Three’s a Crowd


   Shane asked me to write this article, so I am. I’m not a writer, so bear with me! I would like to describe “the perceived attraction site congestion issue,” the parties involved, what’s being done and what you can do. The basic questions are: 1) Are there too many people at attraction sites at one time?, and 2) Does this degrade the resource or the experience for the visitor? This discussion is not a new one. NPS, guides, outfitters, and private users have been looking at this issue for years.

   Some representatives from all of the above groups feel there’s a problem, some don’t. NPS’s river-use statistics do show a “spike” of users meeting at certain sites on certain days of the week. Guides know when and where this occurs due to their familiarity with company launch dates, trip lengths, and itineraries. A shorter trip is not necessarily a problem; it would be more accurate to say that the numbers are high at attraction sites when trips of the same or varying lengths meet at points downstream. The two biggest spikes are Monday at the Little Colorado and Wednesday at Deer Creek during June and July.

   User groups (GCRG, outfitters, NPS, private users) are looking to create the best possible river experience, whether or not there is actually a “problem.” Members of the Constituency Panel (an advisory group to Grand Canyon NPS made up of outfitters, private users, the scientific community and GCRG), formed a sub-group to examine on-river contacts at attraction sites. This group is headed by yours truly. Some outfitters have volunteered to change some aspects of the launch calendar in the interests of affecting the spike.

   Private users and commercial guides can be part of the solution by regulating their stays at attraction sites and communicating with other river users. I like to call the concept “on-site management;” commercial guides and private users are already committed to communicating with each other. This needs to continue. We all know approximately where and when trips will meet. Talk to other guides and private trip leaders—make it work so every trip in the area doesn’t go to the same site at the same time. Bypass sites if necessary; hike and stop at alternative sites. Guides should share knowledge of less-used sites with one another and private trip leaders. All groups should communicate the goal to their folks.

   These efforts by guides, privates and outfitters are the best thing possible for the Canyon and visitor. Cooperation between user groups and NPS will enhance everyone’s Canyon experience.

   See you on the river!

Garrett Schniewind - Canyon Explorations