Mussel Update

Beach, docks and houseboats on lake. Sandstone cliffs in background.

NPS Photo, Emily Upchurch

A few quagga mussel shells on the palm of a hand
Quagga Mussels

NPS Photo

It is crucial to keep the mussels from moving from Lake Powell to other lakes and rivers. Utah and Arizona state laws require you to clean, drain, and dry your boat when leaving Lake Powell using self-decontamination procedures. Additional steps are required if you launch on other waters without a significant drying period or if you are on Lake Powell for more than 5 days. Regulations vary depending on the state, so all boaters should review the regulations of any state they will enter with their watercraft after being at Lake Powell, including Utah (Check here as well), Arizona, and Colorado.

Click here to learn how to decontaminate your boat.

Read the most up to date information on mussels at Glen Canyon here.
As of 2016, thousands of adult quagga mussels have been found in Lake Powell, attached to canyon walls, the Glen Canyon Dam, boats, and other underwater structures, especially in the southern portions of the lake. Adult mussel populations are expected to expand and increase as the season progresses and over the next few years.

Sandstone rocks at the lakeshore are covered with quagga mussels
Quagga mussels cover rocks that were underwater, now exposed, near Blue Notch.

NPS Photo

Mussel larvae, or veligers, were first confirmed in Lake Powell in late 2012 after routine water monitoring tests discovered mussel DNA in water samples taken from the vicinity of Antelope Point and the Glen Canyon Dam. Adult mussels were first reported in March 2013 when a local marine services business discovered 4 adult mussels on a boat that had been pulled for service. Adult mussels continue to be found on moored boats and marina structures at Wahweap and Antelope Point Marinas. Adult mussels have also been found attached to submerged canyon walls in and around Wahweap Bay and on a fixed wheel gate on the Glen Canyon Dam. The majority of mussels found are in groupings of small clusters. Some southern lake areas have continuous carpeting of adult mussels. Adult mussels are being found near Bullfrog Basin and Halls Crossing Marinas, but in lower densities, typically existing as individual isolated adults. The mussel population has colonized practically all areas of the lake, as indicated by recent water sampling for veligers. Adult mussels have also been found in the river below Glen Canyon Dam; the source of these mussels is Lake Powell veligers passing through the dam.

Continued mussel education and prevention activities will minimize the chances that mussels will be transported to colonize other lakes and prevent the introduction of other aquatic invasive species to Glen Canyon waters.

Boaters can help by making sure your vessels and equipment are not contributing to the problem. Cooperate with prevention and containment efforts at Lake Powell and all your favorite waters to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species like mussels. Use the following links to learn more about mussel prevention efforts at Glen Canyon and what you can do to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Paved road with large signs. The road leads to the water. It is a launch ramp.

Launching Your Boat at Lake Powell and Decontaminating it Afterwards

You are welcome to launch your boat on Lake Powell at any time, as long as lake level permits. There is no inspection certificate needed to launch, but many boaters do have requirements when leaving. Read about how to decontaminate your equipment here.

Circular object filled with mussels. It is unrecognizable as anything but a clump of mussels.

Quagga Mussel Containment Program

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is developing an extended response strategy to minimize the spread of invasive mussels from Lake Powell and to manage park operations now that quagga mussels are present. Read the overview of that program here.

Slimy pvc pipe with a rope attached. The rope is slimy too.

Mussel Monitoring at Lake Powell

Glen Canyon maintains an active monitoring program to detect the presence and spread of aquatic invasive species in Lake Powell and the Colorado River. See the work they do here.

Stiking sandstone cliff rises out of the lake. Its reflection is just as big.

History of Mussel Prevention at Glen Canyon

Glen Canyon has been at the forefront of the movement to detect and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species since the threat became known. View a timeline of prevention efforts and our response to the detection of invasive mussels in Lake Powell.

Helicopter with water landers sits on top of the lake.

Seaplanes and Mussels

Seaplanes can transport aquatic hitchhiker species between bodies of water just as easily as boats. Check the regulations for landing your seaplane on Lake Powell here.

Last updated: March 22, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040


(928) 608-6200
Receptionist available at Glen Canyon Headquarters from 7 am to 4 pm MST, Monday through Friday. The phone is not monitored when the building is closed.

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