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Glen Canyon Dam Facts: Unveiling the Engineering Marvel and Data

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Looking to explore fascinating statistics about Glen Canyon Dam? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we'll uncover 75 captivating facts and figures that shed light on the incredible features and impact of this iconic structure.

From its towering height of 710 feet to its vast reservoir capacity of 26.2 million acre-feet, you'll discover the engineering marvel that is Glen Canyon Dam.

Join us as we delve into the power generation, water storage, recreational opportunities, and much more that this remarkable dam has to offer. Get ready to be amazed by the numbers and insights that await you. Don't miss out on this opportunity to dive into the world of Glen Canyon Dam!

History and Construction

  1. Glen Canyon Dam is located on the Colorado River in northern Arizona, United States.

  2. Construction of the dam began in 1956 and was completed in 1966.

  3. The primary purpose of Glen Canyon Dam is to provide water storage and hydroelectric power generation.

  4. The dam was named after the nearby Glen Canyon, which was flooded to create Lake Powell.

  5. Glen Canyon Dam stands at a height of 710 feet (220 meters) and is made of concrete.

  6. The dam was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Colorado River Storage Project.

  7. Construction of the dam required the excavation of over 4.9 million cubic yards (3.8 million cubic meters) of material.

  8. Over 5 million barrels of cement were used in the construction of Glen Canyon Dam.

  9. The design and construction of the dam involved significant engineering challenges due to the remote location and the geological conditions of the area.

  10. Glen Canyon Dam is one of the key components of the Colorado River water management system.

Hydroelectric Power Generation

  1. Glen Canyon Dam has a power generation capacity of 1,320 megawatts.

  2. The dam's power plant has four turbines, each with a capacity of 330 megawatts.

  3. The hydroelectric power generated by the dam is supplied to the Western U.S. power grid.

  4. The annual electricity production of Glen Canyon Dam is approximately 5 billion kilowatt-hours.

  5. The dam's power plant utilizes the water flow from Lake Powell to generate electricity through turbines.

  6. Water Storage and Management:

  7. Glen Canyon Dam created Lake Powell, which is the second-largest man-made reservoir in the United States.

  8. The dam provides water storage capacity of up to 24,322,000 acre-feet (30 billion cubic meters) when the reservoir is full.

  9. Glen Canyon Dam plays a crucial role in regulating water flow and storage in the Colorado River system.

  10. The dam helps control downstream flooding and provides water for irrigation, municipal use, and industrial purposes.

  11. Glen Canyon Dam facilitates the delivery of water to downstream states as per the Colorado River Compact agreements.

Environmental Impact

  1. The construction of Glen Canyon Dam resulted in the flooding of Glen Canyon and the formation of Lake Powell.

  2. The flooding of Glen Canyon caused controversy and raised concerns about the loss of scenic and ecological resources.

  3. The dam altered the natural flow of the Colorado River and its associated ecosystems.

  4. The rising waters of Lake Powell submerged numerous archaeological sites and cultural resources.

  5. The dam's operations have had both positive and negative effects on the downstream ecosystem, including changes in sediment transport and temperature regimes.

Tourism and Recreation

  1. Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell attract millions of visitors annually for recreational activities.

  2. Visitors can take guided tours of the dam to learn about its construction, operations, and environmental impact.

  3. The Carl Hayden Visitor Center, located near the dam, provides educational exhibits and information about Glen Canyon Dam and the surrounding area.

  4. Lake Powell offers opportunities for boating, fishing, water skiing, kayaking, and other water-based activities.

  5. The reservoir's scenic beauty, with its red sandstone cliffs and clear blue waters, attracts photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Dimensions and Capacity

  1. Glen Canyon Dam stands at a height of 710 feet (220 meters) above the bedrock.

  2. The dam has a crest length of 1,560 feet (475 meters).

  3. The dam's base width is 300 feet (91 meters).

  4. Glen Canyon Dam has a total structural volume of approximately 4.9 million cubic yards (3.8 million cubic meters).

  5. The dam's power plant consists of four turbines, each with a maximum capacity of 330 megawatts.

Lake Powell Reservoir

  1. Lake Powell has a maximum storage capacity of approximately 24,322,000 acre-feet (30 billion cubic meters) of water.

  2. The surface area of Lake Powell can reach up to 161,390 acres (65,370 hectares) when the reservoir is full.

  3. The reservoir stretches for approximately 186 miles (299 kilometers) along the Colorado River.

  4. Lake Powell has a maximum depth of about 560 feet (170 meters) when at full capacity.

Hydroelectric Power Generation

  1. The power generation capacity of Glen Canyon Dam is 1,320 megawatts.

  2. The dam's power plant has an annual electricity production of around 5 billion kilowatt-hours.

  3. Water Releases:

  4. Glen Canyon Dam releases water downstream to meet the water supply needs of downstream states and to maintain ecological balance.

