Photo by John Young
9 days || 137 river miles || 3-4 paddle rafts, 3 oar rafts that carry gear
Starts at the South Rim Village of Grand Canyon National Park, Recommended Minimum Age: 16, Maximum Group Size: 18 or 24 guests
DATES & PRICES
REQUIRED HIKE: BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL
The All Paddle Lower Canyon adventure requires a beautiful, yet strenuous hike in on the Bright Angel Trail on the first day of the trip.
- 7.5 mile (12 km) trail from South Rim of Grand Canyon Village to the bottom of Grand Canyon at Pipe Creek (not Phantom Ranch)
- 4,600 foot (1400 m) elevation loss
- Average pack weight is 15-25 pounds (6.8-11.3 kg) + 3 quarts of water (weighing about 6 pounds or 2.7 kg)
- Average hiking time is 4-6 hours
Is this the best trip option for you? If you and everyone in your party lives an active lifestyle, enjoys vigorously exercising multiple times per week, enjoys a physical challenge and hikes often, the Bright Angel Trail will be doable for you. If you’re not currently living this type of lifestyle, the hike may still be doable for you, but you must take it seriously and get prepared.
Education is key! The trail is well-traveled by hikers and maintained by the National Park Service, but hiking in Grand Canyon is unlike hiking anywhere else. The Bright Angel Trail is very demanding. There are various challenging elements along the Bright Angel Trail such as uneven footing, large steps, rocks, ball bearing-like surface conditions and extreme heat exposure. The hike is very doable for most people if you take it seriously, are in good physical condition, pack lightly, stay cool and eat and drink properly before and during the hike.
Be prepared to carry anywhere between 15-25 pounds (6.8-11.3 kg) of your personal gear out of the Canyon with you, as well as 3 quarts of water (weighing approximately 6 pounds 2.7 kg). Although hiking time varies per person, the average hiker makes it down the Bright Angel Trail in 4-6 hours. The mule duffel service may be an option, but your duffel must be dropped off by 3 PM the day before your hike in. If you decide to use this service, you will still need to hike in with all irreplaceable items, as well as your water and snacks. Whether you use the mule duffel service or not, you should be physically able to carry your gear in. If you plan to use the mule duffel service, reserve it early.
While most of our rafters make the hike without incident, you should also consider other trip alternatives if any of the following conditions apply to you or anyone in your group. These conditions may not exclude you from the hike, but should warrant careful consideration: • asthma (exercise and dust-induced) • history of heat-related problems (heat exhaustion or stroke) • pregnancy • taking prescription medications which might lead to dehydration or hyponatremia • heart disease • vertigo, balance issues or unusual fear of heights • foot, ankle, knee, hip or back problems • a generally sedentary lifestyle • more than a few pounds overweight • smoker • out of shape • age (be honest to yourself about your current physical capabilities).
Ask yourself and everyone in your group the following questions:
- Do you live an active lifestyle?
- Do you vigorously exercise at least three times per week?
- Do you participate in some sort of strength training exercise?
- Do you have experience carrying a backpack weighing 15-25 lbs?
- Is this the best trip option for you?
- Do you think hiking Bright Angel Trail sounds like fun?
The answer to all of these questions should be YES!
We have a few blog articles on the Bright Angel Trail that we bet will be useful to you, both in the planning process and post-reservation. We recommend that you read through Bright Angel Trail Tips and Bright Angel Trail Etiquette to acquaint yourself with all things related to the “The Big Hike In”!
- Attend your orientation the evening before your trip at 7 PM at the Maswik Lodge at the South Rim of Grand Canyon
- Hike into the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail bright and early the day of your adventure start date (transportation to the South Rim is not provided)
- We will pick you up at Diamond Creek by bus on the last day of your adventure and transport you back to Flagstaff, AZ
Join us for our 7 PM orientation meeting the evening before your All Paddle lower canyon Grand Canyon rafting trip begins at the Maswik Lodge at the South Rim of Grand Canyon. You’ll meet your fellow rafters and go over details such as packing your dry bags (which will be at the river), what to expect for the hike and how to pack and fit your hiking pack. This orientation does not cover many river life topics because there are more orientations while on the river to explain what river life is like!
Your hiking escort will determine the best time to meet you and the rest of those hiking in at your orientation. On average, you will be meeting your hiking escort around 5:30 AM. Then, you’ll begin your descent into the bottom of Grand Canyon, which takes on average 4-6 hours. Be sure to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way!
Once you arrive to the river, you’ll receive your dry bags and start transferring your gear from your hiking backpack (we will store your hiking packs separately). Lastly, your trip leader will provide a safety orientation, you’ll be fitted for your personal floatation device (PFD) and then you’ll head down river! We’ll supply you with snacks and electrolyte replacement mix for your hike, and you’ll eat lunch somewhere along the river.
We pick you up by bus at Diamond Creek around mid-morning and bring you back to Flagstaff. This 3 hour drive is along a creek bed, and the adventure continues on this last leg of your expedition! The buses don’t have air conditioning as full power is needed for the rough drive out Diamond Creek road—be sure to continue drinking water! Our trips generally return to the designated hotel around 3-7 PM, but we cannot guarantee the exact arrival time.
Upon arrival at the hotel, a staff member will be there to greet you with your luggage, room key(s) (if applicable) and the Red River Sports store. We recommend you stay in Flagstaff that evening in case of any travel delays and to attend the post-trip dinner (most of our groups partake in this final hoorah!).
TO & FROM
There are many options for getting to and from your All Paddle lower canyon Grand Canyon rafting adventure. See below for some tips on how to start planning your transportation details.
