Grand Canyon River Running
The Grand Canyon offers America's most exhilarating whitewater rafting. More than 150 named rapids - including many Class IV and some Class Vs - combine with breathtaking beauty for an unforgettable experience. The Grand Canyon stretches for some 280 miles from Lees Ferry to Lake Mead. Commercial outfitters offer trips covering the entire canyon or various sections; trips can range from as short as 3-4 days to as long as 17 days.
River runners divide the Grand Canyon into upper and lower sections. Both offering great rapids and enthralling scenery. The Upper Grand Canyon stretches from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch (87 miles). It offers 19 major rapids and usually takes 3-6 days to float. Rafters often stop to swim in the photogenic turquoise waters of the Little Colorado, a major tributary. This section also offers Native American Indian ruins and scenic side canyons. When trips end at Phantom Ranch, rafters hike out of the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail.
The Lower Grand Canyon rafting section extends from Phantom Ranch down to Whitmore Wash, distance of about 100 miles. Here you find Crystal Falls, Lava Falls and other colossal rapids. This is the ride that has made the Grand Canyon the most famous whitewater trip in the world. To float this particular section, participants hiking into the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. At Whitmore Wash, a helicopter takes rafters out of the canyon. Trips normally run 7-9 days.
Below Whitmore Wash the river's nature mellows. Some companies offer floats that continue below Whitmore, down to Diamond Creek or Lake Mead, encountering mostly flat water with a few minor ripples. You can also jet boat from Lake Mead up into the lower portion of this part of the Grand Canyon.
Bighorn sheep, eagles, blue herons, hawks and many other forms of wildlife are commonly seen throughout the canyon. During the day, sunlight makes spray sparkle as the rapids churn the water. At night, firelight dance off the massive canyon walls. The Grand Canyon is Earth in its most severe, untamed and soul-stirring splendor.
Due to the intense conditions in the canyon, Grand Canyon rafting is best done with the help of professional guides. Guides provide expert river skills, gourmet meals, canyon lore, emergency skills and supplies and information about geology and wildlife. See the Utah.com Grand Canyon rafting guides database for a list of local guides.
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