Colorado River Flows

River Flow is an important things to know before going on a river trip.  In 2014 the Grand Canyon has seen some relatively low flows.  April and May had fluctuations between 5,500 cfs and 11,000 cfs, with the weekends, especially Sunday releases being much lower.  This is because the river is regulated by Glen Canyon Dam which backs up Lake Powell.  These lower flows make some rapids bigger, and some rapids smaller, but all of the rapids become rockier and more technical.  Above Lake Powell the Colorado and Green have gone up and down all spring.  The mountains have a nice amount of snow, but the temperatures have gotten hot and then suddenly cooled off and the flow through Cataract Canyon has taken on the appearance of a Sin wave.  For those interested in learning the flows of the river their are a few different ways.

#1.  Check out the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center River Map:  http://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/gmap/gmapbeta.php?interface=river another nice feature about this site is you can click on the PEAK FLOW FORECAST LIST and one can see what the most recent Peak Flow forecast is for a particular section of river.  For instance on May 19, 2014 Cataract Canyon was given a 50% chance of peaking at 60,000 cfs sometime in 2014.

#2.  Call 1-801-539-1311.  This phone number goes to a recorded message which tells the river flows for a particular day.  This message is updated daily.

#3.  Buy or download one of the river flow apps on the itunes store.

#4.  For Grand Canyon, where the water is regulated, be sure to check out the Bureau of Reclamation Current Dam Flow Report for Glen Canyon Dam.

High water means a lot of excitement for rafters in Cataract Canyon.  Cataract Canyon is generally considered the biggest whitewater in North America at flows above 50,000 cfs so it looks like 2014 is going to be a big water year.

 

Geologist Wayne Ranney to Host Canyonlands National Park River Trip

An incredible journey to an amazing destination.

An incredible journey to an amazing destination.

Wayne Ranney, world famous geologist, author, and interpreter will be hosting a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Canyonlands National Park.  The trip dates are May 2-11 and include a 7 day rafting trip along the Green and Colorado Rivers and through Cataract Canyon.  There will also be a ground based field trip into the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park prior to the river trip.  The land based trip will be based out of Red Cliffs Lodge on the Banks of the Colorado River and will be outfitted by licensed Canyonlands National Park Concessionaire Colorado River & Trail Expeditons.  The trip cost is $3140 per person.

Wayne Ranney is the author of “Carving Grand Canyon” and co-author of “Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau.”  This will be his second Colorado River rafting trip with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions.  In addition to his great books, Wayne’s interpretation and explanations make Geology exciting and fun.  Besides the rafting part of the trip, there will be numerous off river hikes to explore the Geology and beauty of the area.  There really is no better way to see Canyonlands National Park than by boat and having a geologist the caliber of Wayne will make the trip exceptional.

The river portion of the trip will start at Mineral Bottom on the Green River.  The first couple of days on the river will offer great opportunities to see Native American artifacts and ruins.  Once the river joins the Colorado River the rapids begin.  Colorado River rafting through Cataract Canyon is worth the trip itself.  The rapids of Cataract Canyon can dwarf those of the Grand Canyon at extremely high flows and at low flows the river challenging because it is clogged with huge boulders.  The trip ends at North Wash in the upper reaches of what once was Lake Powell Resevoir.

This trip only has a couple of spaces remaining.  To find out more information call Colorado River and Trail Expeditions at 1-800-253-7328.

Colorado River Rafting in Canyonlands National Park

Ancient Rock art in Canyonlands National park

Rock Art in Canyonlands National Park seen on a Cataract Canyon Rafting Trip

Before the Colorado River enters Lake Powell and above the Grand Canyon is Cataract Canyon.  Cataract Canyon is located in southeastern Utah and is a part of Canyonlands National Park.  This section of Colorado River rafting is famous for its incredible rapids and stunning scenery.  The area is a landscape full of sandstone canyons, grabens, buttes, and mesas.  Cataract Canyon starts at the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, with the rivers dividing Canyonlands National Park into three distinct and unique sections.  Between the two rivers is the Island in the Sky District, here one can find incredible views, arches, and slickrock.  On the west side of the Green River is the Maze district.  This area is full of winding canyons and ancient rock art.  On the East side of the Colorado River is the Needles District full of spires, grabens, and even more ancient rock art.  One could spend a lifetime in Canyonlands and just scratch the surface of the place.

