FROM THE PRESIDENT

MariCarlosDear Fellow River Runners, 

Welcome to the website of the Grand Canyon River Runners Association.

As you will read elsewhere on our site we came into existence in 2004 to represent the interests of commercial boaters. To clarify, there are two main types of trips available for recreational boaters in Grand Canyon. If you are an accomplished boater and prefer to organize your own trip and row your own boat, then you probably want a private trip. However, if you are like the majority of us and have little or no expedition rafting or white water boating experience, but you still wish to experience our nation's grandest national park from the perspective of the river, then you will use the services of one of the 15 National Park Service licensed concessionaires who provide guided trips through Grand Canyon.

Our outstanding board of directors consists of people who have participated in every kind of Grand Canyon commercial trip available, including motors, oars (both rafts and dories), and all-paddle trips. We have worked to preserve the many boating options available to commercial boaters, and will continue to advocate for such trip diversity when the Colorado River Management Plan is up for revision once again.

We believe that a Grand Canyon river experience should be within everyone's reach, including the physically challenged. The outfitters also firmly believe that the Grand Canyon should be accessible to everyone, and there are many trips annually that make this access possible.

I have been very fortunate to enjoy several Grand Canyon commercial rafting trips, and as I look back on the bounty of incredible memories there are things that stand out for having been reinforced trip after trip after trip. Guides with knowledge and skills almost as big as the Canyon itself were a surprise on my first trip. Now I just accept that I will receive continuing education on each new journey, from geology and anecdotes from the Canyon's fascinating human history to hydrodynamics, natural history and more.

The sense of stewardship engendered by the guides becomes a communal passion on the river as we marvel at the pristine ecosystems that we explore throughout our Canyon journey. Every day we hike through improbable landscapes, find hidden seeps and springs, learn new skills on unfamiliar footing. The boats glide past a family of Desert Bighorn grazing along the shore and Ringtails chatter in the rocks at night. We leave no trace, and are grateful that those who went before us routinely practiced the same ethic. Beaches that are home to river travelers nightly show no evidence of a prior human presence other than wind-blown footprints.

In Grand Canyon there is always something new -- A new hike, a new camp, or perhaps a return to a place that has changed dramatically since the last visit. There is so much water in the side canyons, it is so unexpected to find a magnificent waterfall in the heart of the desert, that I watch the wonder in the faces of my fellow explorers and wonder how quickly they will be drawn back to the Canyon for a return visit. There are always returnees on my trips, and I have learned that even though we come back for the same reasons, we all have great difficulty in explaining what it is that brings us back when we are talking to those who have not experienced Grand Canyon as we have.

The daily surprises on any Canyon journey bring forth superlatives upon superlatives. How many times have I heard "life changing," or"trip of a lifetime"? You cannot leave a Colorado River journey without having been profoundly touched. It's hard to say why this is, except that for most of us a string of days without the heavy hand of civilization upon us is liberating. To have this in a place as beautiful as Grand Canyon only heightens that sensation.

Advances in recreational equipment mean that we will have the most comfortable journey possible in a wilderness, yet it is still very much a wilderness. When we leave behind civilization for those few days we accept that we will take risks, but also learn to live simply, to breathe deeply and to enjoy having our senses bombarded with unfamiliar messages. No one who has ever been on the river will ever forget the call of the Canyon wren or the smell of the desert after a rain. I remember exactly where I saw my first chuckwalla, and can still picture the sphinx moth pollinating a datura blossom on my most recent trip. The side canyons, no two alike, stand out vividly in memory. The exhilaration of running the first day's rapids and a recap over dinner later that night are the first signs of civilization being shed and this new lifestyle being embraced. Then there is that first night sky with stars that stretch beyond forever. This is when the average soul opens to the Canyon, then closes upon a small piece that will reside there forever within you.

An adventure so precious must be preserved for all. We have made it our duty to work with the National Park Service and with other organizations with whom we share the river, such as Grand Canyon River Guides, Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association and the Grand Canyon River Outfitters. All of us value the river and the Canyon, and so we work to preserve the quality of the visitor experience, to insure your opportunity to take a river trip, and to protect Grand Canyon's river corridor so that those who come after us can enjoy it as we have.

Welcome to Grand Canyon River Runners Association!

Mari Carlos, President


CLICK HERE for Mari's First Ever Slide Show : Her exquisite photography set to music.

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