Since John Wesley Powell first ran the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, adventure seekers have chased the dream of experiencing this awesome adventure. Whitewater rafting through the Canyon is even more popular than hiking and camping. Grand Canyon River Rafting starts at Lees Ferry a few hours from the South Rim, where one can make the 277-mile journey through Grand Canyon National Park. Hidden side canyons, ancient ruins, beautiful waterfalls, and some of the worlds best whitewater are all part of a trip on the Grand.
Since the completion of the new Colorado River Management Plan, the permits to run the Grand were split 50/50 between private and commercial boaters. Due to the high demand of rafting the Colorado River, individuals are only allowed to take one trip a year on the river. There are several outfitters that offer quality trips with an array of options. If you're interested in doing a private trip there is a weighted lottery that may or may not give you the chance to run the Grand. You'll of course need the skills and ability to run the river, but if you don't you should have sufficient time to learn while your waiting to win the lottery!
With the completion of the new Colorado River Management Plan boaters applying for a permit for a private river trip will enter a weighted lottery system. The main lottery happens each February for permits that will open up the following year. There are also follow-up lotteries throughout the year for launch dates that are left over, and for canceled trip dates. The annual fee to enter the lottery is $25, with a $400 non-refundable deposit if you win a permit. Each year applicants do not get a permit it increases you chance of success for the following year, hence the weighted lottery.
To apply for the lottery you'll need to set up a profile. This profile will let you apply for the lottery as well as receive email updates on river news and launch dates. To set-up your profile and roll the dice on a trip down the Grand go to the nps website https://npspermits.us or for general information on commercial trips check out the Grand Canyon National Parks links page for private boaters.
A guided trip through the Grand Canyon is the adventure of a lifetime for many people. Due to their popularity, commercial river trips cam book-up a year in advance. Not only is this the only way for inexperienced boaters to run the Grand, it is also the only guaranteed river trip, since permits for non-commercial trips use a lottery system.
Grand Canyon Rafting trips down the Colorado River are more than just an exciting ride, although there is plenty of excitement. Once you enter the Canyon, you're transported into a different world. Everything you need is on the boats that float you down the river, and on a commercial trip you wont be eating freeze-dried meals, or going with out a cold beer. For those who have the time and the money (these trips aren't cheap) this is one Grand Canyon experience you shouldn't pass up.
Below is a list of Commercial Outfitter authorized by the Park Service:
Aramark-Wilderness River Adventures P.O. Box 717 Page, AZ 86040
Arizona Raft Adventures, Inc. 4050-F E. Huntington Drive Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Arizona River Runners, Inc. P.O. Box 47788 Phoenix, AZ 85068-7788
Canyon Explorations/Canyon Expeditions P.O. Box 310 Flagstaff, AZ 86002
Canyoneers, Inc. P.O. Box 2997 Flagstaff, AZ 86003
Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, Inc. P.O. Box 57575 Salt Lake City, UT 84157-0575
Diamond River Adventures, Inc. P.O. Box 1300 Page, AZ 86040
Grand Canyon Discovery, Inc. 4050 East Huntington Drive Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Grand Canyon Dories P.O. Box 216 Altaville, CA 95221
Grand Canyon Expeditions Company P.O. Box 0 Kanab, UT 84741
Hatch River Expeditions, Inc. HC 67-35 Marble Canyon, AZ 86036 Moki Mac River Expeditions, Inc. P.O. Box 71242 Salt Lake City, UT 84171-0242
O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. P.O. Box 67 Angles Camp, CA 95222,
Tour West, Inc. P.O. Box 333 Orem, UT 84059
Western River Expeditions, Inc. 7258 Racquet Club Drive Salt Lake City, UT 84121