Colorado River Rafting

Grand Canyon National Park is the second most popular national park in the United States. Every year, tourists flock to the Grand Canyon to experience the exhilarating rush of white water rafting in the Colorado River. Kept in pristine condition by the Colorado National Park Service and boasting more than 80 unique rapids, the Colorado River is the perfect destination for both the adventure-hungry traveler and the relaxed vacationer.

Rafting Routes

You have a lot of options and customization choices when it comes to deciding which section of the Grand Canyon Colorado River you'd like to raft. However, determining which route is best suited to you will typically depend on three key factors: your rafting adventure budget, how long you'd like to spend on the Colorado River, and what type of raft you'd like to travel on.

Full Grand Canyon Trips

A full Grand Canyon rafting expedition is the ultimate way to explore the Grand Canyon. Starting at Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon (river mile 0), you have the option to explore the Colorado River by motorized or non-motorized raft — remember, traveling on a non-motorized raft will result in a longer overall trip. Some exciting highlights of a full Grand Canyon trip include the towering red walls of the Vermilion Cliffs, the Roaring 20s Rapids, and the iridescent turquoise waters at the confluence of the Little Colorado River.


When you reach the end of your river journey, you can choose to exit the canyon via three different take-out points. If you exit at Diamond Creek Road (river mile 225) or Lake Mead (river mile 280), you'll be transported back to your starting point on an air-conditioned coach. However, if you want to finish your trip with a bang, we recommend exiting at Whitmore Wash (river mile 188). This is one of the most exciting take-out points as it includes a scenic helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon to Bar 10 Ranch.

Upper Grand Canyon Trips

Taking an Upper Grand Canyon river rafting trip is a great way to get a taste of white water rafting. Like the full Grand Canyon route, you'll begin your trip at Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon. From there, you'll explore 88 miles of pristine Grand Canyon beauty, with plenty of opportunities to observe native wildlife and inspect ancient Native American cultural sites. Some other highlights of an Upper Grand Canyon rafting trip include the Kaibab and Toroweap rock formations, Redwall Cavern, and the Roaring 20s whitewater rapids system.


At the conclusion of your journey, you'll reach Phantom Ranch. From here, you'll need to exit the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail, a 7.5-mile to 9.5-mile hike from the canyon floor to the South Rim. Alternatively, you can book accommodation at the South Rim and explore nearby hiking trails and vehicle accessible viewpoints.

Lower Grand Canyon Trips

Lower Grand Canyon rafting tours begin with a descending hike down the Bright Angel Trail. In most cases, Lower Canyon trips are a few days longer than Upper Canyon trips as you'll generally cover more river miles. While departure options will depend on your outfitter, Lower Canyon trips typically have three different put-in locations: Pipe Creek Beach, Boat Beach, or Bright Angel Beach. Once you are on your way, you'll quickly meet some of the mightiest rapids in the Colorado River, including Hermit Rapids, Serpentine Rapids, and Lava Falls Rapids. Another notable Lower Canyon highlight is the enchanting Elves Chasm waterfall and hiking trail.


At the end of your trip, you'll depart from one of the three take-out locations available on a full Grand Canyon trip: Whitmore Wash, Diamond Creek Road, or Lake Mead.

Western Grand Canyon Trips

Conveniently, all trips in the Western Grand Canyon begin and end at Las Vegas. At the start of your trip, you'll be flown from Las Vegas to Bar 10 Ranch on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. During your one night stay at Bar 10 Ranch, you'll have the opportunity to partake in horse riding, ranching activities, and skeet shooting. Following your stay, you'll be transported to Whitmore Wash via helicopter to begin your rafting adventure. The Western Grand Canyon features medium to low-intensity rapids, making this route perfect for beginners or those looking for a more relaxed rafting trip. Your rafting journey in the Western Grand Canyon terminates at Lake Mead, where you'll take a jet boat to a vehicle accessible take-out point.

Important Information

Although the specific details of your trip will vary between different outfitters, you can rest assured knowing that you will be provided with all the necessary sleeping, camping and rafting equipment. In addition, your river guides will prepare you delicious meals and snacks for the duration of your trip, leaving you with nothing to worry about except enjoying yourself.

At the beginning of every rafting trip on the Colorado River, your tour guides will run you through all the important safety information and procedures specific to your raft type. Depending on which raft type you are using, your river guide may also offer a brief introduction on the best way to steer and/or paddle when rafting the Colorado River's rapids.

If you'd like to learn more about Colorado river rafting trips or if you'd like to book one or more rafting tours, please reach out to our friendly team at 888-244-2224 / 928-351-7711 or send us an email

FAQ: Colorado River Rafting Trips