There are few days that top rafting the Grand Canyon, stepping off your raft to a helicopter and ascending 4,000 feet of the Grand Canyon to the rim.
For travelers and families with older kids, this Hualapai River Runners trip on the western side of the Grand Canyon is one to make the memory books. Not only is it full of adventure, but it enables you to step beyond the historical cliches of headdress-wearing Native Americans and glimpse into the modern-day lives of today’s Hualapai Indians.
Hulalapai River Runners have been offering whitewater rafting trips for more than 40 years, and it’s the only way you can do a one or two-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon without having to do a strenuous hike down the canyon or commit to a multi-day trip.
Your epic trip starts at the Hualapai Lodge, an immaculate base that’s home to a restaurant where you can fuel up with breakfast and dinner and sample Native American traditional foods. From there, it’s about an hour drive down a dirt road past bighorn sheep and wild donkeys to river mile 226.
“We offer a one-day rafting experience, which a lot of companies don’t,” says Luka Montana, Hualapai tribal member. “It’s a fast and easy outing for people who want to get back to Las Vegas.”
As you raft past Grand Canyon’s towering walls, you’ll spend the first 12 miles fording action-packed rapids. As the river mellows out, your Hualapai guide will tell you stories about the canyon and Hualapai and settler history. You’ll pass Separation Canyon where three men from Maj. John Wesley Powell’s 1869 river expedition abandoned the mission and hiked out never to be seen again. They had no way of knowing they were two days away from floating out of the Grand Canyon.
After eating deli sandwiches on a white-sand beach, you’ll float to arguably one of the world’s most stunning helicopter pads. An eight-minute ride up to the top of the Grand Canyon is magical and will bring you to the Skywalk where you can look through the glass at the Colorado River 4,000 feet below. No cameras or personal belongings are allowed on the Skywalk, so you’ll store those in a locker. Afterwards, you’ll board a bus back to the lodge in Peach Springs.
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