Our experience with Western River began on our honeymoon in June 1982 with the Grand Canyon Three Day. After flying into the Bar10 Ranch from Las Vegas, we descended to the Colorado River on mules. Three days on the river involved enough rapids and other experiences to whet our appetite for more. We returned for the Grand Canyon Six or Seven Day expeditions in 1983, 1985, 2002, and 2013 so our children, spouses, and grandchildren could share the wonder.
The common elements of all the trips were many. The boatmen and boatwomen were uniformly outstanding, taking care of us from sunrise to sunset, cooking fabulous meals, providing informative lectures about geology, history, and even astronomy, guiding us through very challenging rapids, taking us on hikes into beautiful side canyons, and telling jokes. They also took care of removing all our human waste without complaint. Traveling on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon is a magical, almost religious experience as you descend through the various layers of rock (Know The Canyon’s History, Study Rocks Made By Time, Slowly) out of touch with the world – NO CELL PHONES! Around each turn of the river is another beautiful sight, another rapid to ride - “Suck Rubber!” shouts the boatman.
In the early trips, we slept on sleeping bags placed on tarps on the ground. No tents, no chairs, and no cots. We rode out of the canyon on mules or horses.
By 2013 the journey was more genteel with all of the amenities above but just as much fun as I celebrated my 70th birthday along with my wife and our twin 13-year-old grandchildren. Takeout was by helicopter. Our 1983 and 1985 were special trips that included my teenage daughter and son as well as my sister. My 15-year-old daughter in particular seemed a changed person after the 1983 expedition. (An interesting side-note: in 1983 the Colorado was at flood stage, actually over-running the top of Hoover Dam and damaging the spillways at Glen Canyon Dam. Compare that to the current low water levels.) The 2002 trip was the grandest of all as twelve of our family took up most of one raft.
We were excited to hear about Western River offering a trip to Costa Rica so we went in 2019. It was 5 star from start to finish, but the highlight was definitely rafting on the Pacuare River to the Pacuare Lodge, then out three days later. It was a different rafting experience from the Colorado in that we had to help row a smaller four-person raft. My wife went overboard in one rapid but was quickly rescued by our boatman – no worse for wear.
I can think of no better way to celebrate my 80th birthday in 2023 than to ride through Granite, Hermit, Crystal, and Lava Falls rapids one more time. Thanks to Western River for some of the best memories of our lifetimes.
A unforgettable journey of 188 miles from Lake Powell to Lava Falls.