Are you ready to experience the ultimate extended Colorado raft trip in Grand Canyon? This 12 - 18 day trip options are available in all non-motorized raft types;Oar, Paddle, Hybrid and Dory.There are three end points: Whitmore Wash, Diamond Creek, and Lake Mead. If you are looking for rafting the full canyon with highly challenging rapids of Colorado River, this trip is for you!
The Grand Canyon National Park is the second most popular national park in the United States. As a result, it should come as no surprise that visiting the Grand Canyon and rafting the Colorado River are two experiences that are often at the top of people's minds when planning a lifelong bucket list.
A 12-18 day rafting expedition is arguably the best way to explore the length and breadth of the Grand Canyon. In comparison to shorter 3-5 day or 6-9 day tours, a 12-18 day trip offers more than enough time to experience everything the Grand Canyon has to offer, from its thrilling whitewater rapids and stunning river vistas to the ancient canyon geology and fascinating Native American cultural sites.
There are three different routes available for a 12-18 day Colorado River trip, with each trip beginning at Lees Ferry near the magnificent Marble Canyon. The Marble Canyon region is a great place to start, with the towering vermillion walls clearly showcasing the natural beauty and geological history of the Grand Canyon. From Lees Ferry, you'll be traveling the entire length of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. When you're not powering through whitewater rapids, you'll be disembarking to explore remarkable systems of side canyons.
After passing from the Upper Canyon to the Lower Canyon, you'll stop below the South Rim, where passengers may depart or join your tour group via a hike along the Bright Angel Trail. After 12-18 days have passed and you're nearing the end of your tour, your trip will terminate at one of three pre-established take-out locations along the Colorado River. Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown of your trip route and post-take-out transportation options.
The Lees Ferry to Whitmore Wash route offers passengers an exciting opportunity to end their Grand Canyon river rafting adventure with a bang. Once passengers conclude their trip at Whitmore Wash, they will leave their raft behind before taking a short helicopter ride out of the Lower Canyon and to Bar 10 Ranch. There is no better way to take in the majesty of the Grand Canyon AZ than with the panoramic views of a helicopter ride. Depending on your helicopter ride operator, you may even have the chance to fly deep into the Grand Canyon, dipping down some 4,000 feet below the Grand Canyon Rim to land in one of several idyllic, ultra-isolated fly-in locations. Once at Bar 10 Ranch, you can take a small charter plane back to Marble Canyon. Alternatively, a charter plane can be arranged to return you to Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport for further travel or for your flight home.
Starting at Lees Ferry, this route extends your journey from Whitmore Wash by another 37 river miles, concluding your trip at Diamond Creek Road. From Diamond Creek Road, air-conditioned ground transport will ferry you back to one of two locations. Firstly, you can take transportation back to Flagstaff AZ airport for flights further on to Pheonix, Denver, or Dallas. Alternatively, you can choose to board an air-conditioned coach to be transferred back to Las Vegas. Once you arrive in Las Vegas, you'll have an opportunity to farewell your raft mates before being dropped off at either your Las Vegas accommodation or at McCarran International Airport.
The Lake Mead take-out point offers a unique opportunity to see the entirety of the Grand Canyon. Not only does this mean that you'll see more sites and explore more side canyons, it means you'll be able to take advantage of some of the Colorado River's best rapids at the mouth of Lake Mead. If that wasn't enough, the Lake Mead take-out point also offers another exciting addition to your trip. Once you reach river mile 240, you'll leave your raft behind and take a speeding jet boat across the lake, finishing up your experience at river mile 280. From here, air-conditioned trip transportation can either take you back to Lees Ferry and the Marble Canyon area, or it can transport you further on to Las Vegas.
Because of the relatively quick cruising speed of Grand Canyon motor rafts, canyon outfitters are not able to logistically support 12-18 day motorized rafting trips. Fortunately, there are many different options when it comes to selecting a non-motorized raft for your Grand Canyon rafting experience. Read on for a more comprehensive breakdown of how different trip transportation options and raft styles can influence your tour.
