Gaylord Staveley header
Whitewater Boatman &
Author of Grand Canyon &
Colorado River Books
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Gaylord Staveley draws on his 60 years of running the Grand Canyon's Colorado River to write compelling books on historical and present day river running, the commercial boating industry, river conditions before and after Glen Canyon Dam, and the fight for the rights to the mighty Colorado.

Gaylord Staveley sneaking through Crystal Rapids in Grand Canyon
Gaylord slipping past the big hole in Crystal Rapid, Grand Canyon.

From the perspective of one of the first river runners to navigate through Grand Canyon from beginning to end and as the owner of the oldest Grand Canyon commercial river outfitting company, Gaylord's books have tales that have never been told.

Even the most ardent Grand Canyon history buffs will discover new stories in Gaylord's two latest books, The Rapids and The Roar and Taking Big Red.

You may want to read The Rapids and The Roar first for the early history of Colorado River whitewater boaters and Grand Canyon explorers, followed by Taking Big Red which begins around 1970 and extends into today. It focuses on the river, allocation and uses for its water, and the ensuing water war between the myriad of interested parties who want a piece of it.

Gaylord Staveley in the early 1970s steering a Grand Canyon river raft and wearing an old PFD3
Gaylord at the tiller in the early 1970s. The kapok-filled “racing style” life jackets, preferred for their leg straps and protective collar, soon became controversial.
Red silt laden Lava Falls in Grand Canyon
Big Red shows its muscle in always-photogenic Lava Falls. Here, the first boat has landed in a sheltered cove at the foot of the rapid, and passengers are photographing the second boat’s run.

The Rapids and The Roar book on Grand Canyon whitewater boating historyThe Rapids and The Roar relates the first attempts to run boats up and down the Colorado River and details twenty-one historic expeditions before and after John Wesley Powell. From 1825 through 1949 these early Grand Canyon river runners transformed boats and techniques for navigating the naturally fluctuating Colorado River currents.

As the tales and pictures of their adventures and discoveries spread, the public clamored to experience Grand Canyon's whitewater rapids for their vacations. Commercial outfitters soon sprung up to meet this public demand.

In this book Gaylord also describes how he unexpectedly caught the river fever and became a Colorado River outfitter and guide. He brings the reader along on his exciting challenges before and after Glen Canyon Dam, including the epic Grand Canyon flood of 1957 and river running during the dam's construction.

The Rapids and The Roar includes the beginnings of post-dam battles over who gets to use the river, what for, when, and how much.

Read more about The Rapids and The Roar or BUY NOW.


Taking Big Red book on the Colorado River water warTaking Big Red begins where The Rapids and the Roar ends. Glen Canyon Dam altered the flows and flow patterns of the Colorado River, and interest in river trips was mushrooming.

The water war gets underway as demand and use increases by numerous and differing interests. This book is an historical account of the water war, the parties involved, and its battles from 1970 to today.

River runners split into several factions of private boaters vs. commercial outfitters and oars vs. motors. All boaters experienced the effects of too much or not enough water from the new hydroelectric dam.

National Park Service sets out to address the issues in river management plans, which changed from simple closed-door meetings to difficult multi-year processes.

Other entities like the Coast Guard, Congress, fishermen, Sierra Club, environmentalists and scientists also became involved in the battle.

The question in 2016 is whether there's enough Colorado River water to meet the demands for it. John Wesley Powell didn't think so over 100 years ago.

Read more about Taking Big Red or BUY NOW.