The waiting list for people who want to raft the Colorado River is legendary, with some people waiting as long as 10 years for the chance to put their raft into the water. That could change with a plan just approved that allows more people to float through the Grand Canyon each year, but spreads out the trips over more months and in smaller groups.
The approval of the new plan, announced by the National Park Service, has also been a years-long process itself. Four years ago, a group of scientists, park officials, tour operators, and members of American Indian tribes and the public began studying usage plans:
PHOENIX (AP) — A plan that allows more people to float down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon each year but spreads them out over more months and in smaller groups has been adopted by the National Park Service.
The new Colorado River Management Plan also eliminates the current waiting list for those who want to raft the river in noncommercial boats, replacing it with a lottery system. Many people sat on the waiting list for more than a decade, and the lottery will give them some preference but does not guarantee them a slot.
The plan will shift more travelers into the fall, winter and spring months, while cutting the number of daily summertime launches of both motorized and nonmotorized commercial rafts in the upper Grand Canyon.
The result would be more tourists overall. The lower Colorado River, from Diamond Creek to Lake Mead, will see the number of pontoon boat tours go up, allowing up to 480 passenger per day, up from the current 130 passengers. The plan bans jet boat tours entirely, but commercial operators that use the craft to meet rafts above Lake Mead would still be allowed.
For more info, go to http://www.nps.gov/grca/crmp/