4 Day Upper Canyon Raft Trip

  • Canyon Route: Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch ( 88 river miles)
  • Meet: Las Vegas, NV OR Marble Canyon, AZ
  • Return: Not Included - Trip ends upon hike out at South Rim
  • Transportation: Optional flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon - Return from South Rim to Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Phoenix or Marble Canyon available (not included)

  • Lodging: Cliff Dweller's Lodge (included in price based on 2 + occupancy) Will need to be in Marble Canyon the day prior to trip's start date

  • Rapids: 19 major rapids rated 5 or above (1-10 rating scale)
  • Group size: 12-14 passengers per raft. 2 raft maximum
  • Minimum Age: 8 years old
  • Included: Camping gear w/ chairs & sleeping cots & pillow
  • Duffel Service: Available
  • Required Hike: Strenuous 9.5 mile hike ascending Bright Angel Trail at trip's end
  • Raft: S-Rig
  • Price: $1464  Deposit: $500
  • *Price includes a suggested donation of $1/day to the Grand Canyon Fund

Trip Logistics:

You will need to arrive in either Las Vegas or Marble Canyon the day prior to your trip’s start date. Lodging in Marble Canyon is included in the price. If starting in Las Vegas, you will meet a representative on the afternoon prior to your trip's start date at McCarren airport at 1:45pm and you will be transported to the Boulder airport for a charter flight to Marble Canyon to meet your group. In some instances, there may be a flight available the morning of your trip. In this case, you will meet the group in front of the Marble Canyon trading post. There is a 8:30am orientation the next morning if front of the Cliff Dweller's Lodge before a short 15 minute drive to Lee’s Ferry to begin your adventure.On the morning of day 4, you will begin your guided hike up the Bright Angel Trail and your arrival at the south rim in Grand Canyon village will conclude your raft trip. There are shuttle options to Flagstaff and air/ground transport options to Phoenix and Las Vegas. See transportation section for more information. 

Hotel Reservations/Transportation To & From

Hotel (trip’s start):

  • Las Vegas: Desert Rose Resort (not included)
  • Marble Canyon: Cliff Dweller’s Lodge (included in your trip fare)

Hotel (trip’s end): South Rim, GC 

  • Flying out after a day’s rest is highly recommended.
  • Majority of guests stay at the South Rim after the hike. Lodging is not included and must be arranged separately. We recommend calling Xanterra 888-297-2757, as soon as your reservation is confirmed. They accept reservations up to 13 months in advance. 
  • If there is no availability at the South Rim, Tusayan Village is a 10 minute drive outside the park. Click here for options.
  • There is a complimentary shuttle that circulates from the South Rim to Tusayan Village every 20 minutes during summer (mid-May to early-September) from 8am - 9:30pm.
  • You can also arrange a Taxi between South Rim and Tusayan Village through Xanterra 888-297-2757.

Transportation (trip’s start):

  • Arrange your own transportation to Marble Canyon and arrive a day before the trip’s start date.
  • Hire Bar10Transport (800-582-4139) for Ground or Air transport from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon a day before the trip’s start date.

Transportation (trip’s end): Trip ends after your hike out of the canyon at the South Rim

  • Optional flight to Las Vegas is available (Bar10transport
  • Ground Shuttle to:
  • If you left the vehicle at the start of the trip you have three options:
    • Have your car shuttled from Marble Canyon, AZ to the South Rim while you’re on your river trip to be awaiting you upon arrival.
    • Use Trans-Canyon Shuttle: Shuttle service between South Rim and Marble Canyon 
      • Before your trip - Drive and park your car at the South Rim to be waiting for you upon your hike out, and shuttle to Marble Canyon the day before your trip starts.
      • After your trip - If you parked in Marble Canyon, you’ll need to spend the night at the South Rim the day you complete your hike out and shuttle back to Marble Canyon the next day.
    • Contact either  Lake Powell Shuttle (928-614-4130) or Grand Canyon Shuttles (928-863-1239) for a ride back to Marble Canyon from the South Rim.

