9 Day Lower Canyon Oar or Paddle Raft Trip

  • Canyon Route: Phantom Ranch to Lake Mead ( 191 river miles)
  • Meet: South Rim, GC
  • Return: Las Vegas, NV
  • 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 (Lake Mead) to Las Vegas at trip's end (reserved by outfitter - not included in price) - If you drive to South Rim, car can be shuttled to take out point for you upon trip's end - not included

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

  • Rapids: 28 major rapids rated 5 or above (1-10 rating scale)
  • Group size: 20 passengers
  • Minimum Age: 10 years old
  • Included: Camping gear w/ chairs & sleeping pads
  • Duffel Service: Possible PENDING AVAILABILITY
  • Required Hike: Strenuous 7.5 mile hike descending Bright Angel Trail at trip's start
  • Raft: Oar Rafts & 1 Paddle Raft - must choose either Oar or Paddle Raft for entire trip
  • Price: $3389  Deposit: $500
  • *Must choose either Oar or Paddle Raft for entire trip. Paddle raft is add’l $110/person

Trip Logistics:

You can either take a flight from Las Vegas to the South Rim or opt for ground transportation -not included in price. There is an orientation meeting this evening prior to trip's start date. On the morning of day 1, you will begin your  guided hike down to the river to meet your river guides who will have your dry bags/camping gear. At mid-morning of the final day, you will be transported by bus back to Las Vegas at approximately 2-3pm. If planning to depart Las Vegas, it is not recommended to schedule airfare until after 6pm. If you drove to the South Rim, a popular option is to have your car shuttled to the take-out point to be awaiting you upon exit.

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:
  • Las Vegas, NV (800-222-6966) or
  • Phoenix or Flagstaff, AZ (Groome Transportation 928-350-8466)

Transportation (trip’s end): From Lake Mead

  • You will be driven from Lake Mead to Las Vegas - this is arranged by the outfitter and will be an additional cost
  • If your vehicle is parked in Marble Canyon, you can have it shuttled to the take out point at trip’s end by calling Greg Montgomery (928-564-2194), or River Runners Shuttle Service

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 Xanterra 888-297-2757 
  • 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.

Oar Raft Trip

Oar raft trips are the second most popular of all raft types. Consisting of 5 passengers in total, these rafts are powered and navigated by your guide, however if you are interested in rowing in between rapids and at their discretion, you are welcome to grab the oars. A typical oar trip will consist of 5-6 rafts or floatilla. Oar 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.

 

  • Popular rafting type, offered by 12 of 15 outfitters
  • Smaller more agile raft type, allows passengers to ‘feel’ more of the rapids
  • Rowed by guide, however at times passengers may row between rapids, during calmer waters
  • Rowing is not guaranteed, and at the discretion of the guide or trip leader.
  • In addition to oar raft, some trips include a dory boat to be used on rotation
  • Slower paced, more relaxed experience while on the raft in calmer waters
  • Great opportunity to listen to your guide’s extensive knowledge of the Grand Canyon while on raft
  • Minimum 10-12 years old – most outfitters
  • Group size between 18-24 dependent on what time of year
  • Rafts may vary slightly from sample image

Paddle Raft 

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 All-paddle trip will consist of 5-6 rafts or floatilla. Some hybrid trips have one paddle raft along, however pre-designated seating in either the pddle raft or oar raft are requried. 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.

 

  • Limited rafting type option, offered by 4 of 15 outfitters
  • Slower paced more intimate experience during calm waters
  • Great for those looking for a more physically demanding adventure while on raft
  • Great opportunity to listen to your guide’s extensive knowledge of the Grand Canyon while on raft
  • Smallest raft type, very agile and allows passengers to ‘feel’ more of the rapids
  • Passengers paddle full time for days in succession and can cause muscle fatigue.
  • Recommended for those with previous multi-day paddle experience.
  • Minimum 12-16 years old - most outfitters
  • Group size between 18-24 dependent on what time of year
  • 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Payment and cancellation policies:

  • Deposits are required in order to reserve your spaces
    • $400/person for Upper Canyon Trips
    • $500/person for Lower Canyon Trips
    • $600/person for Full Canyon Trips
  • Cancellations:
    • Up to 120 days prior to your trip date incurs a non-refundable $300/person cancellation fee
    • Within 120 days of your trip there is NO refund unless:
      • Outfitter can resell the cancelled space(s)
      • If the space is refilled, then all monies will be returned less a 30% cancellation fee
  • Final payment is due 130 days prior to trip start date:
    • If booking within 130 days prior to trip start, full payment is due
    • Final payment to be made in the form of a check to Advantage Grand Canyon
  • In the event you have to cancel, you may 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, (view video of hike descent at trip's start). 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. In some cases, the orientation meeting is held the day or evening prior depending on your given itinerary. 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

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

191 River Mile Trips/Lake Mead Exit - Late morning sometimes early afternoon, you'll make your way to Lake Mead. The departure point will be Pearce Ferry and there may be a 45 minute jet boat ride to this point. There you will be met by transportation vehicle(s) to take you to Las Vegas.

"Excellent from beginning to end. Paddle boat option, amazing hikes, solitary floating to action packed rapids. The guides are passionate about the river, canyons and maintaing the beauty. highly recommend this company for a perfect blend of adventure with a safe and supportive twist."
-Portland, OR

"Best Thing I've Ever Done! I did the bottom 9 days, joining the rest of my crew who did 14 days. We loved our guides. They were fun, knowledgeable, safe. They taught us lots about geology, history, water, rafting. The food was amazing. The front office was easy to deal with. I would do this again."
-Albuquerque, NM

"This was an amazing trip with a super professional group. It was, as many promised, a life changing experience. I wish I was back on the river right now!"
-Flagstaff, AZ

"Best Thing I've Ever Done! I did the bottom 9 days, joining the rest of my crew who did 14 days. We loved our guides. They were fun, knowledgeable, safe. They taught us lots about geology, history, water, rafting. The food was amazing. The front office was easy to deal with. I would do this again."
-Chicago, IL

"I went on the 8 day motorised trip. It was the most incredible experience of my life. The guides were exceptional with their knowledge of the river, cooking expertise and general easy to get along with. I travelled from Australia with some work colleagues and had no expectations apart from to view the scenery and just enjoy the break. It was so much more. I will definitely be back with friends and family."
Sale, Australia