Colorado River Discovery: Rafting Down Glen Canyon

Glen Canyon, Reflected

And now for the highlight of our trip thus far: a floating raft tour down the Colorado River!  I have to tell you: this was absolutely amazing!  We rafted down Glen Canyon, beginning at the Glen Canyon Dam and ending at Lees Ferry.  The canyon was huge!  And so incredibly beautiful!

We had made reservations with the Colorado River Discovery tour, which is the only company allowed to do any sort of motorized boat tour down the Colorado.  They have a ten year permit for which they had bid from the US Government; they only have five years left before they either rebid or relinquish the monopoly to another company.  Our tour guide, Megan, was extremely informative and is the one who told us all of this.

The tour began at the Glen River Dam, where the dam is holding back Lake Powell.  My sisters, my grandma, and I hopped into a huge blue inflatable raft and off we went!   Immediately we were struck by the massive looming canyon walls whose red rocks seemed to go on forever.  The water was far clearer than Ann Arbor’s Huron River (the river closest to where I live), and was freezing cold!  We were allowed to drape one foot off the side of the raft but not both; Megan called people who dangled two feet off ‘swimmers’ “because that’s what you’ll be doing!”

Along the way, our tour guide told us to keep our eyes out for various wildlife.  We ended up spotting great blue herons, bighorn sheep, and wild horses who were showing off by playing with each other.  There was also a yellow plant that stuck out amongst what greenery actually existed; it was tall and thin and strange looking (well, at least it’s inflorescence was).  Megan pointed it out to us saying it was a 15-foot agave plant.  Agave produces a nectar that is used as a healthy substitute to honey and sugar as well as – what some of you may be more interested in – for tequila!  But when she said it was 15-feet tall, I thought, “Yeah right!  This tiny little plant is barely three feet tall!”  She assured us, though, that it truly was 15-feet high.

About halfway through the tour, we stopped to see an ancient petroglyph site.  We pulled up on the beach and walked over to see these carvings in the stone, which were actually pretty interesting.  Then we used the restroom – after all, we’d been drinking water every other minute to stay hydrated – which was on first glance (and first use) just your typical porta-potty.  However, this is not so!  Our guide explained to us later that each porta-potty (there were four) cost $10,000, and are all entirely solar powered as well as chemical-free self-composting, which in my opinion makes them the most amazing porta-potties in the world!  Green and self-sustainable?!  You can’t get much better than that!

On this brief respite from floating, we were also allowed to swim in the Colorado River.  My sisters and I had prepared for this, wearing our swimsuits under our clothes.  What we did not prepare for, though, was the temperature of the water.  We’d been warned that it was a mere 57°F in the Colorado River, but I thought, “I’m from Michigan and am a figure skater… How cold can this actually be?!”

Ha!  Well Mother Nature had the last laugh there!  That water was freezing!  I mean, can-hardly-keep-your-feet-in-longer-than-60-seconds freezing.  Nonetheless, we braved it out!  After all, how often can you go swimming in the Colorado River?!  We gathered our courage and dove in before our brains could register exactly how frigid the water was.

Luckily, it is hot enough in Page, Arizona that we quickly dried, even after being drenched.  We continued on our float tour down the river, enjoyed the amazing weather and learning a good amount about Glen Canyon.  It was beautiful, relaxing, exciting, and definitely something I would recommend to any and all travelers to the northern Arizona area.

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2 responses to “Colorado River Discovery: Rafting Down Glen Canyon

  1. Emily!!! Loved reading this. It’s making me super homesick, though! Aren’t the red rocks A.MAZ.ING!!! There is nothing like it. Can’t wait to see more of your trip. Hope you’re having fun. 🙂 Miss you!

  2. Thanks, Seidi! Yes, the red rocks are absolutely incredible! I don’t think I could ever tire of these views!

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