cathedral in the desert lake powellBy Dave Webb

I’ve received an amazing number of e-mail messages and phone calls from people seeking information about Cathedral-in-the-Desert, a beautiful alcove and waterfall exposed last winter when Lake Powell’s water level fell to its lowest point. For many, the Cathedral has come to symbolize the wonders of Glen Canyon, lost when the big lake’s water inundated the area. Several national news reports featured the Cathedral. I wrote a newspaper article about it and also posted reports on a few websites.

An email received last week was pretty typical. It came from a woman in Cincinnati who wanted to know where to launch a kayak so she could paddle to the Cathedral. She was quite disappointed when I told her the show is over. Lake water has flooded the Cathedral and now pretty much fills the alcove. Here’s a report provided by a reader named Chet:

“Here's the story on how I found Cathedral-in-the-Desert's condition on June 1, 2005, (compared to my earlier visit on April 7th).

The lake level had risen about 30 feet (to 3587 feet on June 1st), so only the upper fluted 20 feet (estimated) of the waterfall remained. The floor is gone, of course. The current level is about 3593 feet so not much is still exposed. And the lake is rising fast.

“There were a lot of people there on June 1st. The rising water had made it possible for boaters to again reach the bottom of an old ski tow rope that someone had left there sometime earlier, so kids were pulling themselves up the rope and jumping off into the pool.

“We climbed up to the top of the pool and walked the 100 or so yards back into the Nave to the second waterfall – which is about half the size of the first one, but lovely as it drops into its plunge pool. I would guess that within another couple of weeks people will be boating over the first fall and will think that the second one is the main waterfall. Then that one will become inundated, most likely.

“We both saw it at the right time. Cheers.”

Lake Powell is always changing, always beautiful and always providing opportunity for adventure. But it’s too late to see Cathedral in the Desert.