Grand Canyon White Water Rafting

Grand Canyon Rafting
Grand Canyon Dories
Grand Canyon Hiking
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Hiking In or Out of the Grand Canyon

Trips beginning or ending at Phantom Ranch

The hike between the South Rim and the river is a serious, long (9.7 miles) and strenuous hike.  This hike takes you in or out of one of the deepest canyons in the world with an elevation increase/decrease of more than 4500 feet.  People almost inevitably underestimate the difficulty of climbing the Bright Angel Trail.  Temperatures on the trail can easily reach 110 degrees or more during the summer months.  Transport of your personal gear by mule is provided, but you still need to make the hike carrying a daypack holding your water bottles, lunch, camera, etc.  The extra weight of your daypack significantly increases the stress and amount of effort exerted.  You need to take the time to get into very good physical condition before you begin your trip.  The hike to the river generally takes 4-7 hours while the hike out to the South Rim generally takes 6-9 hours. Hiking into the canyon may appear to be "easier" because your body naturally propels downward, but the punishing consequences to your body are greater than hiking uphill.  The combination of your legs holding back your body weight and the pressure from stepping down and across numerous log “stairs” can create a great strain on your knees and joints.  As required by the National Park Service, we have a hiking escort accompany our guests on the hike in or out of the canyon.  We use the Bright Angel Trail which has the advantage of water, some shade and easy accessibility. Essentially you hike at your own pace, so you may hike as fast or as slow as you like, although during the summer months you want to complete the hike as early in the day as possible to avoid the greatest heat.

Please Note:  This hike is not recommended for anyone in poor general health, who is elderly, has heart or lung disease, is overweight, or is not physically fit.  If you have any of these conditions or are unsure whether you are in good enough shape for this hike, we strongly urge you to get your physician's approval for this trip.

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Lava Falls rapid on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon
Little Colorado Confluence Grand Canyon
Stunning View of Nankoweap
Redwall Cavern Grand Canyon
Dory rafting through the Grand Canyon
Matkatamiba Grand Canyon
Beaver Falls Grand Canyon
Nankoweap Grand Canyon
Little Colorado River Grand Canyon
Stone Creek Waterfall
Conquistador's Aisle Grand Canyon
Hiking through Side Creek in Grand Canyon
Dory Ride through the Grand Canyon
Whitewater Rafting in the Grand Canyon
Whitmore Wash Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting
Marble Canyon Grand Canyon
Trinity Canyon Grand Canyon National Park
Lava Falls Grand Canyon
Camping in the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Hiking at Havasu
Bright Angel Trail Grand Canyon
Ooh Ahh Point Grand Canyon
Phantom Ranch
Hiking in the Grand Canyon
Lees Ferry Grand Canyon
Dory Smiles
Nankoweap Grand Canyon
Raft in the Grand Canyon
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National Geographic Traveler 50 Tours of a Lifetime 2011 WinnerGrand Canyon Rafting – Unparalleled adventure and life-long recollections within the grandest legend of American landscapes.

It is said that experience is the best teacher. That's why when it comes to experiencing - not just seeing - the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River in Arizona, no one does it better than O.A.R.S. It's true. Company founder George Wendt first rafted through this legendary American heartland four decades ago. Back in 1969, George was granted one of the first non-motorized Grand Canyon river rafting outfitting licenses and O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon Inc. is now an authorized concessioner of Grand Canyon National Park.

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Over the last forty-plus years, O.A.R.S. has gained more experience conducting non-motorized rafting trips down the Grand Canyon's lifeblood, the Colorado River, than any other Grand Canyon tour operator. And there's never been a rush. Compared to most other outfitters, O.A.R.S.' Grand Canyon trips offer the option of long itineraries and a laid-back pace that allows time to soak up the unparalleled enormity of the canyon's character. And there's never a crowd. Like the rest of O.A.R.S.' rafting and adventure trips, our guide-to-guest ratio is the best in the business. We limit our Grand Canyon rafting trips to consistently fewer passengers than any other outfitter so that you can experience the best possible, least crowded river adventure.

What's more, our means to these incredible ends are unlike most other Grand Canyon river rafting experiences. By raft or dory, O.A.R.S. and Grand Canyon Dories represent a legendary fixture in Arizona river running. Our dories navigate the river in the finest of styles, slipping through rapids and drops as effortlessly as they do silent, still eddies - a unique mode of navigation, renowned as much for stalwart capability as for elegance.

Although our trips in the Grand Canyon tend to sell out quickly, in our 40-year quest for the ultimate river trip, we've identified a handful of other rafting trips, that we think are just as special...