  5. The dam's water releases are regulated based on water demand, environmental requirements, and hydroelectric power generation.

Environmental Flow and Temperature Management

  1. Glen Canyon Dam implements environmental flow releases to mimic natural flow patterns and support downstream ecosystems.

  2. The dam's operations include temperature management to maintain suitable conditions for fish and other aquatic species.

Drought and Water Management

  1. The ongoing drought conditions in the Colorado River basin have posed challenges for water management at Glen Canyon Dam.

  2. Decreased inflow from upstream tributaries and reduced snowpack have affected water levels in Lake Powell and downstream reservoirs.

  3. Water conservation measures and discussions on water allocation are ongoing among Colorado River basin states to address water scarcity challenges.

Environmental Mitigation and Restoration

  1. Efforts are underway to restore and preserve natural and cultural resources impacted by the construction and operation of Glen Canyon Dam.

  2. Adaptive management strategies are being implemented to mitigate the dam's ecological impacts and support downstream ecosystems.

Infrastructure and Dam Safety

  1. Glen Canyon Dam is subject to regular inspections and maintenance to ensure its structural integrity and dam safety.

  2. Upgrades and modernization efforts are periodically carried out to improve the dam's operational efficiency and safety standards.

Environmental Impact and Conservation

  1. Glen Canyon Dam supports the survival and recovery of endangered fish species in the Colorado River, such as the humpback chub and razorback sucker.

  2. The dam's operations include fish passage facilities to assist migratory fish in navigating the river.

  3. The dam's release patterns aim to create and maintain habitat conditions suitable for native fish and other aquatic species.

  4. Environmental monitoring programs are conducted to assess the ecological health of the Colorado River ecosystem downstream of Glen Canyon Dam.

  5. The dam plays a role in managing sediment transport downstream, which has implications for the river's ecosystem and downstream habitats.

  6. The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program is a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders to address and mitigate the dam's environmental impacts.

  7. Restoration efforts focus on recreating natural flow patterns, enhancing habitat, and promoting ecological resilience in the Colorado River corridor.

Hydrology and Water Supply

  1. Glen Canyon Dam's water releases are managed to meet the water supply needs of downstream users, including agriculture, municipal water systems, and industrial sectors.

  2. The dam's operations balance water storage and release to account for variable inflows and changing water demand throughout the year.

  3. Water release schedules from Glen Canyon Dam are developed in consultation with stakeholders and based on hydrologic modeling and forecasts.

  4. The dam's release patterns aim to mimic natural flow regimes and provide downstream ecosystems with the necessary water quantities and timing.

  5. Water from Lake Powell is allocated to seven U.S. states and Mexico based on interstate agreements and international treaties.

  6. The Upper Colorado River Basin Compact and the Colorado River Compact govern the allocation of water resources from Lake Powell to downstream states.

Dam Safety and Risk Management

  1. Glen Canyon Dam undergoes routine inspections, maintenance, and monitoring to ensure its structural integrity and safe operation.

  2. The dam is equipped with instrumentation and automated systems to monitor key parameters such as reservoir levels, dam stability, and seepage.

  3. Emergency action plans are in place to address potential dam failure scenarios and ensure public safety downstream.

  4. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation continuously assesses the dam's performance and conducts risk analyses to identify and mitigate potential hazards.

  5. Ongoing research and engineering studies focus on improving dam safety, including seismic hazard assessment and structural resilience.

Tourism and Education

  1. The Carl Hayden Visitor Center, located near Glen Canyon Dam, offers educational exhibits, films, and ranger programs to inform visitors about the dam's history, operations, and environmental significance.

