Colorado River Activities and Tours
Getting there by raft
Rafting the Colorado River is a great way to explore the inner Grand Canyon and
rafters are able to visit places at the bottom of the Canyon no one else gets to see.
Rafting Trips on the Colorado River are among the best in the world with huge whitewater rapids, stunning scenery, and great side hikes many of which can only be accessed while you are on the river. Grand Canyon rafting tours and self-guided rafting trips (for experienced boaters) are available at the canyon.
Getting there on foot
The extensive trail system within Grand Canyon National Park covers a lot of ground and hiking the inner Grand Canyon is one of the most popular Grand Canyon activities. Grand Canyon Hikers main goal is usually reaching the Colorado River from the rim, crossing the river via one of two suspension bridges to get to Phantom Ranch, or hiking all the way across the canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim. Learn more about Grand Canyon hikes, trails and backpacking trips.
Riding a mule
Mule rides within Grand Canyon National Park to the Colorado River are limited to the Bright Angel Trail. There's also mule rides that don't go all the way to the river on the Rim Trail, North Kaibab Trail, and outside the park at Grand Canyon West and Kaibab National Forest. You can learn more about guided mule rides here.
See the Colorado River by Air
There are limited helicopter flights into the Canyon, but both the Hualapai (Grand Canyon West) and Havasupai Reservations offer helicopter flights that will get you into the inner Grand Canyon. You can learn more about scenic helicopter and plane flights here.
Driving to the Colorado River
There are only two scenic drives that actually go into the Grand Canyon all the way to the Colorado River. One is the road is to Lee's Ferry, where boaters start their journey through the Grand Canyon. The other road which actually carves its way through the Canyon starts near Peach Springs, AZ and follows Diamond Creek to the Colorado River through the Hualapai Reservation.
Guru Tips for Exploring the Colorado River
You can reach the Colorado River by boat, mule, car or on foot. Here’s a couple tips for getting to the Colorado River and finding the best attractions for your trip.
Lodging and camping options for exploring the Colorado River
- Phantom Ranch is the only lodging at the bottom of the canyon near the Colorado River. Reservations are done via a lottery, so make sure to submit your request on time.
- Bright Angel campground is next to Phantom Ranch and there are several other backpacking sites for experienced hikers at the Colorado River. Make sure you submit your backcountry permit request on time for the best chance at a permit for the campground.
- Lee's Ferry campground in Marble Canyon (East Rim) is only a few hundred yards from the river. This is also where Grand Canyon rafting trips launch.
- The Hualapai Lodge is close to Diamond Bar Road (a rough dirt road) in the western Grand Canyon and visitor can drive to the river or meet up for the canyon's only one-day whitewater rafting trip.
Book your guided hike, rafting trip or mule ride in advance
- A guided backpack, rafting trip or mule ride is one of the best ways to experience the Colorado River.
- Learn more about tours from our complete list of Grand Canyon Guided Tours.
Get geared up
- Make sure you have the right gear before your trip, since you'll need to have all necessary gear with you on the river.
- We’re definitely gear junkies here at the Grand Canyon Guru. Check out our recommended gear for our favorite canyon-ready clothing, travel bags and outdoor gear as well as rental options to outfit your trip.
More resources for the Colorado River
- It always a good idea to have travel insurance for your trip. Check out rates and get travel insurance before you head to the canyon.
- If you need more booking options for hotels, rental cars, flights, tours and tickets just check out our Grand Canyon reservations page.
- Take a look at our featured adventure and recommended lodging below!