Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

jf-grandThe Grand Canyon in all its glory. Truly is the trip of a lifetime. Photo: Josiah Failing

The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon does not need much introduction. It is a 16-28 day trip depending on the time of year. Peak season is in the spring and summer, but there is a 16 day limit for private trips. Winter season offers longer floats and the opportunities to have driftwood fires, but there is limited sunshine and drysuits are a must. The whitewater in the Grand Canyon is huge (15-20 ft waves!), but it is not as technical as the Middle Fork of the Salmon. The water in this canyon is so epic, it has its own rating system from Class 1-10 (instead of the usual class I to V).

The biggest rapids occur after the first week on the river once the canyon narrows after Phantom Ranch. After this point, a string of infamous rapids such as Crystal, Hermit, and Granite mark the start of the second half of your journey through the canyon. Lava Falls is the biggest of them all and occurs towards the end of the trip once the canyon opens up into a series of old lava flows. Lava has very large waves, but the bottom of the rapid has a huge eddy with a big sandy beach, known as “Tequila Beach” in homage of the celebrations that take place after making it through the rapid. 

The hikes along the river are unparalleled. Some of the prettiest occur hikes alongside creeks that feed into the Colorado. Saddle Canyon, Little Colorado, Havasu, Matkatamiba, Deer Creek, Elves Chasm and Thunder Falls are all great hikes along creeks that will take your breath away.

Check out our Permit Lottery for Rafting Western Rivers 2017 Guide for more info on how to get to the bottom of the canyon.

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