  2. Guided tours provide visitors with the opportunity to explore the inner workings of the dam, including the power plant and observation decks.

  3. The Glen Canyon Dam Overlook provides breathtaking views of the dam and Lake Powell, attracting photography enthusiasts and nature lovers.

  4. The surrounding Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offers diverse recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, boating, and wildlife viewing.

  5. Interpretive signs and displays at overlooks and trails provide information on the natural and cultural resources associated with the dam and reservoir.

Power Generation and Renewable Energy

  1. Glen Canyon Dam's hydroelectric power generation contributes to the overall renewable energy capacity in the Western United States.

  2. The dam's power plant provides a stable and reliable source of electricity, helping to meet the region's energy needs.

  3. Glen Canyon Dam's operations support clean energy production and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel-based power generation.

  4. The dam's power generation capacity helps offset the need for energy derived from non-renewable sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Research and Innovation

  1. Glen Canyon Dam serves as a site for scientific research and experimentation related to water management, ecology, sedimentation, and climate change.

  2. The dam's operation provides opportunities for studying and developing innovative approaches to dam management, including flow releases and sediment control.

  3. Collaborative research projects with academic institutions and government agencies focus on improving dam operations, optimizing water resources, and understanding ecological impacts.

Infrastructure and Maintenance:

  1. Glen Canyon Dam has a comprehensive maintenance program to ensure the longevity and reliability of its components, such as spillways, turbines, and gates.

  2. Regular inspections and assessments are conducted to identify and address any maintenance needs or repairs.

  3. Continuous monitoring systems are in place to detect potential issues early on and initiate necessary maintenance actions.

  4. Upgrades and modernization efforts are carried out to enhance the dam's operational efficiency, safety, and environmental performance.

Construction and Infrastructure

  1. Glen Canyon Dam was built in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, approximately 15 miles upstream from the mouth of the Virgin River.

  2. The dam's construction involved diverting the Colorado River through four large tunnels to facilitate the excavation of the dam foundation.

  3. The Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, also known as the Glen Canyon Bridge or the Navajo Bridge, spans the Colorado River downstream of the dam and provides a highway crossing.

  4. Reservoir and Recreation: 4. The dam's reservoir, Lake Powell, has a shoreline that extends over 1,960 miles (3,150 kilometers) when at full capacity.

  5. Glen Canyon Dam's reservoir, Lake Powell, is named after John Wesley Powell, a pioneering explorer of the American West and the first person to navigate the entire length of the Grand Canyon.

  6. The dam has a visitor center that offers educational exhibits, displays, and interactive experiences to educate visitors about the dam's history, engineering, and environmental considerations.

  7. Glen Canyon Dam is a popular destination for whitewater rafting enthusiasts who take on the rapids of the Colorado River downstream from the dam.

  8. Environmental Impact and Conservation: 8. The dam's construction led to the formation of Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a natural arch considered sacred by Native American tribes.

  9. The Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Impact Statement, completed in 1995, outlined measures to mitigate the dam's impacts on the Colorado River ecosystem.

  10. Power Generation and Operations: 10. The dam's power plant is operated and maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency responsible for managing water resources and infrastructure.

  11. The dam's power plant operates on a peaking schedule, meaning it generates electricity during periods of high demand and shuts down during lower demand periods.

History and Cultural Significance

  1. The concrete used in the construction of Glen Canyon Dam was made from a mixture of cement, sand, aggregate, and water.

  2. Glen Canyon Dam played a crucial role in the development of the American Southwest by providing a stable water supply for irrigation and municipal use.

Visitor Experience and Recreation

  1. The dam's reservoir, Lake Powell, is a popular destination for boating, fishing, camping, and other recreational activities.

  2. The Carl Hayden Visitor Center, located near Glen Canyon Dam, offers educational exhibits, displays, and ranger programs to inform visitors about the dam's history, operations, and environmental significance.

Did I miss anything? Let me know.


  1. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation - Glen Canyon Dam:

  2. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area:

  3. Arizona Public Media - Glen Canyon Dam Turns 50:

  4. Arizona State Parks - Glen Canyon:

  5. Encyclopedia Britannica - Glen Canyon Dam:

  6. The Glen Canyon Institute:

  7. National Park Service - Glen Canyon National Recreation Area:

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