Redwall Cavern

Spanish explorers named the river in the Grand Canyon the Colorado, which means red-colored because of silt-laden water's reddish hues. Redwall Cavern is a massive alcove within the Grand Canyon Walls. The Colorado River created this amphitheater. It eroded the limestone walls and made a popular spot for rafters to rest and explore. John Wesley Powell, a famous Grand Canyon explorer, believes 50,000 people can occupy the space.

Even if that 50,000 people is a bit exaggerated, the area is a fantastic place to view rock formations and fossils embedded in the Redwall limestone in the cave or hike. Building fires and camping are not allowed. Paddle a few more miles to set up camp. While at Redwall Cavern, playing horseshoes or having a picnic are permitted. A shady vast open space is ideal for people to play Frisbee there.

Visitors see tracks of small animals that reside in the Cavern. There are fresh tail and feet tracks of countless lizards. The arid environment of the canyon bottom supports various other animals. The river is a source of water for coyote, deer, and smaller mammals. An endangered squaw fish species is native to the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Crappie and catfish are also common river inhabitants. Some neotropical birds and waterfowl use the Colorado Plateau area as a central migratory corridor, and the bald eagle chooses it as a popular winter home. Cottonwood and willow trees are area natives.

Many varieties of ferns and flowers thrive along water seepage lines hundreds of feet up in the cliffs. The tamarisk is an increasingly prominent plant. It is also referred to as the 'salt cedar.' It can rid salt content into the soil by pumping it out of the leaves.

Redwall Cavern is located around Vasey's Paradise's bend, near river mile 33 of a Colorado River trip. At Advantage Grand Canyon, we are the best source for booking trips provided by the top 15 outfitters to reach the Grand Canyon caverns and experience the river.

The Advantage Grand Canyon team are specialists in the field. It is all we do. We have rafted every season, traveled every route, and took a trip in every type raft. Our team helps select an outfitter based on our clients' expectations and requirements. We explain why we chose a particular outfitter.

Thousands of passengers use our services for a river trip with one of the 15 commercial rafting companies. There is no charge for our services. Outfitters support us. We are a one-stop resource for access to any river trip provided by the outfitters.

For those who wish to see the Redwall Cavern, we help guests with the rafting route, the type of raft, and the trip's length. Guides help make the journey enjoyable. The journey can be made in a dory or oar craft. Eat lunch on a beach of beautiful white sand. Rapids to experience include the Roaring Twenties, House Rock, and Badger and Soap Creek.

The trip continues below Vasey's Paradise and provides the opportunity to rest and relax in Redwall Cavern. Guests can delve into side canyons or hike to ancient granaries. There are no water rapids to contend with at Redwall Cavern. Amazing sites replace them.

Redwall Cavern is a hiker's paradise. Hike into the cave and view rock embedded with fossils. Discover petroglyphs and ancestral Puebloan sites such as the Nankoweap Granaries and search Naticoid fossils. It is appropriately named the Redwall Cavern because guests pass through the enormous cave-like structure during the river trip.

One river trip is a partial retrace of the John Wesley Powell 1869 expedition. He and his ten-man crew explored unchartered Colorado and Green Rivers from Green River Station in Wyoming to the 'impassable' Grand Canyon. The river trip follows a portion of the original exploration.

Exploring the Grand Canyon

For more than 56 years, outfitters have run the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. There are dory and motorized trips. The journeys cover 277 miles of water and cruise on the white water rapids. Throughout the trips, guests traverse secret canyons, hidden waterfalls and sleep in the great outdoors.

There is unparalleled access to areas that are less traveled. One such place is the Redwall Cavern natural amphitheater. On the trip, guests float the river, camp on sandy beaches, and hike rocky side caverns. The pace of the river trip varies. As the trip proceeds down the Canyon, the river changes considerably.

Caves in the Grand Canyon

An estimated 1000 caves are hidden in the Grand Canyon. Only 335 have been recorded. Few have been inventoried or mapped. Grand Canyon caves are resources having fragile environments that provide habitation for cave-dwelling wildlife that includes sensitive bat species.

