U.S. Hwy 89 A, Marble Canyon, AZ
Combine the adventure of Colorado River rafting with the Milky Way skies over the Grand Canyon, and you have the trip of a lifetime! Everything is provided for in this workshop: prepared meals, air transfers from Las Vegas to the river and back, camping equipment, entertainment, and great photo instruction by NightScape Photographer, Royce Bair.
Two experienced river guides will accompany us on this adventure. This trip and workshop will be similar to our 2016 trip/workshop (check out our 5-star rating and comments), except that we will have two more days and nights on the river, and we will have a much smaller group.
Don't delay making your reservations. Last year, our Grand Canyon workshop filled up less than two weeks after it was announced! These trips are very popular and only a limited number of people are allowed to go down the Grand Canyon each year. Some individuals have waited for up to 20 years to obtain a permit to float through the canyon.
Total Price: Photo workshop fee is $399. River rafting cost is $2750 ($3149 total). See "Cost" and "Other Expenses" below.
What to expect: The river trip is for all ages, 12 years to 82 years old. This is a very mild time of the year, so it should be nice and warm, but not too hot. Although it rarely gets over 100 degrees at this time of the year, a quick dip in the water will cool you off. The large, motorized J-rig rafts are very safe and roomy (we will have 18 passengers and 2 crew people). There are about 60 white water rapids on this 188-mile stretch of the Colorado. You have the option of staying fairly dry in the back of the raft, or getting wet in the front. All your meals are prepared for you (the food is amazing), and all your camping equipment is provided (cots, tents, sleeping bags, chairs and a water-resistant bag to place your camera and other personals). There is some hiking involved (but rarely more that a mile), and this is optional. All transportation and transfers from Las Vegas to and from the river are provided.
The photography workshop portion covers general nature and landscape photography with emphasis on starry night photography, also known as wide-field astrophotography or NightScapes. Participants should already have some standard camera skills, i.e. how to take a correct exposures, and know how to make normal adjustments to their camera. A DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) or mirrorless camera is suggested. One wide angle lens with an f/2.8 aperture (or faster) is also suggested for the NightScapes (additional suggestions will be given to those who register.)
Weather: Mid-May offers the perfect temperatures! May and Sept. are the best months to visit the bottom of the canyon. Day temps are usually 85º - 95º, with evening temps between 65º - 75º. April can be a little cold. June, July and August are often over 100º in the day. The canyon walls radiate stored heat into the evening, typically keeping the temperatures above 80º much of the night.
This is one of my few group workshops for 2018: most are private workshops (with 2-4 people per workshop) going on that year.
Extremely Dark Skies: This remote region has some of our Earth's darkest night skies. The Milky Way literally "pops"! For those who come to do night photography, you will be richly rewarded.
Photo Instruction: I will instruct and guide those that wish to participate on these ten periods:
• 1st Day - up to 1 hour daytime on-shore photo tour
• 1st Night - up to 3 hours of starry night photography (weather permitting)
• 2nd Day - up to 1.5 hours daytime on-shore photo tour
• 2nd Night - up to 3 hours starry night photography (weather permitting)
• 3rd Day - up to 1.5 hours daytime on-shore photo tour
• 3rd Night - up to 3 hours starry night photography (weather permitting)
• 4th Day - up to 1.5 hours daytime on-shore photo tour
• 4th Night - up to 3 hours starry night photography (weather permitting)
• 5th Day - up to 1.5 hours daytime on-shore photo tour
• 5th Night - up to 3 hours starry night photography (weather permitting)
• Review and editing of results after the trip
Photography is optional: The river rafting portion of this trip is mostly about free time and relaxation on the Colorado River, so feel free to bring along a non-photographer friend or family member (these will not have to pay my $399 photo instruction fee).
