Crystal Rapid, Grand Canyon
About Crystal Rapid
Crystal undoubtedly is one of the most anticipated rapids on any river trip – and for good reason. The main hole in Crystal is in the center of the rapid, a couple hundred feet below the top of the entrance tongue. The hole reaches colossal size at high water but commands respect at any flow. The hole was formed after a historic storm in 1966 that brought over a dozen inches of rain along the North Rim. Crystal Creek, the namesake of the rapid, flooded and pushed an enormous debris flow into the Colorado. That debris flow deposited the boulder which made the notorious Crystal Hole.
How to run Crystal Rapid
It is possible to run left or right of the main hole. A standard right run involves entering the rapid to the right of the tongue and pulling to stay as close to shore as possible. The current will try to bring you towards the huge holes in the middle of the rapid. Once you have cleared the holes, continue your pull to the right to avoid the rock garden in the center of the bottom of the rapid. A left run is a bit more dynamic. To run left, push down the left side of the tongue and punch through a couple of laterals that can surf a boat towards the main hole. Going left is a balance. If you go too far left, there is a sharp pourover against the left wall that is approximately in-line with the Crystal Hole. Ideally, a left run splits the difference between the pour-over on the left and the Crystal Hole. Stay off of the left-wall below the hole, as many boats have flipped beneath the main action. It is easiest to stay left of the rock garden at the bottom if you go left of the main hole.
This video shows a number of crafts running Crystal Rapid at around 20,000 CFS. You can see how much current is pushing towards the Crystal Hole.
The guardian hole above the main Crystal hole. Depending on the flow, this one can be quite intense – hitting it will also set you up to run the main hole directly.