Gaylord Staveley header
Whitewater Boatman &
Author of Grand Canyon &
Colorado River Books
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A boating history of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon

Hover over image to pause.

More than forty years before Major John Wesley Powell’s 1869 descent of the Green and Colorado rivers, mountain men in bullboats had probed the river’s headwaters, and schooner and steamboat captains were probing its mouth. Powell’s voyage was one of confirmation. It penetrated that “Great Unknown” called Grand Cañon.  It connected the upper and lower probes of the river, and was the beginning of full-length boat expeditions.

The Rapids and the Roar tells the stories of twenty-one historic river running endeavors before and after Powell, and the reasons they ran the river or tried. Their reasons – many and mixed – included ego, ambition, profit, prestige, challenge, compulsion, achievement, career-building, competitive advantage, publicity, official mapping, romance and, in one instance, descending the river “just for the hell-of-it.” 

These pioneers blazed a “river trail”, and a flow of history and knowledge that led to the dawning of recreational river running, followed by mushrooming public demand and the beginning of intensified manipulation of river flows and river visitation.

The book relates how Gaylord's life unexpectedly connected with that historic flow in the 1950s, just when damming of the San Juan, Green, and Colorado rivers had been authorized. The latter chapters relate adventures and challenges encountered before, during and after the dam, and Gaylord's resolve to grow a small historic enterprise into Canyoneers, a modern river outfitting service, in the face of intensifying river and recreational controls.


Book Details

  • Published by Fretwater Press
  • 344 pages
  • 145 photos and illustrations
  • 4 appendices
  • Bibliography, Index
  • ISBN: Cloth 978-1-892327-16-1.
  • Paper 978-1-892327-15-4
  • Paperbound $19.95
  • Hardbound $29.95


  • A Shortcut to the Grand Canyon (1951)
  • An impulsive detour, an unlikely meeting, an unimaginable wedding gift.
  • Expedition Log – The San Juan River (1956)
  • Down the river and into the lore.
  • Expedition Log – Through The Grand Canyon (1956)
  • Getting to row, getting into trouble, getting an offer.
  • Blazing the River Trail (1825 - 1937)
  • Twenty-one pioneering river expeditions.
  • Whitewater Boating as a Performing Art (1938 - 1949)
  • Norman Nevills becomes the world’s number one fast water boatman.
  • Making Other Plans (1956 - 1957)
  • "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."
  • The Return of Big Red (1957)
  • A monstrous spring runoff reminds us the Colorado hasn’t yet been subdued.
  • Feudin’ (1957 - 1958)
  • The new kid finds himself in the realm of river gods and goddesses.
  • Next Year Country (1958 - 1959)
  • Where "you have to believe things will get better — or that it doesn’t matter".
  • Insurmountable Opportunities (1959 - 1962)
  • Waiting for “next year” becomes chaotic and costly.
  • Dead Storage (1958 - 1965)
  • The lake runs up and down Glen Canyon, and the river hardly runs at all.
  • The Last Expedition (1966 - 1969)
  • A Centennial retracing of Major Powell’s 1869 descent of the Green and Colorado.
  • Metamorphosis (1970 - 1972)
  • The beginning of the river running boom — especially through the Grand Canyon.