The Emerald Mile

By Kevin Fedarko,

Book cover of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

Book description

From one of Outside magazine’s “Literary All-Stars” comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.

In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Emerald Mile as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

After I backpacked the Inner Canyon and Tonto Trail for 10 days in Grand Canyon, I longed for a book like this: one that would wrap the massive creation of the Grand Canyon into a compelling story and explore the depth of human connection. Fedarko adeptly weaves in history, geology, environmental concerns, wildlife, flora, Indigenous culture, and climate around a thrilling dory adventure on the Colorado River—so much so that you feel you really know the park. To pair reading it with hiking or boating into the inner canyon yields an immersive experience where you can see, touch, and breathe…

The Emerald Mile is one of my favorite books ever. Author Kevin Fedarko weaves the story of an illicit, record-setting paddle through the Grand Canyon with the history of this incredible, mind-blowing landscape. Fast-paced and compelling, the narrative moves quickly while remaining accessible and informative. I’ve yet to float through the Grand Canyon but reading (and re-reading) The Emerald Mile brings me as close to the real thing as I can get. If you like great adventure stories and want to learn more about this unparalleled landscape, read The Emerald Mile today. 

I read everything I find about rivers, and I can honestly say that this book completely blew me away. Illuminating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon as never before done, Kevin Fedarko combines a breathtaking quality of lyricism and a gripping drama of the river's most suspenseful flood event ever. Throughout, he captures the thrill of river travel and conveys a remarkable sense of beauty and perfection in flowing water. He produced not only the best river book ever written but—in my humble opinion—the best book I've ever read! I continue to delight in every paragraph of this American…

From Tim's list on rivers and the life they create.

When I finally got around to running the Colorado River rapids, it was in a wooden dory, with the legendary boatman Kenton Grua, “The Factor” as he was known, and the character at the center of this book. It is such an engrossing story because of knowing Grua and having been in his boat, “Emerald Mile,” that when I finished reading it, I turned immediately to page one and read the book all over again.

From Arthur's list on exploration of the American West.

This book is as fast-paced as the whitewater rapids Fedarko writes about. Massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River in 1983 threatened the most catastrophic dam failure in U.S. history. In a race against time, engineers must figure out how to relieve the pressure building up behind the Glen Canyon dam. Meanwhile, a couple of rafting nuts decide the raging waters are just the thing to slingshot them to a record run through the Grand Canyon. With a lively history of the Grand Canyon river running woven throughout and profiles of colorful characters, I simply could not put…

From Kaylene's list on outdoor travel and adventure.

The author romps through the greatest geology laboratory in the world: the Grand Canyon. The story is propelled by three breakneck rafters who, in 1983, aimed to set a speed record running the Colorado River through the Canyon. Along the way, the author navigates the history of the river and the Canyon--and gives downright thrilling descriptions of geology and fluvial behavior. He uses the most fearsome rapid on the Colorado, Lava Falls, to teach a gnarly lesson on hydrodynamics. Spoiler alert: the rafters rowed the 277 miles through the Canyon in 36 hours, 38 minutes, and 29 seconds.

(I read…

From Toni's list on badass geology books.

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