Canyon is a natural canyon in the
Vermilion Cliffs area of
southeastern and south-central
Utah and north-central
Arizona in the
United States. Like the Grand
Canyon to the south, Glen
Canyon is part
of the immense system of canyons carved by the
Colorado River and its
In 1963, a reservoir, Lake Powell, was created by the construction of
Canyon Dam, flooding much of Glen
Canyon beneath water
hundreds of feet in depth.
Lake Powell was the result of negotiations
over the controversial damming of the Green River within Dinosaur
National Monument, a project which was abandoned in favor of the Glen
Canyon Dam. The dam remains a central issue for modern
environmentalist movements. Beginning in the late 1990s, the Sierra
Club and other organizations renewed the call to dismantle the dam and
Lake Powell in Lower Glen Canyon.
Lake Powell are managed by the U.S. Department
of the Interior within Glen
Canyon National Recreation Area.
1 Pre-dam history and rescue archaeology
1.2 Prehistoric cultural periods
1.3 Natural resources for tool-making
1.4 Historic period
3 See also
5 External links
6 Further reading
Pre-dam history and rescue archaeology
Around 1956, archaeologists and biologists from the University of Utah
and the Museum of Northern Arizona, using National Park research
grants, planned an emergency excavation of Lower Glen Canyon, which
was soon to be flooded by the new Glen
Canyon Dam. Between 1958 and
1960, four investigative phases, combined with other surveys prior to
1957, discovered 250 archaeological sites within the canyon. The Lower
Canyon survey was completed in 1958.
Excavations began during the summer of 1958 on 16 sites. A thesis
emerged that prehistoric people living permanently on the highlands
south of Glen Canyon, and on the Cummings Mesa, farmed the Lower Glen
Canyon on a seasonal basis, and gathered raw materials. To prove this
thesis of seasonal habitation, criteria such as architectural units,
locations of trail systems, occurrence of ceremonial structures,
prevalence of burials, and position of natural and cultural strata.
Four types of sites are described in the survey classified as either
open sites situated on rock terraces; talus sites on broken material
below cliffs; shelter sites in protected areas under overhanging
cliffs; and cliff sites beneath ledges or in caves and canyon walls.
Open sites are the majority on both sides of the river. The majority
of sites, mostly Navajo camps, feature lithic garbage or ceramics, or
both. Talus sites are rarely recorded.
Most of the cultural remains found are chipped stone tools (lithic
materials), including projectile points, scrapers, drills, knives,
choppers, and ground stone tools and manos (grinders). The collection
of sherds are mostly Tusayan Gray Ware and Tusayan White Ware.
Petroglyph panels are found throughout Glen Canyon. “Pecked and
incised figures depict mountain sheep, human figures, birds, human
handprints and animal tracks. Geometric figures range from circles and
spirals to highly complex rectilinear patterns. The human figures have
triangular bodies. Painted figures have been reported for both sides
of the river....
Petroglyph panels of such quality are lacking from
the highland regions adjacent to Glen Canyon” (Long 61).
Prehistoric cultural periods
Studies indicate a chronology for the Lower Glen
“from pre-A.D. 1 to the 15th century and recorded history from 1776
to the present” (Long 61).
Late Basketmaker II Era
Late Basketmaker II Era (generally AD 50-500) is represented by
Radiocarbon dates from charcoal material are from A.D.
250 to 440 (plus or minus 80 years). Basketmaker III is not found in
the Lower Glen Canyon, but is documented in Navajo Canyon, a large
left bank tributary of the
Colorado River, within the geographical
area of the Lower Glen
Canyon (Long 62). Basketmaker III introduces
fired pottery, mostly Lino Black-on-gray and Lino Gray, and some small
amounts of Lino Fugitive Red and Obelisk Gray. The Basketmaker culture
is believed to have lasted later than Pueblo I.
Pueblo I Era
Pueblo I Era (AD 750-900) remains are found at Rock Creek in Lower
Glen Canyon, and in Navajo Canyon. The pottery types are Kana-a
Black-on-white, Deadmans Black-on-red, and Kana-a Gray, made from
deposits found in Lizard Alcove. Pueblo I is the best documented
period of Navajo Canyon, beginning in 800 A.D, lasting 200 years.
“Pueblo II in Navajo
Canyon is represented by the absence of Kana-a
Black-on-white and the dominance of Black Mesa Black-on-white” (Long
Pueblo II (AD 900-1100) and early Pueblo III is the best documented
cultural area in Lower Glen
Canyon corresponding with habitation on
Cummings Mesa. Pottery includes mostly Tusayan varieties,
Black-on-white, Black-on-red, and Red Wear Polychromes.
Hopi people from the Jeddito area came into the canyons in the 14th
century, represented by Yellow Wares, mostly Jeddito Black-on-yellow,
and Jeddito plain.
Most of the ceramic material found in the main canyon was probably
made in the highlands, although it is possible some pottery was
manufactured in Lower Glen Canyon. Clay deposits are found along the
river, and some crude pottery specimens, that may have been made
there. Only four burials were found in Lower Glen
Canyon at three
sites. Trash dumps are not very common at most sites. This is more
evidence to suggest the seasonal occupation of hunters and farmers.
Cultural similarities are based on the presence, or absence, of
certain types of ceramic wares (Long 63). Group types of pottery
including Kayenta (Tusayan and Tsegi Orange Ware), Virgin (San Juan
Red and White Wares), with Fremont, and
Mesa Verde or
Anasazi types of
White and Desert Gray Ware were found mostly on the right bank of the
Colorado. Basketmaker II is characterized by a lack of pottery, as
well as above ground and underground cists lined with slabs.
