In 1938 Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter became the first women to descend the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Clover was a botany professor at the University of Michigan and Jotter was a close friend and former roommate of Clover's who was a graduate student in botany at the same university. Jotter had a good deal of outdoors experience, which included hiking, camping, and rowing as well as an eight week training program for the National Park Service naturalists in the summer of 1937.

Clover was intrigued by the idea of a river descent to the newly created Lake Mead and the trip was planned as a research expedition to “botanize” underexplored parts of the canyon. A total of six people made the trip, with two of the men replaced at Lee’s Ferry, the traditional starting point for excursions into the Grand Canyon. The journey took place in the summer of 1938 and lasted forty-three days and covered over 650 miles. Though the botanical collections were not as comprehensive as originally planned, Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter did make history by becoming the first women to successfully descend the Colorado River through its major rapids.