My daughter and I decided to go on a really exciting rafting trip. But not just any plain Jane white water rafting trip. I mean going down level 10 insane, thrilling, and adventurous Rapids with 15 feet waves! Imagine going 6 days down in the Grand Canyon with other adventurous souls, eating amazing food and having the time of your life. Or how about looking up and seeing the Milky Way surrounded by beautiful formations of rock and soil while you lay in your sleeping bag right before you go night night. This was my amazing 6 days rafting in the Grand Canyon with my partner in crime.
Planning ahead for this trip
This is not a last minute trip. This takes a little bit of planning ahead. There are only a limited amount of people allowed into the Grand Canyon a year, so you have to book through an outfitter. I chose cannoneers. I had a travel agent doing it for me. I had told her how many days and what we want to do, and she searched for it. I booked it 8 months ahead and I was already little late in the game. So if you decide on doing this, plan 1 year in advance. To get a travel agent will save you money and time. They will search for hotels after your trip for a discounted price.
Seasons to Raft
Do some research first to what month you like to experience the Canyon.
May is when the National Park allows outfitters rafting through the inner gorge.
June is Historically speaking consist of clear skies and sunny days average between 95 and 100f.
July and August could be the hottest months of temperatures between 100 and 115, but during a monsoon storm every afternoon, the temperatures could drop by 20 and 3o degrees. This season is when the river has its most natural appearance: sediment laden and taking on different colors and consistencies depending on where the flash floods are occurring. The clouds and river color make this is a popular time for photographers to visit the canyon because the monsoon storms create unique lighting opportunities. For the properly geared, a rain storm in the Grand Canyon is magical.
September, the busy season is over and temperatures return to similar to June. It’s pretty stable but could be brutally hot or chilly. You just have to prepare for all kinds of weather in September.
October, there are even fewer people and fewer trips in October. temperatures ranging from 80 to low 90. Temperatures from standing in the sun versus in the shade during this time are extreme. it’s very important to dress properly in case of an early winter storm.
No matter the time you go, all of the Grand Canyons weather and wilderness is what makes the experience memorable and authentic.
The season I picked
We went in mid-June. I did not want to be caught in a rainstorm on the Canyon. After all, I am used to the Florida heat and I am an absolute chicken when it comes to cold. Especially when I am wet and cold. Not a good combination for me. Also since I traveled with my daughter, we had to go during summer break.
I absolutely loved sleeping under the stars at night. What better way to wake up in the middle of the night, to open your eyes and stare at the milky way. You get to see every star there is. Just absolutely breath taking. You don’t want to sleep at night, you want to explore all the constellations there are in the sky.
We met in a Hotel in Flagstaff for our introductory meeting and were given our sleeping bags, dry bags and Army ammo boxes for our personal items to stay dry during the rafting. The sleeping bags, tarp, and our personal belongings had to be put into the big dry bag and this was kept on the big supply boat that was rafting with us. The little Army ammo Box ( the little square box in the picture) was for the items we want to keep with us on the raft for during the day.
When I travel with a backpack or on an adventure trip, it’s the easiest to pack your individual outfits into a zip lock bag. This keeps everything organized and easy access. Also, put your chargers in one bag, your mosquito spray and medicine in one bag….. you get the point.
Next morning we were off with the bus heading to Lees Ferry where we were greeted by all our rafts and staff.
There were 17 other adventurers with us and 5 rafts including a big motorized raft that was holding all our food and dry bags for the week. We were all so excited. The adventure is finally beginning. We found our self a spot in one of the rafts and off we went.
The first mile was very relaxing, looking at the beautiful rock formation on both sides of the Canyon. Our guides were all very knowledgeable and were always giving us information about all the rocks and history. Then all of a sudden our guide told us to hold on. We were approaching our first rapid. In the Grand Canyon, the scale of Rapids goes from 1 – 10. Anywhere else in the world, they only go to 5.
After this first rapid was over we asked our guide what number that was. We guessed it to be about a No 3 To our surprise our guide answered, ‘ well that was not a rapid, that was just a ripple. LOL seriously? We were in for a treat….. we thought, then one rapid was an exciting #10. We could not wait!
After each rapid, we quickly had to take the buckets that were in the raft and bucket out the water that was trapped from the waves. The water was very cold. It was about 45 to 50. Even a no 3 rapid was bigger than any white water rafting we have ever done. And up to this point, we thought we did some great rapids. We were soooo wrong…………
After about 2 hr of rafting we pulled over to a bank and all our guides put up a long table and started to make us an amazing lunch.
Then we packed up again and off we went.
The First night
Later in the afternoon, the rafts pulled over on some rock formation with several even spaces. They told us this would be our spot for tonight. Really? We were all a little perplex then this was not what we expected. It looked like a very hard surface to sleep on, and it was!……….. We all quickly hopped out of the rafts and investigated the property we landed on and found our self a spot where we could possibly sleep for tonight. A little hint, when picking your spot to sleep, it’s warmer closer by the rocks, and little color closer to the river!
All the guides set up the kitchen which consisted of two long tables, burners pans and cutting boards. They made us the most delicious dinner.
The first night everyone was still a little shy and stayed in the group they came with. That changed really quickly the days after.
