We have been blessed to have traveled through and photographed some of the most spectacular scenery in many countries. A trip down the Colorado through the Canyon is in a class by itself. From first light to the end of daylight, one is visually astounded at the images and the ever changing light. of the inner canyon. There were probably five thousand upper end of postcard views. It becomes overwhelming, and that is not even considering the rapids.
One major surprise was the wildlife. Where there is some horizontal space between the river and the canyon walls, there is a green belt. With water, vegetation and food comes wildlife. For example, we saw big horn sheep every day. A group came to visit at dinner the first evening. We also saw Great Blue Herons and other shore birds, and one day a fleeting glimpse (and a photograph) of a bobcat.
The guides took us on hikes to several waterfalls off side canyons. Lots of rafters leaping off the smaller falls. Fortunately no jumpers on the seventy foot falls. The second last day I spend an hour, moving slightly with the sun, photographing a rainbow in mid afternoon at the bottom of a seventy footer.
We took the seven day rather than the six day trip to raft the same distance, and the extra day afforded up all more opportunities to hike some amazing side canyons. I recommend the seven day. As long as you are there, go for it..
Western River was first class. The guides had all been down the Colorado at least fifty times, and knew what they were doing which is quite important given the rapids. They were also enthusiastic outdoors men, and obviously had reverence for and loved the canyon. They also knew every foot of the river, its geology and history of human presence. The hikes were far better than any others. The food was excellent and served in the middle of nowhere.
On a typical day there was a mix of rafting and side canyon hikes. These guides know well the river and the adjacent lands. The tour company's patented J rafts are very well designed for the rapids. On the raft there were three sections, the front pontoons (ride em cowboy section), the padded large storage boxes behind that (the mezzanine) and the you would stay far drier, chicken coop behind that This sixty-one year old recommends ride em cowboy for all the rapids. When we would hit a relatively long section of flat water, I would go back to the chicken coop, take a camera, lens and polarized out of my small dry bag, and photograph. You can quickly put that away and get back to the front for rapids.
Lava Falls is the largest rapids and at mile 179. The seven day trip ended at mile 187. Lava Falls was a fitting last major rapids for the crown jewel trip in North America.
Western River was terrific, and we have heartily recommended it to friends.
It is hot on the river, and in the ride em cowboy section you will be drenched (think cooled off) several times a day. I wore biking jerseys which were relatively cool, and dry out quickly after rapids.
This should be on everyone's "Bucket List." We will do it again.
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