Lava Falls Rapids in the Grand Canyon is one hundred seventy-nine miles downstream from Lees Ferry on the Colorado River. Lava Falls has a difficulty rating of a Class 10 rapid, the highest rating a rapid can receive under the Grand Canyon’s older classification system. The Guinness Book of World Records listed it as the fastest navigable water in North America at 20 m.p.h.
The run over Lava Falls lasts around 25 seconds as the rapid drops 37 feet in a hundred yards. Approaching the rapids, you can only see the occasional mist of water spurt up. However, its thundering roar can be heard hundreds of yards upstream. Many groups enjoy a post-lava celebratory rest at the fittingly named Tequila Beach.
Major George Wesley Powell was one of the first to site Lava Falls. He is known as the father of American geology. Major Powell performed two surveying expeditions down the Colorado River. During his first expedition in the 1860s, he briefly considered running Lava Falls for the first time. However, after assessing his weakened raft, Major Powell opted to portage around the daunting Class 10 Lava Falls Colorado River rapids. At this point, the rapids were at least 85 meters downstream from where they are today.