Grand Canyon White Water Rafting Trips

Grand Canyon National Park
> Boating

Spending a vacation doing some thrilling and scenic Grand Canyon rafting is a trip of a lifetime. Head down the Colorado River on a one, two or even 21-day trip.

How can I raft the Colorado River?

The Colorado River flows 1,450 miles, through the Rocky Mountains and on through 240 miles of Grand Canyon and beyond. As it follows the canyon it has carved, it provides you with a unique perspective of Grand Canyon National Park. The Colorado River was responsible for this wonder of color and rock formations.

  • Put-Ins: For Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trips, the popular places to embark on your adventures are Lees Ferry, Phantom Ranch, and Whitmore Wash. You can raft straight from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch, Diamond Creek, Whitmore Wash or all the way to Lake Mead. Take advantage of numerous options for the length of your trip, from one day to 25-day excursions and everything in between. Choose commercial trips with guides or non-commercial self-guided river trips.
  • Seasons: Anytime of year is a great time to visit the Grand Canyon, however most agree that spring and fall are best for rafting since you avoid the hot summer temperatures and often get to see beautiful wildflowers abloom. 
  • Rapids: There are many, many incredible rapids as you travel down the Colorado through Grand Canyon, all ranging from Class 1 to 10 (10 being the most difficult). Some of the larger rapids are:
    • At Mile 7.9 the first significant rapid, Badger Creek Rapid (4-6)
    • When you reach Mile 16.9, the first really large rapid will be upon you, House Rock Rapid (4-7)
    • At Mile 20.5, what is called the “Roaring 20’s” begins, a series of rapids that range from Class 2 to 7.
    • At Mile 56, there’s Kwagunt Rapid (4-6)
    • Mile 72.5, the popular Unkar Rapid (4-7), which picks up again at Mile 75.5 with Nevills Rapid (4-7)
    • Then Mile 76.6, you find powerful hydraulics at Hance Rapid (7-8)
    • When you get to Mile 90.2, very large waves are formed at Horn Creek Rapid (7-9), one of the most difficult rapids you’ll experience
    • Another very difficult whitewater thrill at Mile 93.4 with Granite Rapid (7-8)
    • The biggest waves are at Mile 94.9 at Hermit Rapid (7-8)
    • You are in for a surprise at Mile 98.2 - Crystal Rapid (7-10) has large holes and a rock garden on the left.
    • Mile 130.5, the Bedrock Rapid (6-8) means you have to head right of the rocks in the middle of the river.
    • At Mile 179.2, be ready for Lava Falls Rapid (8-10), known as the most difficult, but short, trip in this river run.

Do I need a permit?

Grand Canyon river rafting requires a permit only if you will be doing non-commercial rafting on the Colorado. For private river trips, you will need to get your permit through the weighted lottery, held each February. The application fee is $25, and winners pay $400 for a trip deposit that is applied to the $100 per person cost of the permit. More information and permit applications are available on the National Park Service website: River Permit Info and Permits.

I am looking for a Boating guide

Grand Canyon river trips are best done with an outfitter who is experienced and knowledgeable about the Colorado River and all the places to stop along the way. If doing a self-guided trip, you must ensure you are completely prepared with all equipment and safety knowledge. Explore the listings on this page to find the support services you need for your Grand Canyon vacation on the water.

Questions & Answers