Motorized vs. Non-Motorized
Grand Canyon Rafting Trips
One of the first questions we ask people looking to raft the Grand Canyon is “what is your preferred craft?” In this post we break down how trips vary depending upon the type of craft you want ride down the Colorado River. The two main types of trips are motorized and non-motorized rafting trips.
Non-Motorized Rafting Trips
Non-motorized rafting trips take longer to run the river since they travel at an average rate of 4 MPH downstream. The minimum age for a non-motor trip in the Canyon is 12 years old. Although, the minimum may be higher with some outfitters and is sometimes determined on a case by case basis. Since these rafts travel slower downstream, trips tend to be longer with trips varying between 5 and 18 days.
Non-motorized Trip Options
Outfitters offer several different non-motor trips; Oar trip, All Paddle trip, Hybrid trip, and Dory boat trip. We have a separate post that goes into detail about all the types of rafts in Grand Canyon.
- Oar: the guide power this raft that carries up to 4 guests
- Paddle Boat: this vessel allows 6-8 passengers to paddle with the direction of the guide at the back of the craft calling paddle commands. Minimum age is 16 for paddle raft.
- Hybrid Trip: A hybrid trip could be a great way for everyone in your group to enjoy a non-motor trip in Grand Canyon. The hybrid trips consists of a few oar boats and one paddle boat. Perfect for guests of all levels and experience, each rafter has the option to sit back and relax in the oar boat with three other guests, while the guide sits in the center and rows the boat down river, or join five other guests in the paddle raft for a more hands-on experience, while the guide steers from the back and calls paddle commands. This option is ideal for anyone who would like to paddle, but doesn’t want to commit to paddling 100% of the time.
- Dory: wooden craft, that is guide powered and carries up to 4 guests. Rare and costly, there are only 2 companies that offer dory trips!
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Depending on the time of year, the non-motor trips may still have a motor support vessel to carry supplies (food, sleeping gear, kitchen equipment, etc.). Don’t worry, most of the time you’ll only see the motor support raft at side hike stops, lunch and in camp as they usually trail behind the oar boats. The maximum group size on non-motor trips is 22 passengers.
Motorized Rafting Trips
Motorized trips move an average speed of 8 MPH downstream covering much more ground per day than the non-motorized raft trips. The minimum age for motor trips in the canyon is 8 years old. Four stroke motors are the only type allowed on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon National Park. The sound of the motor is a subtle hum, meaning not disruptive to the rafters or other guests on the river.
The canyon is heavily regulated, so there are only certain amount of trips allowed on the river at a certain time creating a pleasant experience. Personally, I hardly notice the sound of the motor and am able to have a normal volume conversation with the guests around me while the raft is in motion. The canyon is 92% flatwater and motor trips are a great way to see the most amount of the canyon in a shorter time. The maximum group size on a non-motor trip is 28 passengers, split between two 30+ foot long rafts.
Availability to Trip Types
Grand Canyon rafting trips typically book up to 18 months in advance depending on when each outfitter receives their permits from the National Park. The first trip type to sell out are the non-motor trips, as they take a smaller volume of people and the outfitters offer less non-motor trips versus motor trips. Once we determine your ideal trip type, time frame/time of year, and number of people in your party we can certainly line you up for victory when the time comes to confirm your trip on a Grand Canyon raft trip of a lifetime!
Looking for more fun while visiting Grand Canyon, read Christina’s article about popular attractions near Grand Canyon National Park and her guide to the South Rim.
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