Grand Canyon Rafting & Dory Trips

Grand Canyon rafting with OARS

Discover Grand Canyon

Over the last fifty-plus years, OARS and Grand Canyon Dories have gained more experience conducting non-motorized rafting trips down the Colorado River than any other Grand Canyon rafting company. OARS 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. Like the rest of our whitewater 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.

O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. is an authorized concessioner of Grand Canyon National Park

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Adventures in Grand Canyon, Arizona


Frequently Asked Questions

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How long are OARS Grand Canyon trips?

Trips through Grand Canyon range from 5 to 18 days. Full canyon trips from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek or Pearce Ferry run 16-18 days, while partial trips are 5-14 days.

What is the minimum age for a Grand Canyon rafting trip?

The minimum age for Grand Canyon rafting trips is 12 years old, except for the Whitmore Wash to Pearce Ferry trip, which is 7 years old.

When is the best time to go?

There is no “bad” time to be in Grand Canyon. Our early and late trips (April, September, and October) are longer, which allows for a more flexible schedule with possible layover days. The April trips usually catch the peak wildflower and cactus bloom. October is the “yellow” season with numerous yellow plants blooming and oblique lighting ideal for photography. The milder spring and fall temperatures create a comfortable environment for side canyon exploration. Also, in April and October, we are sometimes able to have a campfire in the evenings. The summer months are the hottest and most crowded. Temperatures can soar to over 115 degrees in late June and July. July through September is historically known as the monsoon season, with occasional thunderstorms. During this time, these localized storms can turn the Colorado River muddy and create spectacular red and brown waterfalls.

What are the Colorado River rapids and whitewater like?

The Colorado River through Grand Canyon has 47 major rapids. The rapids are rated in difficulty from 1 to 10. Because the flow is dam regulated, the water levels remain fairly consistent, even in a drought year, with the higher flows coinciding with summer temperatures and the resulting increase in demand for hydroelectricity. Water releases are pulled from the bottom of Lake Powell, meaning the water temperature in Grand Canyon stays fairly cold year-round.

Will I have to hike in or out of Grand Canyon?

Guests who are joining or leaving a trip at Pipe Creek are required to hike in or out of Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. The hike between the South Rim and the river is a serious, long (7.7 miles), and strenuous hike. It takes you in or out of one of the deepest canyons in the world with an elevation increase/decrease of more than 4,500 feet. Anyone considering hiking in or out of Grand Canyon must engage in focused physical conditioning prior to departure. Hiking out of the canyon is a cardiovascular workout, whereas the hike into the canyon is very punishing on one’s joints, knees, and legs. They are both equally demanding but in different ways. For more information about the hike, please review our guide to hiking the Bright Angel Trail. See our full list of FAQs about hiking in or out of Grand Canyon >>

Which trip is right for me?

When deciding on a Grand Canyon rafting trip, there are a few factors to consider: length of the trip, budget, type of boat (raft or dory), timing, and availability. Grand Canyon rafting and dory trips are some of the most in-demand adventures in the world. OARS trips fill up every year and often require a waitlist. Sign up for our Grand Canyon priority mailing list to have the best shot at getting a spot on the trip you want.

For those looking for opportunities to explore hiking trails and side canyons, longer trips generally offer more time for hikes. Each day varies, but on average, we spend 3-5 hours per day on the boats actually going downstream, with the rest of the time hiking and exploring points of interest, 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 or more over a rough trail, climb up a hot hillside, require the use of both hands to ascend over cliff edges or boulders, and demand caution on narrow trails. All hikes are optional.

Our expeditions on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon use two different types of oar-powered boats: inflatable self-bailing rafts or hard-hulled dories. Both vessels hold four passengers plus a guide who pilots the boat with a long pair of oars. Because rafts are inflatable, they ride on top of the water and have a certain amount of “give.” In big whitewater, they tend to flex a little and plow through the tops of waves. They are self-bailing boats, meaning all the water that splashes in drains out through holes between the inflatable floor and the side tubes. The dories are sleek, double-ended boats made of fiberglass, wood, and foam. Being a hard-hulled boat, a dory has no “give.” When a large wave hits, it is lifted, providing a more pronounced, up-and-down ride through the rapids. As a passenger in a dory, you will assist in bailing the water out of the boat using a handheld bucket. You need to be agile enough to quickly shift your weight to the “high side” of the boat when called upon by the guide, to help keep the boat from tipping over.

Can I do more than one trip in a year?

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, OARS and Grand Canyon Dories 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.

Why travel with OARS in Grand Canyon?

As the first exclusively non-motorized operator in Grand Canyon, OARS has earned a reputation for maintaining the gold standard. Our family-owned and operated company is as passionate as ever about introducing people to our cherished rivers and wild places and showing our guests the best outdoor experience of their lives. OARS employs the most experienced oar-powered guides in the Canyon, many of who have been with the company for more than 30 years. Our full-time Grand Canyon rafting guides are legends in their own time and know the Colorado River’s best-kept secrets. Their enthusiasm, knowledge, and years of experience are unmatched in the industry.

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.


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

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Glassy, reflective river in the Grand Canyon.

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