Rafting the Grand Canyon
Updated: Jun 9
60 seconds of rapids... See the full video summary below
As much as I talk about sharing that “the National Park System is not just the Grand Canyon,” I sort of have to eat my words. Not that I don’t still wholeheartedly believe in that statement, but because, once again, the Grand Canyon has provided one of my most special national park experience.
It was in the Grand Canyon in 2012 that I had my first real camping experience. My childhood best friend (and Eagle Scout) joined me for an 11-mile hike to a camp site right on top of Mooney Falls in the Havasupai Reservation. Then we spent 4 days reconnecting over the turquoise blue waters, copious waterfalls, and other-worldly hikes.
What made that time extra special was that by being in the center of the Grand Canyon, we had no cell phone service, internet, or TV. In a world surrounded by noise, we were so isolated, we couldn’t even be tempted. It’s a magic I haven’t experienced since that hiking trip in 2012…until now.
In park #176 of my journey to all 417, thanks to Grand Canyon Whitewater, I got to have that same magical feeling. Cut off from the inundation of emails to my inbox, the ability to post on social media, or the ever-pressing need to plan my trip’s logistics, I got to spend 8 days rafting down the Colorado river through 225 miles of the Grand Canyon.
Now, I could tell you about the amazing food, the gorgeous side hikes, the night skies so lit up by stars and the moon that I awoke on my cot and almost thought it was day. But none of those would truly express what it felt like to be one of the itsy-bitsy percentage of Grand Canyon visitors that rafts through this world wonder.
At one point along the river I pondered this. When we reached a bend that allowed us a—albeit 17 mile afar—view of the South Rim, I imagined hordes of tourists shoving each other out of the way to hold their iPads in the air angled just right to catch a glimpse of the river. I thought of all the people who come to the Grand Canyon and only get that small taste; that one overlook that doesn’t truly capture the impact this place can have, especially on a 21st century world.
So to take you down that river, I made this video of my float through the Grand Canyon. To hopefully make you feel, if just for a moment, the rush of a rapid in the isolation of pure nature.
Some quick tips I wish I’d have known before the journey:
- Pack way more hand/body lotion than you think you need. Your skin will get very dry.
- Same goes for lip balm/Chapstick.
- You’ll hang out at camp for a solid 5 – 6 hours each day. If you want to drink something beyond the provided soda, tea, or water, bring it with you (alcohol is allowed). You can always not drink it, but better to have the option during these social hours.
- Take half as many clothes as you think. Honestly, I packed a week’s worth of underwear and socks and only wore swimsuits and river sandals all week. Don’t be that person with the heavy bag (that everyone has to unload from the boat!)
Want more tips? Check out this Facebook Live video recorded at Grand Canyon Whitewater headquarters hours after my rafting trip ended. Packed-full of my freshest thoughts and expert opinions from the staff!
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