Grand Canyon Raft Adventure
Whitewater Raft Through One of the Wonders of the World
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.
Day 1: Meet your Wilderness Inquiry group at the Radisson Woodlands 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. Spend the night at the Radisson Woodlands hotel. Lodging here 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: After breakfast, we shuttle to Lee's Ferry (a 3-hour ride) to launch the trip. Practice paddling techniques and meet your guides and fellow adventurers, as you float down the river to your first camp site.
Day 3–15: The first 87 miles of the trip is considered the "upper" part of the Grand Canyon. During this stretch of the river you will discover the breathtaking beauty of waterfalls such as Vasey's Paradise. You can hike to Anasazi ruins and experience the thrill of rapids known as the Roaring Twenties, Hance and Grapevine. The close proximity to the high canyon walls in the "upper" part of the canyon provides an intimate experience. The final 138 miles of the trip from Pipe Creek to Diamond Creek is the "lower" part of the canyon. This part of the trip is popular for its more dramatic rapids such as Horn Creek, Granite, Hermit, Crystal and Lava Falls. Along the entire route, you will have the option of hiking the beautiful side canyons or relaxing at your scenic campsite.
Day 16: Take out at Diamond Creek that morning. Meet the van and drive back to Flagstaff to the Radisson/Woodlands hotel. Weather permitting, arrive back at the hotel 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.
"The river turns sharply to the east and seems enclosed by a wall set with a million brilliant gems. On coming nearer we find fountains bursting from the rock high overhead, and the spray in the sunshine forms the gems which bedeck the wall. The rocks are covered with mosses and ferns and many flowering plants."
From the report of John Wesley Powell, August 9, 1869.
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 WI trip first to make sure you like it. To protect the environment, WI 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 WI. 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.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The 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.
For more information, visit these links:
No Dates Scheduled
WI leads trips to this destination but currently has no dates scheduled. Please watch for future dates. Call us at 612-676-9400.