Arizona’s Grand Canyon is a stunning landscape of spires and buttes that surround the main canyon, a dramatic rock chasm carved through the Colorado Plateau. Explore millions of years of geology and 4,000 years of human history on this raft voyage down the Colorado River. Discover the breathtaking beauty of waterfalls and experience the thrill of rafting rapids such as Horn Creek, Hermit, Granite, and Lava Falls. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to hike to Anasazi ruins and amazing side canyons like Havasu. It will quickly become apparent why the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Wilderness Inquiry is pleased to work with Canyon Explorations to conduct this trip. These folks have a wealth of experience with guided Grand Canyon rafting trips on the Colorado River and they’re fun, safety conscious, and care deeply about the environment.
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Meet your trip mates at a Flagstaff hotel and participate in a trip orientation.
Meet your Wilderness Inquiry group at a hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona. After introductions, there will be an orientation meeting with Canyon Explorations and Wilderness Inquiry staff. Here you will get river luggage and instructions on what and how to pack for the trip. Lodging in Flagstaff is not included in the trip fee. The discounted cost is about $92 per room including breakfast. You may room by yourself or share accommodations. Excess baggage can be left in a secure place at the hotel for no additional fee.
Day 2: Shuttle to Lee's Ferry, your entry point to this wonder of the world.
After breakfast, we shuttle to Lee's Ferry (a 3-hour ride) to launch the trip. The anticipation is palpable as you load your boats for your adventure. Practice paddling techniques and meet your guides and fellow adventurers, as you float down the river through Paria Riffle to your first camp site in Badger Canyon right across from Jackass Creek.
Day 3: Break early and paddle through millions of years of geologic history.
Learn the rhythm of the river on your second day. Explore Badger Canyon and raft the 15-foot drop of Badger Creek Rapids. Continue on and paddle past the famed natural landmark, Ten Mile Rock. At mile 12, see the famous Brown Inscription carved by Grand Canyon survey member Peter Hansbrough in 1889. Set up camp near Tiger Wash and unwind with stories over dinner
Day 4: Paddle through Tiger Wash rapid and marvel at Redwall Cavern.
Break camp and continue your canyon journey across the rapids of Tiger Wash. At mile 33, make a stop at Redwall Cavern, a vast chamber carved by high river flows into the Canyon's limestone walls. Take a closer look at the limestone near the entrance of the cavern and spot fossilized marine creatures. Paddle a few more miles before setting up camp on the shore.
Day 5: Marvel at the towering layers of limestone as you paddle past Marble Canyon.
Admire the towering layers of limestone as you paddle past Marble Canyon. Take a break from paddling and enjoy a delicious lunch with your fellow trip mates. Continue your paddle past Point Hansbrough, Saddle Canyon, and Nankoweap Canyon. Experience the thrill of Nankoweap Rapids, with a 25 ft drop. Share stories with your trip mates over a delicious dinner.
Day 6: Paddle past the confluence of the Little Colorado River before setting up camp near Lava Canyon.
Rise early to a delicious breakfast and hot coffee before beginning your day's paddle through the Kuwagant Rapids. Encounter the confluence of the Little Colorado River at mile 62. Watch the water color change from turquoise to mud brown as the Little Colorado River enters. Camp near Palisades Creek or Lava Canyon and watch for stars at night.
Day 7: Paddle the winding waters of Basalt Canyon before conquering the 25-foot drop of Unkar Rapids.
Paddle the winding waters of Basalt Canyon before conquering the 25-foot drop of Unkar Rapids. Break for lunch before continuing on to Papageo Creek and Hanc Rapids. Admire the Vishnu Schist, Zoroaster Granite and Hotuta conglomerate first appear.
Day 8: Stretch your legs on a trek to the fabled Phantom Ranch.
Pass Cottonwood Creek, before arriving in Bright Angel Canyon. Stretch your legs on a quick hike to the fabled Phantom Ranch. Tour the buildings of this famous canyon establishment. Grab an ice cream cone and head back to the rafts for an afternoon of paddling.
