Grand Canyon Whitewater’s non-motorized rafts (a.k.a oar boats or row boats but NOT paddle boats) are 18-feet-long, compartmentalized, rubber rafts. A metal frame is secured to the raft with rigging straps. The frame allows us to have places to sit, store things and attach things such as the oar locks, which hold the two long oars the guide uses to propel and maneuver the raft.
There is one guide for each raft. The guide is the only one doing the rowing. Passengers (4-5 per raft) sit in front of and in back of the guide and hang on for the wild ride! During orientation, your river guides will point out the features of the raft including how and where to hold on.
But is this a paddle trip too? NO! The guides are the ones doing the rowing on these trips. You will not be issued a paddle or an oar. As a passenger your job is to hang on, enjoy the ride and take in the beauty of Grand Canyon. A benefit to row trips is that you have ample time with your guide to chat, hear stories about historic river runners, ask geology questions, and listen to in-depth interpretation of the Grand Canyon. There are usually about 6-8 rafts on each trip, each with their own guide. The rafts travel downstream together, do all the hikes together and always eat and camp together. Many passengers find it’s great to switch rafts each day to be able to hear all the different jokes, stories, and information each guide brings.
Many of Grand Canyon Whitewater’s oar trip launches have a motorized support raft. This means our motor raft comes along on the trip to carry supplies (food, sleeping pads, kitchen equipment). Don’t worry though, most of the time you’ll only see the motor support boat at side hike stops, lunch and in camp as they usually trail behind the oar boats.
Passengers are given small day bags to store personal things that they’ll need throughout the day. These are secured to the raft and accessible all day.
Oar trips are longer in duration than motorized rafting trips because the boats only go the speed of the current, an average of about 4-5 miles per hour. This means that if you want to experience the full Grand Canyon, you’ll need about 2 weeks. There are options, however, if you don’t have that much time and are up for a hiking challenge. You can do the Upper portion and hike out halfway or you can hike in and join a trip for the lower section of the Canyon. The hike into or out of Grand Canyon is strenuous, about 8 miles long and includes an elevation change of nearly a mile! You definitely will need to consider whether this hike is for you if you are hoping to do one of the partial canyon trips.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us, chat us or email us. Hold on, have fun and enjoy your trip!