May 11-18, 2020

The ASU geology trip is a special charter with Hatch River Expeditions, the oldest and best of the commercial companies.  We launch from Lees Ferry and travel on large motorized rafts to mile 185.  Helicopters lift us to Diamond Bar Ranch in Whitmore Wash where we transfer to aircraft for a return to our start point.  The focus deals with the geologic story behind the scenery.   We will have 28 passengers and 2 large pontoon boats. More information about our trip than you probably want to know is given below.  However, I encourage you to read it carefully and contact me if you have any questions.


ONLINE REGISTRATION WITH HATCH RIVER EXPEDITIONS:  To register, go to (  Under Chartered Rafting Expeditions choose 2020 Geology Charter with Paul Knauth. Use ASU promo code for $277 discount.  If all this is too difficult, doesn’t work, or if you have questions, just call Hatch at 1-800-856-8966.


PRE-TRIP ORIENTATION SESSION FOR LOCAL PARTICIPANTS: Those living in the Phoenix area are invited to attend a pre-trip orientation session on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. at Paul Knauth’s house in south Gilbert. The meeting is not essential, but we hope those of you living locally can attend.  Directions will be sent to participants.  The orientation session will include an overview of the trip, projected images of what the rafts are like, a brief introduction to the geology, and answers to questions. We will also try to match up those who need a ride from Phoenix with those who can offer one. Several participants have gone with us previously and can provide additional insights regarding the experience.


RENDEZVOUS AT HATCH RIVER EXPEDITIONS FACILITY : This trip originates at the Hatch River Expeditions facility located next to Cliff Dwellers Lodge on Highway 89A, about 14 miles west of Marble Canyon. You will have to arrange your own transportation to the rendezvous point.  Many participants will drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff and then north on HW 89 for about 110 miles until 89A branches off to the left at Bitter Springs.  Take 89A which crosses the new bridge over the Colorado River. If you arrive early, it is worthwhile to stop at the Visitor’s Center on the north side of the new bridge (east side of road). You can walk out over the old bridge for a stupendous view of the gorge and your first look at the River.  From the Visitor’s Center, continue west on 89A about 14miles to Cliff Dwellers Lodge and the Hatch Facility. There is a large warehouse on the north side of the road with a big "Hatch" sign you can't miss. The check in for your room at Cliff Dwellers Lodge is located at the gas station.

For those traveling to the Hatch Warehouse from Las Vegas rather than Phoenix, please note that it is possible to fly directly to the warehouse for an additional fee.  You can make the arrangement during online registration or by asking for this flight when registering with Hatch on the telephone.  You should schedule this flight to arrive no later than May 10.  Our special trip launches on May 11 before the earliest flight from Las Vegas arrives that morning.  You can fly directly back to Las Vegas when we exit for no additional charge if you so indicate during registration or by contacting Hatch prior to the trip.


We depart Cliff Dwellers lodge at 7:30 am sharp on May 11, 2020.  This is earlier than the normal Hatch departure time; do not let anyone tell you the time is later.   In order to launch with us, you will need to attend a safety orientation May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hatch Facility next to Cliff Dwellers Lodge. This is the latest time at which you should arrive at the rendezvous point. You can park your vehicle at this place for the duration of the trip.


LODGING AT THE RENDEZVOUS POINTHatch includes double occupancy lodging at Cliff Dwellers Lodge as part of the trip cost.  If you wish a single room, there is limited availability an additional $45 cost. Hatch can arrange a roommate if you ask. Note that single rooms are limited in number.  If you can't get one, you may be able to get one at Marble Canyon at your own expense.  Ask Hatch for recommendations. Food service doesn't begin until we launch, so you will need to take care of all meals prior to launch. There are no cooking facilities available, but you can bring camp stoves and ice chests which can be left in the vehicles. Cliff Dwellers Lodge has meals at very reasonable rates, and most participants take advantage of this convenience.


ON THE RIVER : At 7:30 a.m. sharp on May 11, Hatch personnel will transport us by van to the boat launch at Lees Ferry. Our typical day will involve long float intervals with several extended stops to examine various aspects of the geology. We try to camp at side-canyons that afford good opportunities for optional hikes.


EXIT FROM THE RIVER (May 18): Our trip ends near Whitmore Wash at about river mile 183. Some river trips continue on to Lake Mead, but things can get repetitive after mile 183 and there are few major rapids to add excitement. We will be lifted out early in the morning by helicopters and taken to Bar 10 Ranch, about 15 miles north of the last camp site (a spectacular ride). Bar 10 Ranch is a rustic dude ranch on the North Rim in the valley of Whitmore Wash. Fixed-wing aircraft will land at the Ranch's airstrip and take us back to the Hatch warehouse by noon (another spectacular flight). Please be aware that weather or other logistic circumstances could result in your arriving later than noon. We usually depart the river in groups of 5 on the helicopters and fly back to the warehouse in fixed wing aircraft.  Some of you may want to fly from Bar 10 Ranch directly to Las Vegas (no additional cost).  You must arrange this ahead of time either during registration or by contacting Hatch River Expeditions.