Day 9: Experience drops at Hermit, Crystal, and Tuna Creek Rapids.
Enjoy a tasty breakfast complete with hot coffee before packing up camp. Begin your morning paddle as you pass through Horn Creek at mile 90. Experience drops at Hermit, Crystal, and Tuna Creek Rapids. Enjoy a relaxing evening after setting up camp somewhere near Turquoise Canyon.
Day 10: Marvel at the breathtaking views of Conquistador Aisle.
By now, the rhythm of the river has you at its full trance. Enjoy breathtaking views as you explore Conquistador Aisle. Keep an eye on your beer levels to make sure you have enough for the end! Camp at Deer Creek and enjoy an evening hike to Deer Creek Falls.
Day 11: Spend the day exploring the unbelievable travertine waters of Havasu Creek.
Rise and begin the paddle past Kanab Creek. Spend the day exploring the unbelievable travertine waters of Havasu Creek before braving the Havasu Rapids.
Day 12: Explore Fern Glen Canyon before taking the big plunge at Lava Falls.
Share stories with your trip mates over a hearty breakfast before breaking camp and gearing up for a full day of paddling. Explore Fern Glen Canyon before taking the big plunge at Lava Falls. Camp near Hells Hallow or 192 Mile Canyon.
Day 13: Enjoy Spring Canyon, Granite Peak as you realize your time on the River is coming to an end.
Take in the beauty of the Canyon as you realize your adventure is nearing its end. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast before packing up camp. Enjoy Spring Canyon, Granite Peak as you realize your time on the River is coming to an end.
Day 14: Encounter the Great Unconformity and learn about this geologic mystery.
Break camp and spend the morning paddling. After lunch, encounter the Great Unconformity at Lower Granite Gorge. Your expert guide will teach you about this 175-year gap in the geologic history of the Canyon, which was observed by John Wesley Powell in 1869. Where did it go!
Day 15: Rise early for your final full day of paddling.
Rise early for your final full day of paddling. Take in the stunning vistas as you paddle Granite Park and the Parashant Wash before setting up camp on your final night.
Day 16: Take out at Diamond creek, transfer back to Flagstaff.
Pack up camp for the last time and begin the final leg of your Canyon adventure. Take out at Diamond Creek that morning. Meet the van and drive back to Flagstaff. Arrive back at your hotel in Flagstaff in the early afternoon. We suggest you stay in Flagstaff that evening and return home the following day. Discounted rates will be available to you at the Radisson Woodlands Hotel.
Dates & Fees
Wilderness Inquiry leads trips to the Grand Canyon but currently has no dates scheduled for this itinerary. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Please contact us or request a trip quote below if you are interested in a group trip to this destination.Request Trip Quote »
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: The Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world. Throughout the trip you will float the river, camp on sand beaches, and hike rocky side canyons. The pace of the trip will vary and the terrain of the river changes considerably as we proceed down the canyon.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will use 18-foot oar rafts that carry 4-5 passengers, as well as a paddle raft with 4-6 passengers. A river guide paddles the oar raft, whereas all passengers paddle the paddle raft. An average day’s travel consists of 3-5 hours of paddling. Travel distances vary from 10-20 miles per day with the exception of scheduled layover days. No previous experience is needed to complete this trip, however, if you are not used to camping outdoors, you may wish to try a shorter Wilderness Inquiry trip first to make sure you like it. To protect the environment, Wilderness Inquiry uses “Leave No Trace” minimum impact camping techniques.
WEATHER: Temperatures range from 50 F (evenings) to 95 F (days) in August/September. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, such as sudden thunderstorms or gusty winds.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 14 -16 participants, plus 6 to 8 staff from Canyon Explorations and Wilderness Inquiry. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. Staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can.
