Sunday, July 18, 2010

Arizona River Runners and The Bar 10 Ranch Celebrate 25 Years of Adventure!

This summer, Arizona River Runners is celebrating 25 years of flying river-rafting guests to the Bar 10 Ranch, a working cattle ranch on the Arizona Strip. Sharing the ranch experience with rafting guests provides visitors the opportunity to see a different part of the Canyon during their journey. Five generations of the Heaton family have been ranching on their property, located on a distinctive, narrow piece of land on the north side of the Grand Canyon, since the early 1970’s.

Arizona River Runners guests see ranch hands in action during their visit - doing everything needed to keep the ranch operating smoothly and also providing musical entertainment and dancing for guests. The Bar 10 produces their own all-natural grass fed beef ( on their 10,000 deeded acres, with grazing rights to 225,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management and Arizona State lands. The current ranching operations run approximately 1,000 head of cattle.

“Back in the day” it was common to add an airstrip for ease of “commuting” to and from town, which was over an hour away. It was about this same time rafting the Colorado River became a popular tourist activity. It wasn’t long before hundreds of people were floating down the river through the Grand Canyon, just a short distance from the Bar 10. When cattle prices fell, and interest rates soared, patriarch Tony Heaton recognized a business opportunity in the Colorado River. By the time river rafters got to a point near his Bar 10 Ranch, they had already been on the river for six or seven days, the length of time most people go for a vacation. Tony offered rafting companies the option to end their trip a few days earlier – just below the climactic Lava Falls Rapid, and use his airstrip to catch flights back to Las Vegas. He quickly organized teams of mules, and he and his four young sons were soon bringing awestruck tourists up from the river to his ranch, on mules, then in a converted school bus to the airstrip back to Las Vegas. Soon, Tony brought rafters to the Canyon for the shorter trips the outfitters offered.

It was about 1983 that Tony decided to build the lodge to heighten the river runners’ ranch experience. Tony and Ruby transported all the lumber, brick, windows, and other materials over the eighty miles of dirt road in a cattle truck.

All six Heaton children labored beside their parents, with unyielding commitment, energy and enthusiasm.

Later they added covered wagons to provide additional, private sleeping, and were surprised by their popularity with guests. In 1985, the Heatons set aside the mules in favor of helicopters and quickly saw the numbers of visitors to the Bar 10 Ranch increase to 6,000 per season.

Today the ranch sees over 13,000 guests a year, with rafting season from April into October. In addition to river guests, they welcome individuals, families, and groups. Guests are treated to delicious country-style buffet meals, using their own all-natural grass fed beef ( The Bar 10 crew provides evening entertainment, and ranch activities include horseback riding, skeet shooting, hiking, and relaxing. ATV rides and helicopter tours are also available.

The one thing that never changes is the genuine, friendly, western hospitality.

To read more on the Heatons and the Bar 10 Ranch visit

For more information on lodging and activities visit

To book your rafting trip with Arizona River Runners and experience the Bar 10 Ranch and all it has to offer call 1-800-477-7238.