Rafting the Grand Canyon: Adventure of a lifetime

Even a few hours raft trip can feel like an adventure. A raft trip down the Grand Canyon is perhaps one of the greatest raft adventures of all. My husband used to be a rafting guide in Alaska and Montana and still recalls the 21-day raft trip he took down the Colorado River years ago with friends as the one trip he’d love to repeat one day.

Rafting the Grand Canyon takes planning, reservations, time and money. Because the number of trips allowed down the Colorado River through the canyon are limited, it’s important to plan ahead.

In my husband’s case, their trip was a do-it-yourself, non-commercial trip (private) which cut down on the money part, but increased the level of planning to make sure their food lasted for the 21 days and to make sure they had all the gear they needed.

To get a permit for a private 15 to 25 day trip from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek, apply through the Grand Canyon National Park’s weighted lottery system. Before you apply, though, read the requirements to see if your group qualifies. The lottery is held each February for trips for the following year.

If you want a private trip for a shorter period of time, apply for a non-commercial 2-5 day trip. This trip through the Lower Gorge section of the canyon offers 52 miles of smooth and white water paddling. Permits are given out on a first come, first serve basis a year in advance. Here’s the application that includes a phone number.

If you want just a taste of rafting where someone else does the planning, consider a commercial one-day or half-day trip.

The Hualapai Tribe operates the Hualapai River Runners which offers full-day white water trips that begin at Diamond Creek.

For or half-day or full-day smooth water trips from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry, check out Colorado River Discovery, LCC. Trips start up in March.

Like the non-commercial trips, reservations need to be made well in advance. There are other commercial operations that offer trips of the several day to a few hours variety.

Rafting The Grand Canyon and Utah’s website is one place to look at a variety of options. There are links that highlight sections of the Colorado River. If you have some cash to spend, go for it.

Also, check out Rafting through the Grand Canyon by Philip Greenspun for a up-close look at a longer raft trip. Greenspun does a tidy job of highlighting a commercial trip he took with the outfitter OARS. Wonderful photos are part of the mix.

Good luck lining up the trip that’s perfect for you and happy rafting!