Hance Rapid, at river mile 77 in the Upper (or northern stretch of the) Canyon, is considered one of the more technical rapids you’ll experience on your whitewater vacation. It is one of the first biggies you’ll hit as you make your way down the Colorado River from Lees Ferry.
Hance is named after one of Grand Canyon’s most colorful characters, “Captain” John Hance. After employment as a ranch hand just south of Grand Canyon, Captain Hance homesteaded 160 acres near Grandview Point. He turned his land into Grand Canyon’s first hotel (we’ll use that term loosely) and began his reputation as tall-tale-teller extraordinaire. Hance and some pals finished the first stagecoach road out to Hance’s hotel in the late 1880s, which allowed guests to more easily access his hotel and become enamored with Captain Hance and his larger-than-life personality. Captain Hance claimed to have dug the Grand Canyon himself and created the San Francisco Peaks with all the dirt; he told this story with such gusto that the guests just ogled over him! One of Captain Hance’s guests wrote in the guestbook:
“…a genius, a philosopher, and a poet, the possessor of a fund of information vastly important – if true. He laughs with the giddy, yarns to the gullible, talks sense to the sedate, and is a most excellent judge of scenery, human nature, and pie. To see the Canyon only, and not to see Captain John Hance, is to miss half the show.”
Captain Hance went on to sell the hotel to get into the mining business. You can still see Captain Hance’s asbestos mine on river right just after Hance Rapid.