THE FACTS:
Stretching 277 miles across northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon ranges in elevation from 2,400 feet to over 7,000 feet above sea level. In places, it is up to one mile deep and over 18 miles wide, while some of the canyon's majestic plateaus to the north rise to 9,000 feet above sea level. Due to gigantic shifts in the region's landmass, portions of the canyon's North Rim are more than 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim.

GRAND CANYON OVERVIEW

Facts to Help You Compare

The Grand Canyon is one of our most popular destinations in North America. We offer a greater variety of trip itineraries than any other outfitter with a choice of a dory or raft expedition, ranging from our shortest trip of five days to our full canyon trip of 18 days.

Raft or Dory?
Our two sister companies, O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. and Grand Canyon Dories, Inc., navigate the Colorado River in two different types of boats: 18’ inflatable rafts and 17’ hard-hulled dories. Both vessels hold four passengers and a guide who rows with a long pair of oars. They each provide an exciting adventure, with the major difference being in how they ride in large whitewater. Because rafts are inflatable, they ride on top of the water and they have a certain amount of give to them. Therefore when a large wave hits them, they tend to flex a little and roll over the rapids. The dories are sleek, elegant boats made of fiberglass, wood and foam. Passengers sit in a cut out cushioned seat in the dory. Being a hard-hulled boat it obviously has no give, so when a large wave hits it the dory is lifted. This provides a more pronounced, up-and-down ride through the whitewater. Another difference is the amount of time spent in the Canyon. The dories take a more leisurely pace through the Canyon, giving more time for side canyon exploration. Our dory trips generally run 1-2 days longer than our raft trips.

Side Canyon Hikes
Each day varies, but on an average you'll spend 3-5 hours per day on the boats, with the rest of the time hiking and exploring side canyons, eating, or just relaxing in camp.  The easiest hikes are no more difficult than negotiating a few yards of beach sand or stepping over a few rocks.  Others may go for several miles over a rough trail, climb steeply up a hot hillside, require the use of both hands over awkward boulders and demand caution as you totter on a narrow trail above a steep cliff.  Our guides are happy to help novices with hand and footholds and reassurance.  Many times their helpfulness enables the timid and inexperienced to get to special places that many other groups pass by.  All hikes are optional.  The side hikes take you into the true heart of the canyon that can only be reached by hiking from the river and shouldn’t be missed.

Whitewater Classifications
The whitewater varies in intensity from mild to wild.  Whitewater in the Canyon is rated on a scale of 1-10 (unlike most western rivers, which use the I-VI scale).  A "1" is flat water and a "10" is the most difficult rapid still considered runnable.

LEES FERRY TO PHANTOM RANCH (AB):  6-8 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Transport by van from Flagstaff to put-in at Lees Ferry (approx. 2½ hrs).
Trip Ends: Boat Beach near Phantom Ranch about 12:00 PM with overnight at Phantom Ranch and then a 9.7-mile hike to the South Rim the final morning.  Passengers generally prefer to overnight at the South Rim before taking a van shuttle back to Flagstaff.
Whitewater: 19 major rapids rated 5 or above.

Itinerary: This 87-mile section of river is an excellent introduction to the canyon.   The rapids start out moderate and grow larger each day, allowing you to become familiar with the boat’s movement through the rapids.  Even though the biggest rapids in the canyon are below Phantom Ranch, this section has more fast moving water overall. The cliffs and rock layers rise at a rate of 50-100 feet per mile, ending at Phantom Ranch in the deepest part of the canyon.  Our adventure includes the vibrant colored limestone cliffs of Marble Canyon, visits to Native American ruins, ancient fossils, Redwall Cavern and a swim in the Little Colorado.  Your last night is generally spent at Phantom Ranch in air-cooled dorms with bunk beds, shower, toilet and sink.  Dinner, breakfast the next morning, and trail lunch are provided, as well as transport of your gear by mule, while you carry only a daypack on your hike out of the canyon.  Breakfast service starts at 5:00 AM. so you can get an early start on the trail before it gets too hot.  Occasionally we are unable to secure reservations at Phantom Ranch.  In this case you would spend the last night camping along the river and then come downstream the final morning to Phantom Ranch where you will drop off your duffel for transport by mule while you hike up the canyon to the South Rim.  Our guides will provide a trail lunch for you.  Please read the section below: Hiking In or Out of the Grand Canyon

LEES FERRY TO WHITMORE WASH (AC):  12-15 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Transport by van from Flagstaff to put-in at Lees Ferry (approx. 2½ hrs).
Trip Ends: Take-out at Whitmore Wash with helicopter to the rim and flight back to Las Vegas, continuing by van to the Las Vegas McCarran Airport, arriving between 1-3:00 PM.
Whitewater: 38 major rapids rated 5 or above along with two monsters, Crystal and Lava Falls, rated 8-10.
Itinerary: We spend our first week on the river covering the same highlights as our Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch trip (see above) until we meet up with the big whitewater below, including the infamous Crystal Rapid and Lava Falls.  This section combines the scenic wonders of the Upper Canyon's vibrant limestone cliffs, Anasazi ruins, Nautiloid fossils, stream-carved alcoves, and petroglyphs, with the Lower Canyon's crystalline waterfalls, fern-covered fairylands, layers of rock rising and falling, and turquoise pools.