WEIGHT LIMITS FOR AIRCRAFT:  The aircraft have a 25 lb per person weight limit for luggage. This pretty much limits the amount of personal gear you can bring to 25 lbs.  Note that Hatch now provides all the camping gear you need at no extra charge.  In past years, Hatch delivered personal bags back to my house in Mesa after the trip so that you could bring all the camping gear you wanted.  This was a great convenience for those of us living in the Phoenix area who wanted to lug our own tents, cots, chairs, and camping gear.  In recent years, there hasn’t been enough personal gear to warrant this service, so we have done away with it. Just bring less than 25 lbs of personal gear and you are all set.


WHAT-TO-BRING LIST:  A copy of the what-to-bring list is given below.  Please note that camping gear has been deleted from this list because Hatch now supplies everything you need.


BOOKS ABOUT THE GRAND CANYON: A list of good books is given below in case you want to do some pre-trip reading. Out-of-print and used versions as well as recent additions can be ordered via the Internet (e.g. Amazon .com). We plan to give each of you the latest copy of Belknap’s River Guide, so don’t invest in this one.


LAWYER STUFF: Everyone must sign the legal release given below. You can bring this one or sign a new one the night before the trip. Hatch River Expeditions will also ask you to sign a release composed by their lawyers before we launch.





Who runs the boats and who does the cooking?


The boats are operated by professional river guides employed by Hatch River Expeditions Co. Hatch has a superb safety record and is the oldest and 2nd largest outfitter on the river. The boatmen are assisted by a "swamper", who helps tie up the boats, cook, load, etc. The boatmen and swamper do all the cooking. We have had truly outstanding crew members on all previous trips.


The boat company provides the food; what about drinks?


Both cold drinking water and lemonade/gatorade are available at all times. You will have to provide your own soda, beer, wine and/or liquor. For safety and other reasons, we insist that you not drink alcoholic beverages during the day. Your day-supply of soda can be put in Hatch’s dunk bags that are hung over the side for cooling (the river is 48°F, like your refrigerator). Your long-range supply is stored during the day in the hold of the boat. Ice is available at night for cocktails, but you will have to bring your own leprous distillment. Glass containers cannot be stored with the duffel; please reload any booze into metal or plastic containers.  Those flying from Las Vegas will face weight restrictions, but you can purchase drinks ahead of time that will be ready for pick-up at Cliff Dwellers Lodge the evening before or the morning we launch the trip.


Are tents provided?




Do I need camping equipment?




Should I get ammo cans to store my gear in?


NO!! Hatch will supply a day bag to lash atop the duffle pile. They also supply a big bag for the duffel that will be inaccessible during the day. Row trips often ask everyone to store gear in military surplus ammo cans which can be readily stacked and lashed in tiny rowboats. Our boats are much larger and we store gear in a duffel pile. Soft-sided duffel is required for this to work. If you bring an ammo can or hard-case luggage of any kind, it will have to be lashed topside between legs of people sitting in the “chicken coop” (see below) where it is prone to scrape legs and generate enemies. Hard-case luggage and framed backpacks of any kind should be left at home.


Do I have to lug all my personal gear out in the helicopter at the end?


Yes.  Keep it under 25 lbs.


 Will there be a lot of hiking?


We often do short group hikes up some of the side canyons during the day. These are usually about ¼ mile, but the scrambling over rocks and ledges often makes it seem much longer. Some are longer. We try to camp early at the mouths of side canyons that have longer hikes for those that want recreational hiking. Because conditions and circumstances vary, we cannot guarantee that all campsites will have these optional recreational hikes. There are special raft trips that focus on long side-canyon group hikes. This is not one of them.


Just how much physical agility is required?  Am I too old for this?


At a minimum, participants must be able to climb on and off the boats without assistance, withstand violent shocks and motions going through rapids, lug duffel around at the campsites, walk safely cross-country in terrain covered by cobbles, boulders, sand, and brush/cactus.  We often climb up rock ledges to visit interesting side canyons. The crew has its hands full and cannot normally assist people in these activities. Chances of a slip and fall are high; it happens to us all. Those seriously overweight or with bad knees will face difficult challenges, endanger themselves, and not enjoy this trip. This is not a bus tour.  Having said all that, we have had healthy, unusually agile people as old as 84 go on this trip successfully.  Please contact me if you need advice.  Note that several boat companies operate special trips for disabled persons.


Will we get to see all the famous features such as Elves Chasm, Deer Creek Valley, Silver Grotto, etc?


