Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting
There probably isn’t a baby boomer traveler alive that wouldn’t like to check a Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip off of his or her bucket list.
However, excluding those who are out-and-out adrenaline junkies, a great many baby boomers might find themselves intimidated by the thought of whitewater rafting on the mighty Colorado River.
But hold on, your opinion may well change when you look at some of the facts about whitewater rafting with Grand Canyon Whitewater.
The Grand Canyon Whitewater River Raft Guides
The owners behind Grand Canyon Whitewater have been a part of the Grand Canyon rafting community since the 1970s. Each of the team’s guides are highly skilled and trained. They are all certified Wilderness First Responders (individuals who are trained to respond to emergency situations in remote settings), excellent chefs, knowledgable geologists, and enthusiastic historians.
The Grand Canyon Whitewater Raft Tours
The trips range in length from 4 days to 13 days.
The shortest trips (4-day motorized and 6-day oar powered) take guests 88 miles down the Colorado River, through the upper portion of the Grand Canyon, from the launch point at Lees Ferry in northern Arizona to Phantom Ranch. Passengers then hike 9 miles out of Grand Canyon to the South Rim.
The lower canyon trips (5-day motorized and 8-day oar powered) begin at the South Rim (passengers hike 9 miles into the canyon) and travel 135 miles down the river to the take-out point.
These are great options for people hoping to knock off two “bucket-list” items: whitewater rafting and hiking the Grand Canyon.
The full-canyon trips (7- and 8-day motorized, or 13-day oar powered) begin at Lees Ferry and carry guests about 200 miles through the canyon.The 7-day motorized trip includes a helicopter flight out of the Grand Canyon and a stopover at a working ranch on the North Rim. The 8-day motorized trip includes round-trip transportation from Las Vegas, NV. (No hiking in or out of the Canyon is necessary on any of the full length trips.)
The Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafts
The first thing most people choose is the type of raft they want to ride in. GCW offers both motorized raft and oar-powered Grand Canyon river tours. The most popular trips are aboard motorized rafts. For those of you who have more time, oar-powered rafts are a great choice. Both motorized rafts and oar-powered rafts are rubber rafts created specifically for whitewater rafting.
Motorized rafts are 35 feet long and hold around 14 passengers and 2 guides. The guides drive the boat from the back (or stern). Motorized rafts allow people to see more of the Canyon because they can go about double the speed of the current. We aren’t talking major speed here; the current averages about 4 miles per hour, so you cruise along at 8 miles per hour. The motor boats give passengers a fun and exciting ride. You can choose to sit up at the front and be right in the action or move toward the back to dry off and have a less wild ride. 8 years old is the minimum age for a motorized rafting trip.
Oar-powered rafts are different. Many people confuse oar-powered rafts with paddle rafts, which are a small rubber raft on which everyone has their own paddle and is expected to help propel and steer the raft. Oar-powered rafts, the kind used, are 18 feet long and carry up to 5 passengers and one guide to row the raft. The guide sits in the middle and has two long wooden oars to steer the raft through the river and rapids. The raft will float along at the speed of the current, about 4 miles per hour. For this reason, oar-powered trips are typically longer, unless you choose to do only half of the trip, and either hike into or out of the Grand Canyon. 12 years old is the minimum age for an oar-powered rafting trip.
A Typical Day of Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting
On average, a person can expect to be on the water (in the raft) about 5 hours a day. Depending on the day, a passenger could expect to see only an average of 1 rapid per hour or up to 3 rapids per hour. A rapid is usually a quick experience – you might be in a rapid anywhere from 15 seconds to about a minute.
The motorized rafts are large and stable (35 feet long) which means there is plenty of room to move around on the raft. This also means that the more adventurous folks can sit toward the front and expect to be splashed in every rapid. Or passengers can choose to sit toward the back of the raft in what is called the “princess seat” to stay drier and have less of a wild ride.
Each tour combines thrilling white water with relaxing flat-water stretches. Every trip includes daily side hikes from the river up to crystal clear creeks and waterfalls, through hidden canyons, and alongside evidence of ancient inhabitants concealed from most Grand Canyon visitors.
All food is provided – three full meals a day, including a 3-course dinner, plus plenty of snacks. Menus include things like steak, blueberry pancakes and pineapple-upside-down cake. You bring your own alcohol, and the guides will store it for you for the duration of your trip. They provide an assortment of soda, water and a lemonade drink, as well as all your kitchen and camping gear. That includes tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad or cot, sheet and pillow, and a camp chair, along with all your dishes.
That means passengers only need to worry about bringing clothes and personal items like sunscreen and a camera. The experienced guides do all the cooking for passengers, and every day’s menu is unique.
Booking Your Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting Trip
Contrary to popular belief, passengers do not need to book trips years in advance. Grand Canyon Whitewater is booking now for the 2012 season and still has plenty of availability. The season runs from mid-April through mid-October.
Passengers can book trips online at Grand Canyon Whitewater, or by calling 800-343-3121.
Disclosure: this is a sponsored post brought to you by the cool folks at Grand Canyon Whitewater.