RRFW Riverwire Soap Creek Rapid changes in Grand Canyon

RRFW Riverwire  Soap Creek Rapid changes in Grand Canyon

September 7, 2015

Recent monsoon rainstorms have produced flooding in many of the side canyon tributaries to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. This includes Soap Creek, where on August 9, 2015, 1.5 inches of rain fell in twenty minutes, causing a temporary closure of Highway 89A and a change in Soap Creek Rapid. The rapid is located 11.4 miles downstream from Lee’s Ferry, the put-in for river trips on the Colorado River heading through the Grand Canyon.

Prior to the August flooding, the rapid was run right down the middle into a few large waves. Since August 9, there are a series of holes in the center and left side of the rapid, especially sharp at lower water levels. These holes can easily be passed in a channel toward the right side of the rapid. The new holes are not show stoppers, like the Ledge Hole at Lava Falls or the hole at 209. On the contrary, the new holes in Soap Creek are more akin to the holes in the center of Unkar Rapid. The new holes in Soap Creek may be run with momentum in an 18 foot fully loaded raft without serious incident so long at the raft is not floating sideways. Smaller craft may find these holes more challenging.  

In the 1-10 desert rivers rapid classification scale, Soap Creek was rated a 5. It now is rated a 7 at low water. Scouting this rapid on river right or left is possible. Until river runners become familiar with the changes in this rapid, scouting is recommended. The changes in this rapid may evolve, especially after the next High Flow Experiment (HFE), typically conducted in November. As of this release, no schedule for the next HFE has been set.

Videos of the rapid taken September 6, 2015 are on-line for your review at the River Runners For Wilderness VIMEO page here:





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