Colorado River Rafting
Colorado River Rafting – Outfitter
Choosing your Colorado River Rafting Outfitter is an important choice. The trip down the Colorado River is a one way adventure, so planning your entry and exit are important. The length of a Colorado River Rafting journey varies depending on how far down river you want to go, whether you use engines on your raft and whether you visit side canyons. There are many tour outfitters to choose from. Check out the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association for a list tour operators.
Badger Creek Rapid, © Can Stock / Pancaketom
Colorado River Rafting – Three Sections
Upper Grand Canyon from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch. Most people cover this first section, which doesn’t have whitewater.
Lower Grand Canyon from Phantom Ranch to Whitmore Wash. The second section of Colorado River Rafting has all the famous whitewater rapids. To get here you either have to float down the Upper Grand Canyon or you have to spend a day hiking in to the Phantom Ranch from Grand Canyon Village.
Whitmore Wash to Diamond Creek or Lake Mead. The third section is very tame and less traveled. You either have to float the Lower Grand Canyon to reach this section or you have to helicopter in from the Bar 10 Ranch to start your Colorado River Rafting experience in the third section.
Red Wall Cavern, © Can Stock / Pancaketom
Colorado River Rafting – Lees Ferry
You start the Upper Grand Canyon section of Colorado River Rafting at Lees Ferry and finish this first section at the Phantom Ranch. Lees Ferry is an easy launching spot and it’s officially Mile 0 of river rafting. Most good outfitters will shuttle you from Flagstaff to Lees Ferry and take you back to Flagstaff after your river rafting run. In Lees Ferry, stay at the Marble Canyon Lodge, Lees Ferry Lodge or the National Park Service – Lees Ferry Campground.
There are abandoned buildings at Lees Ferry from the settlement that was established in the late 1800s, when this was the only place to cross the Colorado River for 700 miles.
Lees Ferry, © Can Stock / sprokop
Rafting Upper Grand Canyon
From Lees Ferry, the Upper Grand Canyon river rafting section takes about 4 – 6 days and cover 87 miles. Your Colorado River Rafting voyage through the Upper Grand Canyon soon takes you down Marble Canyon and under the Navajo Bridge. Then you pass Nankoweap where you can walk up to the ruins of Anasazi granaries. Another famous stop on the Upper Grand Canyon is the gigantic Red Wall Cavern.
Black Bridge, Kaibab Trail, © Can Stock / Pancaketom
At Phantom Ranch you will find two foot bridges over the Colorado River. First is the Black Bridge on the Kaibab Trail and then the Silver Bridge on Bright Angel Trail. Some rafters finish their adventure here, while others continue to the exciting rapids of the Lower Grand Canyon.