Hualapai River Runners season now open

PEACH SPRINGS, Ariz. - Hualapai River Runners, owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe in northwest Arizona, opens its 2012 season on March 15 and will run until October 31. This season marks the 39th anniversary of Hualapai River Runners, the only one-day whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.

Hualapai River Runner guides have been training for weeks in preparation for the season opening by receiving intensive safety education including Wilderness Advanced First Aid, River Rescue and Swiftwater Rescue. During the training, they are educated in the history of the area and the Hualapai Tribe so they can provide informative narrations during the trip. All guides are certified and more than 50 Hualapai are employed by the Hualapai River Runners operation. Hualapai River Runners also operates the pontoon boat experience at Grand Canyon West, a 20-minute smooth water and helicopter trip through the canyon that operates year-round.

"Safety is first and the primary focus of the training. It is also essential for our guides to focus on our cultural objectives 'to learn specific knowledge, skills and attitudes which reflect an understanding for Native American values, stories, beliefs, rituals and way of life' which insures an authentic, unforgettable visitor experience while keeping true to our roots," said Earlene Havatone, Hualapai River Runners general manager.

The one-day rafting trip departs daily from the Hualapai Lodge on Historic Route 66 in Peach Springs at 8 a.m. The rafters are driven down the only road that leads to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, on Hualapai reservation land, Diamond Creek Road (only accessible with a permit from the Hualapai Tribe). The rafters launch from the riverbanks on 8-passenger whitewater rafts specifically designed for traversing rapids of the Colorado River. The first set of rapids is just downstream from the launch point, providing a taste for what lays ahead. The rafts continue downstream until they stop for lunch right on the riverbank. A few rapids later, which range from a rating of three to seven (Colorado River is rated from one to 10), the water becomes smooth and rafters reach the bottom of Grand Canyon West, home of the Skywalk, where they take an exhilarating flight 4,000 feet up to the top of the canyon via helicopter.

Rafting trips run seven days a week, but seats are limited, so reservations are required. Guests can book their trip or get more information by calling Hualapai Tourism at 1-888-868-9378 or visit www.hualapaitourism.com.

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