Explore the Glen Canyon
National Recreation Area!
Encompassing over 1.2 million acres,
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) offers unparalleled
opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation.
recreation area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in
Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, encompassing scenic
vistas, geologic wonders, and a vast panorama of human history.
Plan Your Visit
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area,
at the heart of the "Grand Circle," provides unique and
refreshing opportunities for travel-weary visitors. Stay for an hour
and take a tour of Glen Canyon Dam, or stay for a week to camp on
the shores of Lake Powell in a houseboat.
With 1.2 million acres of golden
cliffs, lush hanging gardens, impossibly narrow slot canyons, and
the brilliant blue paradox of Lake Powell to visit, you may find
yourself coming back again and again. But if this is going to be
your first visit to Glen Canyon NRA, these pages can help you to
plan your amazing Glen Canyon adventure.
Glen Canyon has been home to people
for thousands of years. Archaic and prehistoric Indian cultures
roamed and lived in the canyons.
Later, a vast panorama of explorers,
miners, ranchers, historic Indian tribes, and others left their mark
here. In more recent times, a few hardy homesteaders, river runners,
and uranium miners lived, worked, or played among the canyons until
they were filled by the waters of Lake Powell.
Today, Glen Canyon still provides the
opportunity for modern day explorers to seek their own adventures,
whether it be on the water or in the backcountry. Many of the
stories of Glen Canyon are the stories of people.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
(NRA) preserves and protects 1.2 million acres of the Colorado
Plateau, a vast landscape of colorful buttes, mesas, canyons, and
cliffs. Arid to semi-arid, the region supports a complex and often
Plants and wildlife have developed
unique adaptations to the hot, arid conditions of their environment
and contribute to the rich diversity of life in the area. Typical of
the Colorado Plateau, the highly diverse vegetation of Glen Canyon
NRA forms different communities that create important habitat for a
diverse range of animals including amphibians, birds, fish, mammals,
reptiles, and invertebrates.
Wildlife in Glen Canyon NRA is a
reflection of the Colorado Plateau, changes in land use, and
environmental factors. The creation of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963
radically changed the surrounding environment by creating Lake
Powell, which spans 13% of Glen Canyon NRA and is the second largest
reservoir in the United States.
Over 300 species of birds have been
documented in the area, a diversity of species that was unknown
prior to construction of the dam that can be attributed to the
colonization of Lake Powell by aquatic birds and migratory birds. In
addition to playing vital roles in the desert ecosystem and animal
communities, wildlife also provides outstanding recreational
opportunities including sport fishing and bird watching.
Glen Canyon Dam and other dams
provide energy and water which support agriculture and growing
populations. The creation of Lake Powell also created new
recreational opportunities and increased visitation to the area,
causing a greater human impact on the often fragile resources of the
The human imprint on this
environment has increased through time due to the cumulative impacts
of grazing, fire suppression, water development, and the
introduction of nonnative species. Some nonnative species are
successful at spreading and invading an area, disrupting its ecology
by out competing native species, disrupting food chains, and
changing nutrient cycles. Currently about 11% of the plants in Glen
Canyon NRA are nonnative and can pose threats to sensitive habitats
including hanging gardens and other native plant communities.
Native species are an integral part
of the Colorado Plateau ecosystem. Several rare and federally listed
plant and animal species are found Glen Canyon NRA: Jones cycladenia,
alcove primrose, southwestern willow flycatchers, the northern
leopard frog, Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, and razorback
The continued protection and
preservation of these unique resources will contribute to the
changing diversity of the ecosystem and biological communities of
the Colorado Plateau and Glen Canyon NRA. Scientific study and
observation of these resources will add to our understanding of this