Outside Magazine - March, 2007

outside_03.2007

BEST TRIPS 2007 The Classics

The definitive life list for intrepid travelers

By Meg Lukens Noonan

ARIZONA
The Grand Canyon
Few paddling experiences come close to matching the epic 297-mile Colorado River run from Lees Ferry to Lake Mead. There's the monster whitewater (including Lava Falls, called the fastest navigable rapid in North America), the mile-high bisque- and red-hued rock walls, the tent-perfect beaches, and the sheer, walloping Great American West feel of it all. About 22,000 people a year raft a portion of the Colorado's 277 Grand Canyon miles; most travel with one of 16 outfitters licensed by the Park Service, but those with strong river-running skills can arrange a private outing. Good news on that front: As of 2006, noncommercial launch permits are being awarded by lottery (800.959.9164, www.nps.gov/grca), replacing the laughable 25-year waiting list. Motorized or oar-powered rafts are the most common way to go, but purists say nothing beats the grace and responsiveness of a wooden dory. Veteran outfitter OARS offers 15- to 19-day full-canyon dory trips (from $4,535).