Upper Canyon: Motor or Oar

Upper Canyon Trip overlooking the Colorado RiverOur Upper Canyon Trip starts at Lees Ferry, or river mile 0, and continues downstream for 87 miles. It ends at Bright Angel Beach where you’ll leave the boat and hike out of the canyon with our professional guide to the South Rim Grand Canyon Village.

We’ll journey through Marble Canyon’s 60 miles of majestic and colorful cliffs. We’ll pass under the Navajo Bridge that is 470 feet above for Highway 89 traffic. Initially, the canyon is wide at the Colorado River, but very soon the polished limestone sheer rock walls of Marble Canyon are jutting up at the river’s edge.

The river is smooth and calm in the beginning. In less than a mile we’ll experience our first riffle at the Paria River, and we’ll raft through the Roaring Twenties rapid on Day 1. You’ll ride through 36 rapids that range from minor to significant on the Upper Canyon trip.

There are many wonders to see and experience including the ancient granaries in the cliff above Nankoweap, Redwall Cavern, Vasey’s Paradise, Nautiloid Canyon, natural rock arches and bridges, wildlife, and desert plants. We’ll stop for short day hikes, lunch breaks and to play in the Little Colorado River known for its turquoise blue and warm water.

As we go deeper into the canyon, our interpretative guides will entertain you with tales about the area’s history, notorious river runners, Grand Canyon geology, and much more.

This is available as a 4 Day or 3 Day trip on a motorized pontoon boat or a 6 Day trip on exclusively oar rafts. See details and options for both below.

Bright Angel Trail from South Rim Grand CanyonPRECAUTION: The 9.5 mile hike out is strenuous and is an important factor to consider. Your hike goes up only with very little downward motion in a rugged, rocky and hot desert environment. You must be hydrated with plenty of water before the hike. It’s very likely that you will be sore the next day. The hike out is not for anyone with conditions related to: heart, breathing, back and lower extremities, balance, heated body, or fear of heights. This hike is not for you if you are overweight, pregnant, a smoker, on prescription drugs, inactive, out of shape, or very young or elderly.


4 Day Upper Canyon Motor Trip with Phantom Ranch

Motorized pontoon boat in Upper Canyon rapidOur motorized Upper Canyon Trip is the quickest way to enjoy whitewater rafting on the Colorado River and experience the vastness of Grand Canyon. You’ll see firsthand the stairstep pattern of steep vertical cliffs with rocky slopes at their bases and the layer cake effect of the different colored rock formations.

The motorized trip gets you down river quick and that gives ample time to stop for day hikes and spend more time at the natural wonders along the way.

Phantom Ranch cabins in Grand CanyonThe 4 Day Upper Canyon Motor Trip includes a stay at Phantom Ranch for part of Day 3 and that night. On Day 4 you’ll hike out of the canyon carrying only a daypack. We provide a mule duffel service for your heavy clothing and gear for an easier hike out.

Our 3 Day Upper Canyon trips in 2019 do not include Phantom Ranch. You’ll hike out on Day 3.

Upper Canyon trips begin with a mandatory orientation meeting in Flagstaff the night prior to your trip date. Early on the morning of your trip date, we’ll transport passengers to the launch site at Lees Ferry where you will board the boat. Most of our trips are two boats traveling together, sometimes with passengers doing a full canyon trip.

You are responsible for reserving a transportation shuttle from the South Rim Grand Canyon Village back to Flagstaff after completing the hike out.

For complete trip details and information on what to bring, the weather, links to hotels, transportation and more, download our 4 Day Upper Canyon Motor Trip with Phantom Ranch Packet (pdf) or 3 Day Upper Canyon Motor Trip Packet (pdf).

Included in Trip Price

  • Transportation from Flagstaff to the put-in point at Lees Ferry.
  • Part of Day 3 and that night at Phantom Ranch for the 4 Day Upper Canyon motor trips. Guests on the 3 Day Upper Canyon trips will hike out on Day 3 with our guide.
  • Day 3 dinner and Day 4 breakfast at Phantom Ranch for the 4 Day Upper Canyon motor trips.
  • Duffel service for clothing and personal gear so you don’t have to carry it out of the canyon.
  • Professionally guided hike from the river out of the canyon.
  • Sleep kit: Sleeping bag, foam sleeping pad, ground sheet, and tent.
  • Folding camp chair with legs.
  • Dry bag for clothing and sleep kit.
  • Ammo can for camera and miscellaneous day use items.
  • Knife, fork, spoon, plate, and souvenir Canyoneers cup.
  • All meals and non-alcoholic beverages while on the river, prepared by our professional staff.
  • Professional guides and camp service complete with Grand Canyon interpretive programs.
  • Luggage and car storage.

