Hance Rapid, Grand Canyon

About Hance Rapid

Hance Rapid is the first Class VIII that you will encounter on the Grand Canyon. It’s considered one of the hardest and longest rapids in the Grand Canyon, so scouting is suggested, which can be done from river right.

Like the majority of Grand Canyon rapids, Hance Rapid was formed from a debris flow from Red Canyon, which enters on river left.

The name Hance Rapid is for John Hance, who was an integral figure of the Grand Canyon in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Going by “Captain” John Hance, (he fought in the Civil War for the Confederates, although he was never a captain), he was known as a colorful character and excellent storyteller. This was all possible as he acted as a guide via an old Havasupai trail that he improved and through his hotel.

How to run Hance Rapid

The general idea at Hance is to enter right and row hard left, avoiding large holes that stack up on the right side of the rapid. These holes are known as “The Land of Giants” and for good reason – they’re quite large. Getting left though is challenging as the current is pushing you right due to the top left and center of the rapid being choked by boulders, forcing both the current right and your entrance right.

Like most Grand Canyon rapids though, the key to a successful run is with your entrance. Just past the entrance there is a small eddy, called “Duck Pond Eddy” that lies approximately in the center of the river. The line is to hit this eddy and from there, continue working your way left and picking your way through the rapid. The trick to hitting this eddy is with a downstream ferry angle, allowing you to make the move by having an aggressive angle and momentum.

Just below Hance Rapid is Son of Hance Rapid, so it is important to run tight safety here.

Video of Hance Rapid

Without a doubt, Marc’s video of how to run Hance Rapid is far superior to any text, diagram, or guidebook explaining the line. It is highly recommended you give it a watch. It begins at minute marker 38:00 and is below.

Marc Hunt’s tutorial on how to run Hance Rapid starts at minute marker 38:00. Link to source.

Hance rapid diagram

Overhead diagram of the line at Hance Rapid.

Hance rapid grand canyon as seen from river right

This is the view from the river right scout. Note the rock garden at the top on river left, forcing you to enter right. Just downstream of this rock garden is the Duck Pond, an area of slackwater that can be very hard to reach. Keep an eye out for the very large waves/holes in the center of the current. These are very hard to avoid if you make a mistake on the entrance.

Dory boat running Hance Rapid. Notice how they generally pull left at full strength through the majority of the rapid.