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February 09, 2000
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ALONG THE WAY: Black Canyon Raft Tours

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As I stood online at the Black Canyon River Raft head quarters I was struck by the level of professionalism. Outside there were several busses with the Black Canyon logo on them, inside the offices were neat and clean, and the amount of merchandise available was impressive. And I have to admit I was affected. I bought one of their T-shirts. ‘Hi, I’m David. I’m an impulse shopper’.

After receiving our tickets and box lunch we boarded the busses for the trip to the river. As we embarked on our journey I started to get excited about the impending adventure. Little did I realize that the adventure had already begun.

Bus driver, Mike Swatrz ... As we head down to the river, I'm going to tell you folks a little bit about Boulder City ...

There are a number of great aspects to the raft trip, but my favorite is the knowledge that you receive, and that starts the moment the bus leaves the terminal. The tour guides are full of great information. Starting with Boulder City where the offices are to Lake Mead, and all of the points of interest along the way. But regardless of your personal interests there is one attraction that everyone is captured by.

Bus driver, Mike Swartz ... You'll get the most spectacular view of Hoover Dam anybody ever gets to see.

If you like taking pictures this is definitely a trip you should make. There really is no other way to get this close to the dam legally. As we disembark the busses and walk down to the rafts everyone has their camera out. And this won’t be the last time the cameras will come out. On the trip down the river there will be several opportunities for pictures that you will be hard pressed to capture anywhere else.

Raft Pilot, Kathleen Wood... You can sit anywhere on these rafts that you'd like except for the front platform.

As we listen to the boarding instructions I notice how well my fellow travelers are prepared. Everyone is wearing layers of cotton clothing, as well as either sandals or shoes that they won’t mind getting wet. And several people have hats and or sunglasses. Remember that when you come on the trip. Also remember to bring along sunblock. Otherwise everything has been provided for you. Including life jackets for the kids. Adults desiring lifejackets can also be accommodated, but that really isn’t necessary. The raft is virtually unsinkable, and for those who are less adventurous, simply sit on the benches in the middle of the raft and you’ll be an ample distance away from the water.

With everyone comfortably situated on the raft we start out across the river. Our first destination is the base of Hoover Dam.

Tour Guide, Wendy Eskew... We're going to stay here for a couple of minutes why tell you a little bit about how the dam was built. For those few who have not had an opportunity yet you are more than welcome to stand up and take your dam pictures right now.

Bad jokes aside you’ll learn a tremendous amount about the dam and the river’s history.

The journey down stream is stunning in its beauty. The cliffs rise hundreds of feet above you, and the water is absolutely crystal clear. It appears to be emerald green, but that is because no matter what the depth of the river you can always see the algae growing on the bottom. One of the first sights we pass is a canyon that seems to have a solid rock glacier inching it’s way inexorably to the water’s edge. In fact it’s rubble left over from the excavation of the dam. As we continue on down the river we will never be at a loss for things to see.

There are a number of cultural sites affiliated with the operation of the dam and the river trade before the dam was built. But the big attraction here is the scenery. Like small waterfalls, hot springs, and an assortment of desert flora and fauna that will dot the shoreline along the way.

Tour Guide, Wendy Eskew... Oh yeah! OK, you guys see their rear ends. Oh my God, there's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, I see nine if you guys see more let me know.

Spotting bighorn sheep is almost a guarantee on the trip. You’ll also see all manner of water birds like double crested cormorants, great blue heron, and even the occasional bald eagle. But the real joy in seeing them on the river trip is that no matter what the critter you see the well-informed staff is always there with valuable and interesting information about them.

There are several times during this trip when you’ll get a sense of what it must have been like when the early explorers came here. Only now it’s much more peaceful. With the dam in place the river doesn’t rage like it did in years past. As a matter of fact the only rapid you’ll be shooting on this trip is one that was formerly known as ‘Roaring’ rapid. It’s currently known as Rainbow rapid. But like the rest of this journey it’s well worth the effort.

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