Two new rapids have been photographed by a team conducting a photographic and Global Positioning System (GPS) reconnaissance of the Colorado River in Cataract, Narrow and Glen canyons, which are now exposed by drastically reduced water levels at Lake Powell reservoir. The bigger of the two rapids, about an eight-foot drop, has been informally called Albert Loper Falls to honor a Colorado River boatman who once lived in Glen Canyon before inundation by Lake Powell. This new rapid is located between North and Farley Canyons, approximately 2 miles downstream of the former Hite Marina, now abandoned.
The survey team was comprised of volunteers John Dohrenwend, Albert Reichert and John Weisheit in inflatable kayaks and was underwritten by the non-profit organization Living Rivers/Colorado Riverkeeper to complete an unfinished segment of a Lake Powell sediment survey that was initiated the previous fall. This work was a collaboration of university scientists, an outfitter and volunteer river guides, including University of Arizona, Utah State University, Tag-A-Long Expeditions, Colorado Plateau River Guides and Living Rivers/Colorado Riverkeeper.
A smaller rapid has formed just yards upstream of the primitive boat ramp, which was modified two years ago to accommodate the needs of white water boaters from Canyonlands National Park. This boat ramp is located about one mile upriver from the old Hite Marina on the west side of the river. After a field trip to the area by representatives of the National Park Service and Utah Guides and Outfitters, a decision was made to improve the boat ramp to re-align it with the level of the flowing river, which continues to down cut into the thick sediment deposits of Lake Powell. Special funding for this improvement at the boat ramp has been provided by Utah State Parks and Recreation.
As the reservoir continues to fall, the Colorado River chews away the sediment deposited when the reservoir was full, carving out a new river bed that is suspended over bedrock features such as the divides between side canyons and the flat benches that were once canyon rims. Eventually the current strikes these bedrock formations which cause rapids, such as these two, to form. These rapids can be viewed at www.riverguides.org (click on River News: New Rapid in Glen Canyon on the left side Headlines menu). These excellent shots also feature a good overview of the new takeout for river runners.