ACCOMMODATIONS: This is a camping trip. At night, we will have the option of sleeping in 2-person dome tents or staying out under the stars. Bathroom facilities consist of a comfortable, private commode in a scenic location. This fragile environment requires us to carry out all waste. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
MEALS: The kitchen will be the center of each camp! The guides do all the meal preparation, but we encourage you to get involved in the fun. You can expect meals like pancakes, eggs to order, and french toast with fresh coffee in the morning. Deli style lunches include fresh fruit, hummus and tabouli, and tortilla salad. Dinner will be from the dutch oven, grill, or skillet. Meals include plenty of fresh meat, fruit, vegetables right up to the last day! If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: We provide all necessary rafting and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and toiletries. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation.
COVID POLICY: We continue to monitor and update our COVID-19 policies. Wilderness Inquiry strongly encourages everyone to be fully up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination and take other necessary steps for the health and wellness of all. We ask you to self-screen for any signs of illness prior to your trip’s departure. Please contact Wilderness Inquiry if you are exhibiting signs of illness. We will also continue to follow all guidance and requirements of locations that we travel, keeping in mind some international destinations do require vaccinations and/or negative covid tests. We will update this policy as new information and guidance becomes available.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: Though not required, some individuals may choose to wear a mask, and we expect all participants to respect this choice. Please ensure proper hygiene including, but not limited to, hand-washing and/or sanitizing before eating and after using the restroom. Individuals who become ill or test positive for COVID-19 during a Wilderness Inquiry experience will be isolated to the best of the group’s ability and are responsible for their own transportation and expenses to depart the trip.Read more »
About the AreaThe river was called ‘colorado’ or ‘red-colored’ by early Spanish explorers who saw the reddish hues of the silt-laden water. It was referred to as the Grand River in the United States until 1921, when, under pressure from the Colorado State legislature, the head of the river was officially declared to be in the state of Colorado, and the river was renamed in its honor.
Though the canyon itself is geographically quite young, dating back only 4-6 million years, the underlying rock through which it cuts is considerably older. The oldest layer, the base of volcanic rock on which the river now runs, is 2 billion years old – some of the oldest exposed rock on earth. This bedrock is the remains of an ancient mountain range which at one time reached as high as the Himalayas of today. Over 500 million years these massive mountains eroded, bringing them nearly level with the surrounding terrain. During the following 1 1/2 billion years, succeeding layers of sedimentary rock were laid down faster than counterbalancing erosion could carry them away. This created the variegated layers which are now exposed to people running the river.
In the arid environment at the bottom of the canyon, the river supports a wide variety of life. The river is a popular source of water for deer, coyote and many smaller mammals The squaw fish is an endangered species and native to the Colorado and Green Rivers. Catfish and crappie are common river inhabitants as well. The Colorado Plateau area is a popular winter home for bald eagles and a major migratory corridor for waterfowl and a number of neo-tropical birds.
Willow trees and cottonwoods are native to the area, and many varieties of flowers and ferns thrive hundreds of feet up along water seepage lines in the cliffs. However, an increasingly prominent plant is the tamarisk tree or ‘salt cedar’, so named due to the plant’s ability to rid itself of salt content in the soil by pumping the salt out to its leaves. An interesting ecological tale accompanies the tamarisk tree and its fellow environmental members. Tamarisks are native to the Mediterranean region and Asia. Some hypothesize that they may have found their way to this area with the Spanish expeditions between 1540 and 1750. The first recorded tamarisks in this area date back to the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1930’s that people began recognizing the colonizing tendencies of tamarisks.
Suggested reading list:
Belknap, Buzz. (1969) Grand Canyon River Guide. Westwater Books: Boulder City, Nevada.
Lavander, David. (1985) River Runners of the Grand Canyon. University of Arizona Press: Tucson, Arizona.
Wallace, Robert. (1973) The Grand Canyon. Time Life Books.
If you have other suggestions please let us know–there are many, many books about the Grand Canyon.Read more »