Past‎ > ‎

Arizona, USA - Grand Canyon Rafting

When: May, 2008
Companions: John, Michele, Ed, Patrick, Kari, and John
Guides: OARS - Lee's Ferry to Phantom Ranch

Trip Notes

This trip was the brainchild of my friend John's friend John.  I was atypically along for the ride and what a ride it was!  The basic structure of the trip was 6 days of whitewater rating down the Colorado river, ending a phantom ranch then hiking 11 miles up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Sounds pretty cool, eh?  Here's how the trip went:

Kicking it off

Let me start by saying I paid very little attention to anything about this trip until the day before I left for Arizona.  Then I went to REI for a few hours picked up things that seemed potentially appropriate for spending a week on a river and called it a day.  I got to Flagstaff airport and noticed some guy who looked like he might be going to the same place, it turns out he was and his name was Ed.  A good guy that continued to be entertaining throughout the trip.  We got to the hotel, they gave us an overview of the trip, slept at the hotel, packed into vans, and off to the river!  The best part about seeing the Grand Canyon this way is that you start on the river when it is only a few hundred feet down from the "rim" of the "canyon" (doesn't seem terribly impressive at this point) and then you spend a week getting deeper into it and passing through 100s of millions of years of rock formation on the way.  It was spectacular.

Our Guides

The OARS guides were awesome and all quite unique.  Mike was our trip leader, he has run this river more times than I've done just about anything.  He wrote the book on Death in the Grand Canyon and made a lot of really dry and sometimes awful jokes.  Best of all he was a rock, the sort of guy you knew you could trust, and when he said to do something, you damn well did it.  Scott was my boatman for the first day.  He's run the river for almost 20 years but only does 1 trip a year.  He likes this one because the temperature is pretty mellow (no ice, no heatstroke) and we take 6 days to run it as opposed to the usual 5.  When he isn't guiding he's sheriffing and word on the street is he's incredibly good at that.  Sara came next in the boat lineup, she was everything you could ask for in a guide, smart, capable, fun, and informative.  She seemed to genuinely enjoy herself on the trip which made it more enjoyable for me.  The last guide was Scotty, he's what you might call a crazy man.  He would always "go big" and head for the big water.  He's run the river for as long as I've been alive and I hope he continues to do so.  There were also 2 gear boats driven by Alice and Adam.  They were ramping up to be full guides on the river.  OARS couldn't have provided us with a better group.

The River

Our trip down the river was mind blowing.  It was alternating periods of big wave rapids and gently floating down the river.  It was as exciting as it was relaxing.  It was also about 45 degrees, not much swimming went on.  The only person tossed from the boat was Scott (turns out the person rowing is more likely to leave the boat as they are holding onto two things only loosely attached to the boat).  The campsites were incredible (see pictures :) ).  The rapids started mellow and grew to 15 foot waves.  Looking down the guts of a 15 foot rapid and crashing through is something everyone should do at least once in their life.


I think the 2 highlights of the trip had to be the Little Colorado and our day of hiking.  The LIttle Colorado was a beautiful turquoise and quite a few degrees warmer than the, er, bigger Colorado.  We jumped into the river wearing our life jackets as diapers and rode some rapids.  Michele decided she wanted to ride a rapid face first, yea, that wasn't a great idea.  The day of hiking took us up to the top of one of the slot canyons.  After a few hours of scrambling up some rocks the canyon opened into rolling hills.  We spend hours just hiking through the hills, seemed unlikely that any human being had been there in many years.  It's hard to find a place so isolated in such a crowded country.


Using "groover" (ammo box with a toilet seat that was our communal toilet) in the middle of a vicious sandstorm.  On the down side, some body parts don't need sand-blasting.  On the up side, talk about exfoliation!


This is one of the few trips I've done that I might actually do again.  It was a great balance of exitement and relaxation.  After I came back I didn't feel like I needed to take some time off to rest!  It was a great trip and I'd highly recommend OARS...
My Photos:

2008 Grand Canyon River Trip

Patrick's Photos:

Patrick's Photos