2018 Colorado River Rafting trips through the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Sunset on an OU rafting tripRafting the Grand Canyon offers a phenomenal variety of vistas, camps, waterfalls, rapids, side canyons, archaeological ruins, and other attraction sites to enjoy and explore. Allowing time to visit these places is the essence of every  Grand Canyon Rafting trip. Our paddle and oar powered whitewater trips take a minimum of 13 days to traverse all 240 miles of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park down to Lake Mead. Recognizing that you may not have time to do a Full Canyon Trip we offer the opportunity to do either the Upper Canyon or Lower Canyon. We also offer Paddle Trip options as well as Extended Spring & Fall trips.

The distance each trip option covers is constant, the time we take is the variable. We believe longer is better but offer you the option of 5, 6, or 7 days on the upper trip; 8 or 9 days on the lower trip; and 13, 14, or 15 days on the full trip.

Since our schedule for rafting the Grand Canyon spans a six month period of time, we are also able to offer  some seasonal choices. A trip in April can find the bottom of the canyon alive with color during the annual spring blooming of desert flowers. Both April and September offer cooler temperatures and a more leisurely pace with slightly longer trips. September often features the best weather of the year and is probably the best for hiking. Mid season dates are available for those with summer vacation time. We can also offer a way to accommodate the style of boating that you prefer and your level of adventure with our paddle or oar options.

rafting the grand canyonOur crew will guide you through the booming rapids, lead explorations into hidden canyons and explain about the lives of the “ancient ones” who made the Grand Canyon their home. As we contemplate the remains of their ancient dwellings we can imagine the struggle these pre-historic Americans endured. For a thousand years they roamed the Canyon, carving farm plots from rocky niches, hunting game on the rims above, building simple shelters from the elements.

The outside world knew virtually nothing of this place until 1869, when John Wesley Powell led the first exploration of this uncharted marvel, surveying the last remaining blank on the map of the United States. Now it is an experience that is available to all. Where hardships were first endured, we can now enjoy the Canyon in safety and comfort that is afforded by modern equipment and years of experience.

Trip Facts

Trip Size:  21 guests maximum (All-paddle trips: 24)

Minimum Age:  10 years old (oar); 14 years old (paddle)

Number per Boat:  5 Guests per oar raft, 6 guests per paddle raft

Trip Lengths:  Full Grand Canyon (280 miles), Upper Canyon (88 miles), and the Lower Canyon(192 miles).

The Rapids:  70 named rapids and numerous unnamed riffles.

  The numbers on this list change frequently , call 800-624-6323 to double check availability and place a 5-day hold.  If you don’t find what you are looking for here, visit our Colorado River Rafting  webpage for other great trip options in Utah and Colorado!

2018 – Availability as of  11/07/2017

April 30-06  7-day Upper Canyon – Oar Rafts $2430 – 9 spaces

May 25-2   9-day Lower Canyon – Oar Rafts $3010 – 2 spaces (1 Oar seat, 1 Paddle seat)

June 2-9  8-day Lower Canyon – All Paddle $2861 – 1 space

June 8-16  9-day Lower Canyon – Oar Rafts $3010 – 1 space

June 16-24  9-day Lower Canyon – All Paddle $3118 – 3 spaces

June 26-1  6-day Upper Canyon – All Paddle  $2222 – 3 spaces

July 1-8  8-day Lower Canyon – All Paddle $2861 – 1 space

July 20-28  9-day Lower Canyon – Oar Rafts $3010 – 2 spaces

July 23-28  6-day Upper Canyon – All Paddle $2222 – 3 spaces

Aug 6-10  5-day Upper Canyon – All Paddle $1905 – 1 space

Aug 13-18  6-day Upper Canyon – Oar Rafts $2150 – 1 space

Aug 18-25  8-day Lower Canyon – Oar Rafts $2765 – 6 spaces  (4 Oar seats, 2 Paddle seats)

Aug 24-01  9-day Lower Canyon – All Paddle $3118 – 3 spaces

Sept 3-9  7-day Upper Canyon – Oar Rafts $2430 – 6 spaces

Sept 10-16  7-day Upper Canyon – Oar Rafts $2430 – 6 spaces


Logistics for Upper and Lower Grand Canyon trips:

The Upper Grand Canyon (Lee’s Ferry)

5-7 Day White Water Rafting Trip from Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch

This 5-, 6-, or 7-day white water rafting trip of the upper Grand Canyon covers 88 miles of river from Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch (Pipe Creek Beach) and the ascent to the South Rim. The night before the trip begins we meet you for an orientation meeting at Marble Canyon Lodge. Overnight accommodations are recommended and can be arranged by OU. The trip leaves Lees Ferry and floats into Marble Canyon named in 1869 by its first explorer, Major John Wesley Powell. It’s polished limestone, layered with bands of sandstones and siltstones rises dramatically above the river with each mile passed, soaring thousands of feet to the rim. This same seemingly impervious limestone has allowed the river to scoop out the huge expanse of Red Wall Cavern at the river’s edge, one of the many attractions in this stretch.

