The Grand Canyon is one of the world's preeminent backcountry experiences. One of the most unique and exciting ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to float through it by way of raft on the Colorado River.
More than 20,000 people float through the canyon every year and more would if they could.
It's an adventure worth waiting for, though.
In fact, there are many rafting enthusiasts who place floating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon high on their life lists, some place it at the very top.
To hear the stories from those who have had the opportunity to float the Grand Canyon is to make you want to run out and sign up for the adventure.
Michael Wehrle is a veteran of 33 trips through the Grand Canyon. He calls the euphoria the adventure provides him the canyon glow. He says the simple anticipation floating the Grand Canyon gets him through the month before a Grand Canyon trip and carries him through several weeks after he returns.
He's a different person when under its influence: immune to stress, unfazed by mini-disasters at work, and patient with even the most ridiculous requests. It's these feelings that keep him coming back year after year after year.
The river transports travelers through millions of years of geologic history as it plunges deeper and deeper into the gorge descending through time until you reach the Precambrian rock of the Vishnu Schist in the inner canyon that is estimated to be two billion years old.
Sixteen companies offer commercial river trips in the Grand Canyon. Trip lengths range from three to 21 days. Passengers can opt to travel by paddle raft, oar raft, motorized raft, wooden dories, or in kayaks supported by rafts. One of the best places to begin an investigation into the different options for commercial trips is to visit the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Associations website.
In the past, individuals seeking to organize their own private trip down the Grand Canyon had to sign onto a waiting list for a permit, it often took years before their name came up. In 2006, the National Park Service decided this system was too unwieldy, so they implemented an annual weighted lottery, which takes place in February each year.