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Grand Canyon Reading List

By Marie • February 28, 2023

The Grand Canyon is a source of inspiration for many – meaning there is no shortage of literature about it! We’ve put together a list of some of our river guides’ favorite books for you to read before your trip. The following books focus on river running through the canyon and are sure to add a whole new perspective to your Grand Canyon adventure! It is also never a bad idea to bring a book to read on your trip as there will be downtime in camp.

The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

by Kevin Fedarko

This action-packed historical novel is a double whammy: It shares blunders and outrageous details of the infamous 1983 flood in the Grand Canyon and chronicles the journey of three fascinating boatmen who took that opportunity to break the record for the fastest boat trip down the entire length of the Grand Canyon. Fedarko’s brilliant writing will bring you right into the heart of the Grand Canyon alongside the boatmen.

There’s This River: Grand Canyon Boatman Stories

by Christa Sadler

A boatman favorite, this collection of entertaining short stories is told entirely by the river guiding community of the Grand Canyon. These true tales tell the personal stories of a lifestyle and a unique community, all set in a breathtaking, wonderous place you will come to know intimately.

Sunk Without a Sound: The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde

by Brad Dimock

A captivating and well-researched story by Dimock that covers the mysterious disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde. The Hyde’s vanished without a trace in 1928 on their honeymoon river trip through the Grand Canyon. Dimock recreates their harrowing journey in an attempt to piece together the truth. The result is a riveting tale that will take you into the depths of the Grand Canyon on a wild ride.

The Doing of the Thing: The Brief, Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom

by Welch, Conley, and Dimock

This one just might make you cry. The biography of Buzz Holmstrom, the first person to run the Green and Colorado Rivers alone, from the headwaters to the Hoover Dam! Holmstrom built his own wooden boats and ran several of the country’s great whitewater rivers solo. He was humble and believed the Colorado “has never been conquered, and never will … anyone who it allows to go through its canyons & see its wonders should feel thankful & privileged.”

The Very Hard Way: Bert Loper and the Colorado River

by Brad Dimock

Another historical novel by Dimock. This book tells the story of Bert Loper, the Grand Old Man of the Colorado. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone either before or since who was more devoted to the river than Bert Loper. He has become something of a river runner legend, and for good reason. According to Dimock, “[Loper] was a salt-of-the-earth, homegrown, very poor, very hard-working American who, in spite of poverty, no education and no family, found what he wanted and followed his dream.”

Run the Wild Colorado! River Runners of the Grand Canyon

Run the Wild Colorado is not a book, but this film makes the list as it’s a favorite of both ARR guests and staff! Learn about the strange history and heroic characters of Colorado River Runners, referred to as “scoundrels, opportunists, explorers, engineers, eccentrics, and madmen.” It features interviews and/or footage of iconic Grand Canyon figures such as Georgie White, Norm Nevilles, the Kolb Brothers, and Bert Loper. We promise you’ll find it entertaining!

Happy Reading!

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