The Colorado River runs through the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Once we landed at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, we walked a short way to the bank of the Colorado River where we boarded a small boat. Our 'captain' was called George and he gave us an informative and safe ride.
For me it was about seeing the Grand Canyon from a different perspective - looking up. Again, it takes your breath away.
If you appreciate the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, this is a great way to see it.
One particular route of the Papillion helicopter rides includes a boat ride on the Colorado river. This seems to be the better option compared to the Maverick version of having a champagne toast at the bottom of the canyon. The helicopter party is shown down to the river bank and there it stays put till the previous group does their loop on the water. In this particular case there was a bit of confusion due to a Chinese group whose members were too eager to board the boat and were not listening or not being interpreted properly by their translator not to be so pushy. The captain of the boat was a person with service attitude so congenital that the whole experience was a blast. Here he goes to show you how clear the river water is despite its colour and by the way there was a lizard in the bucket that freaked the Chinese ladies out their minds! Picture here, picture there and the 20min or so of a ride were gone. Wonderful!
Within the National Park, the SHORTEST boat ride you can take is three days -- and doing that would require you hike back to the Rim from Phantom Ranch. In order to take a boat ride shorter (and less strenuous) than this, you must go to the West Rim. For info on the two types of boat rides you can get there, check the URL below.
It’s disconcerting to sign a waiver that says, in effect, “We’re not responsible for your safety, even if we’re negligent” – doubly so when those you’re excusing from responsibility are about to deliver you into the wild nature of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, but such is the first real experience one has with the Hualapai River Runners (HRR) in Peach Springs Arizona, owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe in Northwest Arizona. So, it was with a little trepidation that we began our journey with HRR on 29 Apr 2010.
For those unfamiliar with the Hualapai River Runners, they offer the only 1-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, culminating in being airlifted 4000 feet out of the canyon via helicopter. You are encouraged to bring dry clothes so that after several hours of riding the rapids you can be more comfortable on the drive back to the starting point. Sounds like a fun day doesn’t it? Think again.
On that day, the forecast was threatening, and we were told the chances that the helicopters would be grounded due to weather were 50/50. We were all aware that if the weather didn’t permit and the helicopters were unable to fly, then the backup plan was to continue further down river to an alternate pickup point.
The day was cool with periods of rain, and all of the 22 passengers weren’t exactly appropriately dressed. Okay, that’s not HRR’s fault – but we were all very happy and relieved to see sunny skies and helicopters flying when we reached the landing area. Unfortunately our relief was short lived and our problems were just beginning when we were told by the helicopter service that our flights had been canceled and we were expected to get back on the rafts and continue downstream to the alternate pickup point. We were given several speculative and contradictory stories as to why this was the case – but the fact was that no one could adequately explain why we weren’t being airlifted out even though the weather permitted it. At one point we were told that the bus driver had been already redirected to the alternate pickup and that it was impossible for them to get in touch with her. This turned out to be untrue, as the bus driver had a cell phone and was using it soon after we arrived at the alternate pickup. The boatmen did not engage in the process at all, simply waiting at the boats for the passengers to return, and HRR had no other representatives on site. We were all reluctant to return to the boats, but most of us eventually did so, enduring a long, cold, and eventually rainy ride to the alternate pickup location. Several people had changed into their dry clothes already and refused to get back on the rafts. After the rafts left, they were eventually airlifted out (we don’t know how they arranged that), and they were driven by “security” to an intercept point where they boarded the return bus with the rest of us.
Some of those that returned to the boats had tickets for the Grand Canyon West Skywalk, which was at the helicopter landing point. While we weren’t among them, we were told they would receive full refunds for that part of the event. What I’ve heard from those that bought tickets since is that their credit cards were charged anyway and they had to pursue refunds through their credit card company.
On our return to the starting point (registration desk) we attempted to file complaints. The office was closed and we were told to return at 7 AM the next day. When we did, the “refund manager” – later referred to by title as the “Operations Manager” (Earlene), was not available and we were told she wouldn’t be available until 9 AM. When we returned promptly at 9 AM we learned that she had come and gone, and wouldn’t be back until noon. Reluctantly, we left our paperwork requesting a partial refund with the representative, who promised to pass it on to the Operations Manager, who would call us on our cell. No call from HRR was ever received.
Apparently a couple of others in our group continually approached the desk that day and did manage to corner the Operations Manager at 7:30 AM. According to them she acknowledged that some reimbursement was appropriate, but needed to talk to others before saying how much. BTW, she was told both by her staff and those that did talk to her that others intended to meet her at 9:00 AM, so her leaving early appears to have been a desire to avoid meeting with us.
So here’s the bottom line for the experience:
- Hualapai River Runners DO NOT DELIVER what they promise
o They did not airlift our group out, despite the fact that weather permitted
- Hualapai River Runners are potentially UNSAFE
o I recommend anyone considering this request a copy of the waiver before making reservations or paying them anything. If after reading this report and that waiver, you’re still willing to go – make sure your will is current, and leave anyone you love behind.
o While the boatmen adequately piloted their crafts, ours had only been on the job for 2 months, had limited knowledge of the canyon, and I have no confidence that he could have dealt with any form of emergency.
o The boatmen have no means of communication outside of the canyon. If an accident or other emergency were to occur on the river, then don’t expect them to be able to seek help. (One passenger related to me that their boatman said they had consistently requested satellite phones or other means of communication, but were always denied.)
o If they don’t have confidence in their staff, why should you?
o Do not take children – or anyone unable to completely fend for themselves in a rough environment.
