By river stream, river canyon, valley, lake or stream the American West is a place for thrill seekers.
When it comes to the longest river in the U.S., the Snake River in the High Plains region of Wyoming, adventure seekers, or at least they’re hoping, get rare opportunities.
The 143-mile-long river has taken on a bold new meaning in recent months as it has crossed the divide between North and South America.
IHMSU rafting company owner Jon Graumann returned from crossing the Volga River, an incredible feat that took him from the capitol of the Russian Federation to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina in a round trip of 14 days and 16 hours.
For those on the move farther from the prying eyes of civilization, it is a dream for river-crossing enthusiasts.
“My day was 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. and sometimes I was on the river till midnight or 1 a.m.,” he said, referring to a 24-hour stretch he’s experienced.
So last month, Graumann braved the often-grim Barren Mountains in the same region to conduct what he considers to be the longest water crossing in the U.S. at 183 miles from Riverton, Wyoming, into the mountains of Utah.
“It was worth it,” Graumann said. “I loved every minute of it.”
Gravel river straddling America and Canada
The son of Utah-born, Wyoming-raised parents who ran cattle and irrigated crops on their Riverton land, Graumann first thought of rafting the American River when he saw a rivercrossing advertisement in a newspaper.
“It is kind of hard to sell the idea to people who haven’t seen river crossings,” he said. “It’s kind of a wild idea you’re talking about, that you can take a half a day to leave your house and not see any people along the way.”
But it is not a short trip for people in search of a changing canvas of whitewater waterfalls and river forest edges.
Gravel River the new frontier for the vanguard
“River crossings are not for everyone,” Graumann said. “It’s a lot of work for people who don’t already know how to fix a float line. It’s a lot of maintenance and it’s not always smooth sailing.”
The gravel route between Riverton and Park City in Utah allowed the roads out of the way. Graumann timed the trip to be in good shape for his customers and allowed geocaching members of his varsity team to join him and do a quick stint on local streets.
“So as not to give people the idea that this is just for nerds,” Graumann said.
For the Gerenbergs it is an adventure to remember, one that will live long in the memory and perhaps inspire children to explore America’s wild rivers.
“A lot of people can do it, but they don’t know how to do it,” Graumann said. “When you think about it, it’s the longest river in the U.S. and it has been done before and it’s probably not done again for the next 10 years. So there is something to be said for that.”
The adventure continues with a trip to Russia where he will take yet another rivercrossing trip.