Published: April 2006

Glen Canyon Revealed

Cathedral Desert

A Dry Red Season

Drought drains Lake Powell—uncovering the glory of Glen Canyon.

By Daniel Glick
Photograph by Michael Melford

A year ago Lake Powell reached its lowest level since Jimi Hendrix played Woodstock and Neil Armstrong made his giant leap onto the moon. A sustained drought had sucked out two-thirds of its water, exposing 140 vertical feet of once drowned cliffs. The dry spell temporarily turned the great reservoir back into a red-rock maze called Glen Canyon, stirring hopes that terrain whose grandeur rivals any on Earth may one day be revealed for good.

It also resurrected Tom McCourt's childhood.

McCourt holds forth on a newly exposed rock outcrop near the shrunken lake and reminisces about what was here 40 years ago: two small settlements flanking a vast floodplain cleaved by the Colorado River's milk-chocolate waters and guarded by fortress cliffs. His grandparents lived on this east side, in the town of White Canyon, before it was slowly inundated by the reservoir.

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