PHOTO TIP #9 (Dam Overlook Trail)

Best Dam View In Page

Page and Lake Powell owe their very existence to an artfully designed 710’ tall shield of concrete, clearly visible against the orange-tan Navajo sandstone west of town. Behind the dam lie the wonders of Lake Powell, while below the Colorado River continues it’s meandering journey far south and west to the Sea of Cortez. You can photograph the Dam up close from the pedestrian path on the bridge, or from a helicopter or small plane, but for my money the most interesting angle and view of the Glen Canyon Dam is from a vista point a few miles downstream.  Here, you can include the entire sweep of the Colorado River in one image (if you use a super wide lens), or just as easily capture it all in a panorama with your smartphone.

The trail to the visit point is called the Dam Overlook Trail, and though short and well built, some might find it a bit steep and in places slippery on well-worn sandstone. Be mindful of the fact that if you should fall off the rim while taking that great selfie, you might land on a ledge and survive, or more likely end up in the river hundreds of feet below, so watch the kids and dog!  To reach the parking lot, turn west off Highway 89 on Scenic View Road, as if you’re going to the Denny’s restaurant.  Take the first right and park in the loop lot. 

Image #1 shows the start of the trail, with handrail and steps.

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When you’ve walk down the 80 yards of trail and reach the rim, your first Dam view will be Image #2, from underneath the shady gazebo. This image was shot with a semi-wide 28mm lens (all focal lengths are full-frame for comparison).
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Image #3 is from the same vantage point, but with a 50mm (normal) lens.
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Image #4 was shot over to the left of the gazebo, just over the rock wall but on a stable slab of sandstone. I used a full-frame fisheye lens (Pentax 10-17mm zoom), at full wide for a 15mm angle of view to take in the full curve of the Colorado River. Note that I’m not suggesting you shoot from the edge, but if choose to, please be careful and consider shooting sitting down.
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Image #5 is from the same place as #4, but shot at sunset. Note that all but the last photo were shot in full daylight. The Dam and the River are in shade at sunrise, so no really attractive early light is possible. You can shoot 2-3 hours after sunrise to have direct light on both the Dam and the River, but for me the prettiest time is from right before sunset into when the stars appear. You may wish to use High Dynamic Range (HDR) techniques to capture full shadow and highlight detail, and it really helps to have expressive clouds above the otherwise featureless horizon.
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To sum up, the Dam Overlook Trail offers a superb river view and vista of the impressive Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River, while being quicker to access than Horseshoe Bend. It’s also much less crowded, and short of hiring a plane or helicopter to do an aerial, it is the best damn view in Page.
no dronesLastly, if you are a lover of drone photography, be aware that you cannot operate your drone here. Note the regulation/rule: ‘Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft (drones) from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is prohibited, even if the operator is outside the boundary’. Best not to risk having your drone and camera be confiscated, and have to pay a fine as well...
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