GRAND CANYON – Spring is here and, with it, Colorado River rafting season.
Wildflowers and water might not be the first things that come to mind when one pictures the high, barren Colorado Plateau, but the silt-laden river that grinds a channel through the northern Arizona desert holds some of the world’s most alluring white-water rapids and scenery.
Thrill seekers might wait years, or a lifetime, for the opportunity to run the rapids of Grand Canyon on a privately organized trip. Grand Canyon National Park Service strictly limits the number of private launches each year, and draws a lucky few boaters in a lottery system, according to the park’s website.
Not so if you opt to go on a commercial trip and let the folks who make white water their business guide you through the canyon on one of their motorized or oar-powered boats.
Although the park service limits the number of rafters commercial outfitters can carry, and restricts passengers to one river trip per year, many companies still have seats available on 2012 trips.
River trip guests can reserve a spot up to 1 year in advance or within as little as a few weeks of the launch date, said Lindsay Winter, the marketing director for Grand Canyon Whitewater.
“A lot of people think you have to book a trip years in advance, but that’s just not the case,” Winter said. “We can sometimes get people on one of our Grand Canyon raft tours with just a few weeks’ notice, especially if they are flexible on the dates and amount of time they can spend in the canyon.”
Grand Canyon Whitewater is one of 16 commercial outfitters authorized by the park service to run Colorado River raft trips through Grand Canyon.
Its rafting schedule, like those of all the outfitters, is dictated by the park. The 2012 season kicks off in early April and runs through October. Now is the best time to book a trip for this summer, Winter said.
Grand Canyon Whitewater offers tours of The Big Ditch that range in length from 4 days to 2 weeks and in cost from about $1,100 to about $3,400. Some of those getaways include round-trip transportation to and from the canyon.
The company is offering discounts on a handful of early season May trips, the marketing director added.
Grand Canyon Whitewater is a fully equipped outfitter. It provides all camping gear (tents, sleeping bags and pads or cots), rafting necessities (life jackets, dry bags and river safety orientation), and three meals a day plus all the snacks and beverages (excluding alcohol – you bring your own and the guides will stow it for you) a person could want.
“You just sit back, try to absorb as much of this incredible place as you can, and let our guides take care of you,” Winter said. “This truly is a trip of a lifetime, and it’s not just for experienced boaters and campers. We try to make Grand Canyon rafting accessible for everyone.”
For more information on Colorado River rafting through the Grand Canyon, call Grand Canyon Whitewater at 800-343-3121 or visit its website at grandcanyonwhitewater.com.
Click here for More Information
Arizona tourism & sightseeing