Run Wild! Run Rivers! Rafting Blog

Archive for August, 2011

Off-River Hiking on a Whitewater Rafting Trip

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View From Nankoweep Granaries

When you choose to take a whitewater rafting trip with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions a big part of that trip is the off-river hiking, swimming, and exploring. One of the common questions we get at our office is “What will the hiking be like?” This is a hard question to answer because every trip is different. The hikes we do on a river trip depends on multiple components including the hiking ability of the group, the water level of the river, what other groups on the river are doing, the weather, and the time of year. That said, in general we do more hiking that any other company on the river. Especially on our Grand Canyon rafting trips and Fall Canyonlands/Cataract Canyon rafting expeditions.

The hikes we do on our rafting trips are always optional and most offer an opportunity for our guests to push themselves as much or as little as they want. Some of the hikes we go on are less than a mile long, up side canyons with a smooth gravel bottom such as “Blacktail Canyon” in the Grand Canyon. Others follow a well worn trail, but require a big elevation gain such as the “Doll’s House Hike” on our Cataract Canyon trips, or the “Nankoweep Granary Hike” in the Grand Canyon. Sometimes we will pack a lunch and some of the group will do an all-day hike, while others relax and read at a huge waterfall right next to the river. One of the common hikes we do on our Green River rafting trips through Desolation Canyon is a hike up to an old bootlegger still that has a well worn trail about a mile each way in length.

On the other end of the spectrum we do a lot of hikes that require hiking, climbing, and clawing over boulders and rocks and may not follow any trail at all. One example of this would be doing the short boulder strewn hike to “Elves Chasm.” This is a hike almost everyone can do, but it does require hiking over and around huge boulders. Also many of our hikes follow the bottom of river channels with and without water. These hikes usually require hiking over and around rocks.

All of the off-river hiking we do on our rafting trips is amazing. Many lead to beautiful pools of water and waterfalls, others lead to ancient ruins of the Ancestral Puebloan people or more modern Miner Camps, and some lead to amazing natural features or breathtaking views. When you go on a whitewater rafting trip with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions it will become apparent to you that the rapids and canyons are amazing, but so are the hidden gems off the river. Our rafting trips allow enough time to do these off-river hikes and see these amazing places. Seeing the river and experiencing the rapids is only part of an incredible rafting vacation.

Basic Grand Canyon Geology. “Dude the Grand Canyon Rocks!!!”

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How and when the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River was formed is a very complex undertaking. Although many of the details are constantly changing with new scientific data there are some ideas about the formation of the Grand Canyon that are almost universally accepted. This is where “Dude the Canyon Rocks” comes into play.


Deposition-In order for a canyon to exist there must be walls. The Grand Canyon contains sedimentary rock that ranges from over 1 billion years old to 270 million years old. Over this huge amount of time sediments were deposited by marine environments as well as terrestrial environments as the ocean came in and covered the area then receded multiple times. An easy way to imagine the deposition of multiple layers of rock is to image books stacked on top of each other. At the bottom of this stack of sedimentary rocks is the Grand Canyon Metamorphic Complex dating back to 1.75 billion Years.

Uplift-Uplift of the Colorado Plateau and the sedimentary layers of the Grand Canyon started about 75 million years ago during the Laramide Orogeny, a mountain building event that also helped create the rocky mountains to the East. A unique thing about the uplift of the Colorado Plateau is that it was uplifted more like a table top than a mountain range. This made the cutting of a canyon much easier.

Down-Cutting-The Colorado River acts as a stationary saw as the plateau around it is uplifted.

Erosion -Erosional forces of wind and water continually widen, deepen, and expand the Grand Canyon. Anyone who has taken a Grand Canyon rafting trip has seen these powerful forces at work.

What does CRATE stand for in the rafting world?

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CRATE boats camped across from Deer Creek

"CRATE" rafts and crew after an incredible day at Deer Creek Falls

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions is our official company name. Most of our friends and guests over the years refer to our rafting company as CRATE. CRATE is an acronym that stands for Colorado River & Trail Expeditions. When our company first formed in 1971 the only section of river we ran was the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. In addition to rafting we also led backpacking trips into the Grand Canyon and did overnight hiking trips away from the river. As time progressed we expanded throughout Utah and Alaska running different rivers and seeing more incredible places. We eventually quit doing the backpacking tours, but kept the focus on off river hiking in conjunction with our whitewater rafting. We like to get up early on our rafting expeditions and make the most of each and everyday. When taking part in a Grand Canyon rafting expedition the off-river side canyons are just as impressive as the main corridor itself. If you have ever watched one of our rafts pass under the Kaibab Suspension Bridge, or sat atop the Grand Canyon skywalk peering down with binoculars you have noticed the very subtle “CRATE” sign at the front and back of our rafts. When you come down the river it will all be clear, and you like the 1000’s of people we have taken down the river will just call us CRATE. We run great river trips with the best and most organized rafts and river guides on the river.

Grand Canyon Ode

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Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon, 7/11

A bighorn ram I am not.
Me. I sleep upon a cot.
And I piddle
In the middle
Of the river.

I wear bright orange on the boat
If I dunk then I will float.
Watery froth I often meet
And if I’m hot its very sweet.

Our guides are super
They haul the pooper
With ease. And in the kitchen
They create food bewitchin’.

And when our Walker says its time
To land on sand we’re soon to dine.
And Mindy does double work with smiles
With grace and strength, over many miles.
And Megan shoots a mean water gun.
So our Boston men must even run.