LEES FERRY TO LAKE MEAD – Full Canyon (AD):  14-18 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Transport by van from Flagstaff to put-in at Lees Ferry (approx. 2½ hrs).
Trip Ends: Take-out at Lake Mead and return by van to Flagstaff (4 hours), arriving approximately 3:00 PM.
Whitewater: 47 major rapids rated 5 or above including Crystal and Lava Falls, rated 8-10.
Itinerary: It's all here - the glories of Marble Canyon, the mysteries of the Inner Gorge, terrific side hikes and Indian ruins, crystalline creeks and waterfalls, cactus gardens and whitewater galore. For nearly three hundred miles, the river has cut a chasm over a mile deep through a rainbow of ancient rock. Nowhere on earth is there a more complete or dramatic geologic storybook. This full canyon trip gives you time to stop, to look, to listen and explore the treasures this wonderland has to offer. You won't be "seeing the Grand Canyon" - you'll be living it. Your guides enrich your experience with tales of geologic wonders, natural history and Canyon folklore. You’re also likely to encounter bighorn sheep, deer, ringtail cats, coyote and a large variety of birds from raptors to water fowl.

LEES FERRY TO DIAMOND CREEK (AD):  13-18 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Transport by van from Flagstaff to put-in at Lees Ferry (approx. 2½ hrs).
Trip Ends: Take-out at Diamond Creek and return by van to Flagstaff (2½ hrs.), arriving approximately 2:00 PM.
Whitewater: 42 major rapids rated 5 or above and Crystal and Lava Falls, rated 8-10.
Itinerary: Covering 226 river miles, this trip offers all the scenery, side canyons and whitewater excitement of our Full Canyon trip.  We take-out at Diamond Creek, just a few rapids short of our Lees Ferry to Lake Mead ending point, making for a shorter drive back to Flagstaff.

PHANTOM RANCH TO WHITMORE WASH (BC):  7-10 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Hike 9.7 miles into the canyon from the South Rim, meeting at the river at 1:00 PM.
Trip Ends: Take-out at Whitmore Wash with helicopter to the rim and flight back to Las Vegas, continuing by van to the Las Vegas McCarran Airport, arriving between 1-3:00 PM.
Whitewater: 19 major rapids rated 5 or above including Crystal and Lava Falls, rated 8-10.
Itinerary: Beginning at the South Rim, your hike will cover 9.7 miles into the canyon down the beautiful Bright Angel Trail.  The hike is on a well-traveled and well-defined trail with water, shade and restroom stops along the way.  The river guides meet you at the river's edge.  After repacking your gear, we immediately head straight into some of the most celebrated rapids:  Horn Creek, Granite, Hermit, and Crystal are all packed into the first two exciting days.  Spectacular side hikes pierce the shadows of the deep Inner Gorge: the emerald paradise of Elves Chasm, the 100-foot drop of Deer Creek Falls, limestone chutes of Matkatamiba Canyon, blue-green pools and numerous waterfalls of Havasu Canyon, and many others.  We finish off by running the notorious Lava Falls - North America's most renowned big drop. Please read the section below: Hiking In or Out of the Grand Canyon

PHANTOM RANCH TO LAKE MEAD (BD):  10-13 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Hike 9.7 miles into the canyon from the South Rim, meeting at the river at 1:00 PM.
Trip Ends: Take-out at Lake Mead and return by van to Flagstaff (4 hrs.), arriving approximately 3:00 PM.
Whitewater: 28 major rapids rated 5 or above including two monsters, Crystal and Lava Falls, rated 8-10.
Itinerary: After hiking into the canyon from the South Rim, we go straight into the biggest rapids of all to finish the upper Granite Gorge (see above, Phantom Ranch to Whitmore Wash).  Incredible scenery and plenty of other rapids fill the 192 miles of the “lower half” section of the canyon.  Below Lava Falls, the canyon narrows one last time as we enter the Lower Granite Gorge.  A jet boat meets us on our last day to take us to Lake Mead and our van back to Flagstaff.  Please read the section below: Hiking In or Out of the Grand Canyon

