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Colorado River Recreation

Sandbars have been used as campsites by river runners and hikers since the first expeditions to the region more than 100 years ago. Because the Colorado River is dominated by bedrock cliffs and steep talus slopes, sandbars provide unique areas along the river that are flat, relatively free of vegetation, easily accessible by river runners, and able to withstand high usage with negligible impact. These campsites continue to be an important part of the recreational experience for the more than 25,000 hikers and river runners that visit the Colorado River corridor each year. [1]

LTEMP Resource Goal for Recreational Experience

Maintain and improve the quality of recreational experiences for the users of the Colorado River Ecosystem. Recreation includes, but is not limited to, flatwater and whitewater boating, river corridor camping, and angling in Glen Canyon.

Desired Future Condition for for Recreation

River Recreation in Grand Canyon National Park
• Stewardship worthy of the Grand Canyon so that it can be passed from generation to generation in as natural condition as possible.
• Provide maximum opportunity to experience the wilderness character of the canyon.
• Wilderness experiences and benefits available in the canyon include solitude, connection to nature, personal contemplation, joy, excitement, the natural sounds and quiet of the desert and river, and extended time periods in a unique environment outside the trappings of civilization.
• A river corridor landscape that matches natural conditions as closely as possible, including extensive beaches and abundant driftwood.
• A river corridor ecosystem that matches the natural conditions as closely as possible, including a biotic community dominated in most instances by native species.
• A dynamic river ecosystem characterized by ecological patterns and processes within their range of natural variability.
• Numerous campable sand bars distributed throughout the canyon.
• Recreational and wilderness experiences minimally affected by research and management activities.
• River flows that continue to be within a range that is reasonably safe, given the inherent risks involved in river recreation.
River Recreation in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
• A quality recreation experience in Glen Canyon.
• Camping beaches suitable for recreational use.
• A setting and ecosystem that is as close to natural conditions as possible.
• Quality river running and angling recreation opportunities.
Blue Ribbon Trout Fishery in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
• A high-quality sustainable recreational trout fishery in the river corridor in GCNRA, while minimizing emigration of non-native fishes.
• Operate Glen Canyon Dam to achieve the greatest benefit to the trout fishery in GCNRA without causing excessive detriment to other resources.
River Corridor Stewardship
• Management of Glen Canyon Dam that is significantly driven by concern for the cultural values and ecological integrity of the river corridor through the Grand Canyon, with preservation and protection considered over the long term (multiple generations).
• A well-informed public, confident that high quality scientific information is being used for best stewardship practices in the CRE.

The Recreation DFCs are meant to describe goals and objectives for human use of the Colorado River Ecosystem (CRE) through GCNRA and the GCNP. They are intended to include not only traditional recreational activities such as whitewater rafting, camping, and fishing, but also such things as educational activities, spiritual engagement, and other appropriate activities and values. Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon offer many ways for people to experience, appreciate, and learn from them, even to those who never visit in person.



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Critical Reaches

  • Marble Canyon (river miles 9-41)
  • Upper Gorge (river miles 71-114)
  • Muav Gorge (river miles 131-165)[2]


Recreation Projects

Colorado River Runners Oral History Project

The Colorado River Runners Oral History Project is unparalleled within river running communities: though there are many regional organizations, no others have undertaken a project of this scope. GCRG unofficially began collecting oral history interviews in 1990 at “Woman of the River” Georgie White Clark’s 80th birthday party. Since that time, GCRG’s oral history project has produced nearly 100 interviews. Those interviews continue to serve as the centerpiece for each issue of our publication, the Boatman’s Quarterly Review.

Adopt a Beach Project

Implemented in 1996 after the first historic “Flood Flow,” Adopt-a-Beach is a “watch dog” program that allows volunteer guides to keep close tabs on changes to the recreational resource that we depend upon – camping beaches in Grand Canyon. To be specific, this long term photo-matching, beach monitoring effort documents changes in sand deposition on camping beaches along the Colorado River resulting from Glen Canyon Dam flows. The results are disseminated to strategic river managers including Grand Canyon National Park, the Adaptive Management Program, and the Grand Canyon Monitoring & Research Center. Adopt-a-Beach is a fabulous example of a stewardship in action as we endeavor to “take care of our own back yard.” Please check out our extensive photo gallery as well as the Executive Summaries of past AAB reports. Full Reports are available upon request. And contact if you’d like to volunteer! [3]

Presentations and Papers







Other Stuff

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