Grand Canyon Rafting Tours
From Whitewater Rapids to Smooth-Water Float Tours, The South Rim Has Them All!
People who enjoy the challenge of extreme adventures and water activities that send adrenalin to the edge should never miss a chance to try Grand Canyon rafting tours. Carved by 188 miles of Colorado River, the steep-sided canyon is a Mecca for whitewater expeditions and 1-day, smooth-water float tours.
Whitewater rafting is not for the feint of heart. It’s an “X-Games” type of ride that requires a rugged, inflatable pontoon river raft. Boats are non-motorized, motorized or powered by oars. The trip requires skill, caution, and an experienced river pilot. The whitewater that defines these trips is the result of the river’s gradient increasing to the point of turbulence (unstable water).
About the Colorado River
The Colorado River’s headwaters spring from the base of the Rock Mountains. Its relationship with the Grand Canyon starts at Glen Canyon Dam in Page, AZ. The water flow from here to Lee’s Ferry is where all smooth-water float tours are operated. Beyond Lee’s Ferry start the whitewater trips. Hoover Dam is the river’s last point west before it heads south where it forms the border between Arizona, Nevada and California. The river ends in Mexico at the Sea of Cortez. In all, the river is 1,450 miles long and one of the West’s most vital waterways.
Water rafting can be a great activity for groups and families. Multi-day whitewater trips can be expensive. Expect to spend at least $1,000 per person. These trips are all-inclusive and come with all meals, equipment and permits. Smooth-water float tours start around $170 per person and can be enjoyed by kids four years of age and older. Float trips are all-inclusive, too, but I do recommend that you pack the following:
- Sun block
- Long-sleeve shirt
- Sport sandals
Seasonal Rafting Tours
The timing of your water-rafting trip is important as tours run only from April through October. Trips stop after that (the water is bone-cold in November, too!). I don’t recommend buying your own gear for your first whitewater trip. Rafting is not something a person does regularly and equipment is expensive. Most river outfitters include all the equipment you need. If not, there are places in Flagstaff, Sedona, Phoenix and Las Vegas where you can rent gear.
Group Rafting Welcome!
The number of boats an operator runs limits the number of people that can go on a whitewater trip. In most cases, these businesses can roust up another boat if supply merits it. The pontoon boats used on smooth-water trips can comfortably seat up to 19 people. The fact that rafting trips can accommodate a large number of people is a good thing as it means the cost of these trips is relatively affordable and that in most cases you will find a seat (unlike canyon helicopter tours that max out at six passengers).
Best South Rim Day Trip!
Taking a Grand Canyon rafting tour or a smooth-water float tour is a great way to spend a day on the Colorado River. The scenery is spectacular and, from my experience, brings friends and family closer. As you plan your Grand Canyon vacation, consider adding a rafting trip to your list of things to do. It will be the highlight of your trip!