The Arizona Floating Bus Tour

Arizona Bus flash flood floating

In the desert, it is NEVER a wise idea to enter a flooded roadway.  Here is a great example of why not!

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On July 28, 2013, I was leaving the Grand Canyon West Rim with my tour group. Heading back to Las Vegas. There were a couple of other small tour groups in front of me. One was a Pink Jeep. Along the way to the main road, we were hit with a summer shower. About 10 minutes of lite rain and it stopped. At mile marker number 16 on Pierce Ferry Road, we came to a complete halt as we watched a flash flood happen before us. As well as watching a full-size tour bus gets washed away. Passengers and all!

Pink Jeep Tours was the first to stop. That’s the driver you hear on the video talking to his office. This video was captured on a pre-smartphone cellphone. That explains the low resolution and small frame size! I was the third vehicle to stop.

What Happened?

In the Mohave desert, the subsoil is like a solid rock. It’s often either caliche or its lava rock/granite. It can also be a mixture of both. Either way, it’s almost unable to be broken up or for it to absorb any moisture.

Since it rains only a few times a year and usually under four inches per year, we tend to build the roads to the curvature of the earth. Sometimes it flat and straight, other times its a little curvey and has some sudden dips in it. Mile Marker 16 is in a dip.

The rainwater from up high on the mountains has no place to go but down. The tiny streams of water start to bunch up as they find the path of least resistance. Suddenly you have a wall of water, mud, and debris that you can not outrun.


In this case, you had three tour buses heading back to Las Vegas from the West Rim when the rain hit. From what we gathered from the officials on the scene while waiting for the road to clear; Bus number one stated that there was a little stream of water coming across the road. Bus number two, not far behind. Stated that the road was covered with a little stream of water. Maybe six inches deep… Bus number three… Well, you see his problem. The stream became a wall of water…

About a quarter-mile down the new river, the bus hit a rock and turned on its side. The passengers inside were a Chinese tour group. They kicked the windows out and walked back to the road. By the time they came into our view, they were all soaked. Muddy from head to toe and giggling. Like this was better than any ride they had experienced at Disneyland!

Note: This is a repost.  The video is from a defunct travel channel I managed on YouTube!

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