- Sample Itinerary
Grand Canyon Rafting! The very name “Grand Canyon” brings to mind unparalleled beauty, and breathtaking whitewater. This grand-daddy of whitewater rafting in Arizona boasts 150 rapids, including some of the wildest whitewater in North America. The two largest, Lava Falls and Crystal Rapid, are awesome to behold, exhilarating to run — the right stuff indeed.
Sparkling clear springs gush from cracks in the cliffs, forming lush oases of ferns, pools and wild flowers. Each of the Earth’s climatic zones is represented in Grand Canyon from alpine forests on the rim to Sonoran deserts in the lower elevations.
Starting at Lees Ferry the Canyon opens to us as we begin the float into its vast interior. It starts as a narrow, sheer-sided chasm, winding through the uplifted Kaibab Plateau. The first 61 miles of Marble Canyon is the most photographed, perhaps the most scenic portion of the Grand Canyon. The rim moves away from view as the Canyon broadens to its full expanse of 13 miles. Then we enter the foreboding inner gorge with its exquisite polished granite. Here the river has exposed rock formed 1.7 billion years ago. Further on we see evidence of past volcanic activity in the diamond black basalt around us, where lava flowed repeatedly and dammed the Canyon only to be worn away by the relentless river. Eventually the lower gorge closes around us as we take the final plunge through rapids to the head of Lake Mead 240 miles and 160 rapids from our starting point.
The entire canyon requires twelve days, and the Grand Canyon reserves its greatest reward for those who make this time commitment. Five or six, and eight or nine day split trip options offer either the upper or lower section of the canyon. These trips involve a spectacular 9-mile hike into or out of the canyon from the South Rim to the Colorado River and are recommended for those in good physical condition.
Reservations should be made well in advance as demand for this world-class adventure is high. Grand Canyon trips are run by outside affiliates who are authorized Grand Canyon concessionaires.
- 240 miles and 160 rapids
- Raft through 1.7 billion year-old rock formations
- Big Rolling Whitewater Waves
Our six day trip through the upper section of the Colorado River far exceeded my expectations. It was epic, and I don't use that word lightly. Truly an unforgettable experience, and the guides and support crew were a huge part of that. Places like the Little Colorado were such an unexpected oasis, what a dream that day was. The guides were so knowledgeable about the history of the area as well, and even read some poetry. I was impressed by the passion the guides all had for the place, even after so many years of guiding that river. It speaks to the experience and the company, certainly. I can't wait to come back and do the lower section in a few years. Phenomenal
The last time I had been on a raft, I was a giggly 16 year old. Fast forward 23 years, and I was heading out on the Grand Canyon. I pretended not to be nervous, but I was! As the hours turned to days, and I learned what river time meant, I have never been so relaxed in my life. Your guides took complete care of me both physically with delicious food, and psychologically with calming words of encouragement and expert boat handling skills. Soon, I was wahooing my way through the big rapids of the Grand. Is my life changed? I'll say so. Thank you!
SAFE AND GORGEOUS
The quality of these trips are something to be admired. You see beautiful sites, get helpful and informative facts, guides take extra precautions to keep you safe, and in the end, the only possible downside is if the weather will cooperate. Seriously, these trips are awesome and we tell our family and friends all about them!
This 5 or 6-day trip of the upper Grand Canyon will cover the 88 miles by river from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch and the assent to the South Rim. The night before the trip begins we meet you for an orientation meeting at Marble Canyon Lodge (as above). Overnight accommodations are recommended and can be arranged. The trip leaves Lees Ferry and floats into Marble Canyon named in 1869 by its first explorer, Major John Wesley Powell. Its polished limestone’s layered with bands of sand and silt-stones rise 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.
Underground 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 stream bed 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 Nevill’s 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 Phantom Ranch boat beach, near where Bright Angel Creek joins the Colorado. This is where you part company with the rafts and where we provide a hiker’s lunch as you prepare for the hike out on the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim.
The Granite Gorges
Begin your day with a hike down the beautiful Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch where you’ll be served lunch at the river. The raft 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 rapids and “The Gems” follow the next morning with Deubendorff, Upset and Lava Falls awaiting us in the days to come.
Whitewater is only part of the story on this eight or nine day stretch of the 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.
Downstream, 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.