Western River Expeditions Rafting Guru Shares 10 Curious Grand Canyon Factoids

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, July 1, 2014 – The lure of a Grand Canyon raft vacation on the Colorado River has lots to do with the lore. 

One Grand Canyon guru guided on the river for some 700 days before leaving the rapids to join Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) as website and online marketing director.

But Kamron Wixom can’t leave the lore alone. Here are 10 of his favorite facts and trivia about the world’s grandest canyon:

1.    The first known exploration of the Grand Canyon by boat was in 1869, the John Wesley Powell Expedition. He was the first to use the name “Grand Canyon”. By 1969, fewer than 100 people had his followed by boat through the remote gorge.

2.    Outside of the occasional dust storms and forest fires, the Grand Canyon is home of the some of the cleanest air in the United States.

3.    The Kaibab Tree Squirrel, a unique species that lives only on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, was separated from its South Rim cousins millennia ago.

4.    An estimated five million people view the Grand Canyon annually from the North and South rims. Only 20,000 see it by river raft or dory. (Western River Expeditions is the leading outfitter, putting some 4,000 guests through the Canyon each year.)

5.    Grand Canyon was named America’s 17th National Park in 1919, following in the footsteps of, among others, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Glacier and Denali.

6.    The Kennedys took a highly publicized Grand Canyon rafting trip in 1972 and the popularity of rafting in the Grand Canyon suddenly skyrocketed.

7.    Grand Canyon still uses a scale of rapids from 1-10, a system that was grandfathered in before an international system scaled rapids from 1 to 6. A 10 is like a 5 on the international scale; a 6 on international scale cannot be navigated.

8.    Because they couldn't afford a boat, two swimmers in 1955 swam the entire length of the Grand Canyon, a distance of 288 miles.  (see: http://www.amazon.com/We-Swam-Grand-Canyon-Vacation/dp/0963405594)

9.    The Grand Canyon National Park has recorded more than 4,800 archeological sites and has surveyed just 5 percent of the park’s 1.2 million acres.

10.  On June 30, 1956, two planes flying from Los Angeles to Chicago, a United Airlines DC-7 and a TWA Constellation, had a mid-air collision over the Canyon and all on board perished. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was created in 1958 as a result of this accident.

“There’s a synergy between a human being and a canyon. We get possessive of it; it’s our canyon. It’s so huge on one scale but so intimate on the other scale that it becomes our own. When people talk about their experiences in the canyon you have an instant bond with each other but at the same time you’re possessive of it. This contrast is indicative of nearly every experience you have in the Grand Canyon,” says Wixom.

After some 700 days in the Grand Canyon, what was his most satisfying moment?

“As a guide, it was the last night of the trip. I walked down the beach and saw a guest staring at the sunset with the canyon walls and river flowing through the foreground. I asked how she was doing. She turned and it took a few seconds for her to say something. Her Zen moment was happening. I was privileged to be the guide who helped her get to that moment,” he says.

Western River Expeditionshas guided more guests through the famous gorge over the last 53 years than any other outfitter - and the word has gotten out.  “It’s an absolutely inspiring adventure,” says Brandon Lake, CMO of Western River Expeditions.

Annually, by the start of spring, Grand Canyon river trips for the upcoming summer season are usually sold out, notes Lake.  However this year the company has openings on a few departure dates on their signature six-day journey: July 22, 23, 24, 29, and August 13, 21, 26, 27, 30, 31.

For a copy of the 2014 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: http://www.westernriver.com/.

Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah rafting, and Idaho rafting trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the "Best of State" award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for nine consecutive years

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