Oar rafts are the second most popular raft option for full Grand Canyon rafting trips. In most cases, oar raft trips generally consist of a group of between 18 and 24 people, with approximately 5 people per raft. Your river guides will be seated at the center of the raft with two long oars; these will be used by your river guide to power and steer the oar raft for the duration of your trip. Passengers are never expected to paddle on an oar raft. However, in calmer waters, your river guide may allow you to try your hand at paddling. Please note, this privilege is at the discretion of your outfitter and is not guaranteed.
An oar raft usually travels at the same pace as the current of the Colorado River, averaging at 3-4 mph. Despite traveling at half the pace of a motorized raft, it's important to remember that a slower boat means you'll become better acquainted with the ebb and flow of the river. You'll also have more time and opportunities to bond with your raft mates and soak up relevant information from your river guide.
Out of our 15 river outfitters, 12 offer 12-18 day Grand Canyon trips. Please note, depending on your outfitter, multi-day canyon rafting trips will have a minimum age requirement of between 10 and 12 years.
Paddle rafts offer passengers the ultimate whitewater experience. With only 6 to 8 passengers per boat, each individual is expected to pull their weight and paddle the raft all day, every day. Like an oar-powered boat, a paddle raft travels at roughly the same pace as the Colorado River, covering around 3-4 mph. As with oar raft tours, this experience offers passengers a more intimate rafting experience, providing you with plenty of opportunities to get to know your river guides and learn more about canyon geography and the region's diverse collection of flora and fauna.
Unfortunately, paddle rafting is in short supply from our outfitters, with only 4 of our 15 outfitters offering 12-18 day paddle rafting trips. Paddling and steering a raft for up to 18 days can be extremely tiresome and taxing on the body. If you're thinking of undertaking a Grand Canyon paddle rafting trip, we recommend that you only consider this option if you have previous paddle rafting experience under your belt. The minimum age requirement for paddle rafting trips will vary depending on the outfitter. However, in most cases, children under the age of 12 are not permitted on paddle rafting trips.
Unlike other Grand Canyon rafts, dory rafts use a wooden or rigid carbon fiber construction rather than an inflatable rubber construction. This allows for much greater agility and gives passengers the ability to 'feel' more of the river when traversing whitewater rapids. More often than not, dory rafts will accompany oar rafts on a longer multi-day Grand Canyon river trip. This not only allows guests to experience two different raft types, but it also fosters a friendly atmosphere between you and your raft mates. These trips usually consist of a flotilla of around 5 boats, with passengers rotating between the oar rafts and the dory boat on a day-to-day basis. As with oar rafts, guests may be given an opportunity to try their hand at paddling a dory raft. However, this is at the discretion of your river guide (who will be doing the vast majority of the paddling).
As you might expect, dory raft outfitters have a minimum age requirement of 10 to 12 years of age. For specific age restrictions, speak directly with your outfitter.
A hybrid rafting trip consists of a mixture of 5-6 oar boats and 1 paddle raft. Over the course of your rafting adventure, you and your raft mates will rotate between the oar boats and the paddle raft, thereby giving every passenger the chance to try their hand at paddling through the Colorado River. Hybrid trips are a perfect one-size-fits-all option, ideal for both inexperienced rafters who want to begin paddle rafting more seriously as well as people who simply want to give paddle rafting a go without stressing about the physical exertion of paddling every day.
Hybrid rafting trips are not widely available amongst our outfitters, with only 4 out of the 15 offering hybrid trips. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted on hybrid trips.
You can rest assured knowing that your river outfitter will provide almost everything you'll need for your trip. Broadly speaking, the equipment provided for rafting trips is generally the same amongst outfitters. However, there may be some variation depending on your trip length and river vessel selection. After you confirm your trip with your outfitter, you'll receive a more specific list of items that will be included, as well as more information on what you'll need to pack yourself. In the meantime, read on for a more detailed introduction to trip inclusions for Grand Canyon river tours.