There is very little evidence of permanent occupation except at Talus
Ruin, a small pueblo with a kiva, a ceremonial structure, made mostly
of masonry, featuring jacal walls of sticks and reeds set in mortar in
a single row of masonry. The presence of metates are evidence that
campsites with slab-lined hearths being inhabited for longer periods.
Agricultural structures are not found in the main lower canyon, and no
formalized fields are found in the main canyon because of alleviation
and slope wash burying (Long, 66). Houses, when found, were mostly
sandstone slab with mortar, having one to seven rooms. “Well
constructed mealing bins which usually denote permanency were lacking
in the Lower Glen Canyon. In contrast, on
Cummings Mesa at Surprise
Pueblo, there was one entire room devoted to mealing bins…” (Long
65). In the highlands, granaries were near or incorporated into
permanent Pueblos, compared with smaller ones near temporary sites in
Canyon (Long 66). “Home Base” pueblos in the nearby highlands
Cummings Mesa and Paiute Mesa are believed to support the temporary
farming and the hunting parties who used an extensive trail system in
the main canyon, still in use today.
Hite Crossing Bridge
Hite Crossing Bridge of State Route 95 at Glen Canyon
Natural resources for tool-making
“Stone tool manufacturing appears to have been an important industry
for the entire Glen
Canyon region, perhaps one of the major reasons
for occupation” (Long 66). Cryptocrystalline rocks fill the
Pleistocene gravel beds on the Carmel platforms. Scattered lithic
tools and materials indicate workshops of various sizes. There is a
lack of siliceous material in the highlands, but tools are found there
made from the gravel beds in the river.
There are very few ground stone artifacts, such as manos, metates, and
scrapers, found in the main canyon, since these tools are mainly found
in the highlands. In the main canyon, a large number of chipped
implements, ranging from small arrowheads to large knives, are found.
Finished tools, and possibly blanks taken to the mesa, were probably
used for trade.
The recorded history of the canyon begins with the Dominguez-Escalante
expedition in 1776, during which Spanish explorers first documented
the existence of Glen Canyon.
In 1869 and again in 1872, expeditions led by John Wesley Powell
traveled through the canyon, resulting in the first formal surveys of
the main channel and many of the side canyons.
Main article: Glen
In the 1950s, with the proposal of a dam upstream of the Grand Canyon
for water storage and hydroelectric power generation, many
environmentalist groups rallied to prevent the inundation of the
largely undeveloped canyons in the upper
Colorado River watershed. The
Sierra Club and its leader, David Brower, were instrumental in
blocking the proposed
Echo Park Dam
Echo Park Dam in Dinosaur National Monument, but
Canyon in the process. Before Glen
Canyon was flooded in
1963, but after the struggle in Congress, Brower and many others
Colorado River through the canyon and realized the
tremendous resource it was. The experience transformed Brower's
attitude towards environmental preservation, making him more radical
and less likely to compromise. It was very similar to the experience
John Muir with the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. For Brower, it steeled
him for the battle over a proposed dam in the Grand Canyon.
Edward Abbey also documented his experience exploring
Canyon from the
Colorado River prior to the completion of Glen
Canyon Dam in his 1968 memoir Desert Solitaire, in the chapter titled
"Down the River".
Canyon National Recreation Area
Jennings, Jesse D. Glen Canyon: An Archaeological Summary. University
Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966, republished 1998.
Long, Paul V. Jr. Archaeological Excavations in Lower Glen Canyon,
Utah, 1959-1960. Museum of Northern
Arizona Bulletin No. 42 – Glen
Canyon Series No. 7. The Northern
Arizona Society of Science and Art
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Glen Canyon.
glencanyon.org information from the Glen
Canyon Natural History Association
Crampton, C. Gregory. Ghosts of Glen Canyon: History Beneath Lake
Powell, revised edition (2009). ISBN 978-0-87480-946-6
Eliot Porter (Photographer), Daniel P Beard (Preface), David Brower
(Foreword) (Eds., 1997). The Place No One Knew - Glen
Canyon on the
Colorado Publisher: Gibbs Smith, Publisher; Cmv edition (July 21,
2000). ISBN 978-0-87905-971-2.
Fowler, Don D. The Glen
Canyon Country, (2011).
Abbey, Edward. "Desert Solitaire", chapter 12, "Down the River",
(1968) Publisher: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-345-25021-6
Canyon National Recreation Area
Bodies of water
Gregory Natural Bridge
Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Hite Crossing Bridge
Lee's Ferry and Lonely Dell Ranch
Risks to the Glen
Wahweap, Lake Powell
Colorado River system
De Beque Canyon
Middle Granite Gorge
Lower Granite Gorge
Grand Wash Canyon
Colorado River Basin
Colorado River Valley
Palo Verde Valley
Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez
Dirty Devil River
Roaring Fork River
San Juan River
Thunder River/Tapeats Creek
Las Vegas Wash
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Theodore Roosevelt Lake
San Carlos Lake
Colorado River Aqueduct
San Diego Aqueduct
Colorado-Big Thompson Project
Colorado River Storage Project
Grand Valley AVA
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Colorado National Monument
Dead Horse Point State Park
Canyon National Recreation Area
Canyon National Park
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Rocky Mountain National Park
Arizona v. California
Colorado River Board of California
Colorado River Compact
International Boundary and Water Commission
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Rapids and features
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Coordinates: 37°15′15″N 110°52′42″W / 37.25417°N
110.87833°W / 37