Nearly all caves in the Grand Canyon are Redwall limestone. They are thousands of feet below the Canyon rim. Water from the Rim leaches through the Grand Canyon layers. Carbonic acid erodes the limestone that forms the many caves in the Canyon.

Redwall Cavern was likely created centuries ago, during high flows of the Colorado River. Redwall and limestone are the Canyon's chief cave forming units. Some exist in other formations. Small and large entrances are visible from almost any viewpoint on the Rim. Many caves have a role in regional hydrology, as proven by substantial streams and incredible waterfalls emerging from such places as Vasey's Paradise near Redwall Cavern.

Redwall Limestone

Redwall limestone is gray, but nearly always stained by iron oxide to a red color. Like most limestone, it is mostly formed of calcium carbonate sea creature shells. The shells fall apart in the current and waves or dissolve and precipitate, becoming lime mud. Foraminifera, bryozoans, brachiopods, corals, and crinoids are the most common.

Thick-bedded, pure limestone like the Redwall are typically deposited relatively far from the shore. There are shallow-water fossils present throughout the formation. The maximum depth of the water is likely 300 feet. Limestone accumulates to a height of 450 feet. Offshore subsidence is the reason. As the seafloor slowly subsides, lime mud accumulates. It keeps the water depth constant during the deposition. A thick rock sequence forms entirely in shallow water.

The Grand Canyon is geographically young. It dates back four to six million years. The underlying rock is considerably older. Volcanic rock at the base is the oldest layer. It is two billion years old. The rock is some of the oldest exposed on earth. For more than 500 million years, massive mountains have eroded.

The Experience

The ideal Grand Canyon trip includes exciting rapid rides, a few good hikes, first-rate photo opportunities, eating great outdoor cooking, and camping out. Choosing to visit Redwall Canyon means getting to know the Upper Canyon. Several types of rafting trips are available. They include motorized oar, paddle, dory, and hybrid.

There are postitive and negative aspects to each type of raft trip. A motorized trip covers the most distance in a day. Motor rafts are approximately 35 feet long and powered by a four-stroke outboard motor. These rafts have more available space for people and storage.

The difference between an oar and paddle trip is who does the rowing. These rafts are the smallest type. An oar raft usually places six to eight guests closer to the water and rapids. The guide rows the raft. Paddle rafts also seat six to eight people. Passengers do the paddling, which includes traveling through the rapids. The guide leads and gives instructions: hybrid trips pair oar and paddle rafts. Passengers rotate among a paddle raft and four oar rafts. The rotation lets passengers rest in oar boats and take turns paddling against fierce rapids while in the paddle boar.

Motor Trips

A motorized trip allows being absorbed by the Grand Canyon magic. You won't regret sitting in the 'bathtub' for a few rapids. Motorized trips are the most popular. Every day of a raft trip is similar in structure. Guests wake to coffee and tea, have breakfast, and pack and load the boat assembly-line style.

Passengers sit on the edge of the rafts and watch as the red wall canyon towers above. If the trip passes mile 33, the raft pulls over to Redwall Cavern to enjoy the site. It is about two miles down stream from South Canyon. The float is mild with only the riffle at Vasey's Paradise to negotiate. Redwall Canyon is only accessible by boat.

Approaching the Cavern, it seems somewhat insignificant compared to other caverns along a Colorado River's floating stretch. Particular light makes it appear as a shadowy overhang. After tying rafts to the beach, visitors see it is no small cavern. The captivating magnitude comes into view.

To get a perspective of the Cavern's size, guests must walk to the back of the cave and touch the Redwall limestone. Turn around from the dark walls and see how the Cavern frames the river and surrounding cliffs. This is nature's theater.

Viewing a light-drenched scene while in the darkness feels like you are only better in a movie theater. In this part of the river, the water sweeps rapidly. The majestic scenery is a layered rainbow of geologic wonders, sheer walls, and ancient rock that paint a billion-year history that is awe-inspiring.

