Rafting Trip Planning Guide
Grand Canyon Whitewater rafting trips give you the opportunity to be in one of the most spectacular places on earth. Whitewater rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is beyond your imagination, it’s mind-boggling!
Map showing where our river rafting trips start and end.
Our full length Grand Canyon river raft trips allow you to see the “Heart of the Canyon.” Our full length trips range from 7 to 13 days. You can go whitewater rafting the Colorado River for 7 or 8 days on a motorized raft, or choose an oar-powered trip for 13-day expedition! Our Upper Grand Canyon raft trips all start at Lees Ferry, include a hike out of the Canyon, and range from 4 to 6 days. The two Lower Grand Canyon raft trips we have include a hike into the Canyon, and are either a 5-day motorized trip, or an 8-day oar-powered trip.
We suggest, before you book one of our Grand Canyon river tours, ask yourself a few questions.
- What kind of raft am I interested in? Motor or Oar-Powered?
- When do I want to go?
- If interested in an Upper or Lower Canyon trip, am I able to hike in or out of the Grand Canyon?
- How much time do I have?
Call us now at 800-343-3121 for more details on our Grand Canyon rafting trips or book online now.
What kind of raft am I interested in? Motor or Oar-Powered?
The first thing most people choose is the type of raft they want to ride in. GCW offers both motorized raft and oar-powered Grand Canyon river tours. Our most popular trips are aboard motorized rafts. For those of you who have more time, oar-powered rafts are a great choice. Both motorized rafts and oar-powered rafts are rubber rafts created specifically for whitewater rafting.
Motorized rafts are 35 feet long and hold around 14 passengers and 1-2 guides. The guides drive the boat from the back (or stern). Motorized rafts allow people to see more of the Canyon because they can go about double the speed of the current. We aren’t talking major speed here; the current averages about 4 miles per hour, so we cruise along at 8 miles per hour. The motor boats give passengers a fun and exciting ride. You can choose to sit up at the front and be right in the action or move toward the back to dry off and have a less wild ride. 8 years old is the minimum age for a motorized rafting trip.
Oar-powered rafts are different. Many people confuse oar-powered rafts with paddle rafts, which are a small rubber raft on which everyone has their own paddle and is expected to help propel and steer the raft. Oar-powered rafts, the kind we use, are 18 feet long and carry up to 4-5 passengers and one guide to row the raft. The guide sits in the middle and has two long wooden oars to steer the raft through the river and rapids. The raft will float along at the speed of the current, about 4 miles per hour. For this reason, oar-powered trips are typically longer, unless you choose to do only half of the trip, and either hike into or out of the Grand Canyon. 12 years old is the minimum age for an oar-powered rafting trip.
When do I want to go?
Our rafting season runs from April to October and anytime is a good time to go rafting! If you are looking to have cooler weather, book a trip in April, May, early June or September. Because the Colorado River flowing through Grand Canyon is controlled by Glen Canyon Dam, water levels are fairly consistent providing great whitewater throughout our entire season. Keep in mind that Arizona has very low humidity and a very dry heat, so higher temperatures are actually welcomed to balance the cold splashes of river water!
If interested in an Upper or Lower Canyon trip, am I able to hike in or out of the Grand Canyon?
Hiking into or out of the Grand Canyon is a serious feat. Arizona heat increases the intensity of this hike. Please train and be prepared if you choose a raft tour with a required hike.
Bright Angel Trail
Strenuous hike, intensified by Arizona heat/sun in June – August
Devil’s Corkscrew along Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon
10 miles (16 km)
Gain/Loss of 4,400 feet (1340 m)
Well maintained trail, graded for stock
Very little shade cover on trail
From Rim: Water stations at mile 1.5, mile 3, Indian Garden mile 4.8, Boat Beach mile 9
Average ascent time from river is 6-8 hours; Average descent time from rim is 4-6 hours
How much time do I have?
Consider the amount of time that you have for your adventure-of-a-lifetime. This can determine or be determined by whether you want to see the Full Canyon or either the Upper Canyon or the Lower Canyon. The Full Canyon experience can be had in minimum of 7 days in motorized raft or can last up to 15 days in an oar-powered raft.
The shortest trips we offer are the Upper Canyon trips with the required hike out of the Canyon. These trips can be done in 4 days in a motorized raft or 6 days in an oar-powered raft. The Lower Canyon trips with required hike into the Canyon can be done in 5 days in a motorized raft or 8 days in an oar-powered raft. If you choose to participate in just the Upper Canyon or the Lower Canyon rafting trips, you need to really give some thought to the mandatory 9 mile hike in or out of the Grand Canyon.
Still have questions about whitewater rafting the Colorado River and which trip to select?
Check out our FAQs or give our office a call at 800-343-3121. We would love helping you discover which rafting adventure is right for you. Our office staff members, pictured below, are all very knowledgeable regarding rafting trips in Grand Canyon.
Once you have spoken with us, your next step is to start communicating with your group and looking into the transportation necessary to get you to and from your Grand Canyon adventure. Many of our whitewater vacations offer round-trip options from Flagstaff, AZ or Las Vegas, NV which makes travel planning easy.
We require a $400 deposit upon booking. The full balance is due 120 days (90 days for 2015 trips) before your adventure begins. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover and checks.
Please give GCW a call 800-343-3121 or send an email to Info@grandcanyonww.com.