Hatch River Expeditions

Our History

The beginning

Bus Hatch started running the rivers of northeastern Utah in 1929. A carpenter by trade, Bus was curious what lay downstream of his hometown of Vernal, Utah, so he built himself a boat and set out exploring the Green River. River running quickly turned into a passion for Bus, and his enthusiasm spread. Soon people were asking Bus to take them downriver, and a business was born.

Bus Hatch led the first ever commercial rafting trip in the United States. Soon, rivers in other parts of the country were luring Bus, and he took his first group down the Grand Canyon in 1934.

Back in those days, even a river trip that people had paid for was still somewhat exploratory. Bus lacked the amenities of modern river trips: coolers that hold ice for days, propane stoves, and a host of other items we take for granted on rafting trips nowadays. Often the provisions for a trip consisted of a shotgun and ammunition, and a few bottles of whiskey for good measure. Bus thought these items could get him and his clients through any emergency…and he was right.

Whitewater Rafting Pioneer

Bus became a pioneer in white water rafting; he was one of the first people to run the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho, and his wanderlust led him to Pakistan, where he logged the first descent of the Indus River.

Bus continued to run rivers until his death in 1967. At that time his son Ted took over the Grand Canyon raft trip operation and his son Don took over the Idaho and Utah operations.

In the years since Bus’ death, many changes have taken place in the industry as a whole and within our operations. The Idaho and Utah operations have sold to large companies outside of the Hatch family. Hatch River Expeditions located in Flagstaff, Arizona, which operates within the Grand Canyon currently is the only Hatch family owned and operated river rafting company in the world.

The river running tradition remains strong at Hatch River Expeditions with Bus’ grandson, Steve Hatch, running the operation alongside his wife Sarah. Steve was born and bred to run rivers and finds his passion in sharing the captivating experience of traveling down river with guests from all around the world.

Dedication to the River

Steve reveals, “After all these years, the river continues to draw me back. No matter how many trips I take, there is always something new to be discovered or somebody new to share it with. It amazes me how traveling downriver with someone new can bring such a new and unique perspective. That’s why we do what we do – to share the majesty of the Grand Canyon with our guests”.

This dedication shows as Steve still personally completes the orientation and launches the majority of wilderness river adventures every summer. It is obvious that the Hatch tradition endures and continues and hopefully will into the next generation. One of our boatmen, Sean Hatch, is a fourth generation descendent from Bus. Now that’s a legacy!

We are extremely proud to have such a rich rafting history, and we still uphold the family traditions. Our generations of experience shine through in everything we do, and as the first commercial whitewater rafting company, we believe our reputation speaks for itself.

Further Reading

If you want to know more about Bus Hatch and the founding of Hatch River Expeditions, check out Riverman: The Story of Bus Hatch by Roy Webb