*Price includes a $1/day suggested donation to the Grand Canyon fund
You will need to arrive to Flagstaff, AZ the night prior to attend a 7pm orientation meeting at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff. Lodging is not included in the price. At 7am on the morning of day 1, you will board a bus for the 3 hour drive to the put in point at Lees Ferry. On the morning of day 6, 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, AZ through Arizona Shuttle (not included) and they depart from the Maswik Lodge at 3:15 and 6:15pm. There are also air/ground transport options to Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Hotel (trip's start): Flagstaff, AZ
Hotel (trip's end): South Rim, GC
Transportation (trip’s start): Flagstaff, AZ
Transportation (trip’s end): Trip ends after your hike out of the canyon at the South Rim
Out-bound duffel service: (not included)
Paddle raft trips are high in demand and low in supply as only 4 of 15 outfitters offer them. Your guide sits at the back and commands the team of 6-8 paddlers, who are digging into the water full time. These trips are recommended for those with multi-day paddle experience under their belt as many days in succession can become tiresome. A typical paddle trip will consist of 5-6 rafts or floatilla. Paddle trips travel at speed of the river 3-4 mph, more slowly and essentially doubling the trip duration when compared to a motorized trip. This slower pace offers a great opportunity for an intimate experience with the river while listening to your guide's extensive knowledge of the Grand Canyon. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Payment and cancellation policies:
Purchase trip cancellation insurance - Highly Recommended
On the morning of day 1, you will meet at 7:30am to board a bus for the 50 minute drive to the put in point at Lees Ferry. You will meet your guides as they provide additional instruction and your life jacket. Shortly after you will be underway to begin your journey!
Wake up every morning to the smell of freshly brewed cowboy coffee and the sound of the running water echoing off of the canyon walls. A hot breakfast is served shortly after. Each day you will be on and off the raft multiple times as every day includes daily side canyon hiking opportunities to some of the most beautiful scenery the Grand Canyon has to offer. You'll be entertained and enlightened with fascinating information on the history, geology, and ecology of the canyon. 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. Lunch will be served and you can build your own sandwich with chips, cookies, fruit while taking in the breathtaking scenery, reading a book riverside or even fishing. Often, there is another stop after lunch before arriving at camp for the evening. While your crew sets up the camp kitchen for everyone, you can find your ideal camp spot and set up your "home" for the night. While dinner sizzles on the dinner on the grill, you'll have time to get better acquainted with your fellow river companions and relax with a cool drink by your side. After dinner, watch the sun set, and listen to the beautiful sounds of the river while you nestle into your sleeping bag under a sky full of stars. Tents are always available however depending on the season, many opt to sleep under the stars each night.
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) . Almost always, your raft trip concludes upon the completion of this guided hike, however there are some itineraries which include transportation to Flagstaff at trip's end. There are shuttles daily, to Flagstaff as well as Phoenix however 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.
"Just finished paddling the Upper Canyon 2 days ago and I feel like it was a life changing experience. Absolutely incredible! The guides are amazing and taught us so much about paddling, the Canyon, camping....and how to have a blast in the wilderness. Heather, Carl, Megan, Chad, Jeff, Kelsey, Katie and Paul...you rock! Will be sharing stories about this trip for a long time!"
-Sault Ste. Marie, Canada
"Superb experience. Excellent guides who really supported the group. Excellent food. Great paddling. Very good balance between teaching and safety. I can’t recommend them more highly. Thanks"
-Manchester City, UK
"Awesome experience to raft the full Canyon. Everyday was different. Guides were fantastic - knowledge, stories and experience. Great food, sleeping under the stars and traversing the Canyon on the River. Loved it!!"
"Had an amazing adventure river rafting the Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon with this outfit. Their River Guides had the skills, outstanding in their knowledge of the river and surrounding as well making it a truly memorial trip."
"They are a smaller, highly professional company with extremely skilled, experienced river guides who know the river, make safety their top priority, and are lots of fun to spend time with. We were 100% impressed with all of our guides. The food was delicious and the trip was very well organized from start to finish."