Words and photos by Coalatree VP Brandon Sturm
Rafting the Grand Canyon is like nothing else. The pure beauty and simplicity is what people wait years to experience. It is one of the hardest permits to obtain and there is a good reason why. All the side canyons, good camps, amazing whitewater, and being in nature for 21 days makes it a very unique and special adventure.
When people first hear that the trip is 21 days without cell phones, internet, your own bed, showers and everything else that seems “normal”, it’s a little overwhelming. We are all so used to our routines that it does seem like a long time to separate from what we are used to. This is one of my favorite things about the trip. Putting all technology aside, resetting and connecting with nature and the people you’re with.
By day five you start to build new routines. You wake up, start the boiling water for coffee, make an amazing breakfast that includes eggs, bacon and french toast. Then you take down the tents, load up the rafts and push off. Each day holds new treasure as you work your way down some of the most amazing country your eyes have ever seen.
There are BIG rapids that always make you feel a bit nervous. The feeling of butterflies fills your stomach as you stand on the shore looking for the path of least resistance. Pure joy and adrenaline fills your body as you pass each major rapid without flipping a raft. Continuing further downstream you pull off to hike some of the most beautiful slot canyons and side canyons only accessible by the river. This is another reason why traveling the Grand Canyon by raft is such an amazing and lucky experience as you can only get to see these wonders by boat.
After hiking, you find yourself floating downriver in search for the next campsite, which typically consists of big sandy riverbanks with perfectly flat tent spots alongside the vertical red rock cliffs. At the end of the night you're transformed into a snow-globe of stars, uninterrupted by light.
You unpack the gear from the rafts, set up the kitchen and work on dinner. Steak, salmon, pork chops, curry, and pasta were some of the dinners we indulged in after a long, adventurous day. Then enjoy a few cold drinks around the fire and by 9pm everyone slowly slips off to bed. This was our new routine, and it felt so good knowing the next day we get to wake up and do it all again.
Rafting the Grand Canyon has to be one of the best trips in the world. It is unlike anything else. The experiences and the sights truly make it one of the greatest wonders of the world.