Upper Grand Canyon Rafting
Raft the initial 89 miles of the Colorado River through the Upper part of Grand Canyon National Park. End your trip with a hike from the river to the South Rim.
Upper Grand Canyon Rafting
Start at the beginning and watch the canyon walls and river rapids grow as you raft into the deepest part of Grand Canyon National Park. All Upper Grand Canyon rafting trips begin at Lees Ferry and travel 88 miles through the Canyon. Explore Marble Canyon, Redwall Cavern, Nautiloid Canyon, and Native American ruins at Nankoweap.
Raft 19 major rapids including Unkar, Hance, Sockdolager and Grapevine. Each day is different and full, a mix of rapids and smooth water, hikes to hidden canyons and archaeological sites. All Upper Grand Canyon trips end near Phantom Ranch where rafters will hike 9.7 miles out of Grand Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim.
Where to Start
Not sure what we mean by a mandatory hike or motorized versus non-motorized trips. Check out our Grand Canyon rafting overview page or give us a call. We’ll answer your questions and guide you through the process to help you find your perfect Colorado river rafting trip at the same price you would get directly from the outfitter.
Length: 4 – 8 days
Price: Motor Trips $1,159 – $1,554 /person
Oar Trips $1,915 – $3,206 /person
Season: April – October
Min. Age: Motor Trips – 8 years; Oar Trips – 12 years
Begin: Lees Ferry (mile 0)
End: Phantom Ranch (mile 88)
Hike Out Required
Upper Grand Canyon Rafting Details
Depending on outfitter and trip selected, Upper Grand Canyon rafting trips may begin in either: Flagstaff, AZ; Page, AZ; Marble Canyon, AZ; or Las Vegas, NV. Transportation from the start city to Lees Ferry, the launch point, is provided by the outfitter.
After your hike up and out of the Canyon, you will arrive at Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. If your outfitter does not provide transportation from the South Rim, we recommend spending the night there and continuing your travels the following day. We can help you with South Rim reservations.
Hiking Out Is Mandatory
Upper Grand Canyon rafting trips require a strenuous 7.5 mile hike out of the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. If you are considering an Upper Canyon rafting expedition, please read the following information about hiking the Bright Angel Trail to see if this is a good fit for you.
All camping and river-related safety equipment. Plenty of fresh food, non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks. Transportation to Lees Ferry. Depending on the outfitter and trip selected, additional transportation may be included.
April and May have cooler temperatures, which require extra layers, but allow for longer hikes while the wildflowers are in bloom. Spring can bring strong winds. June through August are the hottest and busiest months to raft Grand Canyon with temperatures ranging 95-115°F. Monsoon season starts in July, bringing afternoon clouds and rain showers to cool things off. As the rafting season winds down in September and October, you can expect cooler weather, longer hikes and shorter days. Learn more about the seasons of Grand Canyon.
Rafting the Colorado River
The river alternates between short sections of rapids and long calm stretches. There are about thirty rapids in the upper section, but our introduction is gentle as the rapids start out small and gradually increase in size. Rapids range from predominantly moderate (Class III) to a couple of large rapids (Class IV). Glen Canyon Dam controls the water flow, which comes from far beneath the surface of Lake Powell. The water is cold (48°F), and can be emerald green or chocolate brown depending on the season.
Your boat will depend on the outfitter and the type of trip you select. The most common is the oar raft, which can carry up to 4 people and a guide who maneuvers the boat with a pair of oars. There are only a handful of motorized raft trips offered for the upper section of Grand Canyon, which carry 14 people. There are trip options for those who wish to have a more active role (hybrid, all-paddle) and there are a couple of outfitters who offer dory trips (hard hulled boats).
Oar trips will have 5 to 7 boats, each carrying up to 4 participants with no more than 22 in the group. Motor trips will have 1 to 2 boats, each carrying up to 14 participants with no more than 28 in the group.
Whether you’re an experienced camper or it’s your first time under the stars, our outfitters are specialists in facilitating an enjoyable and relaxing camping experience. You will be provided a full sleep kit with sleeping bag, inflatable pad and ground tarp. Tents are available in case of rain, and some outfitters provide cots and camp chairs for additional comfort. Everyone participates in setting up and breaking down camp. A clean, private camp toilet is set up first thing upon arrival at camp and it is the last thing to be dismantled the next morning.
One thing is certain on a Grand Canyon rafting trip: There will be plenty of food! A full, hearty breakfast with cowboy coffee gets the day going. A riverside picnic sets the scene for lunch where you create your own sandwich. Dinners can be anything from a New York steak, grilled filet of salmon, or a Mexican feast followed by a hot, Dutch oven dessert. There are plenty of snacks and beverages offered throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages are not included, but you are welcome to bring your own. With advance notice, all outfitters are able to accommodate for special dietary requirements.
Grand Canyon Experts
Our team has been booking rafting trips in Grand Canyon for 30 years with all 16 Grand Canyon outfitters. While you can reach out to all the outfitters to see which has the date, space and trip type you want, you can also call or email us. We can do that work for you and the cost is guaranteed to be the same as booking your trip directly with an outfitter.
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Upper Half /Grand Canyon
Our trip went down the canyon without a hitch.
It exceeded all my expectations, and was humbling in its magnitude and beauty.
A trip I will never forget!
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