Paddling the Grand Canyon - Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry


May 3, 2013
It was February 2010. A friend told me to try for a private GC permit, the more applications the better chance we have...sure why not. Lottery closed the next day, so I filled it out and picked the most popular and hard to get time of April launch. Yeah right...but you never know...
Few weeks later I get an email from the NPS saying "Congratulations, you have won...". It took me a few hours for it to sink in. Seriously? I never win anything, surely this is spam.
Decision time...big commitment once you get a permit. Decided right there to pay the $400 and make it happen, with a full year to get a crew assembled and organize this thing. No easy task, but I had a pretty good idea it would be worth it...and my boss gave me the OK to take a month off work to make this trip of a lifetime. Its on!!
Ended up with 16 people, 6 rafts, 3 kayaks...23 days on the river, 280 miles. The entire Grand Canyon from start to finish. I kayaked all of it, well almost...the last 30 or so miles are not the most exciting, and those big rafts are just so comfy. I ended up ditching my paddle after the 3rd day and decided to try my hand paddles, something different and I figured not many people have hand paddled the entire GC...while wearing an afro wig. I'm not used to big water, I am a southeast creek boater used to hitting rocks and tight technical moves. The Grand is...Grand. Big waves, and while nothing gets above class 3+, maybe 4 at Lava and Granite, its a whole different kind of paddling. We had a consistent 16,000 cfs the entire journey. I learned quickly how to sneak the big drops, and I didn't run Horn, Granite or Lava. Kicking myself after the fact, but its more reason to go back and clean it up.
The highlight of the trip was bringing my mom along. When I told her about my permit, first thing she asked was "can I go?"...well, I don't know, can you? It's gonna be hot, and cold, no showers, 23 days...she smiled and said that sounds amazing. I told her to ask a friend to join us, and make sure you have a steady supply of boxed wine. She, and her friend, styled it. Not one complaint, all smiles every day and they rode through the rapids like seasoned river runners, whooping and hollering like kids. Best experience of my life, no doubt about it.

Some pics...not the best GC shots over all, I used a point and shoot for a lot of it and my Canon Rebel DLSR for some of the side hikes. I'm a riverrat and a desertrat, and I saw this trip as a way to access some of the best hiking in the world. It wasn't about the whitewater, which only makes up maybe 10% of the Canyon. This trip was about exploring the nooks and crannies that make the GC so special.

I paddled at least 225 miles like gave other river trips a good chuckle, and lots of bewildered stares...

Redwall Cavern

Elves Chasm

Deer Creek Falls

Deer Spring

Deer Creek

Across From Deer Creek Camp

Matkatamiba Canyon

Matkatamiba Canyon

Granite Rapid

Fossil Rapid camp

Marble Canyon reflection


My personal favorite side hike...Tuckup Canyon

Bedrock rapid

Horn Rapid

Lava! That's an 18 footer in are always above Lava...

Ledges Camp

Stressful trip



Havasu Creek

Tuckup Canyon guardian

Travertine Falls

Safety First. Always wear head protection and keep a beer in your PFD for extra flotation

My mom and I. Old dam site below Redwall Cavern.

Lots more pics here...

Featured image for home page:


Oct 1, 2012
Hitting "like" on this once just isn't enough! Wonderful trip and gorgeous shots! Is this the most beautiful place or what? Man I can't wait to get out there, 12 weeks and 1 day to go.....


May 3, 2013
Are you running the river or hiking? I really want to go back and backpack into Tuckup from the top, and then link up a bunch of trails for a week long trip. Have a great trip, I ran out of adjectives on day 4. What a place.


Alien from over the pond...
Sep 5, 2012
...wonderful report and pictures! :twothumbs:


Mar 5, 2013
Well would you look at that? This here must be up at the old Nankoweep Granaries if I'm not mistaken. My annual pilgrimage as a swamper will be coming up here really soon.


