Grand Canyon Rafting Outfitters & Essentials

Rafting Grand Canyon can change your life. Here are the essential details to plan the ultimate trip including skills, seasons, and rafting outfitters.
Rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. Photo by Whit Richardson

Rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. Photo by Whit Richardson

Raft with an Outfitter or Go it On Your Own

Running the Colorado River through Grand Canyon is a bucket-list trip for many people and a spectacular way to fully experience the beauty, solitude and unique environment of this natural wonder. The Colorado extends for 279 miles through Grand Canyon and attracts approximately 22,000 visitors per year, mostly on commercial raft trips. Floating the Colorado is allowed by permit only obtained through the National Park Service or, on the lower section, the Hualapai tribe.

This 279-mile stretch is wild, with no developments of any kind except for the off-the-grid store and lodge at Phantom Ranch mid-way through the trip. River trips involve primitive backcountry camping on river beaches and being blissfully removed from the bustle (and all electronics) of urban living.

Skill Required

The Colorado River through Grand Canyon encompasses 160 sets of rapids that are so unique and generally difficult to run that they have their own rating system. While other rivers follow a whitewater ratings system of IV, Grand Canyon rapids are rated on a scale of 1-10. Unless you are traveling with people who are expert at running highly technical whitewater, plan to hire a commercial outfitter with seasoned guides.

Permits: A permit is included in all commercial trips. Private groups may apply for a permit through the park's annual lottery system. For more information:

Seasons for Rafting

Most commercial trips run between May and October, with the peak demand months being June, July, and August. Go in fall or spring to avoid the crowds and triple-digit summer heat. Private trips often go in winter when more permits are available.

Grand Canyon Rafting Outfitters

Authorized River Concessioners

All commercial outfitters authorized by Grand Canyon National Park to run trips are required to meet certain safety and environmental regulations.

Since the Park Service only allows a fixed number of river visitors through Grand Canyon each year, spots on commercial trips are limited and typically fill at least one or two years in advance. Trip lengths and cost range from $100 for one day on the lower Colorado to $2,500 and up for a 21-day trip running the entire Grand Canyon. Modes of travel vary from motorized rafts to oar-powered boats to wooden dories.

Featured Trip: Hualapai River Runners 1-day Rafting/Helicopter Trips

Begin to explore the Grand Canyon walls over the white water rapids of the Colorado River. Hike up to Travertine Falls, a natural waterfall, with your experienced guide. Hear about the history and culture of the Hualapai people. Look for local wildlife while enjoying lunch along the banks of the river. Continue through the Grand Canyon on a smooth water ride viewing the towering canyon from a unique perspective. Complete your adventure with a helicopter flight up to the top of Grand Canyon West, home of the Skywalk. Rafts depart from Peach Springs, Arizona on Historic Route 66 from the Hualapai Lodge and ground transportation returns you to Peach Springs. All this in just one day!

All Hualapai River Runner Guides are 100% certified. Guides give informative narrations on Hualapai cultural history and make every trip unforgettable. Our motorized rafts are designed specifically for traversing the Colorado River.

Grand Canyon West Reservations and Hualapai Tourism
Peach Springs, AZ
(888) 868-9378 or (928) 769-2636

Related Stories: Go on a Rafting Trip in the Grand Canyon National Park | Tips and Tricks to Rafting in the Grand Canyon


Relaxing while rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Photo by Whit Richardson

Booking Your Grand Canyon Rafting Trip

Deciding to take a Colorado River trip is easy. The tricky part is making that dream a reality. Sixteen companies offer trips through the Grand Canyon.

Relaxing while rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Photo by Whit Richardson

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There are some definite tricks to staying comfortable and happy on rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. Here are a few I learned on my trip.

Grand Canyon rafting trip with Hualapai River Runners

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Grand Canyon Colorado River Trip Highlights

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