This is sacred ground for the tribe. They believed their ancestors journeyed through three worlds in various forms before emerging from Mother Earth into this “sparkling world.”

The landscapes and formations in Arizona and Utah are part of a western U.S. camping trip this spring. There’s a reason John Wayne filmed movies here. It’s a pristine slice of America that can’t be replicated on a movie lot.

A sister’s RV and four campgrounds becomes home for a 10-day “glamping” stint.

Although the sunrises, sunsets and views of rock formations, canyons and arches are breathtaking, there is concern.

A haze hangs over the Grand Canyon’s southern rim during our visit there. It’s partly from the recent fires in Arizona but mostly, we’re told, it’s from pollution. The park itself is clean and stresses conservation, recycling and low-touch camping. But visitors can’t help but notice the haze.

At our campsite on the banks of Lake Powell, the Glen Canyon dam stops the flow of the once-mighty Colorado River. The lake is but a shadow of its former self as the river feels the impact of drought and overuse.

On this Earth Day, the lake nears 3,490 feet of elevation, or about 177 feet below the level needed for a full power pool. It’s about 24% of the needed mark.

Boats are lashed together at the marina as if waiting for a wave or a massive snowmelt to lift them from their perches. The parking lot of a lakeside resort is all but empty, and the gas station is closed.

An estimated 40 million Americans have their drinking straws stuck in the Colorado River, which seems to be begging for relief. The reservoir here is so low it may not be able to generate power for the city of Page and the nearby Navajo nation.

Additionally, downstream Lake Mead would suffer as less water flows.

There is a plan. The Arizona Republic reports seven upper basin states have agreed to release 156 billion gallons of water from the upstream Flaming Gorge Reservoir to prop up Lake Powell.

The idea highlights how delicate the river’s balance is. Releasing water upstream impacts millions of Americans. Drought, global warming and population growth impacts our water security.

A couple of positives: We see wind generators in much of the west. Additionally, the Navajos have started the first all-tribal solar generating station.

 

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