The 29,000 boaters who flock to the Grand Canyon portion of the Colorado River each year agree: rafting the river is the best way to experience the magnificent canyon. If you’re feeling adventurous and seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience, here’s what you need to know about rafting through the Grand Canyon.
What is the river like?
The Grand Canyon stretches 277 river miles from Lees Ferry to Grand Wash Cliffs. It’s fueled mostly by Rocky Mountain snowmelt, and as a result the water temperature typically remains below 50°F. The splashes of water are refreshing on hot days, and some rafters even cool down with a dip.
The river varies wildly. It contains calm portions ideal for floating, as well as powerful waves for those seeking to get their hearts pumping. A mere 76 feet separate the canyon walls in Granite Narrows, whereas in other sections, gentle side canyons depart from the Inner Gorge and travel upward and outward for miles.
Is it necessary to bring water?
It is always wise to bring your own water. If you run out, keep in mind that water from the Colorado River and its side streams and springs is not safe to drink. You must clean the water with a filter or iodine drops before you drink it.
Is rafting safe?
Rafting through the Grand Canyon is generally a safe and fun way to explore this natural landmark, however, like everything it has it’s risks. It is important to hold on when traveling through the rapids, which usually don’t last more than a minute. The Grand Canyon section of the Colorado River is a pool-drop water system, meaning there is a lot of flat water between the rapids. If you listen to your guides and follow their instructions you will have a safe and thrilling ride.
What environmental precautions are necessary?
There are no trashcans along the Colorado River, so you must take all trash with you. Careful planning is required if you wish to camp overnight, since you will need to take all waste (including human waste) with you when you leave.
I want to raft through the Grand Canyon. Where do I start?
A helicopter and rafting combination tour is the best way to get the most out of your Grand Canyon experience. For $454, you will enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Then you’ll head below the Grand Canyon’s rim on a rafting excursion along the Colorado River. The trip will lead you through the magnificent Black Canyon, where multi-colored cliffs jut skyward on all sides. The river contains sandy beaches and hidden coves—one of which will serve as a picnic spot. Along the way, you’ll learn more about the unique history and wildlife of the Grand Canyon.
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Top original image courtesy of Brigitte Werner