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Grand Canyon Rafting - paddle, oar, or motorized


Aug 21st, 2012, 07:29 AM
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Grand Canyon Rafting - paddle, oar, or motorized

I'm in the initial planning phase of a GC rafting trip for next spring and considering either an 8d motorized or 2 week paddle or oar trip.

Price is a bit higher for the longer trek, but that's not a major concern. I can afford the time, so also not an issue. Anybody have experience with either, and a preference? I'm wondering if anyone who has done this has thought 2 weeks was too much time (repetition, roughing it, fatigue, etc), or vice versa, whether 1 week doesn't do the GC justice with all the side canyon hiking opportunities, etc.

Does a motorized trip detract from the experience? I'm looking at an early May departure. Late April if I can swing it, but not as likely.
J62 is offline  
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Aug 21st, 2012, 04:52 PM
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I have only done a short 3 days trip motorized. If I had the time(which is more an issue than money) and could swing it, then I would go for the 2 week.

Hopefully, a few others will way in on this. Maybe search for grand canyon rafting and look for comments by bill_h. He has been down several times/various ways and has a lot of advice on here.
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Aug 21st, 2012, 08:49 PM
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I've heard from numerous people in planning for a trip of my own that you want as much time in the Grand Canyon as you can get. Only one person has said to me that one week of camping was all she could handle.

I personally do not want to do any paddling. So it will be an oar boat for me. Almost booked one for late Sept but in the end just couldn't pay for it. One day!
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Aug 21st, 2012, 09:50 PM
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Haven't done the GC but have river rafted on class 4 plus rapids (Nicaragua) - where I was the lead rower - and have also looked down on the GC rafters.

You really aren't paddling per se all that much - but during the rapids - it's more like trying like hell to keep your raft in the middle of the current - away from rocks/tide pools, whirlpools, etc.

Again - it's not an extended exertion - but more like short/intense wind sprints.

A friend of mine did the Grand Canyon rapids trip - and one of the nights - they camped on an island in the middle of the river, and a thunderstorm (replete with lightning) - blew over - and he said it was the best light show he had ever seen.

Think he was on a week long trip.
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Aug 23rd, 2012, 10:19 AM
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I have heard from people on the shorter trips that they wished they had taken a longer trip. I know of a company (Arizona River Runners) that does an 8 motor trip and it encompasses the entire length of the Canyon, some 200 river miles, or a 13 day oar trip, which I hear you are closer to the water, and its does the full length of the river too. The biggest rapids are the inner gorge, Lava, Hermit, and the blue waters of the Little Colorado.
Hope you have the time of your life!!!
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Aug 23rd, 2012, 07:07 PM
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Not sure what Tomsd is trying to say, but the Colorado River through Grand Canyon has long stretches without rapids. If you were to choose a paddle trip, you would definitely be paddling through flatwater as well as rapids. Bill_H and canyonwren's posts about paddling with upstream wind in a previous thread might be of interest to you:

Most people who opt for a motorized trip seem to do so because of time and/or budget considerations. Since those aren't issues for you, I'd vote for the 2 week trip. (I'm biased, though--I chose to do a 13 day all-paddle trip, which was just right for me.) Too bad Bill_H hasn't responded, he has had first hand experience with multiple trip types.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 04:58 AM
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Here is another link to a TR that might be helpful


If you put Grand Canyon rafting in the search box you will find several threads on the topic.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 06:45 AM
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Thanks for all the input. I've contacted AZRaft as well as Rivers & Oceans. The former has slots available for the full canyon hybrid trip. Waiting for a reply from the latter to look at other options.

