‘A portion of paradise’: how the drought is bringing a lost US canyon back to life
One night in May 2003, I found myself in search of a disappearing lake.
A friend and I had ventured to the Hite Marina on Lake Powell to see what America’s second-largest reservoir looked like after three years of record drought. In search of a camping spot, we drove down a boat ramp that just a few years earlier was bustling with boaters. Now it sat eerily on a dry lakebed.
Donning headlamps, we walked past marooned docks and stranded buoys, drawn toward a strange roaring sound I thought was wind or a boat motor. Instead, it was something I never thought I’d witness.
“It’s the Colorado River!” my friend shouted in disbelief at how far the reservoir had already withdrawn. “It’s flowing!”
This resurrection of a river that had been dammed to create the reservoir was a beautiful yet unsettling sight. The climate crisis was exposing flaws in a water system that – after years of denial – western states have finally been forced to confront. Over the following decade, I returned to Lake Powell many times to hike the slot canyons and tributaries emerging as drought shrunk…