Information Center, Page was a totally planned community. Some workers’ quarters are now unique motels like Lulu’s Sleep Ezze on the Historic Avenue of Hotels. Huge, new resort-type hotels are under construction in anticipation of growth and change.
For now, the biggest visitor attractions are “Navajo Owned and Operated” Antelope Canyon tours. Two slot canyons with colorful, swirling red sandstone walls can be visited only with licensed guides. Access to the lower one requires, for now, a climb down ladders bolted to the canyon walls according to the AAA. These tours are very, very popular. The adult rate when we were there was $37 for a 3.5 mile drive to the canyons for an hour and a half tour. There were about 7 tours each day, depending on light, and the 11:30 one, year-round, cost $48. The Photographers’ 2 hour 40 minute tour was $82. Reservations (928-645-9102 or 866 645-9102) were highly recommended.
Also popular is the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Be warned that it’s a long, hot walk from the parking area to this circular bend in the Colorado River, and you don’t get to see much of it after considerable effort. In my opinion, it would be better to do a fly over or arrange for a float trip. I walked it in late afternoon with seemingly hundreds of other people including large groups of Asians in Arizona to both sightsee and buy property.
The Visitor Information Center included a John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum. The Museum was mostly closed for renovations while I was there, but the parts I saw were interesting. More about Page and Powell coming up.