Sunday, May 20, 2012
Hidden Right Under My Nose: A gem outside Page, Arizona
add to our AAPG field seminar in July (a trip you are welcome to consider joining!). A volunteer at the Navajo Bridge Visitor Center pointed out that I might want to check out Horseshoe Bend outside of Page, Arizona. I have to admit I have never really explored Page all that much. I never got a chance to see the original Glen Canyon, and neither did anyone else except the few hundred people who had rafted the river through the canyon by the time that Glen Canyon Dam shut the floodgates in 1963. It was apparently one of the most beautiful river canyons in the world, but it now lies beneath hundreds of feet of stagnant water and silt. Page was the town where the dam workers lived during construction, and to me it represented everything that was wrong with the choices we've made in land and resource use (the giant coal burning power plant on the outskirts of town doesn't help). And with the ongoing decade-long drought, the dam and reservoir are in danger of becoming totally useless as far as their intended use as water storage and power generation.
I walked the sandy three-quarter mile trail in the hot late afternoon sun, and reached the edge of the precipice. At this point, the Colorado River is flowing through a thousand foot deep gorge cut into the thick Navajo Sandstone. It is just a few miles downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, and a few miles upstream of the Echo Cliffs and Lee's Ferry where the river briefly flows along a stretch without cliffs. It almost immediately plunges into Marble Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. Taken in pieces, like the shot above, and the one below, the canyon is scenic, colorful, and spectacular. It is always stunning to stand on (or lie on, for the acrophobics) a thousand foot vertical cliff. But taken as a whole, Horseshoe Bend is special...