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10 Tips for Grand Canyon Rafting Trips

Determine Vessel and Trip Length

Two important things to decide early in your planning process are what kind of boat you want to use and how long you want your boating excursion to be. Many people like to use either an oared/paddle raft or a motorized raft. Which one you choose can affect your trip length. For noncommercial trips (private, self-guided trips not conducted through a for-profit company), motorized boats have a maximum trip length of 12 days between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek. A motorized boat also must have a 4-stroke motor.

You have plenty of options when it comes to trip length. If you aren't feeling very adventurous, you might consider a half- or full-day smooth water trip, offered between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry by Colorado River Discovery, a commercial river trip company.

A slightly bigger commitment would be a two- to five-day self-guided trip, which can launch from Diamond Creek to Lake Mead for 52 miles (83.7 kilometers) of smooth, white water. To access this launch point, however, you'll have to pay a fee to cross Hualapai land.

Some for-profit companies offer trips that take various routes between Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek and last between three and 18 days. These may include guides, equipment, supplies and a variety of vessels. Some incorporate both boating and hiking. For this kind of service, expect to spend a couple thousand dollars.

Rafting the Colorado River is a very popular activity. But the river and its campsites can only handle so many visitors and the National Park Service (NPS) has to limit the number of people permitted to ride the river each day. We'll explore the process next.