Grand Canyon Rafting FAQs

Thinking about rafting the Grand Canyon for the first time?  It’s hard to know what to expect on a river trip, especially if you haven’t been before.  We get a lot of e-mails and calls with general questions about our rafting trips.  In an effort to help you better understand rafting the Grand Canyon with CRATE, here is a short FAQ list to answer some questions you may have.

camp near little coloradoQ- What is the best time of year to raft the Grand Canyon?
A- We have scheduled our expeditions during the times of year that we think are most appropriate and enjoyable. It doesn’t really matter when you go. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can think of April and May as the most moderate months as far as temperatures go. It can be kind of chilly on the river, especially when you are splashed in the rapids, but it’s usually perfect for long off-river hikes. This is also the best time to see wildflowers in bloom. June and July are warm and dry, perfect for running rapids and playing in side streams, waterfalls, and natural pools. In August, thunder showers cool things off a bit, and the rain causes cactus and other desert plants to bloom. Early-to-mid September, like the spring months, offers cooler temperatures and ideal weather for off-river trekking.

Q- What is your age restriction for the Grand Canyon?
A- 12 Years and older.

Q- Is there 1-Day rafting available in the Grand Canyon?
A- Access in and out of the Grand Canyon is very limited.  There is a company that provides 1/2 and full day calm water float trips from the Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry (Colorado River Discovery).  They will take 4 years and older.  The shortest rafting trip with CRATE is our Ranch and Raft trip which is 3 days.

Q- Do I really need to bring a rain suit in July?
A- YES!  We highly recommend bringing a rain jacket, at least.  The Colorado River water temperature stays around 50 degrees F year round.  Running rapids in the morning can be cold if the sun hasn’t come up over the Canyon walls. 

Q- What kind of footwear should I bring?
A- Good quality, comfortable footwear.  We recommend one pair of river sandals that can be worn on the raft and also on off river hiking excursions (Chaco, Teva, Keen).  We also recommend one pair of athletic shoes as a backup or an alternative hiking shoe.  Hiking boots are optional, but recommended if you need the foot-ankle support.

Q- How experienced are your guides?
A- Most of our guides develop their expertise through an in-house training program that gives them an opportunity to learn everything about the river business from the bottom up. They participate in numerous training trips as helpers, or “swampers,” and must be able to repair rafts, motors and other equipments before they start operating their own rafts with customers on board. This usually requires two seasons. Most of our guides have a minimum of 3-5 years’ experience. Our veteran guides have been with us from 10-20 years.

Q- What is your operating season?
A- Early April through late September.

Q- How many people per boat?
A-
Our 37 foot motorized “S” rigs can accommodate 12-14 passengers plus 2 guides.  Our 18 foot row rigs can accommodate 3-4 passengers plus 1 guide.  Our paddle raft holds 6-8 paddlers plus 1 guide.

Q- What if I have a group?
A- We gladly welcome groups.  12 people qualify for our 10% Group Discount.  If you are interested in chartering a trip, please contact us.

Q- How far in advance do I need to book?
A- 
Most people book a year in advance.  Our April and May trips tend to fill up faster than our later summer trips.  However, there are usually some last minute cancellations.  Just call or e-mail our office to check availability.  Final payment is generally due 60 days prior to the trip departure date.

Q- Can I book a trip online?
A- We like to deal with our clients directly and get to know them.  Feel free to call us or e-mail us anytime with questions or to sign up for a trip.

Q- Why should we choose your company?
A- If you appreciate personal service and enjoy being treated more like a “friend” than a “client,” you will probably like going with us. From office staff to river crew, we will do everything we can to help you plan, prepare and enjoy your time on the river. Our guides are the best! In addition to their training and experience, they are kind and friendly and enthusiastic. You should also consider we do not overcrowd our trips or our rafts. Our equipment is in excellent condition. We love what we do!

Q- What is your menu like?
A- Delicious Dutch-oven dinners, sandwich bar lunches, and hearty camp breakfasts are provided throughout the river trip. We think our menu will satisfy everyone, from those who are watching calories and cholesterol to those who want to splurge on the richest desserts and the biggest steaks! With ample quantites of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and pasta, non-meat eaters also have a variety of good foods from which to choose. Hot beverages such as coffee, tea, and cocoa are served in camp. Assorted non-alcoholic cold drinks are available throughout the day. We do not provide alcoholic beverages, but adult guests may bring small amounts of beer, wine, or liquor for their personal use.