During 12-18 day canyon rafting trips, your rafting outfitter guides will be responsible for the storage, preparation, and distribution of all meals, snacks, and drinks, whether you're socializing at camp or relaxing on the Colorado River. Fortunately, your tour operators are not only ultra-competent canyon rafting guides, but they're also highly skilled when it comes to cooking for a large group. When it comes to food and drinks, your outfitter will take care of the following:
In addition to equipping you with all relevant paddling and river safety paraphernalia, most outfitters also provide at least 3 different-sized dry bags to keep your personal belongings safe and dry throughout your trip. Each dry bag set uses an assigned number system to ensure quick and private identification. Specifically, your outfitter will provide the following safety equipment and dry bags:
Most necessary bedding and sleeping items will be supplied by your outfitter. The main benefit of this inclusion is that it saves you the hassle of packing and carrying around several pounds of bedding for the duration of your trip. Before departing for Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, be sure to check with your outfitter whether a pillow is included as not all outfitters will provide one. In short, your outfitter sleep kit will include the following items:
You won't have to forego any of your usual camping comforts on Grand Canyon rafting trips. This is because your river guides bring all the camping equipment required for a comfortable camping experience, including but not limited to:
Your packing requirements for a whitewater river trip will be heavily dictated by your season of travel and the weather forecast for your trip. To give your packing list a headstart, we've listed some general recommendations for what you should bring along with you on multi-day Grand Canyon rafting trips.
For a 12-18 day trip, you can expect to pay between $3,210 and $5,630. At first glance, this may seem like a hefty price to pay for a simple rafting holiday. However, it's important to remember that this cost will cover pretty much everything you'll need once you arrive at Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. This coverage includes air-conditioned trip transportation at the beginning and end of your trip, daily meals and snacks, rafting and camping equipment, as well as experienced onboard river guides. If you're looking for a less expensive canyon river trip, you might be interested in a slimmed-down tour of the Upper, Lower, or Western Canyon routes. These trips usually take 3 to 5 days, and typically cost between $1,080 and $2,314.
Remember, specific costs for a Grand Canyon rafting adventure are dependent on a number of factors, namely your chosen trip length, your route preference (including your route end choice), and your raft type selection. If you'd like a personalized trip quote, you can get in touch with our friendly team by calling 888-244-2224 / 928-351-7711 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes! Through the 15 rafting outfitters that partner with Advantage Grand Canyon, there are several different ways that you can raft the full Grand Canyon. To check out both the Upper and Lower Canyon in a single trip, you'll need to book either a 6-9 day motor tour or a 12-18 day raft tour.
If you plan on traveling to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon outside of the peak tourism months, you'll usually have very little trouble booking a spot on a multi-day raft trip. On the other hand, if you plan on arriving at the Grand Canyon in June or July, make sure you're ready to compete with peak Summer Holiday vacationer demand. In the latter situation, we recommend that prospective rafters book their trip at least six months in advance to ensure they get a spot with one of our outfitters.
This is a tricky question! Making a concrete decision on the single 'best' rafting tour in the Grand Canyon is a near-impossible task. For starters, the characteristics of the 'best' tour will vary significantly depending on your fitness level, personal recreational preferences, and prior experiences with rafting and/or outdoors adventuring.
Keeping that in mind, we're still confident enough to say that a 12-18 day Grand Canyon river tour is one of the best, if not the best, options for rafting and exploring the Colorado River. The Grand Canyon National Park Service keeps the entire National Park in pristine condition, making it suitable for guests almost all year round. By taking a longer trip, you'll have a chance to immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon's rich history, from its towering vermillion walls to its biodiverse ecology.
As well as its world-renowned whitewater rapids and river raft tours, the Grand Canyon also boasts a wide range of exhilarating post-trip activities and scenic tourist sites. Upon completing a river raft trip in the Grand Canyon, your river guides will be more than happy to sit down and give you an insider's take on the Grand Canyon National Park's other well-known attractions and adventure activities. To kickstart your post-trip itinerary planning, we've listed five of the best non-rafting experiences currently on offer in Grand Canyon National Park.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the Grand Canyon, and for good reason. In addition to providing you with spectacular views of the Grand Canyon, all of the canyon's major hike trails are superbly maintained by the region's diligent National Park Service, an organization that works tirelessly to provide hikers with safe, accessible, and well-marked trailheads.
When it comes to hiking in the Grand Canyon, it's hard to look past the internationally acclaimed Bright Angel Trail. This 9.5-mile trek is not for the faint-hearted, descending down into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim all the way to the Colorado River at the canyon floor. While veteran hikers will likely be able to complete the Bright Angel Trail in a single day, less experienced hikers may be better off tackling the full hike in two sections. Luckily, the Bright Angel Trail is outfitted with two mid-hike rest stops (at the 1.5-mile mark and 3-mile mark) that can act as a turn around point for casual hikers. Otherwise, day hikers can either camp overnight at the Bright Angel Campground or stay in pre-booked lodgings near the end of the hike trail at Phantom Ranch.
