In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell led one of the first documented explorations down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with nine men in four wooden boats. After several months, Powell completed this first harrowing journey with just five men and one boat less.
That was almost 150 years ago. Nearly everything related to rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon has changed. That is, except for the passion and desire of many to run the river! For many, running this stretch of river ranks up there with a safari to the Serengeti Plain, climbing one of the world’s tallest peaks or visiting the world’s ancient cultural icons.
President Woodrow Wilson established Grand Canyon National Park on February 26, 1919. The Grand Canyon offers the most spectacular geological extravaganza on earth. It stretches for 277 miles, measures from four to 18 miles in width and averages a mile deep. Encompassing more than 1.2 million acres, the semi-arid canyon consists of raised plateaus, steep-walled canyons, desert basins at lower elevations and forests at higher elevations.
Even though the Grand Canyon is a desert, plants and wildlife abound. Cactus and wildflowers dot the riverbanks and cool glens with tumbling waterfalls and ferns are numerous. Raft passengers might catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes and ringtail cats. Visitors may also see hawks, golden eagles and falcons.
Each year approximately 20,000 people from all over the world make their pilgrimage to northern Arizona to join one of the 16 professional river outfitters licensed and exclusively authorized by the National Park Service.
Many of these businesses pioneered the commercial river outfitting industry in Grand Canyon and other National Parks and scenic areas throughout the country. Their experience is deep.
Life on a Grand Canyon rafting tour is pleasant and refreshing. Multiple days of exciting rapids, exploration and sleeping under the stars will likely pass much too quickly. Add some incredible side-hike options throughout the Canyon and this is definitely a life-changing experience.
To many, the most thrilling event on a Grand Canyon white water rafting trip is riding the rapids. Only after passing through rapids like Soap Creek, Hance and Sockdolager can one appreciate the achievements of Major Powell and other early river explorers.
Each river running outfitter prides itself on being incredible stewards of the Canyon. River running outfitters are passionate about protecting this resource and sharing the Grand Canyon with their guests.
Multi-day river trips are extremely popular and outfitters generally sell seats 12-18 months in advance. Not interested in a multi-day trip? Colorado River Discoveries in Page operates daily smoothwater float trips on the Colorado River. Colorado River Discoveries is an official licensed concessioner with NPS Glen Canyon National Rec Area and offer float trips from the Dam to Lees Ferry daily throughout the season.
One of the easiest ways to find more information and select an outfitter is to visit the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association website at www.gcroa.org.