We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

Albany, New York
Level Contributor
27 posts
110 reviews
Save Topic
Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

Are there any rafting tours on the Colorado that either start somewhere near the South Rim of the park, or at least pick up people in and around the South Rim?

My wife and I will be coming to the Grand Canyon in September, and we'd really like to take one of the rafting tours, but it seems like they all depart from either points further west or north like Las Vegas or Page. Either end would involve many hours of driving to get to, and given that most of the rafting tours appear to be at least full day outings that seems like it would eat far too much of the time we'll be spending at the Grand Canyon (4 days/3 nights in Tusayan specifically).

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
7,729 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

The short answer is 'no' and when you get to the park and look down into the Canyon at the Colorado river, you'll quickly understand why. The geography that makes the South Rim so amazing also severely limits access to the river; it is a vertical mile down and an 8-mile hike to get there. The dramatic elevations taper down going east or west.

Only the multi-day white-water rafting trips exchange passengers at Phantom Ranch, which is still a 8+ mile strenuous hike from the South Rim. There are no daytrips near the South Rim.

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,966 posts
155 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

There is unfortunately no way to get around the necessity to drive at least couple of hours to get to the areas of the Colorado River where single-day trips can be had. It's just the way God made the Grand Canyon!

If 1 day is all you have to work with, your options are basically these:

For smooth water rafting (no rapids):

1. Take a full-day package tour from Grand Canyon South Rim (12 hours), Williams or Flagstaff, which takes you up to Page AZ to put in at the base of the Glen Canyon Dam and take out at Lees Ferry (15 river miles). All package tours essentially have about 5 hours on the river, the remaining time spent in transport. All include lunch, run about $199/person. From Grand Canyon South Rim, there is also the Canyon River Adventure, which includes a fixed wing airplane flight from GC South Rim to Page, safari jeep tour of Antelope Canyon, the float trip from the Dam to Lees Ferry, then bus back to the canyon. Also about 12 hours, seen this one advertised for ~$370/person

2. Your other option would be to simply driver yourself to Page (which is up near Lake Powell) and take the trip from there as a half-day excursion. Costs ~ $85/person, departures available twice daily during the summer. Doesn't include lunch, but they do provide water and lemonade on the river, plus you can pre-order a bag lunch from their on-site cafe.

3. The Black Canyon Adventure out of Las Vegas: float from the base of Hoover Dam to Willow Beach Marina, ~6 hours from the Hacienda Resort in Boulder City. ~$90/person, or you can include transport from select strip hotels for a little extra $$

For white water rafting (with rapids), there is only 1 single day white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon, and it is operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe out of Peach Springs AZ. The trip goes from Diamond Creek to Quartermaster Canyon (~45 river miles), through 9 sets of Class II and III rapids. If trip goes according to program, you are airlifted out by helicopter; in inclement weather, you are motored to an alternate pull-out location on Lake Mead, usually South Cove. The ways to do it are:

1. Take the trip directly from the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs. Check in is at 7 AM, so best to be staying in Peach Springs or somewhere close by the night prior and the evening you get back 'cause you'll be tired. FYI, Peach Springs is about 3 hours drive from Grand Canyon South Rim, 90 minutes+ from Williams AZ Trip length depending on pull-out method is 10-12 hours, cost ~$330/person

2. Take the trip as a package tour with round-trip transport provide from Williams, Flagstaff or Sedona (South Rim visitors would drive down to Williams [1 hour]). VERY early start (~5.30 AM), and pricey (seen it advertised from $500-$550/person), but it's fun, and again, this is the ONLY 1-Day White Water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. Trip length is longer due to transport time from pickup point to Peach Springs.

So there you have it. Here's a video that also talks about some of these options and touches on why 1-day trips require some distance be travelled

->: http://youtu.be/ZFW3o-c7JqE

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
60,144 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

Add a night or two at Page AZ before or after your GCNP time and do the Glen Canyon raft trip there. It's not the Grand Canyon, but it is the Colorado river and it is beautiful.

Albany, New York
Level Contributor
27 posts
110 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

Thank You - Detroit Tiger Fan, Red Rox and especially K-bot!

It definitely makes sense why, after all the Grand Canyon wouldn't be THE Grand Canyon if you could just walk down to the shore. We'll definitely have to give that Float tour package some consideration if we're confident we have the time. Baring that we may have to try again on another trip by staying over at Page (via the Utah parks) as suggested.

Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
Level Contributor
6,661 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

If you already have 4 days/3 nights in Tusayan, you could easily use one of those as a day trip to do the smooth water float in Page. (See Kbot's suggestion #1)

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
60,144 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

Delete one of those Tusayan nights and drive to Page. Spend the night there and do the raft trip, Antelope Canyon and hike to Horseshoe Bend Overlook. The drive to Page via Painted Desert (highway 89) is not to be missed.

Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
Level Contributor
6,661 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

RR has the better idea.

Montgomery,NJ
Level Contributor
15 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

We definitely want to do a 1 day raft trip. We will spend the hefty $330pp w/ the Hualapai if it is indeed worth it. Can we weigh the differences between the their trip and the 2 float trips from Page & Black Canyon? Besides the obvious, i.e. rapids,helicopter...is the view better from one tour to another? I'm hearing the skywalk is a waste of time & $, so I am nervous that the Haualapai raft trip is a rip off as well...???

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,966 posts
155 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

@MontyMom1120 - having taken all the trips you're considering, I can definitely tell you that the Hualapai River Runners' trip is a lot of fun. There's really no way to compare it with either the Colorado River Discovery or the Black Canyon Adventure since the scenery is so different. But even though the Hualapai River trip takes place outside the actual borders of Grand Canyon National Park, it will leave you feeling as though you had rafted through Grand Canyon visually. Here's a video ->: http://youtu.be/LD6iHHm4GgY

A couple more things: 1. the rapids (9 of them in all) all take place before lunchtime; after lunch it's all floating until you're airlifted out. 2. re: the airlift, it takes place weather permitting; if it has to be cancelled on account of high winds or other inclement weather, you will be motored down to South Cove on Lake Mead, which adds another 2 hours onto your trip time. 3. Since check-in for the trip is at 7 AM and Hualapai Lodge is in a very remote location (Peach Springs AZ), you should plan to at least stay the night before the trip in Peach Springs or somewhere close by. The trip is not strenuous, but it is a very long day and will take a lot out of you, so even better plan is stay 2 nights. 4. The price of the trip has gone up since last post. Visit www.grandcanyonwest.com for current pricing.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
60,144 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Rafting Day Tours at the Grand Canyon

For what you'll spend on that trip, you can have a room in Page, meals, float trip Antelope Canyon tour and Horseshoe Bend. And then some. JMO