Behind-the-Scenes of the 2023 Grand Canyon River Trip & Photography Expedition

December 21, 2023

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at my most recent river trip. We spent 18 days rafting 225 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

We photographed many great locations, including spending two nights at Nankoweap so we could hike to the granaries multiple times. We also photographed Elves Chasm, North Canyon, Deer Creek Falls, Blacktail Canyon, and more.

Our 2023 group that rafted the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon on a photo workshop.

Our 2023 group.

Two river guides stand on rocks looking downstream on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Our trip leader and another river guide scout House Rock Rapid at river mile 17 in Marble Canyon.

Watershed dry bags packed with our camera gear are on the beach, ready to be loaded onto the rafts.

Watershed dry bags packed with our camera gear are on the beach, ready to be loaded onto the rafts.

Yellow rafts lined up along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon on a photo workshop with Adam Schallau.

We've pulled ashore ar river mile 17 in Marble Canyon to scout House Rock Rapid.

A boatman guides his raft through Lava Falls Rapid on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Jacob Hooker makes his first run of the infamous Lava Falls Rapid on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Way to go, Jacob!

A boatman guides his raft through Lava Falls Rapid on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Jacob Hooker looking a little wet after his first run of Lava Falls Rapid.

A yellow raft full of people in Lava Falls Rapid on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Amy Martin runs Lava Falls Rapid with a boat full of passengers on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

A yellow raft in a rapid with lots of white water on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Rob Harris running Deubendorff Rapid at river mile 132 on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

A Desert Bighorn sheep walks on rocks along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

The Desert Bighorn sheep seemed to be our constant companions on this expedition. This one walked the bank of the Colorado River, keeping pace with us for nearly a half-mile.

Two river guides preparing dinner in a pot over a flame at night while camping in the Grand Canyon.

Jacob and John, two of our river guides, prepare dinner at "Sticks" camp at river mile 110.

A moonlit view of the Colorado River and yellow rafts in the Grand Canyon.

A moonlit view of the Colorado River and our boats at Nankoweap Camp at river mile 53.5.

A group of river runners gather around the campfire while eating dinner at Little Redwall camp in Grand Canyon National Park.

Gathering around the campfire while eating dinner at Little Redwall camp.

A group of photographers hiking in the Grand Canyon.

Our photography group hikes towards an overlook that will provide us with a view of the Colorado River and the Palisades of the Desert.

Two photographers with cameras on tripods photograph the Grand Canyon with the Colorado River in the background.

A couple of photographers enjoy the view from an overlook high above the river, but still far below the canyon's rim.

Several photographers with cameras on tripods photographing the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon with stormy light.

It rained a bit on the third day of the trip. At sunset, we were treated to some beautiful light as the storm cleared, leaving clouds hanging along the rim of Marble Canyon. From Little Redwall Camp at river mile 34.

A river guide helps hikers on a cliff face in the Grand Canyon.

River guide Amy Martin assists a couple of hikers in navigating a gap in a side canyon along the Colorado River.

A photographer in the Grand Canyon setting up his camera and tripod to photograph a slot canyon.

One of the participants found his way up into a slot canyon in the Muav Gorge.

A photographer stands in a pool of water in a slot canyon while searching for new compositions.

Travel and adventure photographer, Keith Philpott, studies the scene in a side canyon along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

A yellow raft floats on the Colorado River below an overhanging alcove in the Grand Canyon.

One of our river guides beaches his raft on a small beach below an alcove along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

A river guide with his hands on the oars stares downstream, studying the current of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Our Trip Leader stares intently downstream, studying the current as he approaches a rapid on the Colorado River.

A female river guide with her hands on the oars stares downstream, studying the current of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon as a passenger looks on.

Amy Martin on the oars rowing the Colorado River in the Muav Gorge.

A river guide in a blue hoodie with his hands on the oars enjoys the view of the Grand Canyon as he guides his raft downstream on the Colorado River.

One of our river guides, Wade, takes a moment to enjoy the sites in the lower reaches of the Grand Canyon.

A map of the Colorado River as a boatman rows his raft downstream through the Grand Canyon.

Studying the river map guide book as Wade guides our boat downstream.

A river guide with a headlamp provides a medical check of a person on a Grand Canyon raft trip.

Working under the light of a headlamp, river guide Amy Martin tends to a cut on a river trip participants hand. Cuts, scapes, and bruises happen and it's important to keep the wound clean and free from infection.

A Grand Canyon river guide with sunglasses on poses for the camera as he stands on his yellow raft.

Grand Canyon boatman, Jacob Hooker, takes a moment to ham it up for the camera.

River guides sitting on rocks playing cards in the Grand Canyon.

River guides playing cards during some downtime.

Looking thru a loop in a bowline as a man works on a raft in the Grand Canyon.

Looking through a bowline as one of our river guides works on securing gear in his raft before shoving off.

Two men wearing sun hats work on a raft on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Two of our boatman, Rob and Wade, move gear between the rafts.

People wearing helmets on a yellow raft enjoy the experience of rafting the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Jacob Hooker on the bow and Amy Martin in the cockpit, celebrarte along with their passengers after running Deubendorff Rapid at river mile 132.

A yellow raft floats along the Colorado River with the Desert View Watchtower in the distance at the top of the Grand Canyon.

In the distance, up on the rim 4,800 feet above us, is the Desert View Watchtower on the South Rim of the canyon.

A wooden oar on a yellow raft. The oar is damaged after impacting a rock in the Colorado River.

An oar looks rough after an impact with a boulder in the river. Each raft carries four oars; two are in use by the boatman, and two others are spares.

A yellow raft gracefully floats the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

A raft gracefully floats the Colorado River beneath the towering cliffs of the Muav Gorge.

A wooden oar touches the surface of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

An oar kisses the waters of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

The Making of the Photos

Many of the photos in the post were made with a Fujifilm X-T5 mirrorless camera and several lenses, including the Viltrox AF 13mm f/1.4 XF, Fujifilm XF 18mm f/1.4, and a Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8. I also used my iPhone for several of the photos as it's what I had with me at the time. The photo of our boats and the Colorado River at night was made with my Fujifilm GFX 100S medium format camera and the GF 100-200mm f/5.6 lens.


Thank you

A BIG thanks to the fantastic crew from Tour West! I look forward to seeing you again in April 2024 for the upcoming 10-day Grand Canyon rafting trip & photography expedition! We have a couple of spots open on the 2024 trip, and I'm taking names of those who would like to be on the 2025 trip which will be launching in late April. Contact me to save your spot!