More on Sacred Sites – Where do 24,567 Rafters Go to Party?

Commercial rafters use the Confluence without regard to cultural significance and sacred status to Navajo and Hopi culture.

Commercial rafters use the Confluence without regard to cultural significance and sacred status to Navajo and Hopi culture.

We have been researching Sacred Sites because there has been so much talk about them by the opponents of the Escalade project. Because the proposed Escalade project is NEAR the Confluence and a prayer/offering site (not on them mind you, just near them) and within a few miles by air from the Salt Trail and the Hopi Sipapu we are told that the Escalade would be a desecration of Sacred Sites.  So we decided to find out what is happening today on these same Sacred Sites.  We already posted that the Sierra Club is guiding hikes down the Salt Trail to the Hopi Sipapu and the Confluence for only $995 a person (click here for link)Sierra Club Leads Hikers To Sacred Sites On Salt Trail Now we find out that the National Park Service issues permits for 24,657 river runners, 16 commercial raft companies, and over 13,000 hiking permits each year.  And 2006 Park Service regulations in effect today allow for motorized rafts, generators and helicopter insertion and extraction at two locations downstream of the Confluence.  So where do 24,657 people go to party?  Why the Confluence of course!  It turns out that this is a primary stopping point, and they don’t stop nearby, they stop right on the Confluence, a Sacred Site.  And what do they do when they stop?  Why, they hike to the Sipapu and use the Salt Trail and Swim in the Little Colorado River.  We keep asking ourselves why there is no outcry by the Save the Confluence folks.  Why isn’t it OK for the Navajo to charge $40 to ride a gondola to a secure site close to the Confluence but its ok to charge $2850 per rafter so they can tie up right on the Sacred Site and party?  I guess that’s why Grand Canyon River Guides oppose the Escalade and has joined with Save The Confluence.  Can’t have the Navajo making any money while they are raking it in.

Let’s Get That Party Started!! And we are led to believe that this is not a desecration of a Sacred Site as long as you’re willing to drop a cool $2,850 to a commercial raft concession. But don’t even think about $40 to ride a gondola.

24,567 commercial raft permits are issued each year and the Confluence Sacred Site is a primary stopping point.

Rafters at the Little Colorado River Slide

The Park Service alllows rafters and reserachers to transport into the Canyon by helicopter.

Commercial Rafters use the Little Colorado at the Confluence as their personal swimming pool.


Author: KAL

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  1. Thank you for visiting our site and reading our material. I also want to thank you for having a plainly spoken and intelligent comment. I also want to thank you for not wishing that me and my family die a slow and painful death. I get that one a lot from commenters. It ranks high on the list of most popular comments along with comments about fat and obese people and racist rants about the Navajo.

    Tha article you are commenting had a good deal of toungue-in-cheek satire and irony in its approach. Not sure if you picked up on that or not. The article was a response to attacks on the proposed project by groups claiming that the the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers was a religiously sacred site, unspoiled by human hand, pristine and untouched by man. This op/ed was trying to make several points. First and most importantly, the Confluence is certainly not untouched by man. As we pointed out, it is visited by tens of thousands of people a year. The Confluence point is part of a well worn and heavily used hiking trail and sees heavy commercial and non-commercial rafting traffic. The second point was that, if the organized opposition really believes that the Confluence is a religeously sacred site, then why have they not rallied to stop the use by hikers and rafters and why have the in-fact joined with both the commercial rafting outfitters and the commercial hiking outfitters to oppose this project. Their position as we understand it is, “The Confluence is religously sacred and cannot be desecrated unless you are a rafter or hiker and then it’s OK.” To us, this seems highly hipocritical.

    With regard to our points on the financial and commercial aspects of Canyon use, I don’t see this as a misunderstanding of the value of the Canyon. I see this as a matter of fact observation about what is going on. The Canyon does generate huge amounts of money and there is a competition for that money. The Grand Canyon Trust does full-time fundraising using the Canyon. The Sierra Club also does a large fundraising business using the Canyon and also is a commercial outfitter utilizing the Canyon. The opposition groups are using their opposition as a fundraising opportunity and are actively soliciting donations as well as accepting money from other “activist” organizations. The GCNP generates the largest revenue of any National Park in the United States. Like it or not, and I don’t like it, lots of people and organizations are using the Canyon as a money making activity.

    The sponsors of this project have all been to the Confluence and have all been in the Canyon multiple times. We agree with your assessment of the experience we understand the feelings of you and others share regarding the Canyon. We have all had those feelings. It is why we have approached the design and concept of this project in the way we have, it is why we have focussed our efforts on creating the most minimally invasive and disruptive methods. We also understand that for many, any intrusion into their experience will be opposed, period. We get that. But we also get that once the dust settles and the outcry dies down the project will be a world class experience that most will be proud of. We look at the developments in Yellowstone for example, where the Park Service understands that it is necessary to exploit certain portions of the park by opening them up to auto born tourists in order to save and maintain the balance of the park. While many want the Park in Yellowstone closed to anyone except rugged hikers and left, as you stated, as a Sacred Site and all vistis to be pilgrimages. But the reality is that for millions each year the visits to Yellowstone and the access afforded to them is the highlight of a lifetime. We believe that Escalade will be recieved in the same way and can be developed in a way that highlights and enhances the Canyon instead of desecrating it.


  2. Reading this op/ed narrative brings many thoughts to mind. First and foremost is wondering if the author of this piece or the developers of this project have ever experienced being a visitor to the confluence. I must assume that they have and find it interesting that the only information presented here is speculative and assuming of the “party” scene at this location. If by “party” you refer to the celebratory atmosphere that comes from accomplishing the extended, rigorous journey required to reach this revered heritage site, then I agree completely. The hours or days spent immersed in the depths of the Grand Canyon when approaching the confluence bring a profound sense of reflection, introspection and amazement for the magnitude of the Canyon as you travel through millions of years of rock sediment layers. This experience is a pilgrammage that whether conscious or subconscious results in a profound respect for the implications of this site. To insinuate that the issue here is over how much money can be made by what parties in the Grand Canyon shows a misunderstanding of the true value of this World Heritage site. Thanks for sharing your business’s ideas on this Sacred Site.

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