Grand Canyon Raft Trip

Aug 12th, 2008, 05:03 PM
  #1  
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Grand Canyon Raft Trip

We are beginning planning an 8 to 10 day raft trip of the GC late next summer or fall.

There are several outfitters so I would appreciate comments on any of them. Also, what are the merits of a Lees Ferry vs. a Phantom Ranch start.

Is it possible to combine a trip with a couple of days stay at the Phantom Ranch?

Any other considerations or words of wisdom would be appreciated. This will be a once in a lifetime trip for us so we want to get it right.
Spokaneman is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 05:22 PM
  #2  
 
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we did a short 3 day raft with Arizona River Runners. The people that were getting off the boats when we got on had been on 8 days. They said they had a great experience. We found ours to be very enjoyable as well. Our guide told us he had worked for 3 different companies the last 15 years. He said that all of the companies do pretty much the same type stuff and he thought they all were good. Spending the night in the canyon was just about as good as the rafting. I just wasn't expecting the stars to be so bright and so many. You will have a great time. You might want to take something to do each evening. We played frisbee, football, chess, and checkers each evening we were there. We were suprised how good the food was. The only negative thing I can say is that the drinks never were really cold. They drag them along side the boat in the water. The side trips to see petroglyphs and waterfalls were very enjoyable as well. I would probably lean more towards a spring or fall rafting as I would think it would be very hot in the summer.
spirobulldog is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 05:33 PM
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We are beginning planning an 8 to 10 day raft trip of the GC late next summer or fall.

I've rafted the Colorado several times. Later in the fall (say mid-Sept to early Oct) is better than say August, in part because of the temperatures, in part because of the crowds, if you can arrange your schedule to fit. At some point the large motorized rafts are done and it's a quieter place once they are out.

There are several outfitters so I would appreciate comments on any of them

First decide if you want a big motorized boat (which maybe you already decided on, based on the 8-10 days), or the smaller oar and paddle powered boats. I went once on the motorized boats and it was fine, but I prefer the smaller hand-powered boats because the rapids are much more exciting in a small boat. Kind of the difference between cruising the interstate in a bus (motor) vs cruising the back roads in a convertible with the top down (paddle).

Anyway, the Park Service regulates the boat companies pretty closely so I think you'd have a good trip with most of them. The company we used most often was AZRA (Arizona Raft Adventures in Flagstaff) and I would recommend them highly. Also did a trip with Hatch (the big motorized baloney boat) and that was fine too, but I would pick one of the hybrid or oar trips with AZRA if doing it again.

what are the merits of a Lees Ferry vs. a Phantom Ranch start.

Starting at Lee's Ferry you get to see a more open canyon for the first 40 miles. The rock formation you stand on at Lee's Ferry is the formation on the rim 4,800 higher at Phantom 88 miles downstream, and the other layers begin at river level as you go downstream from Lee's Ferry, with the last one (the granite gorge) beginning around Hance Rapid just east of Grandview point. So you learn a lot about geology, and the open canyon before the granite gorge is beautiful. Also if the water level is low in the Little Colorado you get to hike up that with beautiful blue water.

If you start at Phantom you'll get rocked the first day as several giant rapids are just below Phantom, including the most dangerous, Crystal, plus Horn Creek, Granite (I've camped there and watched several boats flip over) and Hermit, all rated 9-10 on a 1-10 scale. This is the best day of white water if you are in a small boat and a bit of a shock if it's your first afternoon .

Also you have to hike down to meet the boat if starting at Phantom.

If you are doing a motor trip you can do the entire river in 8-10 days so it's moot, but if doing an oar or paddle trip I think a common break is 5 days to Phantom, then 8 more to take out or 13 total, so with 8-10 days I'd go with the lower section and hike in. Or try to add 3 days and do the whole enchilada.

Is it possible to combine a trip with a couple of days stay at the Phantom Ranch?

If you can get a cabin (or dorm bed) at Phantom then sure, just meet the boat on the beach on the right day. But it's hard to get the cabins because they want to bundle them with the mule rides and charge the most possible $$. But this would be a great way to do it if you can pull it off (good luck).

Any other considerations or words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Mid-to late September on one of AZRA's hybrid trips (oar and paddle rafts on the same trip), either the entire 225 miles or, if limited by time, start at Phantom. Great trip!

Bill

Bill_H is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 04:31 PM
  #4  
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Thanks to both for some good info, we want to do a float/paddle trip in a smaller boat rather than a bigger powered boat.

We're thinking that 13 days is probably just too long for us so we will probably do the phantom ranch put in. Hopefully since we are going to book a year in advance we can get a night or two in Phantom ranch and a night in the Grand Canyon Lodge.
Spokaneman is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 04:43 PM
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we will probably do the phantom ranch put in. Hopefully since we are going to book a year in advance we can get a night or two in Phantom ranch

This is a great plan, should be a fine trip.

I'd start calling about the Phantom Ranch cabin as soon as possible, but it's very rare to be able to get one. They also have dorms with I think 8 beds grouped by sex (I've never stayed in the cabins or dorms but did look in once while hiking by ... may be wrong about the number of beds). These are easier to get (they hold cabins for mule riders paying several hundred $$ for one night).

And if that won't work then maybe try for the campground, especially if you are bringing camping gear down with you (some of the raft companies rent or supply free the tents and sleeping bags for half-trippers so I'm not sure if you'll have this gear). You can just eat at the dining hall and camp with minimum gear and be in good shape when the rafts arrive.