The Colorado River excavated a vast half-circular structure that could seat 50,000 people, except for the water covering the floor when there is a raging flood. Imagine the concert that could take place there. Guests who take Upper Canyon or Full Canyon trips may have the opportunity to take in the magnificent formation. It is the ideal spot for a staged cover photo.

Guides are often close to the area boat park. Some rocks near the beach contain fossils. Guests spot fossils as they look closely at the rocks toward the front left of Redwall Grand Canyon when facing the river. If, by chance, a rainstorm occurs while in the Cavern, guests watch beautiful waterfalls and sheets of water while staying dry.

Redwall Cavern is among the most picturesque spots on a Grand Canyon river tour. It is one place a photo cannot do justice. Guests experience canyon magic as they scramble through slot canyons, splash in waterfalls, and hike to hidden oases. Guests escape daily life distractions as they rejuvenate and restore their minds on the ultimate technical detox.

Every day, passengers encounter ten to 15 rapids. The rapids are thrilling, douse the passengers with cold water, and challenge their handholds. On flat water, guides talk about the history of the Grand Canyon and the layers of rocks. The fossils that are embedded in the Redwall Cavern tell a lot about the rocks.

After traveling about 30 miles for the day, the group arrives at a sandbar to camp. Everyone helps with the set-up before finding a spot for their cot. Some guests hike from the campsite. Others play games or rest. If visiting Redwall Cavern was part of the day's itinerary, it was likely a conversation topic. After dinner, guests watch for the stars to appear before retreating to their cots to sleep under the Milky Way.

Dory Boat Option

Those who chose a dory boat trip select an exciting and unique alternative to an inflatable raft. Dories are small, charmingly elegant, and traditional rigid boats designed to carry tremendous gear and four people. While a dory can run more quickly than a raft, Grand Canyon dory trips are not about speed but provide an intimate, organic river experience.

The relaxed and energetic crew pays respect to the river, the surrounding environment, and the guest experience by setting a comfortable pace that does not sacrifice the excitement and thrill of a whitewater adventure in the Grand Canyon. They were born to row.

The design of the boat has every consideration in mind. Guests' only concern is to take in the fantastic scenery that serves as the background of an incredible Grand Canyon river trip. Many of the boatmen have been part of the dory experience for more than 30 years.

Their professionalism, creativity, and dedication make a dory trip a spectacular and unique experience. The staff assists the curious novice or veteran river runner to create a personalized dory boat adventure. Only a dory gives the subtle feel of currents and a frisky riffle ride that an inflatable wallows over—the dory powers up waves and rockets off crests. On calm stretches, they serve as floating lounges with everything needed accessible.

What to Take on the Trip

Buy and download a Grand Canyon National Park Pass. It provides quick access to the park. The price is $35 per car. It is good for a week. Have a full tank of gas. There is one fuel station on the South Rim at Desert View. The nearest station outside the park is seven miles south in Tusayan.

Arizona provides rugged terrain, unpredictable weather, extreme heat, rattlesnakes, and scorpions. If guests plan to hike, new and seasoned hikers need the proper basics that include:

  • Boots and shoes
  • Socks
  • Hiking pants or shorts
  • Hiking shirts
  • Jackets and outerwear
  • Sunglasses 
  • A hat 
  • Packs
  • Hydration

Also deemed essential by expert hikers are

  • A headlamp
  • Portable charger
  • First aid kit
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • A map
  • Food (probably belongs on the basic list)

Hiking pools are optional. They are likely not necessary for day hikes.

Let Us Help

The Redwall Cavern, explored by John Wesley Powell, may not hold the estimated 50,000 people he suggested, but 50,000 people have enjoyed Grand Canyon trips that included a photoshoot of the Cavern. If the cavern walls could talk, they would have interesting tales to tell about visitors to the National Park. The fossils found there let visitors know the Canyon is not only thriving today but has been around for millions of years.

If you wish to experience all the Redwall Cavern's wonder, book an Upper Canyon excursion through mile 33 with Advantage Grand Canyon. There are multiple raft options. The company's goal is to match guests with the best choice for an unparalleled rafting experience in the Grand Canyon.