RRFW Riverwire – Ten-Year-Old Kayaker Runs Pearce Ferry Rapid

RRFW Riverwire – Ten-Year-Old Kayaker Runs Pearce Ferry Rapid

November 4, 2020

Known as one of the worst rapids on the entire 1,450-mile-long Colorado River, four brothers ran Pearce Ferry Rapid twice in late October 2020, along with their father. The family of kayakers, Tommy Hilleke and his sons Kelly, 14, Daniel, 13, Dax, 11 and Bodie, 10, had just kayaked the entire length of the Grand Canyon, as well as the Yampa River and the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

You can see their run of Pearce Ferry Rapid here: https://youtu.be/MVLpiVXGbSI

Pearce Ferry Rapid formed when the lowering waters in the reservoir behind Hoover Dam forced the Colorado River over a small hillside, resulting in the formation of a major rapid. The National Park Service spent a million dollars in 2010 to make a mile-long road and take-out ramp on the Colorado River just upstream of the new rapid.

In 2010, Lake Mead planners decided to ban river runners from launching at the new ramp and running the rapid below. They did allow river runners arriving at the new ramp from upstream, having launched at either Lee’s Ferry or Diamond Creek, to travel on downstream if they wish to run the Pearce Ferry Rapid.

Given those regulations, a special raft called a Creature Craft ran Pearce Ferry Rapid in November of 2018. You can see that run here:


Back in 2010, Lake Mead officials estimated that by 2012 they were planning to complete regulations to possibly allow running the rapid by access from the Pearce Ferry Road. The rapid became worse and worse and the regulations languished. In the last year, the rapid has cut the hillside away enough that the Hilleke family of skilled kayakers made the run without difficulty.


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