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Early runs on the Colorado.

Early runs on the Colorado

Waiting lists are things of the past, the Rockies have plenty of snow, and the prospects for a high, steady flow in the Colorado River this year are bright.

Beginning in April, 20 outfitting companies --all licensed concessioners of the National Park Service--will offer a variety of trips through the Grand Canyon, lasting from a few days to three weeks. Consider getting a jump before the river gets busy in June.

Late April through May, you'll find solitude, moderate weather, cold water, and showy wildflowers. In April, only one expedition per day is permitted to launch, so space may be scarce on the few trips that remain. But if you book right away, you should have no problem lining up a May trip. Some special summer floats are also still open (see our listing on page 84).

Sampling the great river

On many trips you can be as active or lazy as you please, letting your guides take care of the chores. The more time you can spare, the more you'll savor the experience. An oar-powered trip through the canyon's 277 miles can take two to three weeks, at a cost of about $90 to $115 a day, including your food, guides, and more. You can run the canyon in a motor-powered raft in eight or nine days, but at nearly twice the daily cost--about $180. If your time is limited, a leisurely partial trip with opportunities to explore ashore may be more satisfying than a hurried trip all the way through. Some partial trips require hiking the trails from the rim down to the water; others get you to or from the river by helicopter (this can be done only in Indian reservation areas). Partial trips generally cost more in the upper end of the river (over $100 a day) than the lower ($80 to $100 a day). Although the intrusive noise of helicopters has become a matter of concern in the parts of the canyon frequented by hikers, the effects are less troublesome at Whitmore Wash, a "changeover' spot at Mile 188. By entering the inner gorge here, you can have a fairly representative Grand Canyon float trip in a vacation lasting four or five days. Several outfitters offer this option.

Downstream from Whitmore, you have about 50 miles of natural river to enjoy-- with a half-dozen major rapids and the sublime scenery of the Lower Granite Gorge--before hitting Lake Mead, which is backed up for about 40 miles in the western end of the canyon. These trips also cost about $100 a day. For details, write or call Grand Canyon Bar Ten Ranch, 491 East 840 South Circle, St. George, Utah 84770; (801) 628-4010.

Riding in oar-powered rafts or dories

These eight outfitters specialize in oar-powered and paddle-powered river trips. In most, the guide does the rowing; in a few, everyone paddles. Some outfitters take along a small inflatable kayak for passengers to try.

Arizona Raft Adventures, Box 697-SA, Flagstaff, Ariz. 86002; (602) 526-8200.

Expeditions, Rural Route 4, Box 755, Flagstaff, Ariz. 86001; (602) 779-3769 or 774-8176.

Grand Canyon Dories, Box 7538, Menlo Park, Calif. 94026; (415) 854-6616. Only company regularly using rigid boats instead of inflatable rafts. May 27 through June 15: a group of noted photographers including Michael K. Nichols, John Blaustein, and Rodolfo Petschek will help guests in small groups take better pictures.

Moki Mac River Expeditions, Box 21242, Salt Lake City 84121; (801) 943-6707. August 22 through September 4: a string quartet will accompany trip and play evenings.

O.A.R.S., Box 67, Angels Camp, Calif. 95222; (209) 736-4677.

Outdoors Unlimited, Box 22513, Sacramento 95822; (916) 452-1081. Sleight Expeditions, Box 118, La Verkin, Utah 84745; (801) 635-2177.

Wilderness World, Box 310, Flagstaff, Ariz. 86002; (602) 774-6468. July 8 through 19: classical guitarist Tom Sheeley will play in the evenings.

For a list of all concessioners running oar- and motor-powered trips, write to the Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon, Ariz. 86023.

Photo: Canyon walls reach height of 3,000 feet just 35 miles below Lees Ferry. Below, dory swoops through roller-coaster waves of Hermit Rapids at Mile 95
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:rowing through Colorado River for viewing the Grand Canyon
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1986
Words:692
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