Out-bound Duffel Service:

  • This outfitter offers a unique duffel service so that you can avoid having to carrying the extra weight of your clothing/personal items during your hike.
  • There is a fee in shipping your articles back to you at trip’s end, and you will see information on this in your trip packet.

See our transportation page for additional information

Motor Raft Trip

Motor trips are the most popular of all trip types. There are more motor trip launches than any other combined, among all of the outfitters. Typical launches include 2 rafts, and group sizes between 24-28. There are upper, lower, western and full canyon trips offered on motor rafts. Some full canyon trips continue straight through with the same group of passengers, while others will make a pit-stop to let off upper canyon passengers, and allow for lower canyon trip passengers to join the group for the rest of the trip.

 

  • Most popular of all raft types, offered by 11 of 15 outfittersMotor Raft Trip
  • Most comfortable seating positions of all raft types and great for guests who seek a sense of security with a larger raft type
  • Covers more distance per day compared to non-motor trips
  • Action packed trips – will see more in a day and get form one attraction to another more frequently compared to non-motor
  • Popular choice for those looking to see more of the canyon while having ample time for off raft exploration
  • Largest percentage of people choose this raft type
  • Popular choice for any age especially children/teens who seek more activities Minimum 8 years old 
  • Group sizes between 12-14 per raft, 2 raft maximum/trip
  • Rafts may vary slightly from sample image

Hiking from River to Rim

At the end of your Upper Canyon adventure, this trip will conclude with a mandatory hike out of the canyon via the bright angel trail up to the south rim. On average, ascent time from river is 6-8 hours.

This is a strenuous hike, especially during the summer months between June-August, and should be considered only by those who are fit and healthy as you will be carrying all of your gear with you on your hike up.

 

Google Earth Video

Click play for an actual look at the trail from a bird’s eye view. You will see where the hike will begin and end, as well as the location of toilets and drinking water facilities.

 

 

 

Elevation

The elevation from river to rim is 4,830ft and has an average grade of 10% along its entire length. The upper four miles of the trail has the steepest changes in elevation mostly due to the switch backs, however does flatten out considerably as it nears Indian Gardens. As the trail approaches Devil’s Corkscrew it will once again steepen, and due to the lack of shading at this part of the trail, can be very taxing especially during the summer months. This is one of the reasons that hikes begin very early in the morning, to pass this section before temperatures peaks. From the Pipe Creek/River Rest-house to Bright Angel Campground, (over 1 mile distance) the trail passes over sand dunes until reaching the Bright Angel Suspension Bridge (also known as silver bridge) which crosses over the Colorado River.

3-mile-rest-house

Water/Rest-houses

Be sure to take advantage of the water sources and rest-houses during your hike, as it is imperative to take breaks regularly. Between rim and river, there are three composting toilet locations (1.5 mile, Indian Gardens, river rest-house) and three water sources along the trail (1.5 mile, 3 mile, Indian Gardens). Please note there is never potable water at river rest-house and due to occasional pipeline breaks, these water sources are never guaranteed. For this reason, it is recommended that you carry enough water (3 quarts minimum) for the entire hike.

Ascending the Bright Angel Trail

Upper Canyon trips/hiking up and out requires greater stamina/endurance and is more demanding on the heart and lungs. This route is easier on the joints but requires more muscular strength. An advantage is that you will already be acclimated to the dry canyon environment from your rafting adventure, and as you ascend you’ll be hiking out of the heat. The temperature at the rim is about 20 degrees cooler than at the bottom of the canyon. Trekking poles are highly recommended as they can significantly reduce the stress on your lower leg muscles/joints by distributing the weight to your upper body muscles.

Hiking-Bright-Angel-Trail1

Preparation for hiking the Bright Angel Trail

At least 2 months prior to your trip’s start date, begin using the stair master and hiking or using the treadmill with a slight incline. Slowly begin adding weight to your backpack in order to simulate what it will actually feel like on the hike. Keep in mind that you are traveling 1 vertical mile or close to 5,000ft in elevation gain/loss. 500 flights of stairs is equivalent to approx. 5,000 ft.

Hiking Tips

  • Hydrate the night prior – drink 6 to 8 glasses
  • Drink plenty of water w/electrolytes during your hike – You will sweat ½ to 1qt per hour
  • Take breaks and elevate your legs – do this to avoid lactic acid build up
  • Wet your hat/bandana/shirt – cotton stays wet longer, evaporation will keep your body temperature cooler
  • Eat snacks/food even if not hungry – essential for energy
  • Foot care – Break in your shoes prior to hiking. Bring extra socks as keeping your feet dry is essential. Use moleskin on hot spots and bring corn pads for existing blisters.

Review payment and cancellation policies:

  • $500 non-refundable deposit per person required  to reserve your space(s)
    • If booking within 120 days prior to trip start, full payment is due
    • Cancellation 120 days or more refunded any amount  paid less the $500 deposit
    • Cancellation  less then 120 days prior to trip start, all monies are non-refundable:
      • Cancellation must be done in writing
    • Final payment is due 120 days prior to trip start date
    • In the event you have to cancel you may wish to consider:
      • Potentially substituting members on your reservation (approved on a case by case basis)
      • Change trip or type to another available trip in the same year
      • File your trip insurance claim with your personal provider more information below

Purchase trip cancellation insurance - Highly Recommended

  • Insurance can help reimburse you in the event of illness or unforeseen circumstances
  • Most popular option listed below - click on link to view different levels of coverage with an immediate quote:

Additional Trip Dates

IconFirst Day

You will be driven to the launch point, Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon in the morning to meet your river guides. Sometimes the orientation meeting is the night before, earlier this morning or even at the launch point depending on your given itinerary. Guests will have dry bags provided as well as a life jacket, and shortly after you will be underway to begin your journey!

IconEvery Day

Each day you will be on and off the raft multiple times. Each itinerary regardless of the outfitter, includes daily side canyon hiking opportunities to some of the most beautiful scenery the Grand Canyon has to offer. In addition, you will see gorgeous waterfalls and streams rarely accessible outside of these multi-day raft trips. After enjoying the excitement of fun rapids, you will stop for lunch which is prepared river-side on a beautiful sandy beach. You will be entertained with fascinating information on the history, geology, and ecology of the canyon. Often, there is another stop after lunch before arriving at camp for the evening. Tents are always available however depending on the season, many opt to sleep under the stars each night.

IconLast Day

You will raft a short distance this final morning to the drop off point to begin your 7.5 - 9.5 mile hike ascent up the bright angel trail to the top of the south rim (view video of hike ascent at trip's end) . This trip ends at the conclusion of your hike out of the canyon. We strongly suggest not making any outbound flights the same day of your hike. Many guests choose to stay at the south rim this evening and travel the following morning.

"The careful planning of our trip was obvious because everything was perfect, BUT what makes this company extra special are the people. I cannot say enough about our trip leader, second boatman, and swampers. They absolutely "made" our rafting through the canyon in every way."
-Chicago, IL

"Safety was their top concern. The rapids were high and exciting, but we were never concerned. Photographers--consider getting in the front boat (driven by the trip leader.) After we went through the rapids, we stopped and watched the second raft."
-Washington DC

"This is MORE than an adventure, it is MORE than a drift through the center of the earth, it is MORE than amazing food and sharing, it is something way more. I feel it, I loved it and I cherish it. Your team will make sure you taken care of as well. We loved this adventure and the people who now feel like a part of us forever."
-Gig Harbor, WA

"Along with navigating the raft, preparing the meals, setting up camp spots and tending to blisters, aches & pains they were also very informative about the canyon history and geology of the area. This was all presented with a smile and kindness that made the group feel like a family trip."
-Phoenix, AZ

"I think we picked the best company to enjoy this adventure. Our guides educated us, fed us, made us laugh until tears rolled down our faces, and truly cared that we had the most amazing experiences each and every day. I have never had a vacation that I thought about every day for at least one month after it was over until this one."
-Skaneateles, NY