Q- What about bathing and bathroom facilities?
A- It is okay to bathe and/or wash in the river, providing you use biodegradable soap and shampoo. Hand washing devices are set up in every camp. We carry clean, easy-to-use portable toilet facilities with us. They are set up in each camp and concealed in large, roomy tents for privacy.

Q- What is a typical day like on the river?
A- Our guides will wake you early in the morning with a call for “coffee.”  When you hear the call, it means time to come to the kitchen area.  After eating your breakfast, you will have a chance to pack your personal camping gear.  The guides will break-down the kitchen and start to load the rafts.  You may carry your gear to the beach area in front of the boats and when the guides have secured the deck, they will ask your your helping loading personal dry bags.  We stop during the day of lunch, usually on a sandy beach along the bank of the river.  After a full day or rafting and hiking, we will find a place to set up camp.  We ask everyone who is able to help the crew unload the boats to form a line and pass gear on the to the beach.  Guides will set up the kitchen and community camping gear while individuals set up their personal area.  Soon after making camp, the guides will begin to cook dinner.  This is often a good time to write in your journal, read a book, or take a refreshing bath or “power nap.”

For more FAQs: http://www.crateinc.com/why-crate

To make a reservation or check availiability please call or e-mail us at:
1-800-253-7328 / crate@crateinc.com
www.crateinc.com

 

Studying Elusive Mountain Lions at Grand Canyon

This article was recently published in the Grand Canyon Association magazine, “Canyon Views,” Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring 2013.

Although you can see many wildlife species at Grand Canyon, from small Abert’s squirrels to plentiful elk, some are more elusive. With patience and a trained eye you might catch a glimpse of a bighorn sheep scrambling up a cliff or a condor flying overhead. It’s rare to see a mountain lion, however. And that’s one of the reasons park wildlife biologist Brandon Holton finds them so intriguing.

“I love getting into the mind of a mountain lion and trying to figure out why are they going where they go,” he says. “It’s almost like being a CSI investigator.”

The mountain lion (Puma concolor), also known as the puma, cougar, panther or catamount, is a large cat whose habitat ranges from the Canadian Yukon to the Southern Andes of South America. Up until 10 years ago, little was known about these animals at Grand Canyon. Then, in 2003, the National Park Service began a biological study of mountain lions to uncover their habitat and behavior, how they impact park resources and whether they are a danger to humans. In 2008, Brandon took over the program. Since then, he and his team have put GPS collars on 32 cats – 22 on the South Rim and 10 on the North Rim – and typically track five animals at a time.

The most revealing places to study mountain lions are where they take down and feed on their prey – locations called kill sites. “It’s interesting to do kill site investigations and to recreate them,” says Brandon. “Why are they using a certain habitat? Where did they stalk the animal? Where was the ambush, and what was the struggle? I see all different types of burials, drags and day beds.”

Typically, males eat as quickly as possible and move on, spending one to five days at a site, depending on the season. Females will stay on longer, generally until the carcass is picked clean, especially when they are caring for older cubs. And yet one time. Brandon tracked a younger male who killed a bull elk and sat on it for 20 days. He had observed this mountain lion as a younger cat, and over time watched as the cat got bigger and bigger.

“When he was about three and a half, I walked in on him. He was 30 feet from me, and he had just gotten off a kill. He had to have known I was there, but he couldn’t have cared less. He just rolled onto his back, and his stomach was just so distended. This is not typical behavior when humans are nearby.”

Another cat, a female that was collared in July 2011, also exhibited atypical behavior. She dropped into the inner canyon in November and didn’t come out until April. She was mainly feeding on bighorn sheep and some mule deer. The female crossed the river four different times, always just below Turquoise Rapid. “Thus far, almost all of the collared cats remained on the rim year-around and rarely visited the deep inner canyon,” says Brandon, “but there could be more occurrences like this that we’re not tracking.” This uncommon behavior is one of the reasons the park is studying these powerful and solitary animals.

Mountain lions in Grand Canyon, especially males, typically have a very broad home range – about 150 square miles. Grand Canyon lion studies are run jointly between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Grand Canyon National Park Service (NPS) to increase sample sizes, distribute study costs and allow researchers to look at mountain lion ecology on a larger landscape scale. The lions roam far beyond the park’s borders; almost every collared mountain lion has used surrounding U.S. Forest Service land as much as, if not more than, the park itself. For example, two subadult males in the study dispersed south from Grand Canyon to the Flagstaff area.

