Currents in the Colorado River can be deceptively strong and often undetectable from the surface. While the dangers of the river are obvious in rapids, the danger is not so obvious at some of the popular camping areas and beaches. Swimmers are often pulled farther out from shore than they planned by undercurrents, sometimes with tragic consequences.
NEVER try to swim across the river without a Personal Flotation Device (lifejacket). The river is wider than it looks. We have been called several times to rescue people who were lucky enough to make it to the wrong side of the river, but realized they would not be able to swim back across.
While there are numerous streams and lakes in Grand County, most of our water rescues (and too often, body recoveries) involve the Colorado River, and sometimes the Green River. From a single outboard Zodiac raft in the early 90’s, GCSAR’s fleet of watercraft has grown to include a 21-foot aluminum shallow-water SJX Jet Boat with a 200HP Mercury inboard, a 17-foot prop-driven Demaree J-Rig, a 14-foot Demaree outboard outfitted with a Jetfoot, and a pair of Jet Skis.
Several members of GCSAR are designated as boat operators after going through specialized training on the river. Boat operators are encouraged to take Swiftwater Rescue courses. GCSAR also works with a dive team from the Moab Valley Fire Dept.