When pondering a Grand Canyon Whitewater rafting trip, many people simply envision….white water. While the whitewater rapids are thrilling and provide a wild ride, there are many unique aspects that come together to form the whole experience of a Colorado River trip. A Grand Canyon rafting vacation is generally a great combination of hours spent on the water, relaxing in camp and taking off river hiking excursions. Grand Canyon Whitewater guides want to make sure that their guests get to know the Grand Canyon in a truly unique way, and can recommend and lead a variety of hikes depending on what guests are interested in, available time and conditions in the Canyon.
The Grand Canyon has countless side canyons that feed into the Grand Canyon that make for memorable off river hikes. Many of these side canyons have water in them that contributes to the Colorado River, such as the Little Colorado River. Taking a hike through The Little Colorado River side canyon provides an opportunity to see water that is a truly amazing shade of blue. When the Little Colorado River has been undisturbed by rainfall drainage, the water is an opaque baby-blue color that beautifully swirls into the green of the Colorado River as they intersect.
Many of these hikes are exclusive to those who are rafting the river, and can only be accessed from the river’s edge. Seeing the Grand Canyon from the river offers a unique perspective to begin with, but when you are able to take advantage of these exclusive excursions, you truly get to experience the many faces of the Grand Canyon. Imagine taking an easy walk up a beautiful sandstone slot canyon whose depth provides refreshing shade. Blacktail Canyon is a serene spot so inspiring that a visitor will sometimes break out a guitar or a poem to share. “The Patio” is another place to relax, this time in the shade of huge cottonwood trees after hiking to the top of the thundering 100-foot Deer Creek waterfall.
Side hikes allow river runners to see parts of the Grand Canyon’s history as well. Step into Redwall Cavern, a huge natural amphitheater originally discovered by J.W. Powell, who claimed the cavern could hold 50,000 people. Bring your flashlight and explore within the Marble Canyon Boreholes, where the integrity of the rock was tested for a potential dam site; a whitewater rafting trip is a Grand Canyon geology tour as well. Only those on the river will see the plaque commemorating Willie Taylor as the 100th person to travel the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Imagine how many have navigated the river since then! And of course, there are hikes to spots where ancient inhabitants made their homes. A stair-stepper hike leads to Nankoweap Granaries, the ancient Anasazi granaries in the Redwall Limestone where the ancestral Puebloans stored their grain, seeds and food. Looking downstream is the most published photo of Grand Canyon from the river. Newspaper Rock at Tanner Rapid is a short stroll to some incredible Anasazi pictographs.
Grand Canyon Whitewater guides are both, constant students and teachers in the Canyon, and love to discover and share what they have learned with their fellow travelers. Venturing out into side canyons, experiencing waterfalls and creeks, geological phenomenon and signs of ancient civilizations all add to any visitor’s knowledge and understanding of how truly spectacular the Grand Canyon really is.
More Information: Grand Canyon Whitewater
Arizona tourism & sightseeing