13 Year-old Kayaks The Grand Canyon

On July 12th Ted Watts, 13, of Phoenix, Ariz. (Pictured in the green boat), became—most likely—the youngest person to have ever kayaked the entire 225-mile length of The Grand Canyon. It’s hard to say one way or another who is, technically, the youngest person to have kayaked the The Grand. There’s certainly not a comprehensive list of everyone who has ever done it—at least not an accurate one. But as far as we can tell, little Ted has got the unofficial title. The next closest youngster is likely the British young gun, Dan Murphy, who kayaked the entire Grand Canyon in 2007 when he was 15.

“I didn’t plan on running everything in my kayak,” says Ted, who completed the raft-supported trip with his parents and two siblings in 16 days. “I have a lot of respect for that river, so I figured I’d take it one rapid at a time.” He did run everything though, including the classic—and intimidating— “Class 10” (the highest on The Grand scale) Lava Falls in which he had to combat roll twice. “That was definitely the most challenging,” he says. “There’s so many holes so close together, and you just kind of have to square up to them.”

“A few gray hairs sprouted on that trip,” says his mom, Michelle. “But we’re proud of him.”

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  • Randall Lutter

    Sounds like Ted had a great run. Congratulations to him! Hope he stays with the sport and grows with it!

    In 2006, my son Peter Lutter, kayaked the same length of the Grand Canyon when he was 13 and 7 months, paddling a Pirouette S, on a trip with Canyon Expeditions. He later went on to be a member of the U.S. Junior Slalom Team and the U.S. Junior and Senior Wildwater Teams.

    -rl

  • Eric

    Nope, did it with my brother when he was 11 and I was 15. We ran that was in 1996.

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