DAY 1 » You'll meet your Western River Expeditions crew and rafts at 7:30 AM in Marble Canyon, Arizona, a dramatic launch point on the Colorado River. After a short ride to the river's edge you'll load your duffle bag into a dry bag, listen to a brief orientation from your guides and begin rafting the Grand Canyon. Drift lazily, relax, and then savor lunch on a white sand beach. Mighty House Rock Rapid and the Roaring 20's set the pace for the next several days. Relax at the water's edge in camp while your guides prepare a delicious dinner, then fall asleep to the most incredible star show in the world. Those who have paid the additional $299 photo instruction fee will attend a 2-hour twilight and starry night workshop instruction with Royce Bair before bedding down for the night.
DAY 2 » After a hearty breakfast prepared by your guides, you'll head downriver for more adventures. Visit Vasey's Paradise, a spectacular cascade of water that supports a lush hanging garden, and Redwall Cavern, a vast chamber carved by the river. Hike breathtaking side canyons or visit ancient Anasazi granaries. Relaxing stretches of river punctuated by exciting whitewater and interesting riverside attractions fill an unforgettable day. An optional afternoon canyon photo instruction tour and a two hour starry night photo workshop will follow after our evening meal.
DAYS 3 & 4 » After a possible swim in the warm, turquoise waters of the Little Colorado River, you're on your way to Hance, Horn, Granite, Hermit and Crystal...all rapids respected for their huge waves. In the afternoons Royce and the Western River will lead you on short hikes to hidden Elves Chasm and to pounding Deer Creek Falls. After your day of adventure, you’ll savor Western’s delicious dinners at the river’s edge and appreciate the unforgettable experience of sleeping under the stars — but first we’ll do up to three hours of Milky Way photography for those who wish to share these memories with others back home!
DAY 5 » You'll spend some time exploring the azure green waters of renowned Havasu Canyon where countless tranquil pools beckon you to find your own private piece of this hidden paradise or explore other possible side canyons and waterfalls throughout this section of Grand Canyon. After dining on Western's famous evening cuisine, capture the dazzling glow of the sun on the towering canyon walls before it slips into the horizon. This will be our last night in the canyon to photograph the Milky Way stars.
DAY 6 » Vulcan's Anvil, a volcanic cone mid-river, signals the approach of Lava Falls, the Colorado River's most notorious rapid, making rafting the Grand Canyon truly memorable. By mid morning, you'll meet your helicopter that will take you over the canyon rim to Bar Ten Ranch for a shower and lunch, before your return flight to Marble Canyon or Las Vegas.
COST: $2750 to Western River Expeditions, and $399 to me for the photo workshop portion ($3149 total). If you have a friend or family member that is not interested in photography, the only fee is the $2750 to Western River.
Other Expenses: Prior to the start of your rafting vacation, you may choose to meet in either Las Vegas, Nevada and take a charter flight (an additional $275) to Marble Canyon, Arizona where your trip begins or you may meet us directly in Marble Canyon (by driving there yourself).
Other expenses might include airfare to Las Vegas, possible overnight lodging in Las Vegas, possible overnight lodging at The Marble Canyon Lodge*, and a possible Park Entrance Fee ($12) - unless you have a current Nat’l Park Pass. Western River charges a 1% processing fee ($27.50) and a $6.00 Grand Canyon Conservation Fund contribution. Those last three fees bring the total to $[masked] for the river trip and another $399 to me for photo instruction.
*Marble Canyon Lodge reservations: Mention that you are a Western River guest and request a discount. Reservations for the year don't begin until January 1, 2018. However, make reservations early, as the property does fill. There is a restaurant on the property.
How to Book: 1. RSVP for this workshop and pay the $399 deposit that covers the photo workshop portion of this river trip. 2. Book the river rafting portion online Book the river rafting portion online (requires a $300 deposit to Western River) or call Western River at[masked]-7450. Tell the operator that you want to book a “Grand Canyon 6-Day” trip. Tell them it is the chartered, “Royce Bair Photo Group”, for September 18-21, Booking #150290. They will take your contact information and charge your credit card a $300 deposit (the balance of payment is due 90 days before the event). You can also book additional non-photographer spots for family members.
The Western River offices are open from 7:00am to 6:00pm MST, Monday - Friday.