General Info

  • Upper 1/3 of canyon
  • 2 days, 2 nights, and part of Day 3 on river
  • Stay at Phantom Ranch for the remainder of Day 3 & that night (for 4 Day trips only)
  • Day 4 hike 9.5 miles out of canyon with guide (3 Day trips hike out with guide on Day 3.)
  • Motorized pontoon boat
  • 87 river miles
  • 36 rapids
  • Lees Ferry to Bright Angel Beach

2019 Dates and Fares

Trip dates are Sunday unless otherwise noted.

  • April 27* (Saturday)
  • May 5, 12*, 19, 26
  • June 2, 9, 16*, 23, 30
  • July 7*, 14, 21, 28*
  • August 4, 11*, 18, 25 — August 11 is a 3 Day String Quartet Special Trip: $1,223.
  • • $1,403 cost per person
  • • $300 deposit per person

* 3 Day Upper Canyon Trips: Phantom Ranch is not available on these dates.

  • • $1,223 cost per person
  • • $300 deposit per person

2020 Dates and Fares

Trip dates are Sunday unless otherwise noted.

  • April 25 (Saturday) — 4 Day Botany Special Trip. Phantom Ranch is not available on this trip.
  • May 3, 17, 24, 31
  • June 7, 21, 28
  • July 5, 12, 19
  • August 2, 9, 16 — August 9 is a 4 Day String Quartet Special Trip.
  • 2020 prices will be based on 2019 prices plus a standard of living increase – historically an increase of 3-5% above the prior season’s fares.


6 Day Upper Canyon Oar Trip

Rowed inflatable boat in Grand Canyon rapid

Follow the river trail in our 18′ oar rafts, moved by the river, at the river’s own pace. We travel fewer miles each day which provides extra time for longer side canyon hikes and additional interpretive talks. The Sandra, the original, fully restored cataract boat built by Norm Nevills in 1947, accompanies our oar trips. Experience how the pioneers of yesteryear ran the Grand!

Upper Canyon trips begin with a mandatory orientation meeting in Flagstaff the night prior to your trip date. Early on the morning of your trip date, we’ll transport passengers to the launch site at Lees Ferry where you will board the boat and begin the trip.

You are responsible for reserving a transportation shuttle from the South Rim Grand Canyon Village back to Flagstaff at the end of your hike out.

For more information on complete trip details, what to bring, the weather, links to hotels, transportation and more, download our 6 Day Upper Canyon Oar Trip Packet (pdf).

Included in Trip Price

  • The Sandra historic cataract boat.
  • Transportation from Flagstaff to the put-in point at Lees Ferry.
  • Duffel service for clothing and personal gear so you don’t have to carry it out of the canyon.
  • Professionally guided hike from the river out of the canyon.
  • Sleep kit: Sleeping bag, foam sleeping pad, ground sheet, and tent.
  • Folding camp chair with legs.
  • Dry bag for clothing and sleep kit.
  • Ammo can for camera and miscellaneous day use items.
  • Knife, fork, spoon, plate, & souvenir Canyoneers cup.
  • All meals and non-alcoholic beverages while on the river, prepared by our professional staff.
  • Professional guides and camp service complete with Grand Canyon interpretive programs.
  • Luggage and car storage.

General Info

  • Upper 1/3 of canyon
  • 5 days, 5 nights on river
  • Day 6 hike 9.5 miles out of canyon with guide
  • Exclusively oar rafts
  • The Sandra historic cataract boat
  • 87 river miles
  • 36 rapids
  • Lees Ferry to Pipe Creek

2019 Dates and Fares

  • June 19 (Wednesday)
  • July 18 (Thursday)
  • August 29 (Thursday)
  • • $2,180 cost per person
  • • $400 deposit per person

2020 Dates and Fares

  • June 17 (Wednesday)
  • July 16 (Thursday)
  • August 27 (Thursday)
  • 2020 prices will be based on 2019 prices plus a standard of living increase – historically an increase of 3-5% above the prior season’s fares.