Info on All Trips
Canyoneers offers three basic Grand Canyon rafting trips:
- 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
- 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
- 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):
- For all tours, the type of boat — motorized or rowed.
- Two tours require hiking into or out of the canyon — Best of the Grand and Upper Grand. There is no hiking in or out with All the Grand.
- An overnight stay at the historic Phantom Ranch is optional on two tours — Best of the Grand and Upper Grand.
- For rowed trips only, there’s an option to have a motorized support boat accompanying the trip.
Motorized Pontoon Boats
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
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.
During the 2018 and 2019 seasons several of our rowed, oar powered river trips include the historic wooden cataract boat Sandra, built in 1947 by Norman Nevills and restored by his grandson Greg Reiff. See the rowed trips for All the Grand 14-day, Best of the Grand 9-day, and Upper Grand 6-day.
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
The 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.
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: 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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, including camp chairs for your use at our evening campsites. 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.