Flashback Friday: The Ted Hatch Interviews

The Legendary Ted Hatch on Rafting the Colorado River Through Grand Canyon


To kick off Flashback Fridays, we begin with Ted sharing how Bus got started in Grand Canyon 90 years ago


black and white photo of three men (including Don and Ted Hatch) in the 1960s next to the Hatch River Expeditions truck and trailer

Ted Hatch (R), Don Hatch (center), and Jack Reynolds (L) with the company truck in the 1970s when Hatch River Expeditions was still based in Vernal, Utah.


To celebrate Hatch’s 90 years river rafting though Grand Canyon, we are doing a series of “Flashback Friday” blogs sharing snippets of interviews with Ted Hatch and other Colorado River rafting history. Bus Hatch began everything in the Big Ditch in 1934, his sons took it over in time, and now Steve Hatch is the third generation carrying it forward. In part 1 of the interview, he spoke about his family’s history rafting the epic river that runs through one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Additionally, Ted and his brother Don are being inducted into the River Runners Hall of Fame on October 5th, 2024. More about that later this season!

The interview has been replicated as it was originally typed. According to the original transcript: “This is an interview with Ted Hatch…Ted is the owner of Hatch River Expeditions Grand Canyon…Mr. Hatch was interviewed by Elizabeth F. Sowards, Uintah County Historian in the Regional Room of the Uintah County Library on June 20, 1984.”

E. Sowards: I noticed on this list that your Manager-Pilot, Wally Perry, gave me that your dad was … let’s see…

Ted: Yes, [Bus Hatch] was on the eleventh Expedition through the Grand Canyon and he was in the first fifty people of the expeditions that successfully started and completed the river trip through the canyon. There were attempts where people wen part way and failed, or they lost their equipment, or they had problems that they couldn’t resolve and they had to hike out.

E. Sowards: How did he become interested in going down through there? Did he start up in this area and then decide to go down there?

Ted: Yes, he started up here in 1929, or started running trips. He built his first boat he said, in 1926, and ran Split Mountain Gorge. It came apart.

E. Sowards: Was he alone, then?

Ted: Yes. He was quite young then and just built it to explore. He saw the old Galloway boats when they came through Jensen, and he decided that he would build boats like that, and he did. He ran the river in a similar technique as the Nate Galloway boats at that time. Galloway went down through the canyons and trapped for furs, you know…mainly river beaver.

E. Sowards: So he was a fur trapper. So what did you dad build his first boat out of. Was it oak?

Ted: His first one was just built out of pine. It was really not a very good boat. He used nails where he should have use bolts, and it was quite flimsy. He built it, he said, in one afternoon and he put it on the water. With a wooden boat you should cure it and soak it and do a lot of extra things to make them durable in water. After that, then of course, he started running the river when he got a better design. This led to trips through the Green and the Yampa Rivers. Then he ran the Middle Fork of the Salmon and then eventually the Grand Canyon. He ran this eleventh expedition through Grand Canyon in 1934.

E. Sowards: How many boats did he take in that one…just the one?

Ted: No, he had a group of people with him. He took four boats and most of them were my uncles. By coincidence, they would see the boats, and then they would want to go. So they would build more boats, and they went and their friends went. It was kind of like a big family outing when they made their first exploration into Grand Canyon. They were down in there for 21 days. My mom probably was really worried, because she didn’t get any messages. There was no way to communicate. They had a very difficult trip because they hadn’t even seen the river before and they went in the time of year when it was low water which is more rugged than if they had gone when it was high. They came out at the Lake Mead area before the dam…the Boulder Dam was built. They were building the dam at the time.

E. Sowards: And that’s where they came out!

Ted: I was about a year old.

This is just part one of the interviews with Ted Hatch. We’ll be running a Flashback Friday series all through the 2024 river season to celebrate our 90 years in Grand Canyon. Look for more in upcoming blogs about rafting Colorado River and preparing for your next Grand Canyon adventure.

Book your 2024 or 2025 river trip today! Get your 90th Year T-shirt or sticker!