Rafting on the Grand Canyon – Part 1

Each and every year, the Grand Canyon attracts somewhere in the region of five million visitors. After all, it’s one of the world’s seven natural wonders. It’s also a majestic and huge sight to feast your eyes on, at 1.5km deep and up to 30km wide. The views are quite simply breathtaking from the top that the river below is often neglected by tourists. The water, however, plays a huge role in foraging the canyon.

Around 29,000 boaters a year make their way to the Grand Canyon. They would likely tell you that you haven’t really visited this section of the Colorado River until you’ve rafted on it. If you rafted from one end to the other, it would take you around 14 days. Fortunately, you have numerous options when it comes to how challenging or how long you wish the trip to be.

The first expedition

While Native American Indian tribes had resided here for centuries, in 1869, a man by the name of John Wesley Orwell had undertaken the very first expedition through the canyon. While one third of the nine individuals who began the expedition gave up and were never to be heard from again, the remaining men made it, completing in three months.

Of course, taking a rafting trip on the Canyon doesn’t have to be as intense as the challenge mentioned above. There will be no shortage of adventure, either way. It does, however, require a lot of commitment and planning. Here are some tips to help you.

Determine your vessel and trip length

Two things you need to take into account sooner rather than later are the type of vessel you wish to use and how long you want to be rafting on the canyon for. A motorised raft and a paddle/oared raft rank among the more popular rafts. The one you choose can help determine the length of your trip. Motorised boat trips can’t exceed 12 days between Diamond Creek and Lees Ferry. They must also have a 4-stroke motor.

There’s no shortage of options with regards to trip length. If you don’t want to go all-in, you could consider a smooth water trip for either a half-day or full day between Lees Ferry and Canyon Dam. This trip used to be provided by Colorado River Discovery, which is unfortunately no longer operating, but if you research online you might find another company offering the same trip.

A more substantial undertaking would be an 83.7km self-guided trip, from two to five days, between Lake Mead and Diamond Creek. You’d have to pay to cross Hualapai land, in order to reach the launch point, however.

Some companies provide trips that offer various different routes between Diamond Creek and Lake Mead, that take anywhere between three and 18 days. These include various vessels, supplies, equipment, and guides. Some include both hiking and boating. Be prepared to pay a couple of thousand dollars for a service like this.

Rafting along the Grand Canyon remains a popular source of adventure. Both the campsites and the river, however, can only take a limited number of tourists, and the National Part Service (NPS) is under obligation to restrict the number of people allowed to ride the river per day. We’ll look at that next.

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