River Rafting the Colorado River
Off the Beaten Path
By Dixie Brunner
Picture yourself floating lazily down the river with sheer canyon walls towering thousands of feet overhead, reflecting in the crystal clear water you glide upon. Peace and tranquility envelope you with each winding turn of the river, putting more distance between you and the hectic lives you left behind. And then you hear the roar. You look ahead at a wall of roiling water, so huge you cannot see beyond. It seems impossible the boat on which you’re riding can make it through the turbulent water ahead… Grand Canyon Expeditions has been providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for worldwide visitors for the past 40 years. The eight or 14 day river adventures are all-inclusive, with all meals, bedding and round-trip transportation furnished. “A Canyon trip offers serenity and excitement,” explains Marty Mathis, who co-owns the company with partner Mike Denoyer. “It’s getting back to nature, starlit nites, history. The Canyon is a magical life-changing experience.” The trip takes you on an unforgettable 280 mile journey down the Colorado River, negotiating nearly 200 heart-pounding rapids. The adventure, which begins at Lees Ferry, AZ and ends at Pearce Ferry, AZ on Lake Mead, carries riders on comfortable 37 foot S-Rig rafts. Known for their safety and maneuverability, the rafts can forge through the Colorado River’s most formidable rapids, many of which early explorers were forced to portage. Professional guides provide informed ongoing commentary on the Canyon’s history, geology, archeology, and plant and animal life. The information is educational, especially since rafters on their journey down the river will see everything from ancient petroglyphs to wildflowers, from rock formations to ringtail cats and Bighorn sheep. “The boatsmen are so knowledgeable about everything on the river,” said Seattle real estate business manager Glen Perez. “And you can tell it’s not just a job to them, they really do love and respect the river.” Time is built into the trip to include opportunities for people to explore, both on their own or with guides. After the heart-pounding thrill of riding the rapids, relaxing time can be spent playing in the waterfalls of tributary streams; hiking in brightly-hued side canyons, or just sitting under a shade tree and watching the river rush past. While many take the Grand Canyon trip for excitement, and some to renew family and friendship ties, there are no strangers by the end of the trip! You spend 24 hours a day for eight days with people from all over the country. You share great food, hair-raising adventure, and the most incredible scenery together. For many, the experience creates a lifelong bond of friendship that can never be replaced. “I think my favorite memory was playing with our boating group on the Little Colorado River,” said Rory Brunner, Los Angeles resident and online sports editor. “The aquamarine water was incredible. The trip was remarkable, but I have to say the evening horseshoe games were also hard to beat.” People are often moved to tears by the Grand Canyon’s remarkable beauty. Time, erosion and the different rock layers have carved and created a visual rainbow palate. A trip down the Colorado River offers many a sense of renewed spirituality. Besides offering the standard eight-day trips, Grand Canyon Expeditions also offer special interest trips as well. Expeditions for those with particular interests in history, geology, photography, ecology and archeology are also available. On these trips, passengers are accompanied by experts who share special knowledge in these areas. Make plans to experience this once in a lifetime adventure! For more information on the Grand Canyon trips, please call the friendly folks at Grand Canyon Expeditions 1-800-544-2691, or visit their website at http://www.gcex.com.