Humans have virtually no reason to fear mountain lions. These cats avoid humans because they don’t see us as prey. We, however, can be very dangerous to them: 60 percent of collared mountain lion deaths are are due to hunting outside the park, and the second most common cause of death is being hit by a car, especially on East Rim Drive. Mountain lions cross the road, which parallels the rim, to set up their beds for the day. Their deaths could be greatly reduced if only people watched for animals and used caution when driving in the park.

In recent years, the joint NPS/USGS research program has begun to study predator-prey relationships, particularly interactions between desert bighorn sheep and mountain lions. As more is revealed about Grand Canyon’s largest wild predator, the ecosystem as whole can be better understood and protected.

One interesting result of Brandon’s study has been the contrast in behavior between South and North Rim mountain lions. The following data reflects what his team has learned from the mountain lions they have collared.

SOUTH RIM
Prey: 65% elk, 30% mule deer
Age: 2-1/2 years old
Range: South Rim cats rarely go into the inner canyon = 95% of collared cats have stayed on the rim.

NORTH RIM
Prey: 95% mule deer (there are no elk on the North Rim)
Age: 2-6 years old
Range: North Rim cats have gone into the canyon more often than South Rim cats to hunt desert bighorn sheep, especially during winter when the mule deer on the North Rim disperse to lower elevations.

THE EXPLORATION OF THE COLORADO RIVER AND ITS CANYONS

FEATURED BOOK OF THE WEEK:

THE EXPLORATION OF THE COLORADO RIVER AND ITS CANYONS
by J.W. Powell

This book can be purchased at the CRATE BOOKSTORE for $12.95

Complete reprint of “Canyons of the Colorado” 1895 edition, with supplementary map. This was the first published account in book format of Powell’s 1869 discovery journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers. 150 illustrations and photographs. Dover Publications.

Colorado River

The "Cataract Canyon Coyotes" enjoying the highest water in 25 years on the Colorado River in 2011

2011 Brought the Highest Water in Cataract Canyon since 1984

Colorado River

The Colorado River is probably the most famous river in the world. The river flows 1450 miles starting at the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and flowing into the Gulf of California between Baja and mainland Mexico. The Colorado River drains 246,000 square miles in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states.

The most famous sections to raft the Colorado River are through the Grand Canyon, Cataract Canyon, and Westwater Canyon. Colorado River & Trail Expeditions offers rafting trips on these sections as well as on the Fisher Towers 1-day stretch near Moab, Utah. Each trip offers a unique rafting experience full of excitement, beauty, and fun.

Grand Canyon Rafting

The Colorado River whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon is probably the most famous stretch of river in the world. The Colorado River travels 277 miles from Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry in Arizona. In order to cover all 277 miles of the canyon one needs a minimum of 8 days. Partial trips are available to or from Phantom Ranch and Whitmore Wash. The biggest rapids along the Colorado River in this stretch are Crystal, Lava Falls, Hermit, and Granite.

Cataract Canyon Rafting

Cataract Canyon is located in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. It is upstream of the Grand Canyon and downstream of Westwater Canyon. The Colorado River joins the Green River right before plunging into Cataract Canyon. Cataract Canyon offers rapids larger than the Grand Canyon at flows above 30,000 cfs and can become awe-inspiring at flows over 60,000 cfs. At lower flows the rapids are much smaller, but still fun. Though exciting, whitewater is just a small part of the experience of rafting the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park. The sandstone landscape is unlike any other in the world and the mesas, buttes, and graben valleys offers plenty of exploration opportunities. Plan on spending 3-4 days to see this marvelous landscape. The most famous rapids on this stretch are the Big Drops.

Westwater Canyon

Westwater Canyon is located on the Colorado River near the Utah and Colorado border. The trip is short and sweet, covering 17 miles of rapids, sandstone cliffs, and precambrian rocks. Famous rapids along this stretch include Skull, Funnel Falls, and Sock-it-to-Me. This trip can be a destination as an overnight river trip or as part of the Canyon Country experience combining it with hiking, biking, or jeeping in the Moab or Green River, Utah area.

Colorado River Trip Near Moab

This one day stretch is very popular. The Colorado River flows underneath tall sandstone cliffs and over fun rapids. This is great trip for those short on time and is a fun introduction to rafting on the mighty Colorado.

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

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.

D-Deposition
U-Uplift
D-Down-Cutting
E-Erosion

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.

Grand Canyon Ode

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