PHANTOM RANCH TO DIAMOND CREEK (BD):  9-12 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Hike 9.7 miles into the canyon from the South Rim, meeting at the river at 1:00 PM.
Trip Ends: Take-out at Diamond Creek and return by van to Flagstaff (2½ hrs.), arriving approximately 2:00 PM.
Whitewater: 23 major rapids rated 5 or above including Crystal and Lava Falls, rated 8-10.
Itinerary: Just as in our Phantom Ranch to Lake Mead trip, we conquer all the famed rapids, discover secluded canyons and linger in quiet oases.  Our take-out point is Diamond Creek, just a few rapids short of our Lees Ferry to Lake Mead trip, making for a shorter drive back to Flagstaff.  Please read the section below: Hiking In or Out of the Grand Canyon

WHITMORE WASH TO LAKE MEAD (CD):  5 days Raft Dory
Trip Begins: Las Vegas McCarran Airport at 11:00 AM.
Trip Ends: Take-out at Lake Mead.  Return by van to Las Vegas, arriving between 1-3:00 PM.
Whitewater: 5 major rapids rated 5 or above (on the Grand Canyon scale of 1-10).
Itinerary: This shorter section of the river is a good introduction for folks not sure they are ready for a longer trip. We meet you in Las Vegas and transport you by van and small plane to Bar 10 Ranch for an afternoon of ranch activities including horseback riding, horseshoe pitching, hiking, skeet shooting, and more, finished with an evening of country entertainment. The next morning you fly by helicopter into the canyon where your guides await your arrival at Whitmore Wash.  The trip affords an opportunity to hike and explore this exquisite desert wonderland.  Float through the Lower Granite Gorge before boarding a jet boat for a ride across Lake Mead from where we return to Las Vegas.

What is the minimum age to go on a Grand Canyon trip The minimum age is 12 years old for all segments except for our Grand Canyon trip from Whitmore Wash to Lake Mead, where the minimum age is 7 years.  Children should be comfortable around water and content with themselves when there are long stretches of calm water where we often contemplate and talk.

Is there a 'best' time to go?
There is no “bad” time to be in the Grand Canyon, but we certainly agree that spring and fall are considered the “best” seasons to visit.  Our early and late trips, (April, September and October) offer longer trips, giving way to a more flexible schedule and layover days, camping for more than one night at one site. The April trips usually catch the peak wildflower and cactus bloom with generally clear weather and clean, sparkling water.  October is the “yellow” season with numerous yellow plants blooming and oblique lighting for a photographer’s dream. In these seasons the milder temperatures create the most comfortable and pleasant environment for side-canyon exploration, away from the intense heat and crowds of the summer. Also, in April and October we have the opportunity to circle around the campfire in the evenings, recalling Grand Canyon legends and heroes.

The summer months are the hottest and most crowded.  Temperatures can easily soar to over 115 degrees in late June and July degrees.  There are likely to be some clouds and thundershowers in July and August (which is historically the wettest month in the Canyon).  Localized thunderstorms during July and August result in spectacular yellow, red and brown streams and waterfalls; and, of course, the Colorado River returns to its pre-dam muddy condition for a few days.

Grand Canyon National Park Service regulations prohibit individuals from participating in more than one recreational river trip (commercial or non-commercial) per year on the Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek section of the Colorado River. Because of this regulation, O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. and Grand Canyon Dories, Inc. cannot accept a reservation from any individual who has or will participate in any other full or partial canyon commercial or non-commercial river trip within the same calendar year. If you have already completed or have plans to participate in any other Grand Canyon river trip during the same year you are traveling with us and would like to go again, please wait until the following year or later for your next trip.

Grand Canyon National Park's one-trip-per-year rule is strictly enforced by the National Park Service.

This service is operated by O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc., a concessioner under contract with the U.S. Government and administered by the National Park Service. The concessioner is responsible for conducting these operations in a satisfactory manner. Prices are approved by the National Park Service.

Please address comments to:

Superintendent
Grand Canyon National Park
PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveler Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservations Manager Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist 2007-2013 (River Rafting) Best of the Bay Area Winner

For consecutive years, O.A.R.S. has been named the "Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside Magazine in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program. In multiple years, O.A.R.S.trips have been honored as "50 Tours of a Lifetime" by National Geographic Traveler and since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler has recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler's standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category.

Questions about trips or making reservations? Contact info@oars.com or call 800-346-6277 in the USA or Canada or 1-209-736-4677 if outside the USA or Canada.
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O.A.R.S. Companies Inc.,
PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222