Rafting Cataract Canyon is a great way to explore Canyonlands National Park.  Most trips start on the Colorado River south of Moab at the Potash Boat Ramp and are 3-5 days in length.   After hearing a safety talk and being fitted with life jackets rafters board the rafts and head down river.  After a short ride on the rafts boaters enter Canyonlands National Park.  After lunch the first day there is a great spot to explore a petrified forest.  There are numerous huge trees that have been preserved by being knocked over and covered by mud before oxygen could decompose them.  The next popular stop is Lathrop Canyon.  This is a great spot to see some Native American pictographs that were painted on the sandstone hundreds of years ago.  Most trips camp in this area the first night.

The second day of the trip rafters will get the opportunity to see multiple Native American Granaries which were built to store food in.  The next hike ones comes to on the river is Indian Creek, which in the spring offers a great opportunity to hike to a beautiful waterfall in a narrow canyon.   After a few more miles on the river there is an opportunity to hike over the Loop.  The Loop is a place where the river has made a sharp turn and almost come completely back upon itself.  This allows those who feel like hiking to hike over a saddle of sandstone and meet the boats on the other side.  After a hike over the Loop it is time to relax and enjoy the scenery.  Next the Green River joins the Colorado River and Cataract Canyon officially starts.  Trips usually camp just below the first rapid in Cataract Canyon which is called Brown Betty.   Here there is one of the most beautiful sand beaches on the entire Colorado River system.  This marks the turning point of the calm water to raging whitewater of Cataract Canyon.  This section of rapids during flows above 50,000 cfs has rapids that make the famous rapids of the Grand Canyon seem small.

The next morning offers a great opportunity to hike into the “Doll’s House” of Canyonlands National Park.  This is a very strenuous hike, but if one has the time and the weather is not too hot it is a great place to see.  The best way to describe it would be a palace made of  red stone with secret passages and rooms.  It would be something Martian royalty might have.  Besides the “Doll’s House,” the scenery is amazing and one can get a view of the skyline in all directions and see all the great geology of the area caused by salt, wind, water, and long periods of time.

After returning from the Doll’s House it is time for Colorado River rafting through Cataract Canyon.  The rapids start small, but grow quickly, and before you know it you are in Mile Long, Ben Hurt, The Big Drops, and Waterhole.  At low water these rapids require great skill to maneuver through the huge sandstone boulders, at high water the waves routinely reach 10-15 feet high trough to crest.  After Waterhole Rapid the effects of Lake Powell start to rear their head.  The rapids below this point are covered in silt.  Huge sand banks full of dead trees on each side of the river block ones view of the sandstone.  This is another place where geology is happening.  This time rapidly.  Lake Powell has only been around for about 50 years.  In this short amount of time, sand has been deposited as the current slowed, and the river entered the lake.  Currently the lake is less than 50% capacity and the outlook for filling the lake is not good.  The Western United states is in a drought and an increasing population is demanding more and more water that the Colorado River can not supply.

For more information about Colorado River rafting contact Colorado River & Trail Expeditions(www.crateinc.com).  In addition to running Cataract Canyon they also operate commercial rafting trips

Rafting

Rafting by definition is “the sport or pastime of traveling down a river on a raft.”  Rafting to us is much more.  It is the thrill and excitement of rapids.  It is the great bonds you make with fellow river rats.  It is the journey to discover nature and get back to your roots of wildness.  It is the beauty of side canyons and the sounds of wildlife.  It is more than one could ever put into words.

A multi-day rafting trip is the ultimate getaway.  Not only do you have a chance to disconnect from the strains of modern technology, but you also get to relax and bond with friends, family, strangers, and yourself.  If you have been thinking about doing a rafting trip this is the year.  Colorado River & Trail Expeditions has some great trips planned in 2014 including an archaeological based rafting trip through Desolation Canyon.  We are also planning on heading north to Alaska to run the Alsek and Tatshenshini rivers.