No. Some of these require dangerous rock climbing and/or lengthy hikes. We do see most of the scenic icons associated with raft trips, but we stay focused on the interpretive side. Each trip is different and we adapt to the weather, the traffic, the time of day, and the flow rate of the River. Many of the most magical side canyons become hell-holes during mid-day. We just cruise on because others await.  We almost never stop at Phantom Ranch.  Please do not expect us to stop at any particular place. Our only mandatory stop is the helipad at the end. There is no shortage of spectacular features in the Canyon. It is beyond belief and the best way to approach it all is to come without expectations of what you will see. No one has ever been disappointed.


What is the story on tipping and other "hidden" costs?


It is customary to tip boatmen. They do not get paid very much and they really knock themselves out for us. River etiquette has it that we pitch money into a hat on the last night, so you should bring at least $230 in cash for this purpose. We count it, announce the results, and give it to the head boatman who divvies it up according to custom (usually even splits among the 3 of them). We want to hit at least $2000 total tip per crew member to be consistent with what other Hatch trips usually generate.  We normally get that because our specially requested crew members are among the best on the Colorado River.  Note that all past participants rave about our crew and acknowledge kindnesses and services above and beyond expectations.  Please recognize that this is probably far less than you would spend on tips if you vacationed for a week in a hotel.  If a tip of this size is a financial hardship for you, you probably should not be doing this trip. Please no traveler’s checks, personal checks, or credit cards; it’s a tip.


The helicopter pilots once and only once had a small sign over the instrument panel saying "tips welcome" with a $5 bill in a clip. Some gave the pilot a few bucks; others didn't.  We have never tipped the airplane pilots.


The other costs hinge around what personal gear you choose to bring. The appended "what-to-bring" list gives some tips about where to sink your money.


What kind of people go on these trips? Will there be college students carousing and partying late into the night?  I hear there is a lot of nudity on raft trips.  What kind of restraints are there?


This is a university-affiliated trip and is on the more serious side relative to commercial or recreational river trips. Our main purpose is to see the Canyon in a unique way and try to understand some of the geologic story behind the scenery. Geologic presentations are aimed at the serious layperson with little or no background in the subject. Those interested in more technical explanations have ample time for one-on-one discussions with me. The age range is usually from about 21 to 70. Everyone seems to have a great time and the issue of carousing or partying has rarely been a problem. We insist that people be able to sleep in peace as soon as it gets dark. Anyone carrying on loudly will be asked to tone it down or disperse for the evening. In the few cases when this was necessary, the offenders were extremely apologetic and responded immediately. We have had really great, cooperative people on all our past trips. The key thing here is that one person’s fun should never become another person’s irritant.


We often encounter nudists on the River, especially among the non-commercial groups.  This is something we do not allow on our raft excursion. Other trips have different rules, but this one is a good-will university outreach effort, and we act accordingly.  We insist that everyone respect the privacy of others in bathing and bathroom situations.  Various protocols regarding the issue will be discussed in the group meeting the night before the trip.


Is this a fund-raiser for ASU?  Will I be solicited for donations?


No.  This is an outreach trip.  Good will.  All are welcome and there is no mention of donations.


Can I get academic credit for this trip?




How do I keep clean?


The main water source is the River itself. During May, it is normally clear, cold water released from the bottom of Lake Powell. This can change if there are large thunderstorms or extended rains during the trip. The main culprit is usually the Little Colorado, which enters at mile 61. This stream is normally spring-fed and azure blue. After heavy rains, it becomes muddy and can turn the river chocolate brown from mile 61 on. The Pariah feeds in at mile 1. If it has flooded, the river can be brown all the way (Rio Colorado). In early May the Pariah and the Little Colorado are usually no problem, so one source of probable clear water is the river itself. It is not polluted, so don't worry about getting doused in it or wading in for an evening (cold) bath. You may use soap and shampoo when bathing in the River. In any case, you will probably get hosed when we go through the rapids.


Side streams. Many of the side-canyons have flowing streams. These are generally very clear and “warm” enough to soak in. A few have waterfalls and swirl-pools that beat any Jacuzzi. For ecological reasons, you may not use soap or shampoo in these streams.


To take a shower, get yourself a solar shower bag at a camping store.  You can pull these out at the campsite, fill them with cold River water and wait about an hour.  The water warms up to air temperature (in the 80’s or 90’s) or warmer, depending if you lay them in the sunshine or on a black rock.  Please note that it does not help to lash these to the boat during the afternoon to allow lots of solar heating.  We camp mostly in the shade and by the time you get set up or wait until dark, the water cools back to air temperature.  Also, the bags are a real nuisance on the boat and can get easily damaged there. Please don’t lash solar water bags on the boat.


 What happens in case of serious illness or injury?


The boatmen have satellite radios (for emergency use ONLY) and can call for an emergency helicopter if a medical situation is critical. Please note that emergency helicopter service is now run by the Park Service and has become extraordinarily expensive. A bill of well over $4,000 is now likely. Please check with your health insurer to see if this cost is covered. If not, contact Hatch River Expeditions (1-800-433-8966) about insurance options. Cell phones do not work anywhere in the Canyon.


