The water in the Grand Canyon is released from Glen Canyon Dam on Lake Powell, 15 miles above our Lee’s Ferry launch point. The dam provides us with two beneficial things:
Cold Water – Water is released from the dam at about 50 degrees, even in mid-summer, and warms to around 65 degrees as it approaches Lake Mead. Since the water is moving through the Canyon in a short amount of time, this varies very little with the season. Though we sometimes wish the water was a little warmer, the cold water provides a beach-like cooling effect near the river. It helps make even the hottest days comfortable while on the rafts.
Consistent Flows – There is no seasonal snow melt flow as the water release is very similar throughout the rafting season. There are small daily fluctuations from the change in release due to power needs, but we seldom worry about the water releases. Current laws require for a yearly allocation of water to be released for the downstream states and this provides us good rafting water even in a drought year. The water color can change when there is a thunderstorm in the area, but that just returns the river to its original red-brown color for a period of time. It really has no effect on the rafting.