- Hualapai River Runners have NO CONCEPT OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
o HRR had no method for directly communicating what was happening or why with their customers. This was true not only at the primary pickup point, but in the registration office where their representative appeared to be as ignorant about the situation as we were, and offered no help or even compassion.
o After talking to HRR on her cell, the bus driver did not pass on any information regarding the situation.
o There were no accommodations for restrooms or changing at the alternate pickup
o The “Operations Manager” did not directly respond to our request for a partial refund, and clearly took steps to avoid us. A few days after returning we learned that they credited us $40 total (about 5% of what we paid for 2 tickets, and only 25% of what was designated as their “transportation costs”). I consider this insufficient, considering they saved two to three times that in what they would have paid the helicopter company.
o No “comment” forms were available at the registration desk. They “apologized” for this, but offered no alternative. Here’s my “comment” form.
o To be fair, the bus driver did offer to stop for coffee – but that location was an hour from the alternate site, and had no public restroom facilities (a few managed to impose on the proprietors for use of their private facilities).
While this organization may be able to pull off the average trip on the average day, my conclusion from this experience is that they aren’t up to dealing with any issues that might be encountered. My recommendation is that you do your thrill seeking elsewhere.
Several other passengers from that trip have reviewed and agreed with this review. HRR was provided an advance copy of this review and offered an opportunity to respond or rebut. Not surprisingly, I’ve not heard anything back from them.
It should be obvious, but don't swim in the Colorado River. During the last two weeks, two young men tried to swim across the river and didn't survive. The river is cold and very fast moving! You just can't beat common sense.
For those individuals who would would like to see the Colorado River up close and personal, there are white water trips lasting 3-21 days through the canyon. Stop by the visitor center at Canyon View and you'll be provided a list of approved river cruisers.
All day trips in the western end of the canyon can be provided by Hualapai River Runners, who are located about 160 miles from the South Rim, originating at Diamond Creek north of Peach Springs, Arizona. Call 928-769-2419 for more information or see www.destinationgrandcanyon.com
If time is an issue, half-day trips can also be arranged from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. Just contact Colorad River Discovery at 888-522-6644 or go to www.raftthecanyon.com.
FYI: All day tours from the park, including the smooth-water raft trip can be booked at any lodging 'transportation desk'.
(Information on rafting is taken from the park guide)
Far below us Hance Rapid dances wildly in the Colorado River. It's hard to believe that what looks like a small disturbance in the water is actually one mile in length. The river drops more than 30 vertical feet at this spot.
Early expeditions on the Colorado River tried to avoid Hance Rapid. In his early river trip in 1869, Major John Wesley Powell used ropes to work his boats along the shore to avoid this rapid.
As my husband and I viewed the rapids from atop the canyon, tiny black dots lined up before it and one by one moved down the tumbling course of water. It was a rafting group. I was happy to be peering at them from a distance and not accompanying them on the trip!
We had our first grandson when we were very young. We decided when he was still a toddler that we would take him rafting down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon as soon as he met the age requirement.
In August of this year we took Richard on this wonderful adventure and had the time of our life!
Here's all the activities that filled this four day trip (which moved at just the perfect pace.) He was never bored -- we HIGHLY recommend this trip, a great family adventure.
Join up in Las Vegas
Flight via small aircraft to ranch near the rim of the canyon
Horseback ride, ride ATV's, learn to shoot skeet, learn to rope
Sleep under the stars or in a Conestoga wagon
Helicopter into the canyon
3 days and 2 nights in the canyon where the food was OUTSTANDING
Jet boat off the river across Lake Mead
Bus back to LV across the Hoover Dan
Western River Expeditions is outstanding, took great care of us!!! There is NOTHING I would have changed on this trip. Be forewarned -- only 20,000 people per year are allowed down the Colorado so make your reservations EARLY. Even 7 months before our trip, the dates were virtually filled.
In this picture you can see an aerial view of Colorado River.The Colorado River was originally named Rio Colorado or "Red River" by the Spanish. A person looking at the river today may not understand how it came to be named in this way, as the present day color of the river is more of a blue-green. The reddish-bro wn color that originally gave the river its name become a rarity upon completion of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963.
Is hard to believe that all this impressive place was made for the erosion of the water of Colorado River.
This is an aerial view of Colorado River.
Rafting in the Colorado River (an experience done by John Wesley Powell long time ago!)
Feel the hot air of the stones in the Canyon and at the same time the cold water of the Colorado River. A single experience!
Another view of the Grand Canyon. If you look closely you can see the Colorado River.
A gentle stroll to the river! If it's clear blue water you're after, go elsewhere. The Colorado rages through carrying more mud than my local football pitch.