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Why Don Hatch?

The Don Hatch Legacy

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Don Hatch River Expeditions has been in the river running business for over 80 years! It all began when Bus Hatch turned a weekend hobby into a way of life for the Don Hatch family.

Why Don Hatch River Expeditions?

Don Hatch River Expeditions - The Legacy

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In the late 1920's, Bus along with his brothers and cousins built themselves a wooden boat and set out for the Green River, in what is now Dinosaur National Monument, to explore it's mysterious canyons.  Friends and family members thought they were crazy.  Other explorations had encountered problems and sometimes disastrous consequences from their explorations.  Even Major John Wesley Powell's noted expedition in 1869 was not without its problems.  Undeterred, the "Dusty Dozen," as Bus and his group had been aptly named, built themselves a wooden boat and set out to run the river.   It took a few tries to get the boat just right, but after some near disasters, such as losing all of their provisions, they found the right design.

The Hatch Legacy

The men were captivated by the river and spent as much time as they could spare from their regular jobs out running the rapids.  Two more wooden boats were constructed, bringing the fleet up to a total of three.  The boats were named, "What Next", "Who Cares", and "Lota Ve".  The latter was named after the daughter of Alton Hatch, brother to Bus, as Alton had financed the construction of this third boat.

Having conquered the Green River and Yampa River, the "Dusty Dozen" moved on to try other seemingly treacherous river canyons, including Cataract Canyon, known as the "Graveyard of the Colorado".  This group had the distinction of being among the first one hundred people to attempt a descent of the Grand Canyon and also one of the first parties to complete a descent of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Idaho Wilderness.

The Hatch Legacy

Word of Bus and his crew's adventures was getting around. It seemed he was being called upon more and more often to take parties of surveyors, engineers, fishermen, hunters and just plain thrill seekers down the rivers.  He was beginning to realize these people would actually pay him for his services and river running expertise.   He could supplement his income as a carpenter and still do the thing he had come to love so dearly.  With the increasing publicity of exploring the rivers and the growing popularity of river running as a sport, Bus found he could not meet the demand with his hand-crafted wooden boats.  After World War II, he discovered that military-pontoon type rubberized rafts could be purchased cheaply and could be set-up to handle the whitewater.  Bus also discovered that the war surplus rafts could carry many passengers and provisions.   Thus, the first commercial river running company was born.  The first concession permit in Dinosaur National Monument, and what is believed to be the first river concession permit in the country, was issued to Bus's Hatch River Expeditions in 1953.  Permits for other rivers were to follow.

Bus's sons were now an active part of the business, helping their father show the river canyons to increasing numbers of people each year.  Bus was contacted in 1956 by radio personality Lowell Thomas to navigate the Indus River in Pakistan for Thomas' Cinerama film, "Search for Paradise".  Bus and his son Don flew to Pakistan with a ten-man raft and a large pontoon for the filming.  The stretch of the river selected for filming had never been successfully navigated.   The rapids on the Indus were bigger than any that Bus or Don had ever encountered.  There were many anxious moments and one member of the film crew was lost in the turbulent waters.  The film led to more exposure for the Hatch Family and river running.  Bus continued running the rivers he so dearly loved until his death in 1967.

Seventy-five years later, the tradition continues.  Much has changed in the river running industry.  Just as the wooden boats gave way to war surplus rafts, the war surplus rafts have been replaced with ultra-modern, specially designed, professional equipment.  With the explosion of outdoor-oriented family vacations, river running continues to grow in popularity.   The goal of Don Hatch River Expeditions is to show rafting customers the beauty of the river canyons, while stressing the importance of preserving the canyons and rivers for future generations.