Floating on rivers is a unique way to enjoy the outdoors. From a raft, kayak, or canoe adrift on the water, a river traveler can watch a heron silently flying overhead, observe the record of millions of years of geologic time, or experience the thrill of running a turbulent rapid. River corridors have always provided an ideal channel for exploring America’s wild places. Historically, early river pioneers were searching for furs, precious metals, minerals, and routes to the Pacific Ocean. The Grand Canyon stretch of the Colorado was first run by John Wesley Powell in 1869 to establish whether or not the river preceded the canyons and then cut them as the Plateau rose. Modern river runners are searching for beauty, solitude, excitement, and a sense of connection with their surroundings. More of us are traveling on rivers than ever before, making it imperative that we learn how to preserve these waterways and the habitats adjoining them.
Grand Canyon National Park has produced a video on youtube that details Leave No Trace practices specific to travelling the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Human impact is more concentrated in river corridors than in many other ecosystems. Although we leave little or no impact on the water when we travel over it, our impacts on the riverbanks can be significant.
Steep canyon walls or high mountains define some river corridors while others meander through hills and dense forest. These features often offer majestic scenery, but they also confine travelers to narrow strips of land where we cook, eat, sleep, pack, play games, and produce waste. Since different boating parties use the same stretches of river and the same camps night after night, the effects of these activities are multiplied many times over.
In order to minimize our cumulative impact on the rivers we enjoy, we need to practice Leave No Trace principles. Leave No Trace is an national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. During orientation, your Hatch River guide will go through Leave No Trace principles that are specific to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.
Due to the limited amount of organic material, the desert beaches have no capacity to break down urine. When in the Canyon, peeing in the River is essential for a healthy beach. Do not, however, pee in side creeks or drainages. Follow the same rule for soap when bathing, soap up and rinse off while standing in the River, but not in side creeks.
How to Leave No Trace on rivers:
The Leave No Trace program is managed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, an educational, nonprofit organization dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide. For more information about events in your area, visit the Community >> Get Involved section of www.LNT.org.