Got a bucket list? How fast are you crossing off things?

Got a bucket list? Hey, we’re not exactly at the point where we’d better get it done and done fast, but why not start?! If you’re a baby boomer with an active lifestyle, maybe one of the items on your list is rafting through the Grand Canyon. As Wendy Rubicam of the rafting company Arizona River Runners explains, Dan and Mary Lou Watson just crossed it off.

No one can tell a baby boomer what to expect from a Grand Canyon raft trip better than someone who’s actually taken one. Not one of the pros who lives day to day on the river every season, but someone maybe just like you, a boomer who has wanted to try a whitewater rafting trip for years and finally gets there.

Colorado River Rafting

Dan Watson is the one. After thoroughly researching all the rafting trip options, Dan and his wife Mary Lou decided to book a Grand Canyon rafting adventure. “We initially thought about 3-4 days, but the more we looked into it the more we wanted a longer trip.” In hindsight, he says he would definitely recommend a minimum of 6 days/5 nights, which is enough time to see the majority of the amazing Grand Canyon.

One of the things Dan and Mary Lou thought added the most to their experience in the Canyon was the side hikes that are available. “I strongly recommend that anyone on a Grand Canyon raft trip take all the hikes they offer. You see so much more and experience what the Canyon is all about on the hikes.” Dan says they especially enjoyed the magical Elves Chasm, Havasu Creek, and swimming in the Little Colorado, as well as the excitement of Hermit and Lava rapids.

Redwall Cavern

Looking back, Dan shares a special appreciation of their guides, saying, “My wife is a two-time cancer survivor and would not have gone all the way on a couple of the more difficult hikes if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of the guides. There were a lot of scrambling type hikes, but the guides were GREAT. When my wife or anyone, for that matter, needed a hand they were right there to help.”

Dan and Mary Lou hadn’t expected the food to be very good on the trip, so they were pleasantly surprised. One example of how the rafting company caters to its guests: “It was my wife’s 65th birthday the last night of the trip and I had mentioned it to the office staff. They must have made a note of it because they baked a cake for her – in a Dutch oven – it was delicious, and just a great celebration with the whole group!”

So what advice would this first time rafter give a baby boomer considering a Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip? He recommends doing some physical training and practice hikes in advance for conditioning. That way, you can be sure to be ready to take advantage of all the incredible hidden side-canyon hikes within the Canyon. In terms of packing, Dan recommends following the outfitter’s guidelines, bringing closed-toe water shoes that work for side hikes, layer your clothing, and good quality rain gear. “Be prepared to get SOAKING wet!” he exclaims. “And bring a waterproof camera so you can get pictures while on the raft.”

Crossing an item off of your bucket list is a major accomplishment, and when asked if Dan and Mary Lou waited too long to take their incredible journey, Dan responds, “No and yes. ‘No’ in that we’re so glad we did it when we did; but ‘yes’ because if we had done it earlier in life we would have taken the trip again!” So it seems that based on these rafters’ experience, it’s never too soon (or too late) for a baby boomer to take the plunge and experience a whitewater trip in the Canyon for the adventure of a lifetime.


  1. Great story. Excellent adventure. I’ve never rafted the Colorado, but have hiked from top to bottom of the Grand Canyon, splashed around in the Colorado River, then hiked back up again. It can be a pretty grueling hike, but I whole heartedly agree that the hiking is simply awesome. I’d luv to raft it someday like you two did.

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