Rafting Through History: Our Family Adventure at Crystal Rapid, Grand Canyon

Hello, adventure seekers! Michael Hankerson here from AZ Outdoor Adventure. I recently embarked on an unforgettable rafting journey with my daughters, Jennifer and Kennedy Hankerson, through one of the most historic and challenging rapids in the Grand Canyon—Crystal Rapid. Join us as we delve into the thrilling waters and uncover the storied past of this formidable rapid.

The Formation of Crystal Rapid:

Our adventure centers around Crystal Rapid, a formidable whitewater challenge on the Colorado River. This rapid was formed abruptly in December 1966 following a massive flash flood that deposited vast amounts of sediment, rocks, and boulders into the river. The newly formed rapid quickly became notorious for its difficulty and the large holes capable of flipping boats.

A Test of Time and Nature:

From its formation until the early 1980s, Crystal Rapid was revered as one of the most challenging rapids in the Grand Canyon. The stakes were raised even higher in June 1983 when dam operators released over 90,000 cubic feet per second of water due to an overfilled dam. This event drastically reshaped Crystal Rapid, creating a huge hole that capsized several boats. The intensity of this rapid during these high flows was a turning point in its history, adding to its legendary status among rafting enthusiasts.

Our Family Experience:

Navigating Crystal Rapid was a highlight of our family trip. Guided by experts, my daughters and I tackled the rapid’s daunting waves and navigated carefully around its infamous holes. The experience was not only a thrilling adventure but also a profound bonding moment for us. Sharing the challenge and the beauty of the Grand Canyon with Jennifer and Kennedy was incredibly special, and it brought us closer as we worked together to conquer the river’s challenges.

Reflections and Recommendations:

Crystal Rapid remains a bucket-list item for many rafters, and our journey through it was both exhilarating and enlightening. If you’re seeking a mix of historical intrigue and adrenaline-pumping action, I highly recommend this adventure. The Grand Canyon offers not just scenic vistas but also lessons in geology, history, and the raw power of nature.


Thank you for joining us on this historical rafting adventure at Crystal Rapid. It’s trips like these that remind us of the joys of exploring the outdoors and making memories that last a lifetime. For more stories and adventures, make sure to subscribe to AZ Outdoor Adventure on YouTube and follow our journey as we explore more of what nature has to offer.

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