OUTDOORS & RECREATION

‘Big summer’ expected at Lake Powell as water levels keep rising

May 14, 2024, 7:48 PM | Updated: May 16, 2024, 6:41 am

PAGE, Ariz. — One of the area’s biggest tourist destinations is looking up. Lake Powell is on the rebound after another strong snowpack.

While it’s still well below full capacity, the lake is rising a little bit each day, with roughly another 28 feet of water expected by the end of July.

“To see this is amazing,” Barbara Luther said, who is visiting the Lake Powell area with her husband, Tom. “It’s just incredible.”

Lake levels improving

It takes some skill to get his boat where it needs to go, but Dave Bate knows what he’s doing.

He’s from Springville and comes to Lake Powell several times a year. On a recent afternoon, he spent time fishing before reloading his boat at Wahweap Marina.

“Beautiful day. Awesome,” Bate said. “Doesn’t get better than this.”

Bate has watched the lake struggle from the effects of drought. It hit a record low last year before improving dramatically after a good winter.

Thanks to a second snowy year in a row, Lake Powell is now rising again each day. The latest projections from the Bureau of Reclamation call for another 28 feet of water by the end of July.

Rising water levels have made it easier for boats to launch, and it’s going to get even easier as more water fills in.

“It’s going to help get these lake levels back up where we’d like to have them,” Bate said, “and we hope it just keeps coming.”

Tourist town rejoices

The influx of water is especially welcome news for nearby Page, Arizona.

“As the saying goes, the rising tide lifts all boats,” said Joe Lapekas, president of the Page-Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce.

For the last few years, it’s been tough for this town that relies on tourism.

“We were left to one main ramp,” Lapekas remembered, noting a lot of out-of-town boaters simply stopped coming. “It was quite a dearth of boating activity.”

But last year, things turned a corner when the lake started rising. Officials at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area told KSL TV more than 5.2 million people visited last year, making it one of the most popular places in the entire National Park Service.

That momentum seems likely to continue this year.

“You can just pick up the vibe at the grocery store. You can see it out on the lake at the marinas,” Lapekas said. “People are happy. They’re happy to be here.”

For businesses in Page, the future is now much brighter than it was.

“Rock and roll,” Lapekas said. “It’s going to be a big summer.”

‘Pretty stunning’

Standing near Glen Canyon Dam overlooking the lake, the Luthers marveled at what they saw.

“Never seen anything quite like this,” Tom Luther said.

“It’s pretty stunning,” Barbara Luther added. “We don’t have anything like this in Wisconsin.”

The couple stopped here on a road trip, and they’re glad they did.

“It’s pretty massive, pretty impressive,” Barbara Luther said. “I wish I could come back and see what it would look like when it’s up further.”

KSL 5 TV Live

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‘Big summer’ expected at Lake Powell as water levels keep rising