Real Adventure in the Grand Canyon



Grand Canyon Side Canyon

(Photos in this post were taken by Vera Marie or Ken Badertscher on a 1990 raft trip through the Grand Canyon, scanned from prints.)

Destination: Grand Canyon, USA

Book: The Grand Adventure: A True Story of Survival and Determination on an Amazing River Journey into the Grand Canyon and Other Canyons of the West, by Mark A. and Donna E. Hicks.

A Guest Post by Jessica Voigts with suggestions from her 8 year-old daughter, Lillie

The Grand Adventure, a book for young people, shares the story of a man, John Wesley Powell,  and his trip down the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon.

It’s full of fascinating facts – want to know why one spot is called Disaster Falls? Did you know that Powell was interested in geology and the artifacts that he found?

It’s a tale of a journey of hardship, of perseverance, of learning about yourself and others, and about the power of hope and discovery. I love this book – the illustrations are both beautiful and realistic. It made me want to go the Grand Canyon (although with easier transportation).

Mark Hicks is one of my favorite authors/illustrators – he’s got a plethora of talent and a way of telling a story, in pictures and in words. Let’s talk with Mark about his new book.


Grand Canyon rapids
Grand Canyon rapids, Colorado River

Wandering Educators: Please tell us about your new book, The Grand Adventure.

Mark Hicks: The Grand Adventure is the true story of John Wesley Powell’s first expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon in 1869. This daring 1,000-mile journey is one of the great exploration adventures of the American West.

WE:  What inspired you to write this book?

MH: I wanted to try and share with kids what it was like to go into a wild, unexplored area and be unsure if you would even come out alive. No maps, no GPS, no cell phones to call for help! The Colorado was a mighty river back then and the boats they went down in were so small. Imagine the courage and determination it took to do this — and John Wesley Powell only had one arm!

WE: What do you love most about the Grand Canyon – have you ridden in the river there?

MH: There’s just so much to love about the Canyon. I could go on for hours about its beauty, but I’ll keep it short. The North rim is my favorite side. A lot of the flora and fauna is unique to the area. It’s just so beautiful — especially at sunset and also during summer thunderstorms. And a thunderstorm at sunset on the North Rim of the Canyon, well, it’s nothing less than absolutely glorious.

Rainbow at Grand Canyon
Rainbow at Grand Canyon

To read the rest of the interview with author/illustrator Mark Hicks, please see the book review section at Wandering Educators.


Thanks for bringing us this author and this book, Jessie and Lillie.  I have always been in awe of Powell’s accomplishment, but also have to laugh at how he and all the early explorers wrote off the Grand Canyon as worthless. Try to tell that to the tourism industry in the Grand Canyon State–Arizona! Ken and I were fortunate to take a river raft trip through the Canyon in 1990. Boats and food have definitely improved since Powell’s trip!

So, have you been to the Grand Canyon? What’s your favorite part?

Any comments on today’s post (up until Wednesday morning, Jan. 26) gives you a chance to win either  book about another Arizona icon–Tombstone Postcards, or a copy of Under the Huang Jiao Tree, award winning book about China.  And all comments through January 31 will enter you in the drawing for two nights at a Cambria Suites. See contest rules.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

10 thoughts on “Real Adventure in the Grand Canyon

  1. I haven’t yet hiked down into the Grand Canyon or rafted down the Colorado River, but it’s on my to-do list for our next trip to the Canyon. Thanks for sharing this interview!

    1. Getting below the rim is like being in a totally different place. Even if you just walk a short way down one of the trails, you’re in a different world. But rafting down is amazing. It is also a very isolated feeling. I had a bit of a panic attack the first night realizing that the only way out was a very long and steep hike, or a very costly helicopter. I was “stuck”. But then I relaxed and enjoyed it tremendously. The full moon, which only appears for a couple of hours in the slit between the walls of the canyon, kept us awake until it slid away over the rim. You can see the oldest exposed rock on EARTH! The rapids are exciting and breathtaking.

  2. Thanks for sharing The Grand Adventure with us. I have rafted the Grand Canyon and can tell, it is absolutely amazing. When i signed up for the trip I didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined. It was nice to just take in the beautiful sights. Thanks for the post! [NOTE: link to commercial site web address removed by editor. Anyone who tries to sneak in a commercial here, will get the same treatment]

  3. Great introduction to this book. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon- but it has been too many years ago, it was great seeing the pics. I’m certainly fascinated to read the account of an expedition there in 1869!!! I’m always in awe of those former explorers- such bravery.

  4. The photos are lovely. I wonder just how much has changed in 20 years. If you ever get back, be sure to try to take photos near the same locations. It would be really nice to look at the changes.

    1. Thanks, Laura. Unfortunately , that was before digital cameras, so the scanned photos are a bit fuzzier than they would be today–plus the color has faded a bit.
      But I loved going through our old album and reliving that adventure. The trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon definitely was a highlight of our travel life!
      Glad so many people are enjoying this post by Jesse Voigts and Lillie.

  5. Thank you for sharing the Hicks’ “The Grand Adventure”. I want to start backpacking with my children and give them these sort of experiences. -r

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