Info on All Trips

Map of Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Canyoneers offers three basic Grand Canyon rafting trips:

All the Grand

  • 7 – 14 days
  • 280 miles, full canyon
  • Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead
  • All rapids from riffles to major
  • No hiking into or out of canyon
Best of the Grand

  • 5 – 9 days
  • 193 miles, lower 2/3 of canyon
  • Bright Angel Beach to Lake Mead
  • 70 rapids
  • 1/2 day hike into canyon w/guide
Upper Grand

  • 3 – 6 days
  • 87 miles, upper 1/3 of canyon
  • Lee’s Ferry to Bright Angel Beach
  • 36 rapids
  • 1 day hike out of canyon w/guide

Each tour has varying factors or options to consider (see full explanations below):

Motorized Pontoon Boats

Motorized pontoon boat on Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Motorized pontoon boats move downriver somewhat faster than rowboats, providing shorter trips for those who need or prefer them.

We call our motorized pontoon boats C-Craft. They look different because they are different. They’re designed to withstand the twisting and pounding of the rapids while carrying the equipment and supplies efficiently, and the passengers and crew comfortably.

Rather than just perches on piles of equipment, they have “down and in” seating for up to 20 passengers, and plenty of room to move around, or stretch out in the sun between rapids. Because their hulls are deeper, motorized pontoons carry their passengers somewhat higher above the turbulent water.

The C-Craft design has a lower than usual center of gravity, 64,000 pounds of buoyancy, and a special articulating frame system that holds everything in place, but also allows the boat to absorb the river’s energy.

Since 1998 we have powered our boats with new-technology outboard motors that are substantially quieter, use less fuel, and have far lower emissions than conventional outboard motors. Each motorized pontoon boat has a pilot, an assistant pilot, and usually a third crewmember.

Rowed, Oar Powered Boats

Rowed inflatable rafts on Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Trips with rowed boats are longer and more leisurely, because they move at the flow speed of the river. You sit closer to the river and get splashed more often in the rowboats with their smaller size and shallower hulls.

Our rowed boats are inflatable 18-foot Avons, rowed by your oarsman-guide. An oar-powered trip usually consists of 3 to 5 boats, each carrying 4 to 6 passengers each.

To provide more room in the boats, most rowed, oar powered trips include a separate motorized pontoon baggage boat to carry equipment and supplies. Special theme trips with additional equipment requirements like those for disabled persons, musical groups, and photographers are also accompanied by a baggage boat.

Rowed historic cataract boat in Grand Canyon

During the 2017 and 2018 seasons most of our rowed, oar powered tours include the historic wooden cataract boat Sandra, built in 1947 by Norman Nevills and restored by his grandson Greg Reiff.

Hiking Into or Out of the Canyon

All the Grand does not require hiking into or out of the canyon.

Best of the Grand requires a half day hike into the canyon with a guide to meet the boat. Total hike is 9.5 miles from the South Rim Grand Canyon Village to Bright Angel Beach, going down 5,000 feet in elevation.

Upper Grand requires a 1 day hike out of the canyon with a guide at the end of your river trip. Total hike is 9.5 miles from Bright Angel Beach, going up 5,000 feet in elevation to the top of the South Rim at Grand Canyon Village.

You should not consider the Best of the Grand or the Upper Grand river tours if you are seriously overweight, not accustomed to walking or have some health conditions. See our Precaution on the related trip pages.

Overnight at Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch at bottom of Grand CanyonThe historic Phantom Ranch is located beside the creek in Bright Angel Canyon. It offers the only guest facility at the bottom of Grand Canyon, and it’s known for family-style meals served in its rustic dining room.

You can experience Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Creek as part of your motorized Best of the Grand or Upper Grand river trips which include an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch.

Passengers

The river trips are not strenuous. They’re enjoyed by clubs, classes, singles and couples, as well as families (it’s an incomparable family vacation). Although we recommend a minimum age of 10, our river passengers have ranged from ages 6 to 84. Good general health is important.

A typical trip is evenly mixed female/male with folks from several states and foreign countries. Usually there’s a birthday or anniversary celebration during the trip, and there may be a wedding.

Special passengers on motorized pontoon boatSpecial Passengers: For more than forty years our guests have included men, women and children with disabilities. We are pleased to help individuals or representative organizations plan their trips and experience the river.

Great Cuisine

Delicious food prepared by Canyoneers guidesThe big western outdoor meals that have been traditional with Canyoneers have gotten much easier, and even bigger and better through the years. Gone is the expedition-type menu. Our motorized pontoon boats carry fresh and frozen meats, vegetables, desserts, (and a few surprises) that make delicious, multi-course meals our standard daily fare. Your river crew will do the cooking with variety in every meal.

Although we are not able to cater to personal dietary likes and dislikes, our menu does provide healthy, hearty, balanced meals that include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken, pork, fish, seafood, cheeses, salads, snacks, and sumptuous desserts. We are also able to accommodate vegetarians on our trips.

Weather

The inner canyon is a semi-arid desert environment. Temperatures are generally 20° warmer than the canyon rim, because it drops nearly a mile in elevation.

Weather in transitional seasons, spring (April – May) and fall (September), varies. Average temperatures range from a low of 50°F to a high of 82°F.

In these transitional season months, there are fewer people, days are warm but not hot, nights are cool but not cold, and moderate temps are great for extended day hikes. In April you’ll catch the beautiful wildflowers blooming. There’s less rainfall from mid-April to May and in September. The softer spring and fall sunlight are a photographer’s delight.

Summer weather (June – August) is the hottest time of the year in the inner canyon. Daytime temps range from 80°F to 115°F, and night temps range from 70°F to 90°F. Although 115°F is hot, the splashing Colorado River keeps you cool. Monsoon storms with heavy rain and sometimes hail are common in late June to early August.

Emergencies

All of our tours are equipped with a two-way radio having ground-to-air frequencies. In a true emergency the Park Service allows helicopter evacuation from the canyon.

Camping Out

About one-third of our passengers have never camped out. No problem, it’s easy and comfortable. We provide most of what you’ll need. See the trip detailed pages for everything that’s included. The inner canyon is an arid desert environment so mosquitoes and other flying insects are usually not a problem. There are fire ants and scorpions, and we’ll explain how to stay away from them.

The Space Myth

There’s a myth floating around that says you must book your tour several years in advance. That’s not so. The first choice dates go first, but you can definitely book for the current season.