River trips are nice because once you arrive at the meeting point for a trip you don’t have to worry about anything until the trip ends.  All of your food, and sleeping accomodations are taken care of.  Your only requirement is to sit back and enjoy the place.

 

2013 High Flow Experiment Scheduled For November 11-16 in the Grand Canyon

The Department of the interior will conduct a high flow experimental release next week from Glen Canyon Dam.  This is consistent with the High-Flow Protocol and is related to the sediment input that has occurred below Glen Canyon Dam.  Those on our “Epic” September rowing trip through the Grand Canyon know the area received an incredible amount of precipitation with the Paria River and Little Colorado River bringing over 5000 cfs each into the system at one time during September.  Supposedly there is about three times  more sediment in the system this time compared to the last high flow experiment in 2012.

Water released for high flow experiment in 2012 from the Bureau of Reclamation

Water released for high flow experiment in 2012 from the Bureau of Reclamation

This management of the Dam is done to restore the beaches and habitat in the Grand Canyon.  The idea is to bring sediment up from the bottom of the river and deposit it on the sides in the form of beaches.  Before Glen Canyon Dam the Colorado River would flood every spring and leave behind huge amounts of sand as the water receded into summer and fall.  This would clear off the vegetation below the high water line and clean the sand on the beaches.  The hope of these high flow experiments is to recreate these conditions.  These conditions still happen naturally above Glen Canyon Dam in Canyonlands National Park and Cataract Canyon.

The real difference between the historic floods and these man made floods is the volume of water and length of time of the flood.  A natural spring flow in the Grand Canyon would regularly bring 80,000 to 125,000 cfs while the scheduled man made flood this time around is expected to peak at 37,200 cfs and last about 96 hours.  Another thing that puts a big damper on beach building is the loss of sediment in the Colorado River due to Glen Canyon Dam.  As Lake Powell slows the water of the Colorado River the sediment all drops out.  This is why below Glen Canyon Dam the water comes out clear and cold..,,

Our experience on the river has been incredibly beautiful beaches immediately after one of these flooding events.  Unfortunately as the season goes on the beaches tend to return to their original size or even smaller due to the fluctuating dam flows, monsoons, and natural weather conditions.  This loss of sediment is a huge problem and we commend those who have worked so hard to get this adaptive management in place.  As the population continues to rise in the southwest the demand on the water is increased every year we hope new solutions will continue to arise and the Grand Canyon as a resource will always be protected.

 

Fall Grand Canyon Rafting Project-Painting Side Tubes

After the Grand Canyon rafting season ends it is time to start preparing for next April.  One of the projects that we undertake is the maintenance on our side tubes.  This entails fixing any problems and painting the tubes.  We do this work In Fredonia, AZ aka the “Center of the Universe.”

fall rafting projects

The Side Tubes for Grand Canyon Rafting

The first step is to take the tubes out of the warehouse and inflate them outside of our building.  Once the tubes are inflated we check to see if any of the tubes are leaking air or need rubber work.  Then we fix any and all problems by sanding and glueing patches back onto the tubes.  It is amazing how well these tubes hold up.  They are built incredibly well.  Most of our sidetubes were built by the Uniroyal Tire company.  The biggest problem this year seemed to be the grommet patch on the front of the nose of the tube that we lace to our raft and use as a step for our whitewater rafting guests.  Some of the grommets had been pulled out by the incredible force that is placed on these grommets as large waves hit and try to separate the sidetube from the raft.

After the patching and glueing was done it was time to start sanding the old loose paint off of the tubes.  This is a time consuming task but sometimes it is nice to do a project that you don’t have to think about too much and can just let your mind wander.  Once the tubes are  sanded down we have to mask them so we don’t get paint on the places we don’t want.  Then it is time for the painting.  This is the best part of the project.

Painting the side tubes goes quickly and it is great to see how good the tubes look.

