Separation Canyon is historic as this is the spot where three men left John Wesley Powell’s expedition and hiked out, abandoning the trip. They were never seen again. Almost as tragic was that they were so close to the end of their journey, with Powell emerging from the canyon just two days later.
You’re probably wondering why they chose this location to end their journey. Keep in mind, that before the dam and lake, there was a formidable rapid here. This hazard combined with the option of a side canyon exit was the final push that the Howland brothers and Dunn needed to make their decision and leave.
There is a cenotaph here, commemorating the moment. It reads: Here on August 28 1869, Seneca Howland, O.G. Howland and William H. Dunn separated from the original Powell party, climbed to the north rim and were killed by the Indians. For further authentic information see “Colorado River Controversies” obtainable from university libraries. This cenotaph was placed and dedicated in 1939 by later Colorado River voyagers.
This spot also marks the place where you are allowed to use a motor, even on a non-motorized trip. From the “Noncommercial River Regulations:” Non-motorized trips may be permitted in any season to carry stow-away motors for use exclusively below Separation Canyon. No vessel shall have a motor or combination of motors of greater than 55 horsepower.z