Lees Ferry Grand Canyon National Park Rafting

The official beginning for most Grand Canyon rafting trips is at Lees Ferry (also commonly referred to as Lee’s Ferry or Lee Ferry) in Marble Canyon which gives a wonderful preview of what’s to come with the Colorado River surrounded by magnificent canyon scenery:

Lees Ferry at Marble Canyon -- launching site for Grand Canyon National Park rafting trips

Since this is where the Grand Canyon rafting trips launch, this is where you get your initiation to what the rafting trip will be like. You meet the crew that will be guiding you down the river, are given supplies to keep all your belongings dry on the trip, given a quick course of raft safety and life jacket use, and load all your belongings onto the rafts. While there are some historical buildings and beautiful scenery all around, unless you make a concerted effort to seek them out, you will likely miss them as your focus will be on all the activity to get you on the raft and on your way down the Colorado.

There is quite a bit of history that goes with the Lees Ferry launch site. The ferry was originally built in 1871–1872 by John D. Lee with financing from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The ferry was located near where the Colorado River and Paria River merge and the crossing was originally called Paria Crossing. For nearly 50 years, Lees Ferry was the only available crossing of the Colorado River by ferry between Moab and Needles. This made Lees Ferry the main Colorado River crossing point for travelers between Utah and Arizona.

The actual ferry at Lees Ferry closed in 1928 with the building of Navajo Bridge (7 miles to the south) across Marble Canyon. The steel wire cable from the ferry still remains and crosses the Colorado River at the old ferry site. This cable marks the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park as you begin the float trip down the Colorado River. Lees Ferry is currently part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is deemed as a historical site.

Photo courtesy of Li Ru Yue

Share Your National Parks Story: NPCA Wants Yours

If you love our National Parks, take the time this summer to do something to make sure that the remain a part of future generation lives. With the constant budget battles being waged in Washington DC, it’s important to let Congress know what the National Parks mean to us as a nation. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) wants to pass your National Parks messages onto the members of Congress and they are asking for your help.

Chaos Crags reflected in Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

When you visit a National Park this summer (you can start on June 21 when it’s a Free National Parks day), take your camera or video recorder along to document your visit. Then send the NPCA your photos, videos and stories about why National Parks are important to you to [email protected] The NPCA will be posting select images they receive to the National Parks Protection Project website and passing them onto those in Congress.

In order for National Parks to remain funded, it’s essential for Congress to know that the people that visit them view them as an important part of our history and culture. Your photos, videos and personal stories are an important way to show Congress why America’s natural and cultural heritage should continue to be protected for future generations. For places that give so much to our lives, please consider sharing your story to help ensure that others can have the same experiences decades from now.

You can also lend your voice by signing a petition telling Congress to stop cuts to the national Parks budget.

National Parks Free Day June

Just a friendly reminder that June 21, the first day of summer, is only two weeks away and is a National Parks fee free day. That means that the entrance fee to the parks, monuments, preserves, recreation areas and other sites within the National Park system will be waived. Fee Free National Parks days are offered throughout the year. In addition to the first day of summer, National Parks will also be fee free on September 24 (Public Lands Day) and from November 11 – 13 (Veterans Day weekend) this year.

Drakes Bay Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore

The fee free National Parks day on June 21, 2011 is good for free entrance to the parks in the National Parks system, but it doesn’t apply to other fees within the National Parks system such as reservation fees, camping fees, tour fees and concession fees. Most of the National Parks fee free days result in the National Parks being quite busy, but since the first day of summer falls on a Tuesday, it should be a great opportunity to visit a National Park for free with a minimal chance of large crowds. With the kids out for summer vacation, it may be a perfect day trip to plan.

National Parks Photo Contest 2011

Share the Experience National Parks Photo Contest

When I visit National Parks, I find it hard not to take photos. Even though I am far from a professional photographer, I enjoy documenting what I see so that I can share it with others. If you have any interest in photography and our National Parks, you will want to know about the National Park Foundation’s 2011 Share the Experience photo contest.

Share the Experience is an annual photography competition which has the goal of encouraging all to share their National Parks experiences through photographs. The contest is open to everyone age 13 and older. Photos can be submitted online and by December 31, 2011 at ShareTheExperience.org. The following prizes are available for the National Parks photo contest:

Grand Prize: Trip to Recreation Area 4 days / 3 nights for 4 people, Magellan GPS eXploris 510, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass, $100 REI gift card and $500 in spending money

1st Prize: Magellan GPS eXplorist 510, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card

2nd Prize: Magellan GPS eXplorist 310, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card

3rd Prize: Magellan GPS eXplorist GC, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card

Honorable Mention (10 winners): Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card

Since the National Parks Photo Contest 2011 runs through the end of the year, there has been no announcement of the National Parks Photo Contest 2012 as of yet. As soon as we get information on the National Parks Photo Contest 2012, we will post it here.

National Parks Free Days 2011 & 2012

One of the great things about National Parks, National Monuments, National Recreation Areas, National Preserves, National Seashores and National Lakes is that several times a year the ones that charge entrance fees offer free access days. The National Parks free days for 2011 are as follows:

Snow covered Bryce Canyon National Park in winter

January 15 – 17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday weekend)

April 16 – 24 (National Park Week)

June 21 (The first day of summer)

September 24 (Public Lands Day)

November 11 – 13 (Veterans Day weekend)

The 2011 free National Parks days are good for entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees, but do not apply to other fees such as reservation fees, camping fees, tour fees, or concession fees. While national Parks are already a great value, National Parks free days make them even more so.

The 2012 National Parks free days have also been announced and as expected, they are quite similar to the 2011 free National Parks days with the main difference being the June fee free day which in 2011 was the first day of summer, but in 2012 will be on Get Outdoors Day in June.

January 14 – 16 (Martin Luther King Jr. weekend)

April 21 – 29 (National Park Week)

June 9 (Get Outdoors Day)

September 29 (National Public Lands Day)

Nov. 10 – 12 (Veterans Day weekend)