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Is Glen Canyon and Hoover Dam the Same? 

Last Update on May 31, 2023
by Sunny Samaroo
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The Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam are not the same, but they have quite a bit in common. They're located relatively close to each other and are both on the Colorado River.

These impressive dams have contributed significantly to supplying water and generating electricity in their local areas. On a national and even global scale, they have become symbols of human ingenuity. Simply looking at them in person fills you with a sense of wonder.

Despite what they have in common, Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam are different structures. In this article, we will explore the wonders of these two extraordinary engineering marvels and unravel the differences between them, too.

View of Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam (above) and Hoover Dam tower over their surrounding landscapes.

What Are Glen Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam?

Glen Canyon is nestled in the majestic red rock landscapes of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The canyon boasts awe-inspiring beauty and a rich natural heritage. 

Carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, the canyon stretches approximately 186 miles (299 kilometers) and enchants visitors with its towering sandstone cliffs and mesmerizing rock formations.

Standing tall and mighty at the heart of Glen Canyon in northern Arizona is Glen Canyon Dam, a monumental structure that altered the landscape and transformed the Colorado River. 

Completed in 1964, this concrete arch dam spans the Colorado River and gave birth to Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States. 

The primary purpose of Glen Canyon Dam is to regulate water flow, provide hydroelectric power, and facilitate irrigation to arid regions. It also ensures flood control downstream.

View of Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam is an arch dam.

What Is the Hoover Dam?

Hoover Dam is located on the border of Nevada and Arizona. It's also in the Colorado River, 275 miles (443 km) downstream of Glen Canyon Dam. While Glen Canyon Dam is in Glen Canyon, Hoover Dam is in Black Canyon.

Hoover Dam predates Glen Canyon Dam, having been completed in 1936. This historic masterpiece is a symbol of America's resilience during the Great Depression and has attracted millions of visitors over the years.

Related Reading: Is the Hoover Dam Tour Worth It?

Formerly known as Boulder Dam, this impressive feat of engineering was constructed using roughly 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete. According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, a total of 21,000 men worked on the Hoover Dam.

Rising 726 feet (221 meters) above the Colorado River, it not only tames the mighty river but also creates Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. 

Hoover Dam controls floods and harnesses the power of the Colorado River to provide water and electricity to millions of people in the region.  Besides its practical functions, the dam offers visitors a chance to marvel at its awe-inspiring art deco design, ingenious engineering, and panoramic views.

View of Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam straddles the border of Nevada and Arizona.

Which Is Bigger: Hoover Dam or Glen Canyon Dam?

Glen Canyon Dam is bigger than the Hoover Dam. It might not be immediately obvious from pictures, but there's quite a size difference between these two dams.

  • Hoover Dam is 726 ft (221 m) tall and 244 ft (379 m) long.
  • Glen Canyon Dam is 710 ft (216 m) tall and 1,560 ft (475 m) long.

The Hoover Dam is taller than Glen Canyon Dam but Glen Canyon Dam is much wider, making it bigger overall.

Given the difference in size between the dams, you may be surprised to learn which of the dams' reservoirs is bigger. Hoover Dam's reservoir, Lake Mead, can hold more water than Glen Canyon Dam's reservoir.

  • Lake Mead has a surface area of 247 square miles and can hold over 28 million acre-feet of water.
  • Lake Powell has a surface area of 252 square miles but holds less water — about 24 million acre-feet of water.

In fact, Lake Mead is the manmade reservoir with the highest capacity in the United States!

Differences Between Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam

Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam's differences go beyond their size. Though both dams share the Colorado River as their life force, several key distinctions set them apart. 

Glen Canyon Dam Vs Hoover Dam: Construction

The two dams' construction periods vary significantly. Hoover Dam was completed in 1936, three decades before Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1964. Hoover Dam was built in five years, while Glen Canyon Dam took eight years to be built.

Roughly 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete were used to build the Hoover Dam, while Glen Canyon Dam contains roughly 4.9 million cubic yards of concrete

Considering that Glen Canyon Dam is much bigger than Hoover Dam but was built using a similar amount of concrete, Glen Canyon Dam is much thinner. 

Glen Canyon Dam is an arch dam. Arch dams are thin by definition, while gravity-arch dams like the Hoover Dam are constructed to be thicker.

Glen Canyon Dam Vs Hoover Dam: Use

The Hoover Dam is mainly used for both water storage and power generation, while the Glen Canyon Dam primarily serves as a water storage reservoir, though it also generates a lot of electricity.

Glen Canyon Dam is more productive than Hoover Dam. It produces five billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year, compared to the Hoover Dam's four billion kilowatt-hours.

Both Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam serve the southwestern and western United States, particularly Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. If either or both of the dams shut down, it could have quite big consequences on these states.

Glen Canyon Dam Vs Hoover Dam: Tours

The Hoover Dam is one of the most iconic attractions in the country and is much more well-known than Glen Canyon Dam. 

As you might expect, then, the Hoover Dam receives more tourists than Glen Canyon DamHoover Dam tours from Las Vegas are some of the most popular tours in the area.

At both dams, you can see exhibitions of the history and construction of the dams inside their visitor centers, as well as partake in a range of tours throughout the dams overall or focusing on specific sections, such as the power plants.

Statue at Hoover Dam
Marks and tributes to the Hoover Dam's history are sprinkled all around the dam.


Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam are not the same but they're both remarkable structures that have played pivotal roles in the development and sustainability of the American Southwest. 

The two dams serve as a testament to human ingenuity and continue to capture imaginations as legendary icons even decades after their construction.

The next time you feel like going on an adventure, consider exploring the wonders of Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam. Whether you're awestruck by the force of nature or the brilliance of human achievements, these landmarks offer something for everyone to marvel at!


Sunny Samaroo

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