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international edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Frederick A Herschler

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Abacus

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Product Description

The happy hunting grounds are closed for repair, the buried hatchet is nowhere to be found, the buffalo herds have gone on holiday, and the palefaces have decided to drink their firewater themselves rather than sell it to the Indians. All this means that the young Indian braves have to find new forms of entertainment, and since Manitou has decided to let more water than usual flow through the canyon, they decide to organize a canoe race through the rapids.

It's a canoe race and a card game all in one. Movement in the race is determined by the card game. However, there are plenty of strategic decisions on the river. The first one across the finish line wins, but if you lose it in the rapids, you must climb back up and run them again.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game Runner-Up, 1999
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1998
Deutscher Spiele Preis
5th place, 1998

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Frederick A Herschler

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Abacus

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 1997

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 815 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).


  • 1 game board
  • 80 cards
  • 6 canoe counters
  • 1 marking stone

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.3 in 6 reviews

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An enhanced card game
June 25, 2006

It is hard to get around the fact that Canyon is merely a board game version of the card game Up and Down the River except this version actually has . . . well . . . a river! I suppose game designer Frederick A Herschler must have played the old trick- taking Spades knock-off and decided to add in the river to make it more like a board game. And, truth to tell, that was a good decision.

The game does have a new element of competitiveness when each hand of play involves stretegic movements down a river toward a base camp above a waterfall. The final hands of play involve careful bidding since canoes only advance if the indian (player) achieves exactly the number of tricks they predicted they would. Failure to take the tricks needed can result in being swept away by the waterfall's current and deposited behind the other braves.

I expected to be underwhelmed when I realized I had played the card game version, but I must admit, the board elements do enhance the playability. I was won over.

by Wendy
Very fun game
July 16, 2002

I'm not sure why I really like this one, but every time I play it, I win!!

It's extremely easy to learn and will provide enough challenge to score the points needed to complete the race track.

The graphics are really good, the quality of the cards and components, superb!

The game is basically a card game, using a canoe race through a well constructed canyon, to keep score. The course gradually becomes more difficult as the game progresses and finally the game demands perfection in card playing to navigate 'the rapids' and win the game. An excellent twist to an already pleasurable endeavour.

Highly recommended as an evening opener, closer or filler. Especially good for non-gamers.

by Mike
My Wife Even Plays this with Me!
January 29, 1999

A unique combination of card game and board game, race your canoe from one end of the river to the other. Based on Oh Hell, the number of tricks you take determines how far you move with bonuses for getting your bid exactly right. Watch out for the rapids, where you have to make your bid exactly or risk going over the edge of the waterfall.

My wife isn't an avid gamer, but sometimes she wants to join us! This is a great 'not hurt your head' game. Light and enetertaining, my wife even plays this one with me.

An interesting take on trick-taking
January 14, 2001

Designing the perfect trick-taking game seems to be something of a Holy Grail for game designers. Each one seems obligated at some point in his career to try his hand at creating the ultimate trick-taking experience. Some of these are successful. Others, sadly, are not. I do not know of any other games designed by Mr. Herschler, but this design falls into the successful category.

While the cardplay does not differentiate itself from the standard, it is the extra bits that set Canyon apart from the bulk of its kind. The number of cards in hand varies from round to round, which leads to somewhat more dynamic play. The use of a board for scorekeeping leads to some interesting opportunities, as a player who is behind may not necessarily be able to pass someone with a higher score. Finally, the need to predict the exact number of tricks taken in the last few rounds is hardly revolutionary, but does spice up the dish.

Nothing really stands out about Canyon to the degree that it should be declared a classic. It is what it is, an interesting trick-taking game that lends itself to family gatherings and similar 'light game' scenarios.

Note: If you can get your hands on it, pick up a copy of the Grand Canyon expansion for this game. It was distributed for free for a while, and it adds quite a lot to the game. Each turn, players pick cards with special powers that can be used only for that turn. Deciding which of the specials would be most beneficial adds a bit of brain-bending to the game, which makes it more interesting and makes it much more of a gamer's game.

Old game, new wrapper
December 26, 1998

Remember the card game Oh Hell, where you have to bid the exact number of tricks you're going to take? Canyon provides you with a five-suited deck of cards to play Oh Hell and a board to keep score on, the 'canoe race' being merely your progress toward the score needed to win. It's nicely done -- I even like playing it -- but that's all it is.

Fun Variant, But Oh Hell! Is Better
January 29, 1999

Canyon is an Oh Hell! variant with a 50 card/5 suited deck. The object is to predict the number of tracks you will take and move your canoe (playing piece) down the canyon to the landing site.

Having 5 suits seems to add too much randomness to the game. There is much more thought and strategy that goes into playing a game of Oh Hell! than into Canyon. Our group's reaction was that we would much rather play the former since Canyon seems to remove the tension in trick taking of Oh Hell! and the overall strategy. The board play adds a little, but very little. I would suggest experimenting with the board and a regular deck of cards and Oh Hell! rules. This is not a must buy - instead get a good deck of cards and Hoyle's rules.

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