*Price includes a $1/day suggested donation to the Grand Canyon fund
You will need to arrive to the South Rim, Grand Canyon Village the night prior to attend a 7pm orientation meeting at the Maswik Lodge. Lodging is not included in the price. At 5am on the morning of day 1, you will meet your host in the lobby of the Maswik Lodge who will escort you to begin your guided hike down to the river. Your dry bags and river guides will be waiting for you at the river. At mid-morning of the final day, you will be transported by bus back to the DoubleTree in Flagstaff. This drive back to Flagstaff takes approximately 3 hours and arrival is usually between 3-7pm, however it recommended to stay at the DoubleTree that evening and travel the next day.
Hotel (trip's start): South Rim, GC
Transportation (trip’s start): South Rim
Transportation (trip’s end): Flagstaff, AZ (included)
In-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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 at trip's end.
"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."