Bill
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Aug 14th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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So you will hike from the N. Rim to Phantom? I looked on a couple of websites and there is a variety of trips from Phantom. We started in Whitmore Wash, which helicopters in from Bar 10 Ranch. The lady who owns Bar 10 actually made the trip with us. She took two of her grandkids. She takes her grandkids on a trip when they turn 12. I am sure she gets a good deal, because she is a vital role in several of the rafting companies, using her lodge as an ending or starting place, plus helicopter pad, and airport. Speaking of the airport, its a doozy. chipped rocks for the runway. the runway is crooked. I believe it is totally up to the pilots on how, when, and where to land. there are no building at this airport. just a single sign. it was hilarious sight.
spirobulldog is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 04:49 PM
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One more thing, if you decide to end your trip at Bar 10. The meal is good. You have a choice of sleeping inside or on a bed that is in a covered wagon. We did the covered wagon. They horse ride and skeet shooting is included. The horse ride wasn't much. They have an additional fee for 4 wheeler ride that lasts a couple of hours. The 4 wheeler is worth doing. Their warm showers would be a very nice welcome after being on the river a few days.
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Aug 14th, 2008, 08:54 PM
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So you will hike from the N. Rim to Phantom?

Spiro, it would make more sense for them to hike from the south rim. The hike is about half as long (they'll have to carry all their gear for the raft trip and can't bring a frame pack) and it's easier to arrange transportation to the south side.

We started in Whitmore Wash, which helicopters in from Bar 10 Ranch

They want to do the smaller boats and I think most of them raft to mile 226 at Diamond Creek and then drive out on shuttle busses after deflating the rafts. On your trip you put in at mile 180 and I think most of the companies dropping people off here for Bar 10 are using the larger motorized rafts. These cannot take out at Diamond Creek because they are too big (they put them on trailers without deflating them), but must go to Lake Mead and take out there where the road is better, and because this lower part of the trip is mostly flatwater most clients get out at Bar 10 and they fly out from the airstrip (the one trip we did that used Bar 10 flew us back to Marble Canyon, near Lee's Ferry where we had our car).

So probably they will start at Phantom and end at Diamond Creek if taking the smaller oar or paddle rafts. Or take out at Bar 10 if they choose a bigger motor raft.

Bill

Bill_H is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 06:21 AM
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smaller boats ... most of them raft to mile 226 at Diamond Creek and then drive out on shuttle busses after deflating the rafts. On your trip you put in at mile 180 and I think most of the companies dropping people off here for Bar 10 are using the larger motorized rafts.

Just to correct two mistakes in my post, the Bar Ten heli-pad is at mile 188, not 180. And there are several oar/paddle raft companies offering take out at Bar Ten instead of going to Diamond Creek, so it's not just the big motorized rigs who stop at the heli-pad.

So if you're reading trip descriptions and they say they take out at mile 188 that's the heli option to the dude ranch (usually with a small plane flight back to where you started), and if they say take out is at mile 225 or 226 it's Diamond Creek on the Hualapai reservation and a bus ride out.

Bill
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Aug 15th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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I was just going by earlier post stating that they were wanting to stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge. I wasn't suggesting on which rim to hike from. I just assumed he would be hiking from the north since he was refering to Grand Canyon Lodge. Thats why i put a ????

I was just commenting on my short trip and we did see people that had been on the longer portion who all stated that they had a wonderful trip. I did notice that there are several different type of trips to and from Phantom. I only looked at oars.com website, I am assuming that all the companies have similar trips.

I am sure there are "best" ways to travel on the river, but I figure anyway on you first experience would be really good. Ours was a short one as we didn't really know what to expect. I don't know that my wife or daughter would want to do a longer one, but I probably will do it at some point. I have never hiked into the canyon, and that is high on my list as well. I would like to go rim to rim with probably a 2 day stay in Phantom. I had rather stay in the cabin that the hostel type setting, but I am sure I could make do with that as well. I am in decent shape, but I just don't know that I want to tackle a rim to rim. Would hate to get to the bottom and be shooting myself for attempting such a hike. I would also like to see Havasu Falls.
spirobulldog is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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I just assumed he would be hiking from the north since he was refering to Grand Canyon Lodge.

Probably right Spiro, I didn't even catch the name of the lodge ...
Bill_H is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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I think Canyoneers is one of the companies that offers an overnight stay at Phantom combined with a trip. It's worth looking into, because it would be much easier if you can get the reservation through the outfitter than try to book it on your own.
enzian is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 10:06 AM
  #13  
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I ment we would hike in from the South Rim. I better get that straight.
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Dec 24th, 2008, 02:33 PM
  #14  
pat
 
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We did a small boat trip a few years back. We had oar boats and a paddle boat too, plus a couple of kayaks for anyone who wanted to try it out. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. We had to make water every day, help unload the boats at night plus most of us helped with chores. We hiked down to phantom ranch to catch the boats. Some people got off there and hiked back up to go home. I`d much rather hike down. We couldn`t get a room at phantom ranch so we stayed at the lodge, at the rim. Most of the big rapids are from phantom ranch on down, so that`s the best part to raft.
pat is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Thank you, Canyonwren, for your very informative post! I've just started investigating the possibilities of doing a rafting trip through the canyon, and the link you provided to the Rivers and Oceans Travel Company looks like it may prove very helpful.
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