Lower Grand Canyon Rafting Trips

Rafting trips in the lower Grand Canyon mean granite gorges, side-canyon waterfalls, and exhilarating whitewater. This is where the legendary rapids reside: Granite, Hermit, Crystal, Bedrock, and the biggest of them all, Lava Falls. Hold on to your hats—not only will this be a wild ride, but you’ll want those shade hats when you’re exploring the countless side canyons that feed into the lower gorge.

The lower Grand Canyon begins at Pipe Springs Beach (a mile downstream from Phantom Ranch), nearly 5,000 feet below the canyon rim. Black, polished rocks with pink granite intrusions jut up from the river bank. This incredibly hard, billion-year-old rock constricts the river and contributes to the size and character of the rapids. Get your feet wet with Horn Creek Rapid and The Jewels. Wander up Blacktail Canyon and put your finger on the Great Unconformity, the place where more than 200 million years of geologic history does not exist.

The lower Grand includes the opportunity to visit famous side canyon waterfalls such as Elves Chasm, Deer Creek, and Thunder River. The amount of water that is present in the bottom of this desert canyon is truly astonishing. There’s a reason why this trip is considered the ultimate river trip, why it’s on so many bucket lists. Believe the hype. The Grand Canyon is just that: grand, in every way imaginable.

Holiday River Expeditions is proud to work with Outdoors Unlimited, an authorized Grand Canyon concessionaire, to offer motor-less Grand Canyon trips; choose to ride in an oar raft or help propel a paddle boat. These trips sell out quickly; it’s a good idea to make your reservations well in advance.  Check our current Grand Canyon trip availability here.

Please Consider:

Upper Grand Canyon trips involve a strenuous, 9-mile, downhill hike into the canyon from the South Rim; therefore, we recommended this trip only for people who are in good physical condition.

There are eleven indigenous tribes whose traditional homelands extend across the Colorado River as it flows through Grand Canyon. They are: Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, the Navajo Nation (Diné), the Southern Paiute bands (Kaibab, Las Vegas, Moapa, Paiute Indians of Utah and the San Juan Southern Paiute tribe), the Yavapai-Apache Nation, and the Pueblo of Zuni. Holiday acknowledges and respects the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we hike, raft, and learn on, as well as the Native tribes who call this land home today. Learn more about our land acknowledgments here, or read the Grand Canyon River Guides full land acknowledgment here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Colorado River - Grand Canyon National Park

  • Length:

    8–9 Days (lower)

  • Dates:


  • Meet at:

    Maswik Lodge Cafeteria, South Rim @ 8:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Deposit:



  • Experience the peace of the Grand Canyon without a motor
  • Ride the rapids of the Lower Granite Gorge and Lava Falls!
  • Watch for ocotillo and creosote as you enter the Mojave Desert ecosystem
  • Float through ancient lava flows
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

8–9 Day

  • Adult:
  • $2,825 - $3,195
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $2,825 - $3,195
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $2,825 - $3,195
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $2,825 - $3,195
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Check Availability
  • May through September


Of the thousands of tourists who gather at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon every day, very few make the journey down into the canyon, and even fewer arrive to find rafts waiting for them! Lower Grand Canyon trips begin at the top of the Bright Angel Trail but finish 192 miles downstream. The Colorado River flows through the polished schist of the Inner Gorge, wide expanses of red rocks, and ancient lava flows, long cooled and hardened into basalt. Lower Grand Canyon trips actually float into Lake Mead, where the Colorado is constantly working against the still water of the reservoir, working to reclaim its channel.

Sample Itinerary

The night before your trip: meet your Outdoors Unlimited hiking escort at 8:00 p.m. in the Maswik Lodge cafeteria for an orientation meeting. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of water in anticipation for a big day to follow!

Start your day by descending, foot by careful foot, into one of the biggest and most spectacular canyons on earth. Enjoy the views of the canyon’s different layers from up high; it all looks very different from the bottom. You’ll meet your rafts at Pipe Creek Beach just in time for lunch. Once aboard the rafts, the rapids come fast and furious. You’re floating through the Upper Granite Gorge, where the walls are made of hard rock that creates some of the biggest and best rapids in the canyon. Ride through Horn Creek, Granite, and Hermit rapids before settling in to a sandy beach camp and your first night at the bottom of the world.

Each day will follow a similar pattern: wake to gentle sunlight and the sound of the river. Enjoy coffee and breakfast, pack your gear, and start floating. Some days will feature more whitewater, other days will be calmer, more suited to meditation. The lower canyon has some of the best side hikes, including Elves Chasm, Stone Creek, Deer Creek Falls, and Matkatamiba. When we can, we like to stop at Havasu Creek and explore its milky blue pools and travertine ledges. We’ll pause for lunch along the river, and take time to swim and soak and cool off, or just explore. There is rich history here, too, animals, plants, and geology to discover. And at night, after the best camping dinners you’ve ever eaten, the stars hang weightless and brilliant in the sky.

Well into the latter days of the trip is when we’ll start seeing the basalt outcrops and remnants of an ancient lava dam. Vulcan’s Anvil looms large in the middle of the river, and we start preparing for Lava Falls. We’ll stop and take a good look here, just enough time to plan our runs and let the suspense build! Once through, it’s cause for celebration! The canyon walls open up for some epic views, and then begin to narrow once more as we enter the Lower Granite Gorge and another round of good rapids.

We’ll spend our last night together deep in the Lower Gorge, where the Colorado River begins to slow as it meets the still water of Lake Mead reservoir. The trip finishes with a jet boat ride, through the now calm water in the rest of the canyon, out past the Grand Wash Cliffs, where the canyon comes to an abrupt and spectacular end. We’ll cruise across the upper reaches of Lake Mead to our take out, where an air-conditioned bus waits to take us to the Las Vegas area.

Grand Canyon View from Aboce

This is a sample itinerary, deliberately vague to reflect the ever-changing nature of a wilderness river trip. Each trip’s itinerary will vary depending on weather, campsite availability, the interests of the group, and countless other unforeseeable circumstances. Rest assured, whatever your days consist of, they will be spectacular and memorable!


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