On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the Hualapai Nation announced a new tour offering of an upstream excursion of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon beginning this March.
A representative of the Hualapai Tribe stated that while they did not have full information about the tour at this time, the proposed tour will start at the Hualapai Lodge at Peach Springs, Arizona, and involve a 45 minute bus ride to the Colorado River at the mouth of Diamond Creek at river mile 226. Tour participants will then load blue pontoon boats, don lifejackets, and proceed up the Colorado River “about three miles,” according to a spokesperson.
According to representatives of Grand Canyon National Park contacted by RRFW, the Park was unaware of the new Hualapai tour until reading about it in the Hualapai Press Release. Park officials were quick to note that no up-running is allowed above Separation Rapid. Park Service representatives have contacted officials with the Hualapai Tribe and are awaiting additional information regarding details of the new excursion.
The northern boundary of the Hualapai Nation goes to-and-along the south bank of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, following 109 miles of the Colorado River between river mile 165 and 274. While the reservation boundary follows the edge of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act of 1975 gave the National Park Service exclusive jurisdiction to manage all activities that occur on the entire 277 miles of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
Running motorized boats up the Colorado River in Grand Canyon above Separation Canyon at river mile 240 was banned in the 1960’s by the National Park Service for safety reasons and has not been allowed, outside of emergencies, for over 50 years.
Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1974, Grand Canyon National Park has managed the Colorado River in Grand Canyon for its wilderness qualities, even though Grand Canyon National Park has no congressionally designated wilderness.
In 2006, Grand Canyon National Park completed a contentious Colorado River Management Plan that reaffirmed the earlier ban and does not allow any motorized up-running of the Colorado River above Separation Rapid.
“This is a completely new motorized recreational activity in Grand Canyon National Park, and for it to occur during the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act would be devastating” said Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness. “We support Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent David Uberuaga’s firm stance to uphold resource protection of Grand Canyon National Park and continue the prohibition of this activity.”
The uprun tour would include a stop near petroglyphs that will require a short walk to view, though photos will not be allowed. The tour will then proceed downriver, back to Diamond Creek, where a bus would take participants back to Peach Springs.
Hualapai River Runners is not taking bookings for this new tour at this time, and is encouraging anyone interested in participating to call back in mid-March for cost and booking availability.
The Hualapai Announcement may be found here: