5 Day Lower Canyon Motor Raft Trip

  • Canyon Route: Phantom Ranch to Diamond Creek ( 137 river miles)
  • Meet: South Rim, GC
  • Return: South Rim, GC OR Flagstaff, AZ
  • Transportation: Optional flight to South Rim from Las Vegas or ground shuttle from Las Vegas, Phoenix or Flagstaff (Not Included) - Return via ground transportation from take-out point (Diamond Creek) to Flagstaff or South Rim included

  • Lodging: At South Rim (not included in price) Will need to be at South Rim the day prior to trip's start date

  • Rapids: 23 major rapids rated 5 or above (1-10 rating scale)
  • Group size: 14 passengers per raft. 2 raft maximum
  • Minimum Age: 8 years old
  • Included: Camping gear w/ chairs & sleeping cots & pillow
  • Required Hike: Strenuous 9.5 mile hike descending Bright Angel Trail at trip's start
  • Raft: S-Rig
  • Price: $2370  Deposit: $400
  • *Price Includes suggested donation of $1/day to the Grand Canyon Fund

Trip Logistics:

You will need to arrive at the Grand Canyon South Rim the evening prior. Lodging is not included in the price. On the morning of day 1, you will meet your hiking guide at the transportation desk at the Bright Angel Lodge at 5:45am to begin your descent to the river. On day 5, you will be shuttled via ground transport back to Flagstaff (approx. 1:30pm) or the South Rim (approx. 4pm). These arrival times are estimates and it is recommended to spend an additional night in Arizona at the end of your river trip, and depart for home the next day.

Hotel Reservations/Transportation To & From

Hotel (trip’s start): meet at the South Rim the evening before the trip.

  • 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 right 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): South Rim
  • Optional flight from Las Vegas to South Rim is available (Bar10transport
  • Ground Shuttle from:

Transportation (trip’s end): Flagstaff or South Rim (included)

  • Outbound travel from Flagstaff:
    • Via commercial flight from Flagstaff pullman Airport (FLG)
    • Via ground shuttle to:
  • Outbound travel from South Rim:
    • Optional flight to Las Vegas is available (Bar10transport
    • Ground Shuttle to:

In-bound duffel service:

  • Mules carry your duffels down to the river, so you can hike with a lighter bag - highly recommended (as are trekking poles)
  • This bonus service is TIME SENSITIVE and not always available. If interested book NOW through Xanterra888-297-2757 
  • In case this service is not available, everyone should be able to hike Bright Angel Trail with their bag.
  • Booking Instructions: Please inform us if you reserved the in-bound duffel service - we will need to note your file. Contact us if there is no availability with Xanterra.
    • When making your reservation be sure to mention that it must be delivered to Boat Beach NOT Phantom Ranch on day 1 of your trip.
    • Bags must be no larger than 36x20x13 and weigh less than 30lbs.
    • Drop off your late duffel at the Fred Livery Barn by 3:30pm the day before your trip:
      • Late duffels are not encouraged. However, if you arrive to the South Rim after 3:30pm, you can drop your bag(s) off at the Bright Angel transportation desk ($10 late fee will apply) - Call Xanterra to verify
      • If after 6:30pm, there are no guarantees and you must call 928-638-2631 to arrange for duffel pickup.

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 22-28 depending on the outfitter. 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.

Motor Raft Trip

  • Most popular of all raft types, offered by 11 of 16 outfitters
  • 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 Rim to River

At the start of your Lower Canyon adventure, this trip will begin with a mandatory hike into the canyon via the bright angel trail to meet your rafts. The trail is well maintained and has water stations at mile 1.5, mile 3, mile 4.8 and mile 9.  On average, descent time from rim to river is 4-6 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. Please note that some outfitters’ itinerary can accommodate the “inbound” duffel service, a service which can transport your gear for a fee.


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.



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.



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.

Descending the Bright Angel Trail

Lower Canyon trips are taxing on the ankles/knees/hips and calf muscles. There is a significant amount of abuse that your joints endure due to constant downhill trekking, especially when you include the additional weight from your day or backpack. This descent should be attempted by those who do not have major joint issues which can cause potential problems during this hike. Note that you will be hiking into the heat. Depending on the time of year, the temperature at the rim can be in the upper 40’s and temperatures may reach 110 at the bottom. 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. Focusing on strengthening your leg muscles (calves and quads) is a crucial part of a successful hike.