If you're really passionate about hiking side canyons, other notable hiking trails in the Grand Canyon include the South Rim Trail, the North Kaibab Trail, the South Kaibab Trail (often combined with the Bright Angel Trail), and the Havasu Falls Trail.
Not a fan of hiking trips? Opt for a Grand Canyon bicycle tour instead! Around the South Rim alone, cyclists can take advantage of more than 13 miles of well-maintained roads and dedicated bike trails. One of the most famous bicycle trails on the South Rim is the scenic Hermit Road Greenway Trail. Beginning at Hopi Point, Hermit Road runs for 7 miles, looping west following the South Rim and tracking between a medley of stunning Grand Canyon viewing platforms. Alternatively, if you're looking for a more time-effective bike route, we recommend the spectacular South Kaibab and Yaki Point trailhead.
If you're looking for another truly unique Grand Canyon experience to supplement your Colorado River trip, consider taking a mule ride under the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon. During a mule ride tour, you'll get the chance to learn about the geological formations, rim ecology, and human history of the Grand Canyon from either your mule ride operator or National Park Service wrangler.
Mule rides along the South Rim are offered all year round. Visitors can opt for a three-hour day trip around the South Rim or, if you've got time for an authentic multi-day Grand Canyon experience, you can take a mule ride down to the canyon floor for an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch. Rest assured, these mules are sure-footed and surprisingly comfortable, making a mule ride a faster, more reliable, and — dare we say it — more luxurious alternative to trudging along a Grand Canyon hike trail. In terms of pricing, a single-day three-hour mule trip typically costs around $152, however, prices will vary depending on the season.
While not available all year round, North Rim mule rides can be booked between May 15 and October 15 each year. If you're short on time, take a 1-hour ride and enjoy the sun-drenched landscape of the North Rim. For a more involved ride, a half-day mule tour will provide you with a unique view of the Grand Canyon from within the North Rim. Unfortunately, you cannot take a mule ride down to the Colorado River from the North Rim. Due to the more limited route availability, the cost of a 1-hour North Rim mule ride is quite affordable, with prices typically starting at around the $45 mark.
Mule rides tend to book out quickly so be sure to purchase your tour ticket well in advance (you can book a mule ride up to 15 months ahead of time). Please note, mule tour operators have a minimum age requirement of 7-10 years for mule rides in the North Rim and 9 years for mule rides in the South Rim.
Perhaps the Grand Canyon's most popular tourist attraction, the Sky Walk offers a unique and memorable opportunity to appreciate the landscape of the Grand Canyon. Situated 4,000 feet above the floor of the Western Canyon, the Grand Canyon Sky Walk, made from four layers of reinforced see-through glass, extends 70 feet across a side canyon near Eagle Point. This glass cantilever bridge offers uninterrupted, panoramic views of the Western section of the Grand Canyon. Because of its glass floor design, the Sky Walk is the perfect attraction for anyone looking to face and conquer a fear of heights (don't worry, the glass structure is strong enough to hold 71 fully loaded 747 passenger jets.
Please note, handheld cameras and phones are not allowed on the Sky Walk. In addition to ensuring guest safety, this precaution means you'll be free to enjoy the view without worrying about having your phone blown out of your hands. If you'd like to memorialize your visit to the Sky Walk, professional photographs are available to purchase on-site.
Located at the South Rim, calling in on the Grand Canyon Visitor Center is an excellent way to book activities or source information on rafting trips, hike trails, or helicopter ride operators. You'll also find plenty of information on the history of the Grand Canyon and its role as one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. You can easily spend half a day wandering through the Grand Canyon village, whether you're learning about the rich Native American history of the region or visiting the Yavapai Museum of Geology for more insight into the Grand Canyon's captivating geological past. While in attendance at the Yavapai Museum of Geology, you can enjoy various geography exhibits, a well-stocked bookshop, and panoramic picture windows that offer uninterrupted views of the Grand Canyon.