Canyon Tours

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Canyon Tours runs tourists on raft trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It was founded by Willie Stein and was run by Louise Buck for many years. It is now run by her widower, Al Buck who has been a boatman for years.

A typical Canyon Tours trip runs 18 days each run and they will have more than one tour running each week during the season. Each tour will have a trip leader and an experienced hand on each raft. Dave and Mary Wells have chosen to operate their team with Dave and Mary as co-trip-leaders. There can also be extra helpers, called swampers.

Employees run a hectic schedule, having very little time off between trips, but then having an extended time off out of season, during the winter.

The office was a converted house with a large steel barn behind it on the edge of Flagstaff.INTA4


In 1999, a single ticket was $3200.DW65

In 2001, a tour cost about $3500 per person: when Ben Russell won a pair of tickets, he thought he could sell them and could knock off a couple grand and still have five in my pocket.CF22


Trip Leaders with Canyon Tours include Crystal Chladek, Rhonda Whitsell, aka Scooter, Dave and Mary Wells. Bill Peterson was once a Trip Leader, but left for law school.

Other boatmen with Canyon Tours include Michelle Rawson (the one with a bubblegum habit), Barbie Tompkins, Norma, Carl Austin, Kevin Haynes, Duane MacRae, Larry Newman, Mike Borchardt, and Andy Roney. Pat and Rachel Rawson were former regular boatmen that stopped to raise their family, although they'd continue to help out on occasion.

Trey Hartwell was briefly employed as a swamper, but left to edit Myleigh Harris' Canyon recordings as described in Blue Beauty. Both Randy Clark and Noah Whittaker have run gearboats to qualify as boatman, but weren't actually employees as of the wedding trip in May, 2001. As of the wedding trip, Nanci Chladek became a swamper.

Another regular employee was Jeff Pleva, the bus driver. Less regular, Ray Reynolds filled in as a substitute bus driver and "knows the drill"CF16 while Majorie Pleva, Jeff's wife, watched the store at least once.


Some of the tourists known to have run the Grand Canyon with Canyon Tours include Karin Chladek, Randy Clark, Jennlynn Swift, Will Hoffman and a wedding party that included many from as far away as Spearfish Lake and Florida.