Several years ago Darren Vancil, an extreme white water rafting enthusiast from Grand Junction, CO, put together a new design for a raft that he named the Creature Craft. Well named! It definitely looks like a creature. This new design incorporates an inflated tube over the top of the raft that prevents it from flipping. The design has proved highly successful, and a team of rafters has since been tackling the most extreme white water in the US that is big enough for rafting. Many of these rivers have only been run by kayakers, and are normally considered off limits to most rafters. It is truly incredible what they are doing with these boats.
The boaters are secured in the raft with seat belts, and employ various configurations alternating between paddling and rowing, with one or two boaters per raft. When a Creature Craft gets stuck in a hole and flips, it only goes half way over, keeping the boaters above water. Then they flip it back upright when they can. Most of the whitewater they are running is so huge that they have little control over their craft, but it doesn’t matter as they always flush through the rapids in the end, so far…
This summer I watched the team tackle the legendary North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho, where I saw one of the rafts stuck in a hole for at least 10 minutes on its side, but they hung on and eventually flushed out.
Creature Craft has taken whitewater rafting to a whole new level. Check out this link to a YouTube video of one of their runs, and follow more links to see other rivers they are running.