This all sounds great, but what do I do when I have to go to the bathroom?


Urination into the river is the only acceptable practice. The volume of river water is so enormous that there is no sanitation problem with this procedure. Land areas away from the river are off-limits because, frankly, it leaves a smell for the groups behind us. Remember, someone will probably camp or hike the next day very near where you just did.  Every stop offers secluded areas along the river for privacy. We can also pull over at any time if the need arises. In addition, there is a deep motor well at the back of the boats which is often used while cruising. Don't worry about having to hold it in.


For the more serious activity, the boatmen set up self-contained porto-potties in highly secluded areas at the campsites. A special "day-tripper" is available for emergency use during the day. All human waste is carried out with us. The boatmen lovingly tend to this using a high-tech sealing system built into the porto-potties. The procedure works well, but be ready for an open-air bathroom in a secluded spot.


Midnight trips to the River can be bothersome, especially if you are camped far away.  A solution is to bring a wide-mouthed water bottle for use as a "tent chamber pot".  You can carry it to the River in the morning.  It is a good idea to wrap this special-use item in duct-tape and mark it with a skull and crossbones.  Don’t mistake this for your water bottle!


What about food for vegetarians?


The boat company provides vegetarian meals if notified in advance. No problem, just contact Hatch River Expeditions.


Is there a danger from snakes, scorpions, and other critters?


Yes. We occasionally see a snake and I am sure there are scorpions around. There is little to fear, however. We will give you a few commonsense rules to minimize any danger. There is no danger of being attacked. The biggest nuisance in usually the ravens. These clever thieves will pick through your duffel if you leave things scattered about. We have seen them flying away with socks and underwear! One flew away with a packet of pink Pepto-Bismol tablets and undoubtedly became, for a time, the biggest raven on the River.  We passed a private group that asked us to use our satellite phone to request an evacuation because a raven flew away with a packet of prescription medicine.  We’ll give some advice on raven-proofing your gear.


What is the food like?


Everyone says it is excellent and there is lots of it. Hatch River Expeditions usually throws away more food than other companies bring. Breakfast is usually eggs the way you want them, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fruit, biscuits, juice, hotcakes and cowboy coffee. Lunch is typically a spread of sandwich fixings with an assortment of meats, salad, and tuna or chicken salad. Suppers are likely to include steak, chicken, or fish with a good selection of veggies, salad, potatoes, rice and dessert. A specialty is Mexican food night. If you eat everything available that night you may be visited before dawn by--THE ROMERO BROTHERS!


What is the weather like? What should I wear?


The long range forecast is for perfect weather. Early May can be a bit cooler and drier than later in the season. The first night at the Hatch Warehouse is at an elevation of 4500'. If the night skies are clear, temperatures could dip into the upper 30's. Subsequent camps on the river should be considerably warmer. The lower stretches of the river will get downright hot.

You will be in the open air the entire time. There is always a chance of rain, and you should come prepared. One year it snowed on an ASU trip, but that was very unusual. Bring a good water proof (not “water resistant”) hooded jacket and pants. Ponchos are not good enough and interfere with the efficiency of life-jackets. Come prepared for the possibility that it is going to rain for 2 straight days (it is not impossible at this time of year!). Even if doesn’t rain, you will need rain gear for cold-water protection in the morning rapids. We experienced a freezing hailstorm for an hour during the 2011 trip.  Recalcitrants who didn't bring adequate rain gear suffered.  Listen to your old college professor!  Do not show up without a waterproof hooded rain jacket and rain pants! 


When the sun is shining, it can get quite hot. Air blowing over the cold river keeps us comfortable on the boats, but the sun can be a killer. Bring a good sun hat--one with a wide brim and a hold-down strap that goes under your chin. This is IMPORTANT because winds approach hurricane strength along some stretches of the River. You will need plenty of sunscreen. I recommend long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks if you have open-air footwear, and gloves if you are sensitive to the sun. Sunburn is one of the biggest hazards of the trip. You get the reflection from the river in addition to the direct rays. Sleeping on the ground is bad enough for most of us soft, lazy Americans--try sleeping on sunburned ears! Remember: it is always easy to peel off layers if you want some sun.


What kinds of footwear work best?


