Hualapai River Runners

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Cindy and Dave go on a white water Colorado River rafting trip with the Hualapai River Runners.

The only one-day, white-water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon, and also the only Indian owned and operated river rafting enterprise in the Canyon, the Hualapai River Runners provide a unique and wonderful experience on the Colorado River. Our trip began with a 14-mile bus ride from Peach Springs down bumpy Diamond Creek Road to the Colorado River. From there, the clients piled into 10-person motorized rafts for the 60-mile boat ride down the Colorado River, ending approximately at the river's boundary with Lake Mead. Our group consisted of 5 motorized rafts with 8 clients and 2 guides per raft.

Hualapai Lodge

The bus ride

Road end at Diamond Creek

The excitement began right away with a small set of rapids at Diamond Creek. In all, nine sets of rapids would be negotiated, ranging in scale from a 2 to a 6 on Grand Canyon's 10-point rating system. The rapids were exhilarating, but probably not as treacherous as the bigger upstream rapids in the heart of the Canyon. At times we were completely soaked by the 45º river water, but never did we feel as though there was any danger of either falling out of the boat or flipping the boat. It was a "safe" and fun ride!

The boat

On our way

Dave and Cindy

Our day was sunny and warm, with an expected high temperature of 102º along the river. Given the cold water and the breeze of motoring along, we were glad that we had chosen a mid-summer day for our excursion. Anything less may have been too cold. Shortly, we pulled ashore at Travertine Falls and went aboard to explore. The waterfall was a very scenic diversion and was a fine representation of some of the picturesque oases hidden within the inner Canyon.

Down the Colorado

First stop, Travertine Falls

Near the falls

The climb up

In the "cave"

The waterfall

Following the lengthy stop at Travertine Falls, we continued down river with the guides pointing out more attractions along the way. Some days the Colorado River water is brown and some days it is green, depending on the rate of release at Glen Canyon Dam, a few hundred miles upstream. On this day it happened to be brown. After several more sets of rapids, we were thoroughly doused at Bridge Canyon Rapids, which would be the last significant rapids for the day.

Back of the boat

Looking forward

Our guides and fluted rock

Mid-way through the trip and shortly after Bridge Canyon Rapids, we pulled ashore for a leisurely lunch break. The Hualapai guides provided a serve-yourself lunch of sandwiches, snacks (chips, crackers, etc.), juice, sodas and water. It was quite tasty and hit the spot.

Lunch stop

The lunch line


After lunch, we motored on down the river, viewing more sights along the way. The rapids were all in the first half of the trip and the remaining half consisted entirely of calm water and beautiful scenery. It was a beautiful, sunny day and as always, great to be at the bottom of the Canyon. Although it still looked and felt like the Grand Canyon, it was noticeable to both of us that the canyon depth was not as dramatic as in the central Grand Canyon. The Canyon was indeed grand, just not quite as grand as elsewhere.

Onward down the river

through calmer water

to the takeout spot

The last part of the adventure was a helicopter takout from the river's edge, up 3500 vertical feet to a small airport at the Hualapai owned Grand Canyon West. Somewhat of a first for either of us, we both found the ride to be wonderfully exhilarating and a fitting climax to a wonderful trip.

Helicopter ride out

The takeoff area

Aerial view, upriver

Enjoying the view

Aerial view, downriver

Still ahead, was a 2-hour bus ride back to our car at Peach Springs. Our experienced Hualapai bus driver was friendly, entertaining, and humorous, which all helped to make the ride enjoyable. The entire daylong experience was pleasant and fun-filled. We left that evening, knowing that we would one day return to visit the beautiful Hualapai nation again.

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