Insane Whitewater Canoeing Down Grand Canyon

Colorado River's whitewater by canoe

M ost paddlers who run self-supported trips down the Colorado River would be looking to bring a combination of rafts and kayaks. That isn’t the case for this group who decided to run the river in tandem canoes,  which included regular Paddling Magazine contributors Caleb Roberts and Willa Mason. This is believed to be the first tandem canoe descent of the Canyon. And watching the video, it’s not surprising why.

This entertaining capture of their 26-day wild ride down the Colorado makes one wonder why they would have ever decided to bring canoes on this trip in the first place. Watching as they crash through the big waves of the fast-flowing river you will find yourself wondering how they made it through some of the waves that they hit.

“I had the grand pleasure of boating down the Colorado River this past January for 26 days with seven other friends. A trip that all of us decided to do in proper Canadian style by taking tandem canoes and doing the river as a self-support canoe trip,” says videographer Roberts.

Though there are many sets of rapids along this river, the group claims to have only capsized 11 times between the two canoes. Each time they were able to self-rescue. This is a success. The capsizing section in the video also happens to be our favorite part of this short film. We feel it perfectly captures the fun that can be had when a group of friends set out to achieve what may seem to be unattainable.

Getting visits from more than five million people per year, the Grand Canyon is no doubt a tourist hot spot. Featuring endless hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities, outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Grand Canyon for its stunning views.

If you are looking to paddle the Colorado River that flows through the stunning canyon walls, you either need to pair up with a company that runs commercial trips down the river, or apply for a permit if you are looking to do a self-supported trip.

7 COMMENTS

  1. That brought back memories. Ron Pruitt, Brian Hansell and myself traded off and solo paddled 2 Blue Hole OCAs down the Canyon May/June 1982, 23 day trip. Lotsa fun. We weren’t the first but close to it. I think Dave Harrison (?) was first on the Canyon in a canoe, not sure, long time ago…

  2. Kudos to them and their awesome self support trip. It’s absolutely amazing and took a lot of guts to do it.
    It’s not the first tandem canoe descent down the Grand Canyon. Probably the first complete self support by tandem canoes but not the first tandem canoe descent as stated in the article.

  3. I paddled the Grand canyon in a canoe in 2016. I cannot claim unsupported. I crushed my aluminum gunwales,,(The might of the Colorado River falling on you in a hole,,, might tend to do that.) I finished my ride with the Park Service. I paddled from Green River, WY to get there,, and paddled the rest of the way to Lake Havasu City, with temp repairs to the gunwales..

    And the first,,, and unsupported,,, certainly Powell. My canoe is the same length and width as Powell’s, boats,,, it just weighs 1/10 as much. Not all of Powell’s boats made it either.

  4. Kevin is totally right, we weren’t the first tandem canoes, or the first self support canoe trip, but we were the first tandem self support trip. Also, there were definitely 4 canoes, not the 2 stated in the article.

  5. Have rowed an 18′ oar raft through 2x, in May 2011 at 24,000 CFS & December 2012 at fluctuating moderate flows. Well worth whatever it takes to do the trip. I rowed, drew scenes on waterproof paper, and photographed the Canyon & stars.

  6. I shared a camp with these guys and gals at Tuckup. They are a fine group of youngsters living life to its fullest. Great job and great video!

  7. Awesome! Hats off to the group and what a ride! Tom Martin of the Private Boaters Assoc. keeps up with Grand Canyon firsts and such… I did a self-supported canoe trip in January of 2017, but it was not tandem: it was solo in every way. The canoe is a beautiful way to see Grand Canyon.

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