Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
“You hope you’ll be right side up at the other end.” That’s how late rafting legend (and former Sunset editor) Martin Litton described running the Colorado through this greatest of gorges. Sometimes you have to test yourself against the most nature can throw at you. This is one of those times, when you’re soaked and frantically paddling, and the rapids you’re about to meet stir anticipation verging on terror: Sockdolager, Hermit, brutal Lava Falls. Then, later, the river calms, and you help guide the boat onto a beach, and the canyon’s ocher walls fold around you protectively, and there’s dinner and a campfire and the Milky Way in the sky. Does any day get more intensely, fully lived than this one? Nope.