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Grand Canyon ruins

Grand Canyon River Adventure

Discover archaeology of the Colorado River by dory

Two Grand Canyon images


$3,995 (member*)
$4,120 (nonmember)

Deposit: $400
Balance due: Mar. 12, 2014

*Minimum $100 level
(see Membership)

May 18–27, 2014

A week on the river. Seven nights of camping. A final day hiking out to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Led by a Grand Canyon archaeologist and a Hopi anthropologist, we investigate the 5,000-year human history of the canyon, including ancient sites accessible only from the river. Stories woven throughout the trip introduce us to the significance of this landscape for all Southwest tribes. We also get acquainted with the colorful history of early river runners such as Major John Wesley Powell. Throw in adrenaline-inducing whitewater, dories (the boat of choice on the Colorado), and a handpicked cast of river guides for a genuine archaeology adventure!

Educational Focus

Grand Canyon geology and history

Grand Canyon: Hopi perspectives

The Colorado River and Grand Canyon in the lives of ancient peoples





Scholars Kimberly Spurr (top) and Lyle Balenquah (bottom)

Kimberly Spurr has been an archaeologist for more than 25 years, mainly in the Colorado Plateau region. She has directed and participated in many multiyear survey and excavation projects, including excavating habitation sites in the inner Grand Canyon.

Hopi scholar and Greasewood clan member Lyle Balenquah holds degrees in cultural anthropology and Southwestern archaeology from Northern Arizona University. As an archaeologist, he has documented ancestral Hopi settlements and lifeways; as a river guide, he shares personal insights about his ancestral history.


Sunday, May 18: Arrive in Flagstaff, Arizona, by 4 p.m. for dinner and introductions. Program orientation from our scholars; river orientation from Moki Mac River Expeditions (now operated by Arizona Raft Adventures). Overnight, Flagstaff. (D)

View enlarged map.

Monday, May 19: Drive to Lees Ferry, in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Meet our river guides, explore Navajo hogans and historic sites—then launch! Our first float takes us to an alcove where excavations have revealed human occupation dating back 5,500 years. At Navajo Bridge, watch for condors. Run Badger and Soap Creek rapids, then make camp in the sandstone narrows of Supai Gorge. (B, L, D)

Tuesday, May 20: Run House Rock Rapids, then stop at North Canyon for a beautiful hike to a plunge pool. After lunch, run the Roaring Twenties rapids between river miles 20 and 30. Camp in Marble Canyon. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, May 21: Float downstream through the serene waters of Marble Canyon, and learn about the Powell and Stanton expeditions of the 1800s. At South Canyon, Pueblo ruins and petroglyphs spark discussion of ancient trails. Vaseys Paradise and its spectacular waterfall are within view. Enjoy free time for journal writing, playing, or napping at vast Redwall Cavern. Camp at one of Point Hansborough’s beautiful beaches. (B, L, D)

Thursday, May 22: Float to Saddle Canyon, then hike through one of Grand Canyon's most diverse vegetation zones. An ethnobotany discussion helps us understand "grocery shopping" in ancestral Pueblo times. Camp at Nankoweap delta. (B, L, D)

Friday, May 23: Take an early-morning hike to the Nankoweap granaries, perched hundreds of feet above the river. Then float downstream to the turquoise-blue waters of the Little Colorado River, the spiritual birthplace of the Hopi Fourth World. Enjoy a swim, explore historic Beamer's cabin, or just relax! Continue downstream to explore one of the many side canyons, such as Carbon or Lava. Camp in the widening section of river known as Palisades of the Desert. (B, L, D)

Saturday, May 24: The next 8 river miles contain Grand Canyon's highest concentration of archaeological sites; ancestral Pueblo people settled and farmed these deltas. From our camp near Unkar delta, hike to Hilltop Ruin for spectacular views—and a glimpse of connections between ancient villages and trade routes. (B, L, D)

Sunday, May 25: The ruins of Unkar delta represent four periods of occupation between A.D. 900 and 1150. We discuss the people who lived here, their settlement history and way of life. After lunch, we boat past granaries, then descend into the Inner Gorge; its legendary rapids include Hance, Sockdolager, Grapevine, and Zoroaster. Celebratory dinner in camp. (B, L, D)

Monday, May 26: A 7.5-mile hike out of the canyon on Bright Angel Trail! Start in early morning to beat the heat, stopping often for shade, water, and awe-inspiring views. (To lighten your load, send luggage out by mule.) Midafternoon pickup from El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim. Return to Flagstaff for dinner on your own at our hotel. Overnight, Flagstaff. (B, L)

Tuesday, May 27: Depart from Flagstaff anytime after breakfast. Shuttle provided by the hotel. (B)

Itinerary subject to change

Extension, May 26–June 3 (price drop from $2,860 to $2,394): Continue your river adventure at a special price! Float the "lower half" of Grand Canyon with your guides. Return to Flagstaff June 3; dinner and overnight on your own.

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner


Tuition: Tuition is per person, based on shared hotel accommodations, and includes accommodations, meals listed, entry fees and permits, group gratuities, and group transportation from arrival in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Sunday, May 18, until departure from Flagstaff on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Transportation to and from Flagstaff is your responsibility.

Accommodations: First and last nights are in a 4-star hotel (double occupancy); single accommodations available for an additional fee of $215. The remaining nights are spent camping; tents and sleep kits provided.

What to Expect: This active trip involves hiking and whitewater boating in dories rowed by professional guides (4 passengers per boat). The river trip covers 90 miles of the Colorado River—the "upper half" of Grand Canyon, from Lees Ferry to Pipe Springs, just downstream of Phantom Ranch. The trip is designed for energetic people in good health who are accustomed to traveling in remote areas. Our pace will be leisurely, and assistance will be given, but you must be comfortable sitting in a boat and hiking for several hours at a time. Access to some sites requires hiking up to 3 miles round-trip on uneven terrain. Hiking out of the canyon requires hiking 7.5 miles from the canyon bottom to the South Rim. The entire trip takes place at elevations between 3000 and 7000 feet. All travel is by van and boat. Expect some sections of river with Class III–IV whitewater. If you have any questions about your ability to take this trip, please contact us.

Moki Mac and Arizona Raft Adventures are authorized concessioners of the National Park Service in Grand Canyon National Park.


The following penalty schedule applies: On or before March 12, 2014: $200 handling fee; after March 12, 2014: forfeiture of all payments. For complete cancellation and refund policy, see Terms and Conditions.



The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's programs and admission practices are open to applicants of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation.

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California
CST 2059347-50

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