Different river runners have different preferences. Sport sandals have become very popular. They are unsurpassed for walking up streams. The traction is incredible and you can actually walk on wet, water-smoothed rock. Sand can't get trapped and your feet dry out rapidly afterwards. These types of shoes do have some disadvantages. Your feet are unprotected when walking through grass and brush and there is no ankle support. Gravel can also collect between your foot and the sandal. While great in streams, these are terrible hiking shoes on dry ground. You will need to bring additional footwear for walks over dry ground. When exploring the side canyons, it is inevitable that your feet will get wet. For this reason, leather hiking boots and leather athletic shoes should be left at home. Non-leather boots and athletic shoes work fine, but they take time to dry out. A good combination is a pair of sport sandals and a pair of nylon athletic shoes with muscular soles. Keep whatever you aren’t wearing in your day pack and you can then use whatever the occasion demands. You should have 2 sets of footwear in any case.  When buying sports sandals, be sure to get the variety with the strap that comes over the top of your toes rather than between your toes. You will want to wear socks at times to keep the sun off.  You want the most ventilation possible so that your feet dry out as fast as possible (especially wet socks).  However, it is highly desirable to have your toes protected. This keeps you from snagging the horizontal root stringers that grow from the tamarisk trees on many of the beaches and also protects in other ways.  Thin nylon socks help keep the sun off and dry rapidly.  However, you might also want to bring some wool socks and gloves that will keep your hands and feet warm in the event of cold, cloudy weather.  This advice is from those of us who nearly froze our wet fingers and toes off on several past trips.  Note that socks can collect terminal amounts of burs from some of the vegetation we walk through.  Consider bringing at least 6 pairs.


What are the rapid rides like in the big boats?


There are several places to be on the boat as it goes through rapids. The “chicken coop” or “tea room” is a box-like area just behind the duffel pile in the center of the boat. Riders in this area stay safe and fairly dry going through the rapids but still experience some of the wildness. The side pontoons can be straddled for rides through all but the biggest rapids. This is a very wild ride comparable to what small boats experience, maybe even better. Riding the pontoons carries a strong element of risk, and you should not do this unless you are prepared to hang on tightly. Sitting on the boardwalk along the sides and inside the pontoons is the safest place, but it gets pretty wet. A small area at the very front of the boat holds 2 people, gets maximum water, amazing vertical views of the holes behind waves, and a very wild ride. I once saw Jesus in the final wave of Hermit Rapid. This is called the “fishbowl” or “bathtub.”  To imagine one aspect of a ride up front, fill your refrigerator full of water in your mind's eye, sit on the floor in front, and open the door suddenly.  Do this 3 times in 15 seconds.  (Thanks to past participant Roger Carter for the analogy).


What is the danger of drowning? Can the boat tip over in a rapid?


While on the boat, you must wear a life jacket provided by the outfitter. It is very unlikely that a huge raft like the ones we will be riding will tip over. There is certainly an element of risk in any venture of this sort, but note that well over 20,000 people a year go down the Canyon safely. In all our trips, only 5 people have ever fallen in, and all were involved with riding the side pontoons. In 3 cases, this happened in quiet water while the victim was carelessly shifting toward a ride on the side pontoons. In the others, careless pontoon riders were not hanging on tight and went over the side in rapids.  In the extraordinary event you are thrown into the water, remember that it is actually not as dangerous as it might seem. In 1958, two California surfers donned life jackets and flippers and actually swam the entire length of the canyon over a period of 3 weeks! Each was tethered to 2 floating boxes that carried cans of food and sleeping bags; they had no accompanying boat. These naïfs actually enjoyed going through most of the rapids (they did get beaten up in a few where they failed to avoid big rocks). While it is acknowledged today that these guys were lucky, their trip is something to think about if you are worried about going overboard accidentally.  Chances of serious injury or death are, indeed, greatly enhanced if you go over the side.  However, unless you choose the pontoons it is extraordinarily unlikely that you will be thrown into the River.


Will people be smoking on the boats?


No. Although we are in the open air, we are close to each other on the boats. We have decided to outlaw smoking while on the boats. There are frequent stops, and participants may light up there. A boatman or two may smoke back in the engine well.  There is nothing we can do about that.


Are children allowed?


No. Most children would probably not enjoy or appreciate the type of raft trip we offer. They would be greatly outnumbered by adults and might not understand what we are trying to accomplish. Parents might consume so much time supervising that they miss what they came to experience. Our trips are designed for college-age and older.  Other trips open to children are readily available from Hatch.


Will people be playing musical instruments or boomboxes?


No. The overall philosophy on our trips is to let people do whatever doesn’t interfere with others. Musical offerings can be something other people appreciate or resent. There is no place to store guitars or large instruments. People tend to scatter after dinner, and we ask that whatever you do, you allow your fellow participants to enjoy the natural sounds of the canyon without having to move very far away. We will not force music on anyone. Under no circumstances should you bring an audio device that broadcasts through speakers. Bring headphones if you want to listen to music on your Ipod or whatever.


May I fish?


Yes, at camp, but you need an Arizona Fishing License. The cooks will not cook any fish you catch, so you will have to throw them back after you have finished torturing them. Beware that the storage of poles is difficult they are subject to damage during loading and unloading. People who have brought fishing rods gave up early in the trip.


