Lake Powell – USA (16.05.15)
Imagine one of the driest places on earth, with a flat-line desert horizon stretching as far as you can see. Arid, red and windswept with a backdrop akin to the most dramatic of classic Western film sets. Colours change in front of your eyes as time trundles along as urgently as some far off dust storm.
Well, after a long journey, just as the parched windblown desert scenery appears to stretch away forever, a bright blue slither of silk – Lake Powell – appears shimmering in the distance like a fluttering Tibetan prayer flag.
Once spotted, it lingers like a mirage. As you approach, feeling for all the world like a thirsty caravan trader, it is impossible to look away. You are spellbound by the beautiful bright blue waters that sit incongruously among the sandstone red surroundings.
As one draws closer, the gigantic size of Lake Powell becomes apparent. Flashes of bright blue wink from a distance as water-filled side canyons come into focus, behind the vast open waters of the lake itself. So magnetic is the water’s draw, that travelling along U.S. Route 89 you feel like a child on holiday, glimpsing the seaside for the first time.
As you drop down from the high plateau desert-scape, crossing the 213m high, 313m long Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, the full magnificence of the country’s largest reservoir unfolds behind the colossus of the Glen Canyon Dam.
Although created by the 1940’s U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which constructed a number of Colorado River dams, the lake itself was not established as a Recreation Area until 1972. Since then visitors have been soaking up the magnificence of Lake Powell as a spectacle, as much as an outdoor adventure destination with a vast fleet of boats accommodating the various local activities. Whether looking to hike, kayak, boat, swim, climb, camp, sail, canoe, explore or simply gawp, Lake Powell and the surrounding area will enthral.
The most exciting way to appreciate Lake Powell is from the water itself. Cruising, paddling or sailing across, through and along the ever-changeable lakeshore regions allows visitors to discover the stunning multi-coloured landscape for themselves. When exploring the myriad of twisting lakeshore canyons, peace and calm washes over you in a zen-like way, until a hovering bald eagle or swishing violet-green swallow breaks the spell.
By accident the US authorities, whose focus was on creating a water source to feed the Upper Basin States of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming, have turned this special desert region into one of the most remarkable tourism destinations on the continent.
I urge you to visit Lake Powell, not least as if I am ever able to trace my family tree back to the America Civil War in 1869, I am sure the one-armed war veteran John Wesley Powell, who the lake is named after, must be a distant relative. Even if name ‘Wesley’ has morphed into ‘Vernon’ over the intervening century.