May 3, 2013
If you ever get invited on a GC river trip, drop everything and make it happen. Its not easy for most people to take the time, and it ain't cheap...average cost per person was ~$1100, not including travel to Flagstaff. Canyon REO was our outfitter, they were awesome. Packed the food and 4 of the 6 rafts and sent us on our way...and ran shuttle of course.
I love this site, its allowed me to go back and revisit some of my favorite places and share some of my best memories.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
kwc Paddling on a Hot Summer’s Day On The Water 2
kwc Summer Paddling in the Adirondacks On The Water 0
kwc Southern Adirondack Paddling on a HOT Day ... On The Water 0
kwc Late October Adirondack Paddling On The Water 6
kwc More Adirondack Paddling ... On The Water 2
wsp_scott Dad and son go paddling On The Water 4
wsp_scott Dad and Daughter go paddling On The Water 6
kwc July 4th Paddling On The Water 0
Vegan.Hiker Paddling with dogs General Discussion 8
Nick Summer paddling suggestions Trip Planning 10
steve Urban Paddling: 3 miles on the Jordan River in Taylorsville, UT On The Water 3
Nick Paddling Bucket List General Discussion 38
Nick Running the Grand Canyon in a Tule Raft General Discussion 2
D Grand Canyon Ideas Trip Planning 9
gnwatts Grand Gulch, 11-13-20 Backpacking 28
Rockskipper Grand Teton Renews Historic Crest Trail General Discussion 4
gnwatts Grand Gulch water Trip Planning 3
zionsky Grand County and Town of Springdale to require masks General Discussion 1
Bob Grand Canyon North Rim wildfire Trip Planning 4
I Water in Frisky Creek south of Highway 12 in the Grand Staircase? Trip Planning 0
gnwatts Grand Canyon by canoe On The Water 2
westy Cave Canyon, Grand Canyon west Hiking & Camping 5
yoseman backpacking Grand Teton NP Trip Planning 0
Wanderlust073 Skiing Grand Staircase Winter Sports 4
M advice Grand Canyon backpacking Spring 2020 Trip Planning 16
Stephanie B Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument - Kanab Area Hiking & Camping 2
TractorDoc September 14th-21st Solo Hiking in Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP Hiking & Camping 9
Titans Permits car camping Grand Staircase Escalante NM? Trip Planning 6
Dan_85 New dams proposed for Little Colorado River/Grand Canyon General Discussion 2
Ross Permit places available for a Cape Solitude/Comanche Pt Grand Canyon backpack (+Canaan Mountain) Meet Up (Members Only) 0
fossana Grand Gulch Pt 2 - Todie to Sheiks loop Hiking & Camping 9
fossana Grand Gulch Pt 1 - Slickhorn 3rd to Trail Fork loop Hiking & Camping 6
fossana Deer Creek out-and-back (Grand Canyon NP) Hiking & Camping 5
fossana New Hance - Tonto - Grandview loop (Grand Canyon NP) Hiking & Camping 5
G Grand Canyon hiking - need a ride Trip Planning 0
G Grand Canyon backpacking - need ride Backpacking 0
3 Grand Canyon Traverse - Map? Trip Planning 0
woodmaker_58 Grand canyon in February Trip Planning 4
woodmaker_58 grand canyon Trip Planning 2
Artemus PUBLIC COMMENT - Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante Management Plans General Discussion 19
stevecochranephotography Bright Angel Trail.. Grand Canyon, Arizona Hiking & Camping 1
Perry Klymit Grand Opening General Discussion 0
N Grand Canyon and southern Utah in late November Trip Planning 3
O Shuttle service for boaters in Grand Junction area? Trip Planning 2
Scott Chandler Finally Into the Grand Canyon Hiking & Camping 9
slc_dan Silent Auction for Grand Staircase Partners General Discussion 0
Nick Grand Bench Road Trip Planning 15
P Grand Gulch Water/Alternative Trip Trip Planning 3
E Paintbrush/Cascade in Grand Teton Backpacking 0
tomcat32 Table Mountain: A Grand View of the Tetons Hiking & Camping 3

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.