Is it true that the tortured ghost of famed geologist/river explorer John Wesley Powell still lurks about in the depths of the Inner Gorge and that ASU raft trips usually experience an encounter?


Yes, but the apparition has sometimes been pretty pitiful.  A few times it was sublime.  Well, whatever.  I will try again this year to conjure up this perturbed spirit after the short evening talk about Powell’s explorations and their significance.


I want to bring my cell phone camera and need to recharge batteries.  Is this possible?


Yes, if you bring your AC charger.  The boatmen tend to have 12V powered batteries with 110V AC inverters.  You can plug in anytime.   


What is this I hear about “water wars”?


In days when we brought all our gear, people brought long plunger push water weapons to participate in epic water wars between boats on hot afternoons.  Now that we bring only limited gear, there really isn’t room for these weapons. The crew often has a couple on the boat if you must. Beware that the other boat may have a hose with a jet spray powered by an electric pump that is often used to cool off sitting areas when we return from a stop.  You may be severely outgunned.


Does ASU or Hatch provide accident insurance?


See the Hatch website for possible insurance offerings, especially cancellation insurance. Individuals are responsible for the cost of any emergency medical treatments or emergency helicopter exit. You should have your own medical insurance for this trip. You may want to check with your carrier regarding reimbursement for an unlikely helicopter evacuation.


What if I must cancel?


Cancellations inflict a financial loss on the company.  The deposit is not refundable. Please note that Hatch has strict cancellation policies once the final payment is made.  You are strongly encouraged to take out cancellation insurance.  Please study the Hatch website or contact them for the current cancellation policies and information about cancellation insurance.   


So what is this trip really like?


At any point along the river you are able to look at a single stretch of canyon wall which, if it were anywhere else, would be a National Park all by itself. That view also exists to your left and right, and behind you. As you drift along, it goes on mile after mile and day after day until it becomes something transcendental. The scenery and your experiences speak for themselves. My job is to accompany you and point out aspects of the geologic story at appropriate times. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.


Feel free to call me if you have any questions (480-654-4159).   The toll-free number of Hatch River Expeditions is 1-800-433-8966. 


A short video with clips from previous trips is at:  or search YouTube for “Acquiring River Wisdom”



Paul Knauth, Professor Emeritus
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University



FIELD TRIP DESTINATION:  Raft Trip through Grand Canyon


In consideration of my being allowed to participate in the field trip described above, including any associated activities, travel, transportation, and lodging (collectively, the "Field Trip"), I, the undersigned hereby acknowledge that there are significant risks of physical harm and injury inherent in participation in the Field Trip including, but not limited to, exposure to risks in mountainous/wilderness setting, exposure to allergies and poisonous plants, as well as animals in their natural environmental settings, and connected activities in and around travel areas, and I assume the risk of and hereby release and forever discharge the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, and Geology Field Trips LLC, or their officers, regents, agents, employees, directors and members. If I am under the age of 18 years, I certify that I have obtained the signature of my parent or guardian allowing me to participate in the Field Trip and that my parent or guardian has full knowledge thereof.

I hereby assume all risks of injury that may be sustained by me in connection with the Field Trip. I understand that it is my responsibility to obtain all necessary permission or medical approval to participate in all activities associated with the Field Trip or to verify that such permission has been obtained on my behalf.

I certify that I have no pre-existing health condition or injury, including without limitation, neck or soft tissue injury or condition that could result in injury or reinjury to me in participation in the Field Trip.

Dated this ____day of________________, 20___


Signature of Participant


Printed Name of Participant




Sport Sandals and hiking shoes

Sunglasses (Polarized are best, a spare set is desirable)

Sport strap or around-the-back-of-your-neck chain for eyeglasses and sunglasses

Sun Hat with under-the-chin wind strap (one that keeps ears shaded is essential)

Spare hat (in case your main hat blows away in a wind gust and sinks)

Suntan lotion

More suntan lotion

Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, small mirror, etc.)

Moist towelettes (Baby wipes) 

Flashlight (A headlight with an optional red beam doesn’t destroy your night vision and thus actually allows you to see things not directly in the beam)

Pocket knife

Small personal first aid kit (for minor scrapes; the crew has the real deal for significant injuries)

Camera (bring a spare battery or AC recharge cable)

Soda and/or beer and/or wine and/or your alcoholic poison of choice (this is not included in the 25lb weight limit).  Check the Hatch literature to place an order.

Duffel bags for all gear (small bags are easier to carry than large ones). NO AMMO CANS OR HARD-CASE LUGGAGE!

Canteen or water bottle for day hikes.


Long pants

Long shirt

Wind breaker

Warm jacket

Swim Suit (many participants wear this always as a basic layer)

Rain gear (hooded jacket and pants--no ponchos; spend some money on this. Make sure you are getting "water proof" rather than "water resistant" rain-gear. “Water resistant” cannot hold up to the hosing you get transiting a rapid.)  Do not show up without good rain gear.

