Updated October 23, 2007Colorado River Discovery Basics
Raft Company Address: P.O. Box 575, Page, AZ 86040
Phone: 928.645.9175 or 888.522.6644
Prices: 2007 prices are $64 + $6 (NPS river use fee) for adults. Children 4-11 are $54 + $6 (NPS river use fee)
I'm Doing What?!
If you are like me, you may have shied away from river rafting, especially on the Colorado River. With visions of Class V whitewater rapids, being tossed from the raft wondering if I would come up for air, and arriving at my destination bruised and battered, I was a bit apprehensive when I found out I had been signed up for a raft trip on the Colorado River. Well, maybe more than apprehensive!
Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry – Let’s Get Real
One I heard about the trip offered through Colorado River Discovery I breathed a sigh of relief. There are raft trips for people like me who want to see awesome canyon vistas, look into the deep waters of a beautiful river, and do it all without a hint of fear.
What I found out was that Colorado River Discovery offers one of the most spectacular Colorado River rafting tours available anywhere on the beautiful Colorado River. They provide half-day smooth water float trips that are perfect for the entire family (kids aged 4 and up) from March 1 through November 30 of each year. And, I might add they are perfect for those over 65, those who love photography, and those who aren’t fans of whitewater rafting.
We began our adventure in Page, Arizona where a bus picked us up to transport us to Glen Canyon Dam. Once on the bus we found out that, due to heightened security, we would have to give up our purses, camera bags, etc. before heading into a long tunnel taking us to the base of the dam. Now once there, we would be able to retrieve our belongings before boarding a big blue raft.
The opportunity to be right at the base of the dam and look up to the top, knowing that Lake Powell was lapping at the concrete on the other side was an eye-opening experience. I envisioned what the Glen Canyon looked like before the dam which was completed in 1959. Once on the boat, a motorized raft with two huge pontoons, we settled in for the scenic trip. Our boatman and guide, “JP,” (James Page) had a long history of running rivers and was an expert in the geology and natural history of the area. We motored out into the river and then began our 15 mile float through the beautiful canyon. I was impressed by the geology, the huge sandstone cliffs and rock formations. JP regaled us with tales of the Powell explorations and of how the huge rock formations are ever-changing with weather and erosion. There were times when he cut the motor and we just drifted with the silence of the river canyon broken only by a raven soaring above.
Petroglyphs, Osprey and Horseshoe Bend
At one point, we rounded a bend, pulled into a sandy beach and enjoyed a brief walk to view ancient petroglyphs. We walked the area and I returned early to the raft to get a cold coke and spend some alone time in the sun just looking up at the canyon walls. The group returned and we compared notes on our photography opportunities so far.
We were off again and this time one of our eagle-eyed (no pun intended) companions spotted an Osprey flying with a fish in his talons. Our guide pointed out that the Osprey carried the trout in an aerodynamic way, with the head to the front. As we rounded the bend we saw the Osprey on top of a huge pillar eating his fresh trout lunch.
The trip continued with turns and bends and ever-changing geology. Our guide explained it all and we learned much. We had the opportunity to view the famous “Horseshoe Bend” from the water. Many had seen it from the top of the canyon, but we were part of the fortunate group who actually navigated around it.
Lee’s Ferry and the Grand Canyon
The terrain changed, we saw sand built up against a cliff, grasses were more prevalent and we were in for a new sight. Ahead of us was historic Lees Ferry, gateway to the Grand Canyon. JP told us how Mormon Pioneers built the ferry landing. Lee's Ferry received its present name after John D. Lee was asked by Mormon church officials to establish and operate a ferry that could be used by church emigrants traveling south on colonizing missions. Now, with bridges over the Colorado there was no need for a ferry service. The bus that took us down the tunnel in the dam was there at Lee’s Ferry to drive us back into Page.
At Lee’s Ferry we saw “real” river raft tours getting ready to head down the river through the Grand Canyon. I listened in on a briefing and realized these travelers were getting ready for an exciting trip. They would be experiencing whitewater rapids and were being instructed how to paddle and follow the guide’s directions. After all, their lives might depend on it! Me? I’m happy with my 15 mile float trip and will never forget the beauty of the Colorado River on a warm September day.