In 1963, the diversion tunnels of Glen Canyon Dam closed causing the waters of the Colorado River to back up 186 miles through Glen Canyon to form Lake Powell. Built for political purposes, the dam was originally meant to provide a sustainable water supply to the arid Southwest, but has since undermined that very objective and has caused massive collateral damage across the Colorado River Basin. Before the dam, Glen Canyon was a wonderland of gorges, spires, cliffs, and grottoes; the biological heart of the Colorado River, with more than 79 species of plants, 189 species of birds, and 34 species of mammals; and a cultural treasure, with more than 3,000 ancient ruins.

After the dam, Glen Canyon became known as “the place no one knew” and America’s “lost national park.” Legendary conservationist David Brower lamented, “Glen Canyon died in 1963…. Neither you nor I, nor anyone else, knew it well enough to insist that at all costs it should endure. When we began to find out it was too late.”

We now know that it is not too late to save Glen Canyon. Founded in 1996, GCI has embarked upon a multi-year campaign to protect and restore Glen Canyon, and reverse the decline of Grand Canyon’s fragile ecosystem.

Since our founding, we have made great progress towards fulfilling the mission of a restored Glen Canyon and Colorado River, including:

  • completing eight peer-reviewed scientific studies of Glen Canyon Dam impacts,
  • publishing a Citizen’s Environmental Assessment of Glen Canyon Dam,
  • winning a lawsuit to force the Bureau of Reclamation to re-evaluate how dam operations are affecting endangered species,
  • initiating the Glen Canyon GIS Mapping Project, and
  • gaining national media attention for this critical issue from sources such as The New York Times, The LA Times, National Geographic Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, and ABC Nightline.
GCI members, staff, and board on a San Juan trip

GCI is actively working to achieve a huge leap forward in river management and ecosystem restoration. The success of our efforts will directly benefit millions of people in the Colorado River Basin who will achieve a more dependable and sustainable water supply. In addition, the wildlife and ecosystems of Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon, which currently suffer due to existing water management policies, will be restored to health.

Our generation has been given a miraculous second chance to witness Glen Canyon and take part in the restoration of one of our nation’s greatest natural treasures. GCI is actively working to protect the revealed landscape of Glen Canyon and ensure that restoration will continue.

You can support GCI in this historic effort by becoming a member and/or getting involved in one of our many current projects.

Glen Canyon Institute is governed by a distinguished Board of Trustees. Our office and staff are located in Salt Lake City, Utah.