NewsNational News


Shrinking shoreline exposes shipwreck at Utah's Lake Powell

Utah lake powell boat
Posted at 8:35 PM, Apr 13, 2021

LAKE POWELL, Utah — A curious discovery along the edges of Lake Powell has been uncovered as the shoreline shrinks during what could be one of the worst drought years on record for the reservoir.

The low water levels revealed a fascinating find for one group during a friends and family fishing trip last weekend.

Liz Bowles described how they had never seen the Lake Powell shoreline like this.

"It's lower than we've ever seen with the water. It's pretty crazy," Bowles said.

It was so low that during their camping and fishing trip, Bowles and the others discovered the boat ramp at Bullfrog Marina had closed. New areas and things like trees previously covered by water sat exposed.

"Where we camped is usually underwater," Bowles explained. "There was a few things, like soda cans and things like that, we cleaned up."

It gave the group a new camping spot and exposed some trash.

When the three boats headed back on Sunday, Bowles described how they came around a corner and spotted something on the shoreline.

Wedged in the rocks, a shipwrecked boat jutted into the air.

"It wasn't until somebody had pointed out that it was all the way out of the water," she recounted.

Bowles said they were able to get out and walk right up to the boat.

"It was cool to see," Bowles said.

Around the wreck, they found items that belonged to the boat's owners -- like the hide-a-key still stuck to the boat with keys inside, as well silverware and an old shoe.

"We tried to not disturb it too much, because we don't know how secure it is there and we didn't want anyone to get hurt," she said. "But we could see that there had been some people that had tried to recover it at some point. There were straps on it and things like that, that they were obviously unsuccessful getting the boat out of the water."

The boat is certainly out of the water now because of extreme drought.

"Not only is it dry, but this is the second dry year that we've seen in a row at Lake Powell," said Heather Patno, a hydraulic engineer at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in the Upper Colorado.

She talked about how Lake Powell is projected to hit 31 percent capacity this year. Right now, it's at 36 percent. It could hit record lows, Patno explained.

"The levels that we're projected to reach haven't been seen since it started filling in 1969," she said.

Patno said that they have water management strategies in place, which include releasing less water to Lake Mead and potentially releasing more water from upstream into Lake Powell.

For those playing on the lake this year, it means they'll come across areas that haven't been above water in years.

"Things are being seen now that haven't been seen for a while," Patno said. "And as people explore different areas of Powell, they're going to have a new experience."

For Bowles and her group, it created a new and fun experience.

"It was just kind of a cool little find," she said.

And it made for quite a story from their trip, even if the boat's story itself remains a mystery.

This story originally reported by Lauren Steinbrecher on