With over 100 different trips, 15 commercial rafting outfitters and other logistics to consider, choosing a Grand Canyon rafting trip can feel overwhelming.
We can help.
We pooled our decades of experience to create this quick guide to help you understand whitewater rafting trips in Grand Canyon. We’ve broken down multi-day Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting Trips into four simple sections:
- Length of Rafting Trips
- Type of Rafting Trips
- Grand Canyon Seasons
- Hiking In or Out
***We have a separate page for 1-day Grand Canyon Rafting trips.
When you’re ready to take the next step in Grand Canyon River Rafting – search for your best trip options.
Put in to Take Out: Length of Rafting Trips
A few essential river terms before we begin:
Put In – The point on the river where your rafting expedition will begin.Take Out – The point on the river where your rafting expedition will end.River Mile (RM) – The number of miles along the river measured from Lees Ferry, Arizona. The Colorado River runs 280 river miles through Grand Canyon, but not all rafting trips cover the entire 280 miles. We believe that each section of river in Grand Canyon has its own character and qualities, offering a unique rafting experience.Our advice: The more time you can spend in Grand Canyon, the better. No matter which trip you choose, there is always more to discover. The one day Grand Canyon Rafting Tour is our most popular trip and something you will always remember!
The Full Grand Canyon rafting adventure begins at Lees Ferry and goes through Grand Canyon to 1 of 3 take out points: Whitmore Wash (RM 188), Diamond Creek (RM 225), or Pearce Ferry (RM 280), depending on your trip’s pre-arranged logistics. Go Grand Canyon Rim to Rim.
Why We Love the Full Canyon Experience
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The Whole Enchilada Experience the entire Grand Canyon from the beginning until the end and immerse yourself in this wondrous place.No Mandatory Hike:There is no requirement to do the hike in or out on a Full Grand Canyon rafting trip, making this trip more accessible.Time to ExploreThere are abundant opportunities for lengthy side canyon hikes, discovering the Canyon’s secrets, and soaking in the scenery.
LEARN MORE ABOUT 6 TO 16 DAY FULL GRAND CANYON EXPEDITIONS
The upper section begins near the Arizona/Utah border at Lees Ferry and covers 88 river miles. The trip finishes in the Phantom Ranch area where guests will hike out of Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. A great choice of Grand Canyon River Trips!
Why We Love the Upper Canyon Experience
Moderate IntroductionBoth the Canyon walls and river rapids build in size as you float downstream, giving you time to gradually take in the experience.Time TravelSee each rock layer up close as you gradually descend through geologic time on the Upper Grand Canyon rafting trip.Hike OutYour river adventure ends at Phantom Ranch, where you will hike out of the Grand Canyon from its deepest point; a great way to say goodbye to the Canyon.
LEARN MORE ABOUT 5 TO 7 DAY UPPER CANYON TOURS
The lower section begins with a hike into Grand Canyon from the South Rim on the Bright Angel Trail. After hiking in, guests will travel to 1 of 3 take out points: Whitmore Wash (RM 188), Diamond Creek (RM 225), or Pearce Ferry (RM 280), depending on your trip’s pre-arranged logistics. Hiking and Rafting the Grand Canyon Trip in the deepest section!
Why We Love the Lower Canyon Experience
Hike InYour adventure begins by hiking into the deepest part of Grand Canyon via the famous Bright Angel Trail.Big WhitewaterOn day one, you’ll immediately plunge into some of the Colorado’s most famous rapids and by the end of the trip you’ll have run many of the biggest, navigable rapids on the North American continent.TributariesThere are an abundance of hiking opportunities alongside streams in the lower section that provide reprieve from the hot summer temperatures.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LOWER CANYON 5 TO 9 DAY TRIPS
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The Western section begins with a helicopter ride from the rim to the Colorado River at Whitmore Wash (RM 188) and ends 92 miles downstream at Pearce Ferry (RM 280).
Why We Love the Western Experience
An Ideal IntroductionWith no mandatory hike in or out of the Canyon, this is a great introductory trip offering mild whitewater, the feeling of being a mile deep in the earth, and the experience of sleeping beneath the stars.Bird’s Eye ViewThe scenic helicopter transport from the ranch to the river offers a breathtaking aerial view of Grand Canyon.Big SceneryThe Colorado River saves some of its best for last as it cascades into the lower gorge of Grand Canyon, creating wide vistas and views that are unparalleled.