I was kinda looking forward to the challenge of hiking up BA trail but will save that for a rim-rim hike another time. I'm sure I'll get plenty of hiking in on the full river trek.
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Aug 29th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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If you can swing the price, there's no batter way to see the canyon than from a dory! All the benefits of a paddle trip, but the guide does all the paddling, and a dory offers the most exciting ride through the rapids of any craft on the river. OARS/Grand Canyon Dories offers both 1 week trips (either the upper or lower canyon) and a two-week trip of the full canyon (Lee's Ferry to Diamond Creek). I did the two week trip two years ago and can't recommend it highly enough!
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May 27th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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Just a quick update. I just returned from a 2 week rafting trip through the GC and it was a wonderful trip. I ended up going with AZ Raft (www.azra.com) on a hybrid oar/paddle trip. Four oar boats rowed by a guide, and one paddle boat powered by 6 passengers. We got to mix it up each day. Fantastic trip. Loved the remoteness. Cold water, hot sun, and blowing sand are all harsh, and not for everybody, but I can't wait to return and do it again!
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Years ago I took a ten day raft trip through the Grand Canyon with Grand Canyon Expeditions. The trip was magnificen and too short! Great people, great food and the first time I experienced warm rain as i hugged the side of a cliff and a sand storm I hope never to encounter again.
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Dec 21st, 2013, 04:18 PM
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We did a 16-day paddle trip, and it was incredible! Your arms get super sore around day 2, but you get used to it within a few days. You have to be in good shape, though! I'd say if you're fit and up for an adventure, the longer the better. You want to see it at the speed of the river. You won't get video like this on a motorized raft: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-ZyL...uVHVgGTteCD2Gw
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Jul 31st, 2015, 10:27 PM
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OU (Outdoors Unlimited) has really mastered the Grand Canyon. Our 12-day float down the 240+ miles of the GC was astounding, breath taking, and ultra-extraordinary. To me the GC was a 240 mile long Yosemite Valley—soaring walls on both sides of ever-changing dimensions, beauty and geology. No cells phones or computers (no coverage or electricity)—so a defacto retreat from the world of screens, alerts, and messages. OU hosts this adventure with pretty flawless execution. Our guides (Mark, Phil, Chad, and Mandella) as well as our boatmen (Will and Kevin), were experts on the rafts (river skills, people skills, geology, history) as well as off the rafts (cooking, camping, logistics, waterfall hikes, canyon hikes, rim hikes, and paddle board coaches). I suppose if you are a person that prefers motocross, and snowmobiles, and 4-wheel driving to mountain biking and back country skiing and backpacking, then you would be better served by a motor-raft than a float trip. However, if you want to experience the texture of the river, the sounds of nature, and the spectacle of sights that the GC offers, the pace and peacefulness of floating are the way to go. And, as an extra bonus and contrast, running the rapids in paddle or oar boats let’s you experience the full power and excitement of the Colorado in a much more intimate fashion.

In camp, we had many amenities that made the trip feel luxurious after a day of hiking, swimming, rafting and paddle boarding: comfortable camp chairs, astounding outdoor bathrooms, cold beer and soft drinks, thick sleeping pads, h’ors dourvres, river baths, and post-card perfect views. Our food—or should I say cuisine—was A+: Thick filets, carnitas, seared ahi, rib eyes, salmon filets, chicken fajitas with fresh salads or veggies and followed by dutch oven desserts (pineapple upside down was the favorite). Breakfasts always offered a hot meat, a hot entree, plus yogurt, granola, fresh fruit (sliced artistically) plus very good, freshly roasted, well prepared coffee (and I am a coffee snob)—half and half included! For lunch we almost always pulled ashore and rolled out the full monty of some delicious sandwich salad (tuna, hummus, crab, taco) plus a full on deli and a generous selection of cookies, dried fruit, nut butters. OU has perfected their game and they recycle the same menu on each trip so that their skill and experience with each has reached an apex that leaves little room for improvement.

I am most grateful for the solitude and time I got to spend with my bride and son and brothers and extended family. Something about being in the womb of nature with no other distractions let us be together in a way that is hard to achieve anywhere else. We made great friends with our other adventures, I think because we were all somewhat like minded and swept up in our experience on the river. I have been fortunate to visit many beautiful places, but this trip truly rises to the top in so many ways that I can only say: It is a place and an experience without comparison.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 07:20 PM
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We did the small oar raft with a tour operator. They also had paddle boats and kayak. The motorized boats are not recommended unless you are rushed. The difference is walking through the woods v taking a train through the woods.

Most treasure was that almost each day there was a hike into a canyon. Three memorable were hikes to Nankoweep ruins, Thunder River (excellent) and upstream to Havasau Falls. This is the only way to truly experience the canyon - float and walk it.

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Aug 8th, 2015, 08:52 AM
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haven't done the grand canyon but have done both motorized and paddle trips. i prefer the paddle trips. makes me feel like i'm more a "part of it". and as mnetioned, you are not paddling non-stop.
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