I could not sleep that night. First, it was a very hard surface to lay on, and secondly, the scenery and stillness of the Canyon were just so overwhelmingly beautiful, how could anyone sleep!!…….. I just stared up at the sky all night. The Milky Way was just breathtaking. All the stars and constellation. The sky had absolutely no clouds. The Rocks from the Canyon were so majestic. No wonder this is one of the wonders of the world. You realize how little and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of the universe.
Hikes into the Canyon
Every day there was rafting for about 2 hr, then hiking into the valley of the Grand Canyon for a couple miles for the ones that wanted to hike. Nothing was mandatory, except rafting down the river, then that was our only way out:)
Every hike was different. Some lead to a beautiful waterfall. Some straight up the rocks and required some scary climbing abilities. Some to a beautiful washed out gorge straddling two sides of rocks with your feet so you would not fall down into a water ditch. It was very adventurous.
Every hike was different and beautiful.
The Ants in the Canyon go to sleep at 8 pm
For the second night, we pulled over to a wonderful sandy beach. Ahhhhhh. That looked amazing cozy soft. We put out our tarps and soon it was covered by ants. …...But not to worry. The Grand Canyon ants go to sleep around 8 pm :). that’s when we pulled out our sleeping bags and prepared the bed. 🙂
I had a better night sleep than the first evening. After having breakfast we were off rafting again. It was little chilly in the morning. Especially when in the shade and you get hit by a wave going through a rapid.
As soon as the sun was fully out, it got hot. We had our daily hike even deeper into a side canyon, had a delicious lunch and rafted some more until we approach the camp for the night. Only sandy beaches from here on out.
Our bedroom for tonight
This is something different to wake up to in the morning! 🙂
One of the first things the guides put up when we got to our camp site was the toilets. They were usually placed with a beautiful view over the canyon, where people from the campsite could not see you.
Don’t bring a Water gun to a Canyon Water bucket fight
Water fights is a ‘must do’ in the hot Canyon. One tip – do not bring a water gun to a canyon bucket fight. You will lose for sure! LOL 🙂
This cave looked so small from far away
we played a great game of Frisbee
The Blue Lagoon
Day 3 we were promised we go to a very beautiful place where the water is aqua blue and warm. So we tried to imagine this, but as soon as we got there, not in our wildest imagination did we picture something as beautiful as we had in front of our eyes. Aqua blue water, warm, with white rock formation everywhere. It looked like a Disney park someone had put up. We were sliding down the little natural streams and enjoyed our afternoon.
It was sooooooo amazing. To be down in the Canyon, it is the most peaceful experience ever. It is a different world. Away from every civilization. Away from the hustle and bustle. It feels like you are set back in time with no worries of any kind.
Fisheye in the historic cataract boat the Sandra
The Sandra is a historic cataract boat that was built by Norman Nevills in 1940. It was then restored by his grandson Greig who is now rowing this wooden boat down the Canyon with passengers.
This little rowboat looks barely pond-worthy: 14 feet from bow to stern perch mere inches above the waterline — in calm water, that is.
The Colorado River can be quite un-calm. Even the flat stretches boil with powerful currents, and the rough stretches represent some of the most challenging navigable white water in the world. Going down the rapids in this boat, it’s quite different than in a normal oar boat. Most people go down the canyon in big 35 feet motorized pontoons. only about 20% of passengers go down the rapids in an oar boat.
When you are on the Sandra, you have to go through rapids stomach-down and face-first on the bow feels like a combination of bodysurfing, bronco riding and heading a soccer ball. Greg’s motto in rafting and life is, “Face your danger.” It’s an especially important rule in Rapids, because if you flinch and pull back from a big wave, you might help flip the boat (like yanking the reins of a horse that’s already rearing up). But if you use your head and shoulders as a battering ram, you can push the boat through.
I wrote the Sandra once on this trip, it was exciting, but the water was just way too cold for me. But my 16-year-old daughter loved it. She wanted to do it also going through the biggest #10 Rapid the Hance with 12- to 15-foot waves and a 30-foot overall drop. She had to go up front for the “fisheye” position and another adult had to go with her because she was not heavy enough to keep the boat upright. As Greg angled them down the tongue of the rapid, all you could hear was a growing roar, and then they plunged into the heart of it — and I mean plunged.
They are truly insane. I mean 12-15 feet high. Before going through a big rapid, we pulled over to the side, get out of the boat and walk up the hill so the guides could check out the rapids from up there. They would plan their approach for the bigger rapids, then the water is ever changing and they had to exactly know how to go through them without capsizing the rafts.
They do not look big when you approach them. But once you are in them and they are in front of you towering 12 feet. Then you think, “there is no way in hell we are going to make it over this wave”. But the experienced ore captains always managed to get us up the waves and through the rapids. I tried to take a picture but was not able to, then I was busy holding on lol 🙂 I managed to film while in the rapid, but the camera does not make it justice.
As soon as you are out, you had to bucket the water out as fast as possible so the captain could steer clear of all rocks in the water then we are quickly approaching the next rapid. You are not just a passenger on the boat, it was all hands on. You are a team working together to get through safely.
Click on link to read about the hike out of the Canyon No parking pass needed – “We came by Boat”