GreenField Health clinician Mal McAninch took in one of the world’s wonders recently when he floated the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Beginning to end, it’s a three-week, 297-mile trip through more than 150 named rapids, including the formidable Crystal Falls and Lava Falls. But Mal wasn’t on a raft—he and his trip mates experienced it all in dories, the Maseratis of river running.

 “At 16' 9" stern to bow, with six hatches, passenger benches and hardwood rails and trim, dories are able to run a river much more quickly than a raft,” as described by OARS, the trip outfitter, whose founder Martin Litton started using dories commercially in the early ‘70s. Interestingly, the McKenzie River drift boat inspired the modern dory’s design.

“It was an amazing experience,” says Mal. “I would recommend it to anyone, the perfect prescription for reinvigoration—I'm ready to go back!”

It's a sentiment shared by trip mate Peter McBride who wrote about another dory trip in a National Geographic article: “I’m on the 11th day of a 15-day boat trip down the Grand Canyon with family members, and we’re about to hit Lava Falls—an experience our boatman just described as ‘getting tossed down a flight of stairs while someone fires a river hose at you.’ I’m seriously questioning the wisdom of our having opted for dories, low-slung boats that in smooth water bob like corks—but in rapids can flip like bottle caps. My hands clutch the gunwales of the dory I’m in, the Okeechobee. During its 35 years of dancing the Colorado through this mile-deep Arizona canyon, the Okeechobee has been rebuilt at least five times.”

Dories Sunset

Photos from OARS