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Old 03-05-2010   #1
The Mogur's Avatar
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 457
Pearce Ferry Rapid, Lake Mead

As the water level on Lake Mead drops, the surprise rapid in the Pearce Ferry area has become a formidable obstacle. In fact, it is developing into an outright waterfall.

In 2007 I made the Grand Canyon float, and we opted to take out at South Cove, meaning that we had to motor across Lake Mead. We had our five rafts all strapped together, and we were enjoying a lazy afternoon of quiet cruising to the beat of our little Nissan 4-stroke outboard. And then we were surprised to find ourselves looking at a rapid that nobody had mentioned. We hurriedly pulled the motor and mounted-up oars on the outboard rafts, and with some coordinated rowing we were able to pull our gang of rafts around the bend.

I've just looked at videos on YouTube showing that same rapid (shot between November 2009 and February 2010), and it is fearsome! It may even become impassable if the Lake Mead water level continues to drop, as is forecast.

So if you're planning a Grand Canyon trip, with a South Cove takeout, you'd better take a look at the videos! I've heard that there are plans to extend the road out to the new river channel from the old Pearce Ferry landing, so that boaters can take-out above the falls; but I don't know how soon that might happen.

Oh. And if you're planning a Grand Canyon trip, invite me. Thanks.

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Old 03-05-2010   #2
West By God, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 289
The new road is expected to open later this month.

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Old 03-05-2010   #3
The Mogur's Avatar
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 457
I hope that's true. The last word I had was that the construction was complete as of March 3, but the NPS had not yet authorized use. Here are some photos of the new ramp: - Home > Pearce Ferry Road Extension
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Old 03-05-2010   #4
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
Pearce Ferry Road Extension to Open March 15, 2010

The road and boatramp will open on March 15. Details here.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 03-05-2010   #5
rg5hole's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
This has to be the 2nd or 3rd most popular rapid on the grand now

we were there at about 28,000 cfs and it went like a dreamboat to the left, SUPER FUN

I have heard 2 low water trips drip it on the right, this at high water could be lethal as the uniform ledge hole there is terrifying.
I've never boated before, but I have posted a lot on Mountain Buzz!
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Old 03-05-2010   #6
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,135
It is fun to watch this thing evolve. Ran it in late Sept 2009 @ 10k cfs.
I ran just left of the island and right of the big left hole. A very narrow
run that judging from the latest photos no longer would be possible.

One cat in our group ran the right run that was then a 7' water fall.
Now that looks like a bigger waterfall into several ugly holes/ledges.

Everyone else ran left of the big hole that is just left of the island and than pulled off the left wall to miss a ledge hole against the wall.
That was the easy route! Now it looks scary!!! I love evolution!
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Old 04-06-2010   #7
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 17
Just ran Pearce Ferry and road is open.

We just got off the Grand Canyon and ran Pearce Ferry Rapid on March 30th. We ran left of the 2 GIANT holes (waterfalls?) that are forming just to left of the giant rock. The right "run" is a little Niagara. We broke the small laterals on the left at the top of the rapid and floated just to the edge of the eddy forming near the corner. You don't want to go too far into the eddy or you won't have much momentum. We then made a sharp right hand turn into a shoot between the second large hole, and a steep pourover on the far left of the shore. Tight, but the water was taking us right there. We barely got wet (really). It is a scary looking rapid.
We had to get rescued off of Lake Mead thanks to 3 days of very high winds. One of of volunteer rescuers (thank you) and the Park Ranger commented that they thought the rapid would be unrunable in a year.
The good news is the road is open and it looked pretty good. Not a super huge takeout, but sufficient. If you pull out at Pearce you can walk down to the rapid for a scout and see if you want to run it depending on where your vehicle is.
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Old 04-06-2010   #8
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
Having not yet done the Grand, I was curious as to what you guys were talking about. Found this online - it's a great time-lapse visualization and description of the geology / hydrology in action....

Superimposition Rapid/Pearce Ferry Rapid

And here's an image from March 3rd, 2010:

Plus a whole series of recent pics here:
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Old 04-06-2010   #9
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
I can't find the photos now but somewhere there are some pics of that rapid at what must be a lower lake level. The pics are taken from downstream looking up. Horrifying. The river right side was a large waterfall into massive killer holes.
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Old 04-08-2010   #10
ericnourse's Avatar
Greeley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 84
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 137
Lake Mead has nothing to do with it at this time. It's evolving. It will take many years of heavy snow pack in the CO tribs to cover this area. In the mean time Angolina, Jennifer, Mliey, and I plan to innertube it in Late May. E-

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