Towel, washcloth

Personal medication (aspirin, ibuprofen, sunburn relief cream, allergy pills, etc.)

Wide-mouth water bottle wrapped in duct tape for use as tent chamber pot


Questions?  Contact Paul Knauth: (480) 654-4159 or




Collier, Michael. 1980 Grand Canyon Geology. Grand Canyon Natural History Association. A 42-page paperback that gives a brief overview of Grand Canyon geology. Written for the average person. Good photos, informative.

Beus, Stanley S. and M. M. Morales, eds. 1990. Grand Canyon Geology. Oxford University Press, 518 pages. Systematic discussion of the rocks, structural geology and origin of the Grand Canyon written by a bevy of experts. Extremely technical; written for professional geologists. Some chapters are nearly incomprehensible due to poor writing, but there is much information here.

Belknap's Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide. A must for river runners. Great introduction to the geology, natural history, and history of exploration. Contains mile-by-mile maps of the river trip. We plan to give you one of these at the start of the trip!

Stevens' Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide. Almost identical to Belknap's guide. This one also shows campsites along the river. The discussion of geology is not quite as good as Belknap's.

Elston, Donald P. 1989. Geology of Grand Canyon (with Colorado River Guides). American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C. Detailed geology guidebook for raft trips. Also contains numerous articles on the geology written by outstanding geologists. All are aimed at professional geologists.

Shelton, John S. 1966. Geology Illustrated. W.H. Freeman & Company. This old classic probably has the clearest introduction to the geology of the Grand Canyon (pp. 248-290). The black and white photos throughout the text are some of the most informative geology photos ever taken. The book also contains a superb introduction to many other areas of geology. It is still in print, but the photos are printed better in the used copies. Highly recommended.

Ranney, Wayne.  2007 Carving Grand Canyon.  This is an outstanding introduction to problems associated with the origin of the Grand Canyon.  It is also a very cheap book! The author gives fair treatment to all the different explanations proposed for the origin and resists siding with any particular theory.   We weren’t there when all this happened, so we can never know for sure what the history of the River was.  Ranney lays out all that can be realistically said about what we know and stresses how much is currently unknown.

Redfern, Ron, 1980. Corridors of Time: 1,700,000 Years of Earth at Grand Canon. Times Books, New York. Panoramic color photos of Grand Canyon, some of which are spectacular. The text gives an excellent discussion of the geologic history written for the average person.

Powell, James Lawrence, 2005, Grand Canyon: Solving Earth’s Grandest Puzzle.  The author went on our raft trip in 2003 while he was finishing this book.  Jim Powell is a geologist and former executive administrator at several universities.  He has reviewed most of the theories for the origin of the Grand Canyon and presented here a great summary of what people have thought and are thinking about how the Canyon formed.  He not only read most of the literature but also interviewed some of the major players around today.  After reviewing various scenarios for how things evolved, he takes a stab at what sounds most reasonable to him.  There has been a surge of recent research on this subject, but the excellent description of how the classic ideas evolved will keep this book as required reading for a long time for anyone interested in the origin of the Grand Canyon,



Lavender, David. 1985. River Runners. Grand Canyon Natural History Association. Outstanding history of boat trips through the Grand Canyon. Examines in detail the early explorations and subsequent adventures of those who traversed the river before it became routine. Excellent.

Ghiglieri, Michael P. 1992. Canyon. University of Arizona Press. River running from the point of view of those who row in small boats and take precarious hikes into challenging side canyons. Interesting and well-written. Not all readers will share the author's love of danger. There are other ways to approach a river trip.

Cooley, John. 1988. The Great Unknown. Northland Publishing. The side-by-side journals of participants on the historic and controversial first expedition down the Colorado River. Riveting, with many interesting passages not normally quoted by historians and popularizers. For history buffs, this book probably gives the best insight into what the first voyage was like, especially if you try to re-live the daily entries and read between the lines (realizing that all of the participants had been soldiers in the Civil War). Excellent introduction by the author. It will make more sense after you take a raft trip yourself, but it is good reading in any case.

Beer, Bill. 1988. We Swam the Grand Canyon. The Mountaineers, Seattle. Incredible story of 2 surfers who swam the length of the river through Marble Canyon and Grand Canyon. Crazy as they were, you may come to love or even envy these guys. There are moments of profundity (p. 113) and poignancy (p. 61) that you wouldn't expect in a book of this sort.

Kolb, Ellsworth. 1947. Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico. Macmillan Company. A widely distributed classic describing the Kolb Brothers’ 1911 Canyon voyage. The brothers operated a photo studio at the South Rim for several decades and sold thousands of these books. It is not hard to find signed copies at used book stores in Scottsdale. Unlike many expeditions, this one went all the way to the Gulf of California. No Canyon library is complete without this one.