The South Rim and The Power House Building

The last couple of days we have been at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for our annual Grand Canyon National Park Concession meetings.  It was good to see all of our fellow river outfitters and National Park personnel.  Time was spent reviewing our past season and what to expect for next year.  We always feel lucky to travel to the South Rim and peer down into the abyss of the Grand Canyon.  It is a spiritual experience and it reminds us of the exciting and fun times rafting along the Colorado River.

At the head of the Bright Angel Trail there is a new, very nice area complete with bathrooms to wait for fellow hikers.  The Kolb studio was showcasing some amazing paintings of the Grand Canyon many of which were for sale.  If you get to the rim definitely check out the artwork on display.  Other highlights included waking up to dusting of light snow and running along the rim of the Grand Canyon along the “Trail of Time.”

Another thing we got to check out was the “Power House” building.  There is talk to take this incredible old building, which used two Fairbanks-Morse continuous-duty Type D Diesel generators to supply power to the South Rim, and transform it into a museum for art or historic boats of the Grand Canyon.  The building has a lot of character with high ceilings and lots of windows.  The generators are still there as well as the power switches with their original labels:  Indian Garden Pump; El Tovar; Fire Pump; Bright Angel Lights and Power; USNPS; Train Yard; Turbine Cooling Tower; Power House.  On the other side of the building is the old Ice House where ice was made to supply the lodges and restaurants.  It will be exciting to see what becomes of the Power House over the next couple of years.

 

 

 

Paddling Strokes for Beginners [Infographic]

Paddling Strokes Infographic by CRATEINCC.R.A.T.E., Colorado River and Trail Expeditions presents a wonderful Infographic titled ‘Paddling Strokes for Beginners’. It has been created to outline the basics of paddling a raft. It adumbrates the 6 common paddle strokes a rafter must be efficient at.

The Infographic reveals:

  • Names and visual guide of the different types of stokes
  • The effect of each stroke while rafting
  • ‘How-to’ steps for each stroke

Paddling Guides for Dummies: How to Paddle a River Raft [Infographic]

Paddling a river raft is pretty challenging task for beginners as they have to work as a team to guide the raft down a river and through whitewater rapids. Paddling involves both skill and the ability to work with others as a team.

 

C.R.A.T.E., Colorado River and Trail Expeditions presents wonderful Infographic titled ‘Paddling Guides for Dummies: How to Paddle a River Raft’. It has been created to outline the basics of paddling for beginners. It adumbrates the common paddling techniques a rafter must be efficient at.

The Infographic reveals:

  • Names and visual guide of the different paddling techniques
  • The effect of each paddling technique
  • ‘How-to’ steps for paddlingPaddling Guide for Dummies Infographic by CRATEINC

Interesting Things You Need To Know About the Grand Canyon

 

Planning a vacation to Grand Canyon? Given below are some interesting things about this amazing year-round holiday destination. Increase your basic knowledge about this natural wonder and make the most of your holidays.

Grand Canyon Vacation

The Grand Canyon is full of beautiful waterfalls hidden in its side canyons.

 

  • The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide
  • There are a lot of controversies related to the age of the Canyon. Earlier studies state that the Canyon is 5-6 million years old (“60-Million-Year Debate on Grand Canyon’s Age”. New York Times.)
  • A study published in journal Science in December 2012 revealed that the Grand Canyon could be as old as 70 Million years.
  • The Grand Canyon has amazing wildlife. It has approximately 70 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, and 25 different types of reptiles.
  • Of the various reptile species that are found in the park, the Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnakes are quite interesting.  They have evolved in a way that their color is similar to the rock layers around them.
  • Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service.
  • Grand Canyon National Park covers a total area of 1900 square miles and is roughly 277 river miles long
  • Archeological remains from the following culture groups are found in Grand Canyon National Park: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Basketmaker, Ancestral Puebloan (Kayenta and Virgin branches), Cohonina, Cerbat, Pai, Southern Paiute, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Euro-American

 

There are millions of facts and stories about the Grand Canyon. You can learn about them by reading books and researching online.  The information gathered can lead to a better understanding of the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas on your vacation.