Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park receives millions of visitors annually, many of whom hike to the bottom of the canyon on the park's popular Bright Angel, South Kaibab, and North Kaibab trails. These guests get a glimpse of the wild Colorado River, which winds through this natural wonder, but only a fraction of the park's visitors—about 30,000 each year—hop on a boat to raft it.
With trips ranging from two-day motorized rafting excursions to full canyon oar trips lasting several weeks, there are many options for exploring the canyon by water.
A Different View
A 187-mile, weeklong motorized rafting trip is a good middle ground for travelers interested in getting a solid water-based canyon experience without exerting themselves too strenuously. Trips leave from Lees Ferry, and within only a few miles, rafters are plunged into the chilly river.
At mile 8, you'll pass through Badger Creek Rapid, the first legitimate rapid of the trip with a 15-foot drop. Five miles later is another thrilling 16-foot drop at Soap Creek Rapids, and then again just past mile 14 at Shear Wall Rapids. And that's just in the first hour!
For seven days, rafters take in the Grand Canyon's spectacular scenery between drenching runs through dozens of the river's whitewater rapids. Days aren't entirely confined to boats, however, as guides pull over for lunch every day and occasionally for side excursions. At the Unkar Delta at mile 74, for example, rafters can visit abandoned pueblo dwellings, and at mile 133, a short hike to a waterfall offers a refreshing, natural shower after days without bathing.