All Upper Canyon trips begin at the put-in point at Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon. The day before your Grand Canyon rafting trip begins, you'll be driven to Lees Ferry to meet your guide and the rest of your raft mates. After a final briefing, you'll hop on board and begin your trip downriver. Over the course of your river trip, you’ll explore 88 exciting river miles of pristine natural beauty, all the while surrounded by canyon walls towering over 4,500 feet.
In the first few miles of your trip, you'll pass some of the region's most well-known geological formations; in fact, the Kaibab and Toroweap formations are widely regarded as two of the Grand Canyon's most awe-inspiring features. All outfitter river guides have extensive knowledge and experience rafting through the Grand Canyon. If you're interested in geology, your river guide can even give you a rundown on the history of the Grand Canyon's many rock formations. Remember, outfitter guides are experts on all things Grand Canyon — your river guide will not only provide personalized advice and paddling guidance, but they'll also offer their expertise on native flora and fauna, local culture and history, and even professional first aid knowledge (in the unlikely event you need it).
Now, to the exciting part. There are 19 major rapids along the Upper Grand Canyon route, all rated 5 or above on the river rapid scale. House Rock, Unkar, Hance, Sockdolager, and Zoroaster are a few of the rapids you'll encounter along the way. When you're not conquering these rapids, you can spend time trekking through side canyons, exploring everything from cascading waterfalls to Native American ruins. If you're lucky, you might even encounter some local wildlife, from diminutive canyon wrens to mighty bighorn sheep.
In addition to thrilling whitewater rapid experiences, you'll also get a close look at a range of jaw-dropping natural sites, including Redwall Cavern, Nankoweap Anasazi Granaries, Vasey’s Paradise, the confluence of the Little Colorado River, and the Upper Granite Gorge.
By booking your trip through one of our 15 top outfitters, all the stressful and time-consuming responsibilities of camping in the Grand Canyon will be handled by your river guide. All of your meals are prepared for you by your river guide and all camping gear is included. While at camp, you have a choice of either sleeping inside a tent or under the stars on a comfortable cot or sleeping pad, with a warm sleeping bag and sheet. Dry bags are also supplied so you can protect personal items from water or rain.
At the end of your adventure, you'll find yourself at river mile 88 near Phantom Ranch. Rest assured; this isn't where your adventure ends. To finish your trip, you'll need to hike 9.5 miles up and out of the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim. The Bright Angel Trail is well-maintained and the Grand Canyon National Park Service has installed water stations at mile 9 (bottom of the canyon), mile 4.8, mile 3 and mile 1.5 near the top. The average ascent time from the Colorado River is 6 to 8 hours.
The journey to the South Rim can be a strenuous hike, especially during the summer months between June and August. As such, this hike should only be attempted by individuals who are fit and healthy enough to carry all of their gear. Please note that some outfitters can accommodate an outbound duffel service to transport your gear to the South Rim (additional fees will apply).
After you’ve reached the top of the South Rim, you will be transported, via coach, back to your starting point at Lees Ferry. You'll then be taken to Las Vegas where you can experience the local attractions or catch a flight home. Depending on your outfitter's itinerary, transportation back to your starting point may not be included — accommodation can be arranged if this is the case.
Meeting locations will depend on itineraries, which vary from one outfitter to the next. Return transportation also depends on some trips ending at the South Rim, while other trips include transportation to Flagstaff.
Las Vegas NV: Trip may start here. Alternatively, you can take a charter flight to Marble Canyon and begin your trip there.
Marble Canyon AZ: Fly to Las Vegas; charter flight to Marble Canyon; drive from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon (4.5 hours) or from Phoenix to Marble Canyon (4 hours).
Page AZ: Fly into Page by way of Phoenix, or arrive in Phoenix and drive to Page 4.5 hours.
Flagstaff AZ: Fly into Flagstaff, or drive from Phoenix via car or shuttle service (2-4 hours) or from Las Vegas via car or shuttle service (4-6 hours).
The cost of your rafting expedition will vary depending on a variety of different factors. Firstly, the longer the duration of your trip, the more expensive it is likely to be. Secondly, our outfitters will vary their prices according to seasonal trends — you will pay more for your rafting trip during the late spring/early summer period. In some cases, your choice of raft type will also affect the cost of your trip. To give you a rough idea of what to expect in terms of cost for Upper Grand Canyon rafting trips, a 4-day motor raft adventure from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch will generally set you back around $1,550. If you have more time to spare, you can extend the trip to 7 days using an oar or paddle raft for around $2,600 — this trip will conclude at Pipe Creek rather than Phantom Ranch. For a personalized trip quote, get in touch with our friendly team at 888-244-2224 / 928-351-7711 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experienced rafters who have visited Grand Canyon National Park multiple times may boast that one portion of the river is better than the other. However, both the upper and lower sections of the Grand Canyon have plenty of thrills, sights, and rapids to offer. If it's your first time Grand Canyon rafting, you can experience most of the upper and lower canyon by taking an 8-day to 12-day trip. Many outfitters offer a 'best of' tour option that takes you through some of the area's most notable sights, such as the Throne Room, Elves Chasm, Matkatamiba, Clear Creek, and Lava Falls. Alternatively, if you are limited by time, you may wish to explore one section of the Colorado River more thoroughly. If geological sites are one of the primary reasons for your Grand Canyon rafting trip, you may wish to stick to the Upper Grand Canyon — with more varied views, you'll likely have more opportunities to check out a diverse array of geological structures. Don't worry, you'll still get the chance to put on your hiking boots, with Upper Grand Canyon tours finishing via an ascent up the Bright Angel Trail from your exit point at Phantom Ranch. If fast-paced paddling and wild rapids are more to your taste, the Lower Grand Canyon may be a slightly better option. On this route, you'll begin your tour with a 9.5-mile descent hike via the Bright Angel Trail to your put-in point at Phantom Ranch.
Determining the best part of the Colorado River to raft will depend on your experience with rapids and how much rafting you wish to do during your trip. Roughly 70 percent of our customers have no previous rafting experience, meaning that almost every outfitter option is achievable and safe for beginners.
Yes, you can choose to raft through the entire Grand Canyon with one of the many guided outfitter tours. You can raft the river for anywhere between 6 and 18 days depending on availability and how much time you want to spend exploring each section of the river. Almost all full canyon trips will begin at Lees Ferry, with transport to the put-in point included in the cost. From Lees Ferry to Phantom Ridge, you will raft, hike and camp, continuing this routine for the entirety of the Colorado River. Full canyon tours conclude at Whitmore Wash, Diamond Creek or Lake Mead. Depending on your exit point, coach transfer or helicopter transport will be arranged for you to make it back to your starting point.