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.

Payment and cancellation policies:

  • $400 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  forfeits $200
    • Cancellation  119 - 31 days of the trip forfeits the deposit
    • Cancellation within 30 days of the trip forfeits the full fare
  • Final payment is due 120 days prior to trip start date
    • In the event you have to cancel you may wish to consider:
    • Substituting members on your reservation
    • 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 have arrived and spent the night at the south rim the day prior. You will wake early and begin your hike into the canyon, sometimes as early as 4:45am depending on the season. Upon the completion of your hike, you will meet your guides and the rafts at the bottom of the canyon. You will be handed your dry bags and transfer your clothing/personal products from your back pack to the dry bags. An orientation meeting will also take place upon the arrival of the last hiker. Lunch is served, and shortly after you will begin rafting down the Colorado river! The amount of rafting on this day is dependent on many factors and the trip leader will decide when and where to camp this evening.

IconEvery Day

Wake up to the smell of freshly-brewed cowboy coffee – sounds of rushing water mingled with the murmur of sleepy voices echoing through the grotto’s of the canyon walls. Breakfast is hot and hearty – or as light as you want. After breakfast you will be asked to form a “bucket line” to help load the gear back on the boats and then the Colorado River beckons and you are off once again experiencing the rush of adrenaline as you continue on your journey back in time. 

Enjoy spectacular white water of major rapids, such as Horn Creek, Granite, Hermit, Crystal, Upset and Lava Falls – you will see and enjoy dozens of additional sights, as well as stretches of calm water where you will relax in the warm sun and enjoy breathtaking scenery. Photographic opportunities abound in the lower canyon. Lunch on the Colorado River; build your own sandwiches, with chips, cookies, fruit and soft drinks. Relax, read a book or perhaps hike or fish before shoving off again for an afternoon of thrills and surprises. Late afternoon finds you at camp for the evening. Again you will be asked to help unload the gear from the boats. As your crew sets up the camp kitchen everyone finds their ideal camp spot and sets up their “home” for the night. Later you relax with a cool drink and hors d’ oeuvres, get better acquainted with your fellow river companions – as dinner sizzles on the grill. After dinner watch the sun set, join in the conversation of the group, and listen to the quiet of the canyon as you settle into your sleeping bag under a blanket of stars. Tomorrow brings another typical day on the Colorado River. 

IconLast Day

136 River Mile Trips/Diamond Creek Exit- Late morning sometimes early afternoon, you'll arrive at Diamond Creek where you will disembark and be met by transportation vehicle(s). You will travel for about an hour along a rough dirt road to the main highway in Peach Springs, AZ before being taken to Flagstaff.

"Wonderful 3 day trip! Not only the spectacular Colorado River and the Grand Canyon sites, but also hiking in the Canyon. Got to hike 3 trails, including Travertine Waterfall! Food was plentiful, healthy and delicious. Something for everyone. Guides were helpful and had great knowledge of geology, history, etc. Can not imagine a better experience!"
-Brandon, SD

"I recently returned from an 8-day trip on the Colorado River with this outfitter, which was set up by Advantage Grand Canyon. I highly recommend both companies. Advantage Grand Canyon did a perfect job in all aspects of setting things up. And, they follow-up. Their video were extremely helpful in preparing and packing (although I did not use everything I had brought)."
-Tucson, AZ

"We have gone with this outfit on trips to Grand Canyon, Cataract Canyon, and Salmon River. Each time was a fantastic experience. Guides are fun, safe, knowledgeable, and respectful of the environment. The food is amazing (don't expect to loose weight on the trip). Highly recommend the trips and the company."
-Portland, OR

"I cannot speak highly enough about this outfit! We just completed our 8 day trip through the Grand Canyon and it was perfect. Our guides - now forever friends - are wonderful human beings! They did everything in their power to make sure we were all taken care of. Dave, Nate, Ryan and Danielle are the dream team! The river, the people, the food, the hikes, the rafts, the whole experience was exceptional and I will go with them again! My love for the Colorado River has grown even deeper because of this experience. Thank you, Friends!"
-Cary, NC