North Canyon Pool photoUnderground springs gush from the fern-covered rock at Vasey’s Paradise and side streams carve bowl-like pools at Silver Grotto, Saddle, and North Canyons. Nautilus fossils are readily viewed in the streambed of Nautiloid Canyon and ancient Anasazi granaries await the hiker high above the river at Nankoweap. Prehistoric Native American sites are spread throughout the Canyon and this section features many of the larger sites found along the river.

The sequence of rapids through this 88-mile float couldn’t be better orchestrated. Beginning with the medium sized (Canyon Scale!) Badger, House Rock and Unkar rapids, the crescendo begins with Nevills rapid then builds quickly with Hance (the longest) and Sockdolager. Amplified by the imposing walls of the Upper Granite Gorge the grand finale hits its high notes at Grapevine and Zoroaster rapids, and the last few miles finish with a quiet serenade.

The final destination point for the river portion of this trip is the Pipe Creek Beach, one mile below Phantom Ranch, where the Bright Angel Trail meets the river. Upon arrival we will provide a hikers lunch for you to pack as you prepare for the hike out on the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim.

The Lower Grand Canyon

8-9 Day Whitewater Rafting Trip from Pipe Creek Beach to Lake Mead

Paddle Boat in action photoDay 1 of your Lower Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip begins with a hike down the beautiful Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Pipe Creek Beach (one mile below Phantom Ranch), where you’ll be served lunch at the river. The whitewater rafting trip starts with a whirlwind of rapids on this section beginning in the heart of the ancient rock of the Upper Granite Gorge. You will plunge through the mountainous waves of Horn Creek, Granite, and Hermit rapids on your first afternoon. Infamous Crystal rapid and the rest of “The Gems” follow the next morning with Deubendorff, Upset and Lava Falls awaiting us in the days to come.

Whitewater rafting is only part of the story on this lower stretch of the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is criss-crossed with hundreds of side canyons, each with its own personality and attraction. While it would be obviously impossible to explore each and every one, even in a lifetime, we make the most of our time to visit some of the most outstanding little corners on earth. Typical stops include the fern covered intimacy of Elves Chasm, hiking above Deer Creek Falls, and winding our way up Matkatamiba. Conditions permitting, we will swim in the turquoise pools of Havasu Creek and hike the talus to where Thunder River gushes out of a rock wall, several miles and a thousand feet above the Colorado River. Check the Photo Gallery for a sample of what these places hold.

Waterfall on the Grand CanyonDownstream, basalt outcrops alert us to our proximity to Lava Falls and soon we hear its thunder reverberating from the canyon walls. Passage here always demands a good long look before dropping into one of the biggest of the “Big Ones”. Below Lava Falls the river takes a breather and opens up to big skies and further vistas, but this is only temporary as some miles below the walls close in one last time as we descend into the Lower Granite Gorge. As the first explorers learned, to their dismay, the sheer walls of resilient bedrock create large rapids and we get a great last set of rapids bracketed by highly polished walls.

Our last night’s camp lies deep in the Lower Gorge where the river meets the upper reaches of Lake Mead. On our last morning a large jet-boat takes us safely and swiftly through the rest of the Canyon, past the Grand Wash Cliffs where the Canyon comes to a dramatic end on Lake Mead. At that point an air-conditioned motor coach provides transportation to the Las Vegas area.

The Full Grand Canyon

13 – 15 Day Trip from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead

Rafting the Grand CanyonThe Grand Canyon reserves its greatest rewards for those who take the time to experience the full river trip. This full trip begins at Lees Ferry and traverses the entire length of the Grand Canyon to Separation Canyon where a jet-boat will shuttle us across the flat water of Lake Mead to an awaiting motorcoach for transportation to McCarran Airport and Las Vegas. The night before the trip begins, we meet you for an orientation meeting at the Marble Canyon Lodge. Overnight accommodations are recommended and can be arranged by OU. It is a quiet place just five miles from Lees Ferry and only a short walk to the canyon rim and the awesome overlook at Navajo Bridges.

We will start our trip bright and early the next morning, traveling at an easy pace, with time to stop and explore the many unique features of this grand canyon. Redwall Cavern, the Little Colorado, Elves Chasm, Deer Creek Falls and Havasu Creek will be among the places visited (visit the Photo Gallery for a look!). Entering the inner gorge, we encounter some of the oldest exposed bedrock on earth, exquisitely polished schists and granites nearly two billion years old. Further on we see evidence of immense volcanism in the diamond-hard black basalt around us. Here lava flows dammed the Canyon creating a lake that extended into southern Utah, only to be eventually worn away by the restless river. This is also where one of the Canyon’s more famous rapids, mighty Lava Falls, is found.

[Havasu Creek photo]Some days will be spent mostly on the boats as we run the river’s booming rapids. Other days we will take extended side hikes or perhaps short excursions to ancient Native American ruins, hidden canyons or gushing springs. Each day will be full and varied, your nights spent on sandy beaches beneath a canopy of stars bracketed by towering canyon walls. Eventually the lower gorge closes around us as we take the final plunge through rapids to the head of Lake Mead 240 miles and 100+ rapids from our starting point.

Reservations should be made well in advance as demand for this world-class adventure is high. Grand Canyon trips are run by outside affiliates (Outdoors Unlimited) who are authorized Grand Canyon concessionaires.

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