Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting

Each year, roughly 22,000 people spend between a few days and three weeks rafting the Colorado River in Arizona through the Grand Canyon. The hard part is choosing your craft - paddle, oar-powered, and motorized rafts (J-rigs) all ply the storied waters. The fun part? Endless rapids through endless beauty.

There is no river in the USA that can rival rafting through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. This is the big one. The full raft trip from Lee's Ferry all the way to Lake Mead is over 250 miles and is a big trip in every way. A Grand Canyon rafting trip doesn't merely represent, but is, the very quintessence of southwestern desert rafting, so much so that to the many wildwater enthusiasts rafting the Colorado, it is as much a pilgrimage to the source as an outing.

For every rafter, the Grand Canyon is an overwhelming experience. It has everything: complex, subtle rapids; brutal simple ones; above all, big ones, with tons of crashing, muddy water making the simple act of paddling seem a surrealistic defiance of the gods-angry gods at that-and enough stillwater to recover between rises. And then some. No need to talk of the scenery; surely everyone has seen numerous color photos of this most wild of all canyons. It's hard to take a bad picture down there, and the Grand is a perennial subject for photographic art books.

Many of the individual rapids in the Grand Canyon are legendary, and Lava Falls, near the end of the trip, is considered one of the fiercest rapids in the whole country. Anyone who wants to pay can climb aboard a raft and be coached down the canyon by a commercial outfitter.

America's ultimate river trip

The most exciting way to run the Grand Canyon's legendary big drops, rapids, riffles, and whirlpools is on a 14-day trip in an 18-foot raft. Before launching from the Lees Ferry put-in, your paddle captain will instruct your crew in the fundamentals of safety, paddling, white-water swimming, and self-rescue. After your day-two plunge through a ten-mile stretch of Marble Canyon rapids known as the Roaring Twenties, you'll be ready to navigate your first big drop at Hance Rapid, around Upper Granite Gorge. Nothing, however, will prepare you for the stomach-churning view of Crystal Rapid at river mile 98. Created in 1966, when biblical rains and flash floods lashed the North Rim with 14 inches of rain and deposited car size boulders in the main stem of the Colorado River, Crystal Rapid is perhaps the most thrilling falls of the trip.

Your rafting trip will carry you down 280 miles of the Colorado River, crashing through hundreds of powerful rapids. Some rafts have motors to keep you moving along. This gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the breath-taking scenery. You will also take breaks to explore side canyons and sculptures of every imaginable color and size. You can cool-off under a cascading waterfall, fish or do photography. At night you will enjoy socializing and eating a great meal, followed by sleeping under the stars. A Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip on the Colorado River in Arizona will surely be the experience of a lifetime and one to remember.

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