As the Water of Lake Powell Recede

The Colorado River was dammed at Glen Canyon in the early 1960s. The resulting reservoir, Lake Powell, is the second largest reservoir in the United States. As a prolonged drought grips the southwestern United States the lake is shrinking. The falling water levels reveal a wonderland of canyons from angles never before seen. And the news landscapes reveal fragments of ancient peoples who made Glen Canyon home.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about draughts and discover new revelations about Glen Canyon.

Social Studies Standards

People, Places & Environments: E, F, G

Discussion Prompts

  • Discuss the reasons mentioned why Glen Canyon and Lake Powell will no longer be the pride of the United States Bureau of Reclamation. What might this represent to the rest of us?
  • What is the fate of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell? What would be an uplifting response to their fate?
  • What are some of the challenges that reservoirs face? How might water users help to overcome these challenges?
  • What is the importance of the Returning Rapids project? Who would benefit from such a project? Why should we care about it?

Lesson Activities

  • What is the cause and effect between the relationships among Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, and the Colorado River. Create a list of at least five guests, you would bring to talk about the lake, canyon, and river in a podcast. You must include community members and experts in your list adding their area of interest.
  • How would someone explain what “seven Mississippi barge loads of sediment” means in a mathematical, visual, and descriptive way? Create a model to illustrate the explanation.
  • Select one of the Native groups of people who lived around the Canyons’ region and create their story through the times. In the story, include the perfect location of their shelters, drawings, vegetation, and food.
  • What are some other man-made decisions such as the creation of the dam, that resulted in damage and impact of that unmeasured, uncalculated decision. Select one to share in a digital format with the before and after pictures and justify your selection.


    • affect
    • dam
    • marina
    • mud glacier
    • plateau
    • rapids
    • recede
    • remnants
    • reservoir
    • sediment


In the Americas Season 10 Lesson Episode 7