1 of 2
Steven Ward Aramark/Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas
As shown in this aerial view, Warm Creek has joined with Wahweap Bay and wet Castle Rock Cut shortcut for the first time in five years. The rising water will let boaters use Warm Creek.

The "Cut" is open.

What is called the Castle Rock Cut, closed for five years now, has been filled by rising water levels at Lake Powell.

To boaters, this means huge savings in time and fuel.

The Cut allows boaters to head directly uplake out of Wahweap, the busiest of the four major lakeside marinas, rather than follow the old river channel around Antelope Island.

Following the river channel added 12 miles to the uplake journey and anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes in travel time. It also required using a lot more fuel to reach popular destinations such as Padre and Last Chance bays, Dangling Rope marina and Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

"The opening of the Cut will make boating a lot more enjoyable and less expensive," said Steve Ward, director of public relations.

During the popular summer months, the Narrows channel route would also become very rough because of the wave action of passing boats.

Earlier in the week, only flat-bottom boats and personal watercraft were able to make it through the Cut.

The lake has been rising an average of about 10 inches a day, which will allow larger boats to pass through by midweek.

The projected rise in the lake level is between 46 and 50 feet, which would take the lake to an elevation of 3,639 feet. The elevation when the Cut started to fill was 3,618 feet.

When full, the level of the lake is 3,700 feet.

At one point a few years ago, the lake was down about 155 feet, and there were some who predicted it would never rise again. After spring runoffs last year, it was down 89 feet. If projections are right, it will be down only 61 feet by summer.

According to reports, there have been five days in the past two weeks when the level of the lake has gone up more than a foot.

Records show the lake went up 1.03 feet on June 4, .97 of a foot on June 5, .99 of a foot on June 6 and 1.08 feet on June 7. The largest rise has been 14 inches in one day.

And with the rise in the water level in the canyon, the hike up to the bridge, which is now about a mile and a half, will be cut nearly in half.

"Visitors will also be able to get to some of the more familiar beaches that were cut off. The bay areas will also be larger and more open, and boaters will be able to go back deeper into the canyons," said Ward.

"It will make a big difference in recreational boating this summer."

The rising level is also expected to improve fishing in the long run.

E-mail: [email protected]