Our guides take good care of us all
Whether our goals are big or small.

And Mike our fine teach
Diverse topics does he reach.
He brings books and games
Things wild and tame
Serious and hilarious.

Jeremy, Kristin and Noah
All so bright and gung ho(a).
Helping and yelping,
Boating and floating.

In all, a smashing, splashing venture.
An incomparable adventure.

–Jane Bunin

Grand Canyon Rafting iphone/ipad App

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Grand Canyon Rafting App Now Available

Grand Canyon Rafting App

One of our guests on our April 2011 Grand Canyon Rafting trip has built an app for ipad and iphone available at the itunes store. Larry Ketchersid’s company “Josara” has built the app around a hike-in/helicopter-out Grand Canyon Rafting trip he took with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions this past April. Larry was part of a group of 14 friends who had always wanted to hike into the Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch and then helicopter out at Whitmore Wash. The trip was 5 days in length and included some awesome hikes, funny stories, and a great group dynamic. A similar trip is availabe April 16-20, 2012.

The App is called “Cecil does the Grand Canyon with a pop-tart” and is available in the itunes store. The app includes a map of the Grand Canyon, a good story, and some awesome photos and multimedia. Check out the app to get you through the winter and then come experience the thrill in 2012.

Grand Canyon Rafting – A Trip for Adventure and Thrill

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If you want to break the monotony of a boring routine and want to experience the thrill of whitewater with crashing waves on the Colorado River. A Grand Canyon rafting trips may be just what you are looking for. Dare to experience new things and hike to some of the most amazing sites in the world. For an adventurous trip in the lap of nature, get wet and enjoy Colorado River rafting with your friends, family or colleagues.

Grand Canyon rafting trips are ideal for the persons who love water sports and the outdoors. Colorado river rafting is an amazing experience that you may have never experienced before. Friendly, knowledgeable, experienced guides with training in Wilderness First Aid, Swift water Rescue, and Environmental Ethics take you through the most amazing place in the world. Sharing their interpretive skills throughout the trips. Colorado River rafting gives you the majestic experience of exploring the thrill of rafting.

CRATE takes care of providing you with the right equipment required for any river rafting trip such as rafts, life jackets, water proof bags to hold your belongings, tents, sleeping bags, food and the best bathroom facilities on the river. For a wonderful experience at the Grand Canyon visit our-trips/grand-canyon-rafting/

Rating Grand Canyon’s Rapids

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Grand Canyon Rapids are rated on a 1-10 Scale

Lava Falls is a Class IV to V Rapid Rated 8-10 on the Colorado River Scale

The rapids in the Grand Canyon are rated on a 1-10 scale. This may seem confusing to whitewater aficionados who have become accustomed to the more universal Class I-VI scale:

Class 1: Very small rough areas, requires no maneuvering.

Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, small drops, might require maneuvering.

Class 3: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe a 3–5 ft drop, but not much considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering.

Class 4: Whitewater, large waves, long rapids, rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed.

Class 5: Whitewater, large waves, continuous rapids, large rocks and hazards, maybe a large drop, precise maneuvering

Class 6: Whitewater, typically with huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, huge drops, but sometimes labeled this way due to largely invisible dangers. Class 6 rapids are considered hazardous even for expert paddlers using state-of-the-art equipment, and come with the warning “danger to life or limb.”

The biggest rapids in the Grand Canyon are Crystal and Lava Falls which are rated anywhere from 7-10 depending on the water level. They have huge waves and require maneuvering. However, especially in Lava Fall’s case, they have a nice recovery zone after the rapid. So on the classic scale these rapids would probably be considered Class IV. Hance, Hermit, Granite, Bedrock, Dubendorff, House Rock, 231-mile, Sockdolager, Grapevine, Specter, and 24-mile rapid would also probably fit into this Class IV rating with most of the other rapids in the Grand Canyon rated at Class III. Grand Canyon rafting is always excititng.

Summer Nights On The River

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Rafting Grand Canyon on The Colorado River

Enjoying the High Water of 2011

There is an old Mormon hymn that ends with the words, “Day is done; all is well.” This is the feeling one gets on the river as daylight fades to dusk and then to darkness. With the sound of the river flowing nearby and the touch of a warm and gentle breeze wafting off the canyon walls, peace and contentment reign. The day is done and all is well.

Not yet ready for sleep, even after a vigorous day of rafting, hiking, and exploring, one can lie on a bed of sand, with only a simple sleeping bag and foam pad between yourself and the earth, and gaze into the universe. Suddenly, a shooting stars interrupts profound thoughts, and considerations turn to the here and now – the feel of the sand growing cooler beneath you, the quiet lapping of the river next to the shore, the nearness of a friend or loved one who is sharing the moment with you, the exquisite beauty of the moment. Day is done, and all is well.

Tonight, our rafting clients are watching the moon rise over canyon walls and glacier-covered mountain tops. Along the banks of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and on a remote gravel bar next to the Tatshenshini River in the Yukon, the folks have set up their first night’s camp on the river. In Desolation Canyon, folks are silently saying their goodbye’s to the river and canyon and the star-filled night sky, because their adventure will end tomorrow. And somewhere other people are sleeping in a bed for the first time in more than week, and they are missing the sound of the river and the feel of the sand. Day is done, and all is well.


Reservations: 800-253-7328 or 801-261-1789