SaddleBrooke Photographers journey through the Grand Canyon

View of the Grand Canyon from the Nankoweap Granaries.

Ellen Citron and Laurel Parrott

Are you interested in a trip of a life time? If so, consider the following: a photographic rafting trip down the Colorado River, running the rapids and enjoying the scenery of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Four SaddleBrooke photographers, members of both the Digital Imaging Group of SaddleBrooke (DIGS) and the SaddleBrooke Photography Club, Laurel Parrott, Ellen Citron and Joy and Bud Wegner, recently returned from such an adventure led by photographer Colleen Miniuk-Sperry of CMS Photography and Grand Canyon outfitter Hatch River Expeditions. Colleen is a professional outdoor photographer who is widely published and she regularly leads photographic workshops in Maine, Oregon, Utah and Arizona. Hatch was the first commercial rafting operation (1929) in North America. They are both top in their fields as well as superb leaders on the river.

The Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead is 288 miles long. Our group of 16, from all over the US, traveled 188 miles on a motorized raft from Lee’s Ferry to Whitmore Wash, where we were helicoptered out after seven magical days and six starry nights on the river. During the trip, we experienced intense rapids, beautiful hikes, ancient ruins, side canyons with waterfalls and natural swimming pools. Some hikes led us to high plateaus where we were rewarded with a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. Other trails led to abandoned mines, ancient Native American ruins and scenic waterfalls.

A typical day started at 6:00-6:30 a.m. with a shout of “Coffee!” echoing along canyon walls, followed by a delicious breakfast cooked by our boatmen. After breakfast, we joined together to break down camp, load the raft and receive some photo tips for the day from Colleen. Then it was river time! We were on the river by 8:00-8:30 a.m., giving us a few hours of rafting and rapids and a side canyon hike to waterfalls or swimming holes, usually all before lunch which was served on a deserted beach. Then it was back for more adventure and fun in the afternoon, arriving at a campsite around 3:00-4:00 p.m.

We spent the evenings relaxing and camping on sandy river beaches and indulging in huge, hearty meals prepared by the river guides—well rounded and always extremely tasty and followed by fresh baked desserts every night. Nights were spent under the stars and the Milky Way. In the morning, it was back on the river again for more rapids and more magnificent scenery.

Our river guides, Lars and Josh, made the trip ‘a trip of a lifetime’ with their excellent knowledge of the history and geology of the region, as well as their rafting and cooking skills. We all enjoyed the stories they spun and we even believed some of them. If you might be planning a trip, look for them. Otherwise just look into California whitewater rafting and have the time of your life!

We in SaddleBrooke are incredibly fortunate to live so close to some of the most magnificent natural wonders in the U.S., and we encourage all of you to take advantage of this proximity. Colleen will be leading another Grand Canyon photographic rafting trip August 25-September 2, 2019. For further information, you can contact Colleen at her website

She will also be returning to SaddleBrooke on January 12 as the featured speaker at the January DIGS meeting. Her topic will be “Crazy About Composition”. DIGS meets in the Coyote Room in SaddleBrooke One at 9:00 a.m. Due to space considerations, priority for this meeting will be given to DIGS members.