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Grand Canyon National Park "Short Haul" Operations


The top photo depicts a short haul operation used to rescue rafters from the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. The bottom photo is of a short haul operation in Grand Teton National Park. Both photos via NPS.

The thrills didn't end for a group of 16 Colorado River rafters when high water stranded them at the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park. As the accompanying picture shows, their rescue was just as, if not more, thrilling as bucking the river's rapids.

Rangers had to resort to a "short haul" operation to get the 16 off a ledge on one side of the river to a flatter area on the opposite side so they could be picked up by a helicopter. During a short haul operation, the individuals are basically dangled -- with all the requisite safety gear, of course -- from the bottom of a helicopter while moved a short distance.

Most often we hear of short haul operations at Grand Teton National Park, where rangers resort to them quite often to remove injured climbers from the Tetons. As the bottom photo shows, those short hauls can be a tad more exciting than the one employed at the Grand Canyon.

As for those 16 stranded rafters, there's been no word yet this morning on their condition, nor has a list of names been released.


Very happy to hear that all the stranded rafters were rescued safely. I was on the trip with Western River Expeditions with a group of 28 people from Hawaii on the same date and time. We noticed there rafts were tied up at the gorge of Havasu Creek. Because of the recent storm we were concerned about a flash flood in the narrow gorge that they were hiking in. That evening as we made camp about a mile and a half down stream from were they were we noticed one of there rafts coming down stream with nobody in it. Our trip leaders, Ben and John, made a quick rescue of the raft and tied it on shore. With in minutes we noticed the other 4 rafts with nobody on them. Our leaders tried to rescue those rafts but were unable to because of the fast moving river. Ben immediately got on the satellite phone that he had for emergencies and contacted the park service of our sighting. They informed Ben that they would start a rescue operation in the morning from on top of the canyon. Our main concern was the stranded group getting caught in the narrow gorge by a flash flood.

We were very fortunate, as were the stranded group, to be with WESTERN RIVER EXPEDITIONS and a very experienced and seasoned group of leaders in Ben, John, Jeremy and Aaron.

My daughter is with the Peterson Family and others, rafting down the Colorado River. Where can I find the names of the ones recued. I,m from N.J. and hearing this on the news.

Gail and others,

I'm afraid the Park Service considers the names of those involved privileged information and will not release them without a Freedom of Information Act request.

Try contacting the Red Cross at:

They have a search page for locating rescued people:

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