We recommend flying into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport or Flagstaff Pulliam Airport in Arizona. Las Vegas is not as convenient as you might think because of the lack of shuttle options and the inconvenient shuttle times. If you fly into Phoenix, you can either rent a car to get to Flagstaff or book a shuttle through Groome Transportation. We recommend that you investigate your shuttle transportation options prior to securing your flight.
By Personal or Rental Car
Flagstaff is located approximately 2.5 hours north of Phoenix, at the junction of Interstate 40 and Interstate 17. You may arrange to pick up or drop off a rental car at the Flagstaff Airport. You may leave your vehicle parked at the designated meeting hotel for the duration of your trip free of charge (it is not a secured lot).
Groome Transportation offers multiple daily shuttles between Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and Flagstaff, as well as 3 daily shuttles between the South Rim of Grand Canyon and Flagstaff. Allow 6 hours of travel time from Phoenix to the South Rim. A Friendly Cab also provides shuttle services in Central and Northern Arizona. All shuttle arrangements require a reservation.
To find the most accurate packing list for your specific adventure, access your online trip portfolio, and under the section reading “View Info & Documents”, you’ll find the “Equipment and Pack List” document. You’ll have access to this upon reserving your adventure.
We have prepared packing lists for different times of the season depending on the average temperature that time of year, so they’re accurate to what you’ll need to bring on your adventure specifically. If you have any difficulties finding this document, call our office and we’ll be happy to assist you!
If you are currently in the planning process for your adventure and would like to see an example equipment list, contact our office by phone or email, and we’ll send you one right away.
WE PROVIDE ALL GUESTS WITH THE FOLLOWING
Three dry bags
- Your white day bag is used to hold all of your gear that you’ll want to access to during the day. Think of this as your carry-on luggage. It is approximately 24” tall and 18” wide, and is 30.3 liters.
- Your blue bag holds all of the rest of the gear that you don’t need during the day. This is like your checked luggage. It is approximately 22” tall and 14” in diameter when packed, and is 49.2 liters.
- Your sleep kit bag is also blue and contains your sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner and a ground tarp. You will receive this bag on the river.
Sleeping pad: 72” long, 22” wide and 1 ½” thick
Tent: one per every two guests on a reservation. Separate tents can be requested.
Groovette: quart-sized paint cup to be used when urinating in the river or camp toilet is not ideal.
Basic First-Aid Kit
Library of Grand Canyon reading materials
Drinking water & electrolyte replacement mix
Lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day
Breakfast beverages (coffee, tea, juice & hot chocolate)
If you are the physically active type who wants to participate in the most active Grand Canyon rafting adventure, who wishes to be a part of a team maneuvering your raft down river, who likes to push your boundaries and live a little more on the edge, then the All Paddle lower canyon Adventure is the trip for you!
This is the choice trip for the most active adventurers who are looking for the ultimate Grand Canyon whitewater adventure. Most of our All-Paddle guests have already done quite a bit of paddling or kayaking on other rivers and join us on this trip with prior knowledge of the strenuous nature of being in a paddle raft 100% of the time while on the river. However, we welcome new paddlers on our adventures as well!
The Colorado River through Grand Canyon is 90% flat water, so although it is an exciting whitewater experience, it is also strenuous during the flat water, as it can be windy, rainy, hot and tiring.
We often get asked what the best time of year to raft the Grand Canyon is, and our answer is always, “it depends on what type of weather you prefer!” You’re going to get different weather every month. Some months are more variable weather-wise, whereas others are more reliable. Below is a general guideline as to what type of weather to expect each month on your Grand Canyon rafting trip. Our All-Paddle lower canyon Adventures are scheduled in May, June, July and August.
May: Average high is mid-80s to the mid-90s (29-32 C), with lows in the mid-60s (18-20 C). This is a variable month, and can be cold and possibly rainy if we’re experiencing a long spring, or it can be warm and dry if we’re having an early summer.
June: Average high is 100-115 degrees F (37-46 C), with lows ranging from mid-70s to mid-80s (23-29 C). This is, on average, the hottest and driest month in the Canyon. Rain is possible toward the end of the month.
July: Average high is 100-115 (37-46 C), with lows ranging from mid-70s to mid-80s (23-29 C). This is our monsoon season in Grand Canyon. Rain is often expected and offers a reprieve from the heat.
August: Average high ranges from upper-90s to 110 (35-43 C), with lows ranging from mid-70s to mid-80s (23-29 C). Our monsoon season extends into August. Rain is often expected.
Unexpected situations arise every year that cause our rafting participants to cancel. Because our deposits and final payments are non-refundable (after payment due dates pass), we highly recommend trip cancellation insurance. Although spaces are transferrable to another person, they are not transferrable to future years. Those who don’t purchase trip cancellation and cannot find anyone to refill their space(s) will lose their money. We provide information for Travelex, but there are many other choices available, such as TravelGuard, USAA or Alliance. These policies also include evacuation and medical insurance should the need arise. It is an additional cost on top of your rafting adventure, but we have found that it is worth the price!
It’s best to start investigating trip cancellation insurance plans at the same time you put down your deposit. This will cover you for any pre-existing conditions you may have or protect you before something happens that may prevent you from going on your adventure. We are not qualified or authorized to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions or conditions of any of the insurance offered, or evaluate the adequacy of the prospective insured’s existing insurance coverage. Please direct specific questions to the Travelex customer service department.
I would say anyone who is physically capable, do the paddle trip vs the motor or oar trips. It just adds so much to your experience to be down on the water. After seeing the Grand Canyon from the rim 4 different times, I had my reservations about what the canyon offered. This trip made a believer out of me and changed my life, my son's life and created a lifetime of memories. The trip is expensive, but those memories are priceless.