River in Grand Canyon

NPS River Crew photosBy Jeri Riley - River Patrol Ranger

River Ranger Crew.

The National Park Service River Ranger Crew is a year-round operation dedicated to taking care of the river corridor through the Grand Canyon. We are on the river every month of the year to assist park scientists in their research, support resource specialists with monitoring programs, clean up campsites and heavily used beaches, maintain scout trails at rapids, remove non-native plants, train for swift water rescues, and to educate river runners on how to be stewards of the canyon and of the Colorado River.

Unfortunately, we don’t always have the opportunity to meet every river runner. This web page is designed to let you know what changes we see in the canyon, what we as a crew are working on and how you can help. We encourage you to check in often and pass on information to other river runners.

1. Respect the “Old High Water Zone”
It’s important that you identify where the historic high water line is and encourage everyone in your group to camp below it. This can be done by staying below the mesquite trees and off the fragile sand dunes they grow on. Spread out near the river and stay under the tamarisk trees. We know that folks like to find their own secluded little spots to set up camp in, but please try to stay below the high water zone. When you camp far away from the river, you are often trampling vegetation and creating new social trails to get there. This speeds up the erosion of the precious sand that is needed for all that vegetation to grow. You may often notice a social trail into these areas that appears blocked off by dead and down trees, or what we call “vertical mulch.” This is usually vegetation from another area that have been transplanted by the river crew to block the trail. Please respect the work that has gone into protecting this area and don’t remove the debris. Please let that area heal and stay covered. 2. Travel Together
For the safety of your group, while on the water, it’s important that your boats don’t get too spread out. Make sure you have visible contact with the boat behind you. If that boat pulls over or you lose sight of it, you should pull over and wait. This will prompt the boat in front of you to wait for you. You are responsible for the boat behind you. This will keep everyone accounted for and running rapids safely. 3. Don’t Split Up
This also applies to splitting trips. This is explained in your river permit information, yet we continue to see it. Please DO NOT send a boat ahead to secure a camp. We see this a lot below Elves Chasm and Deer Creek. If some of your group is hiking (except for loop hikes) your entire party needs to wait to go downstream. It’s important to stay together in case someone needs help. You want to keep your first aid supplies and satellite phone available to everyone on the trip. It doesn’t do an injured hiker at Deer Creek any good if most of his or her group is making dinner at Poncho’s. There are plenty of great camps in the canyon. Don’t get so locked in to snagging a particular one that you jeopardize the safety of your trip. 4. Communicate and be Flexible about Camps
Communication is key when it comes to camps, but so is cooperation. Be flexible with where you are thinking about camping. Have a few backups in mind. If you are not familiar with the camps along the river, don’t be afraid to ask a commercial guide for advice. These folks know the place well and generally want to give not only their own passengers an amazing experience, but private trips as well. You could get turned on to an even better place to camp or hike.
collecting driftwood at the water's edge.
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