LEARN MORE ABOUT 3 to 5 DAY GRAND CANYON RAFTING TRIPS
Motor or Oar: Types of Rafting Trips
One of the biggest factors to consider when choosing your Grand Canyon river trip is the type of craft you would like to take down river. We have organized our offerings into two categories: motor trips and oar trips. Each offers a different experience, yet the two main deciding factors for most of our clients are age restrictions and length of trip.
Age Restrictions: A motor trip requires children to be at least 8 years of age. A non-motor trip requires children to be at least 12.
Length of Trip: A motor trip travels approximately twice as fast as a non- motorized trip. This means that you can travel the length of the canyon in as little as 6 days on a motor boat and as few as 12 days by oar boat.
No matter what type of boat you choose, remember:It’s the Grand Canyon that makes the experience!
why we love motor boats
More AvailabilityThe higher number of motor trip launches increases our odds for finding availability and getting people on the river.Shorter Trip LengthA motorized trip allows you to see more of the Canyon in a shorter period of time.AccessibilityMotor boats have opened the Canyon to people of all ages and ability levels.
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All motor boats are powered by environmentally friendly, quiet, four-stroke outboard motors. A guide stands at the back of the boat to operate the motor.
why we love oar boats
Absolute QuietAside from the occasional squeak of an oarlock, the ride on an oar raft or dory offers the opportunity to hear the subtle sounds of nature.Closeness to the RiverOar and Paddle passengers sit closer to the water, which lends itself to the simple pleasure of feeling the river run through your fingers as you travel downstream.Slower PaceBecause non-motorized boats travel at half the speed of motorboats, there are many opportunities to go with the flow, sit back, and soak in the Canyon.
All non-motorized craft are either powered by a guide who rows an oar boat or who captains a team of participants on a paddle raft.
Grand Canyon Seasons
When is the best time to raft in Grand Canyon? Every season in the Grand Canyon comes with its own beauties and challenges. April and May have cooler temperatures, which require extra layers, but allow for longer hikes while the wildflowers are in bloom. Spring can bring strong winds. June through August are the hottest and busiest months to raft Grand Canyon with temperatures ranging from 95-115°F. Monsoon season starts in July and goes through August, bringing afternoon clouds and rain showers to cool things off. As the rafting season winds down in September and October, you can expect cooler weather, longer hikes, and shorter days.
Inner Canyon temperatures are not the same as temperatures on the rim!
Hiking In or Out of Grand Canyon
The Bright Angel trail runs from the South Rim 7.5 miles down to the Colorado River with an elevation change of 4500 feet. You must be prepared to hike for 4 to 8 hours carrying your own personal pack and water. Elements such as heat and elevation will have an impact. Hiking into the canyon is equally as demanding as hiking out of the canyon and can be more difficult for people with knee issues.
If you answer yes to the following questions, dust off your hiking boots and get ready!
• Are you in good health?• Are you in good physical shape? (Do you exercise regularly? Can you walk ten miles without issue?)• Are you capable of carrying a backpack weighing 20-30 lbs. and at least two liters of water?• Are you willing to take the hike seriously: Train for the hike, pack lightly and eat and drink properly during the hike?
If you are more than a little overweight, out of shape, have a heart condition, joint problems, asthma or are afraid of heights, it would be wise to consider a rafting trip that does not require a hike in or out of the Canyon.The experience of rafting the Colorado through Grand Canyon is one that will touch something within and leave a lasting impression on your heart. We believe we are connecting you to much more than just a vacation. We’ve been doing this for 30 years and we love it. We hope this guide has helped you understand your options.If you’re ready to take that next step or if you have questions, please feel free to give us a call – we’ll guide you through!
Save TimeWe do the legwork for you, contacting ALL 15 Grand Canyon rafting outfitters and presenting you with a list of available trips that fit your time-frame and budget. Have us find available dates that meet your needs.Grand Canyon InsidersGet the real advantage; many of us are Grand Canyon river guides, we know ALL the trips, we’re local, and we have longstanding relationships with ALL the outfitters.Regional ExpertiseWe’ll not only find you a rafting trip, we’ll help you get there by arranging local transportation and lodging (something most outfitters won’t do).Fee Free ServiceOur commission is paid by the outfitters we represent; the price of your expedition is the same as booking direct.When you’re ready to take the next step – give us a call and we’ll find a Grand Canyon rafting trip that is right for you. 928.526.4575