Eddy, Clyde. 1929. Down the World’s Most Dangerous River. Frederick Stokes Company. Long out of print, but you sometimes see it in used book stores. Chronicle of a 1927 boat trip through the Canyon by Clyde Eddy, seven Ivy-Leagers, a bear cub, a dog, and a hobo that fell off a train near the launch point. Sounds bizarre, but you sometimes see stranger things on the River.

Teal, Louise. 1994. Breaking into the Current. U. of Arizona Press. Profiles of a number of professional women river guides. Interesting stories of women as they broke into the previously macho world of river running. The picture on the back should help their cause.

Lindemann, Linda L. 1996. Colorado River Briefs for a Trip Through The Grand Canyon. Lundquist Press. Mile by mile river log with humorous hippie cartoons, topographic map segments, and sketch maps of major rapids. Useful for private groups rowing the canyon, but most of what is here is present in the Belknap and Stevens’ Guides. Rowers should beware the accuracy of the rapids maps as river level changes.

Westwood, D., 1997.  Woman of the River: Georgie White Clark, White Water Pioneer.  Utah State University Press.  The life story of one of the most colorful characters to run a commercial rafting operation in Grand Canyon.  Georgie had enormous pontoon rigs populated with devotees addicted to her style of rough and tumble River-running. Stories about Georgie emerge in any extended discussion with professional boatmen.  The true stories as summarized in this book are even more interesting. 


Carothers, Steven W. and B.T. Brown. 1991. The Colorado River Through Grand Canyon, Natural History and Human Change. University of Arizona Press. Environmental view of the aquatic and riparian ecosystems before and after Glen Canyon Dam altered the river. Good discussion of the politics and controversies regarding management of the river. Longueurs abound, but the topics are interesting.

Stephens, Hal G. and E.M. Shoemaker. 1987. In the Footsteps of John Wesley Powell. Johnson Publishing Company. Photos made in 1872 compared with photos made in 1968. How much does the river change in 100 years? Take a look.

Webb, Robert H. 1996. Grand Canyon, a Century of Change. University of Arizona Press. Photos made in 1889-1890 on the Stanton Expedition compared with photos made a century later. Another attempt to assess how things change along the river in 100 years. Much emphasis is given to vegetation changes, but several of the geologic discussions are excellent. A bit tedious, but full of good information.

Zwinger, Ann H. 1995. Down Canyon. Thoughts and meditations of a naturalist who is just as fascinated by the tiny bugs and twigs as by the Canyon’s overwhelming scenery. Wonderful nature writing, but might get a little tedious for fans of USA TODAY.

Calvin, William H. 1986. The River that Flows Uphill. Sierra Club Books. Details of an extended row trip interspersed with musings on the deepest nature of things from a scientific perspective. Written by a neurobiologist who apparently accepts current scientific theories about natural history as fact. Occasional profundities, but don’t take it too seriously. The author needs to travel with us for a few days.

Blaustein, John, Edward Abbey, & Martin Litton, 1999 (reissue) The Hidden Canyon: A River Journey, Chronicle Books. One of our regular participants (Howard Bond) has this to say about it: “It is the best book available that describes, in Blaustein's gorgeous
pictures, and the late Edward Abbey's incomparable prose, just what the Grand
Canyon river trip is really like. Abbey captures perfectly the riotous, raunchy fun of the voyage, along with just the right hint of the deep spiritual experience the trip becomes for many of those who take it.”

Worster, Donald. 2001. A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell. Oxford University Press. A new look at Powell’s life and impact. Most of the information regarding the River expedition and the times before are pretty much rehashed. This one gets in high gear regarding the events after Powell’s famous expedition. There is much new information. It generally continues the heroization of Powell. Very readable and useful.

Stegner, Wallace, Beyond the hundredth meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West. Penguin Thsi is a much celebrated work that frames Powell and his work in terms of the bigger picture regarding settlement of the American West. Lots of analysis of 19th century politics. Could be an over-rated work.

Dolnick, Edward. 2001.  Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 journey of discovery and tragedy through the Grand Canyon. This one re-tells the story from standard sources and apparently references it to the author’s experiences in rapids mostly upstream of our trip. The book was heavily promoted, but it really doesn’t provide any new information or insights not available in previous accounts. It is well-written and can be read rapidly.

Ghiglieri, M.P. and G.Y. Bradley, 2003, First through Grand Canyon: The secret journals and letters of the 1869 crew who explored the Green and Colorado Rivers.  Puma Press.  Newly transcribed and corrected day-by-day notes for the 1st Powell expedition.  The section in front gives new biographical information on the crew and the section in back gives new insights regarding the controversial goings-on at the end of the trip.  The significance of the crew contributions is emphasized and welcome.  The trashing of Powell is interesting, if true.


Paul Knauth

Professor Emeritus
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University
Box 871404
Tempe, Arizona 85287-1404


(480) 654-4159