Finding Dory on a Classic Grand Canyon Rafting Adventure
The Classic Adventure is our most popular Grand Canyon rafting adventure, traversing the canyon from Lees Ferry, Mile 0, to Diamond Creek Road (Mile 226) in the space of 14 days (up to 16 days in the spring or fall). On most Classic Adventures, one can choose to do a partial trip by hiking out on day 6, on the Bright Angel Trail, at river mile 89. Or one can hike in at the same location, rafting the last 137 miles in 9 days, joining the folks and guides who have already been on the previous week.
History of AzRA’s Classic Adventure
Originally, Arizona Raft Adventure’s Classic Adventure was called the Hybrid Trip, until hybrid vehicles became popular and folks began to assume there was a motor raft on the trip. In 2012, AzRA changed the name from Hybrid to Classic, to avoid any confusion with motors. There are no motors on AzRA’s Classic Adventures. Historically, the Classic Adventure had a combination of oar rafts (where the guide rows with a set of large oars) and one paddle raft (where 6 participants paddle the raft with a guide steering and calling commands). In 2015, to accommodate the addition of camp chairs to the Classic rafting adventure, AzRA added another oar raft. Bringing the craft configuration to 5 oar rafts, and a total of 6 rafts on the trip.
Now We Offer a Dory Experience
We are pleased to announce a change to our Grand Canyon Classic Rafting Adventure! Starting in 2020, a dory will be a standard part of the adventure, too! A dory is a hard hulled boat, graceful in the water, and built of wood, fiberglass or aluminum. Martin Litton, who pioneered commercial dory use in the canyon had this to say about dories, “There’s a kind of magic about the shape of the boat in terms of its stability and its ability to recover from extreme situations. The boat is something beautiful to look at: it has lines that belong on the water. There’s a mystic thing about a dory, to those of us who know them.” For more information about dory history, read the History of Dories in Grand Canyon by Brad Dimock.
What’s the Dory Like?
A dory is a vastly different ride from a rubber raft, with its sleek lines and hard hull, it slices through the water in a more efficient manner than the bulbous air-filled tubes on a raft. Its low-drafting, flat-bottomed keel makes for a rocking horse style ride in the rapids, as it climbs and descends the wave trains, whereas a rubber raft tends to plow through the waves in the rapids. The dory hull is comprised of watertight compartments, which prevent it from swamping (flooding) when water pours over the sides, but it still has open compartments which provide space for people to sit, and those areas can fill with water. It also has gunnels with a low free board at the beam. What that means is the port and starboard sides of the dory are close to the river at its widest point. Therefore in larger rapids, participants may have to help “trim” the craft much like one would in a canoe to help prevent it from tipping, moving their body weight to the higher side of the boat to bring the low side back up above water level. So, while not as active as the paddle raft, it is a tad more participatory and exciting than the standard oar raft.
The addition of the dory to the Grand Canyon Classic Rafting Adventure will create three craft choices, with the configuration of four oar rafts, one paddle raft and one dory. Now that’s a CLASSIC!