Grand Canyon Rafting – A Ride You Will Never Forget

The Grand Canyon is a very colorful, steep sided gorge, carved by the Colorado River, in northern Arizona, USA. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park which is one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of the Grand Canyon area, visiting on numerous occasions to hunt mountain lions and enjoy the scenery.

The Colorado River basin of which the Grand Canyon is a part has developed in the past 40 million years and the Grand Canyon itself is probably less than five to six million years old with most of the down cutting occurring in the last two million years. The result of all this erosion is one of the most complete geologic columns on the planet. Wetter conditions during ice ages also increased the amount of water in the Colorado River drainage system. The ancestral Colorado River responded by cutting its channel faster and deeper. The base level and course of the Colorado River, or its ancestral equivalent, changed 5.3 million years ago when the Gulf of California opened and lowered the river’s base level, which is its lowest point. This increased the rate of erosion and cut nearly all of the Grand Canyon’s current depth by 1.2 million years ago. The terraced walls of the canyon were created by differential erosion.

Lee’s Ferry is considered the official beginning of Grand Canyon National Park on the Colorado River and is used as a fishing area and river rafting launch site. The site features several buildings built at the site since 1874 and a steamboat abandoned in 1913 by a mining company’s operation in the canyon walls nearby. The area is managed by the National Park Service within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as a historical site. Lee’s Ferry is the principle starting point for rafting trips through the Grand Canyon, attractive since it offers a geological travel backwards through time as the river cuts through progressively older strata. The majority of trips are by dedicated commercial rafting enterprises that use substantial motorized inflatable rafts to carry large parties of tourists on the river taking up to two dozen passengers per raft, with most trips lasting a week to ten days but with some trips of several weeks that travel all the way to Lake Mead, some 277 river miles downstream.

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