Lake Powell is named after the man who may have been the Southwest’s greatest nature writer. He was Major John Wesley Powell, famed geologist, explorer, and one-armed Civil War veteran, who in 1869 became the first man to lead an expedition through the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon. Powell wrote about his red rock adventures—mapping previously uncharted territory—publishing his work under the title of Canyons of the Colorado in 1895.
Readers won’t find mention of Lake Powell in the book. The man-made reservoir, which today contains some 4.4 billion gallons of water, was created almost a century later, on March 13, 1963, when Glen Canyon Dam began operations. The Glen Canyon Recreation Area was also formed at that time. Not long afterward, businesses began popping up to serve tourists. Among the early lodging properties built to accommodate vacationers was Lake Powell Motel—previously named Bashful Bob’s.