How You Can Raft the Grand Canyon for Just One Day

(Check out the Beginner’s Guide for more basic rafting information)

Some companies offer day-trips on the Colorado River. The guides will take you rafting for 1 day (Or a “half-day”), and provide round-trip transportation from places like the South Rim.

Only one of these tours is actually in the Grand Canyon. The rest are still awesome, popular trips that offer a “Grand Canyon” experience. Of course a longer trip through the heart of the Canyon is ideal, but maybe you just don’t have the time or budget… (Right? This stuff is expensive!).

Maybe you just don’t like the sound of the words “white water” and “rapid.” Then you’re in the right place, because the smooth water float is just for you – family friendly and smooth as butter.

The Smooth Water Day Trip at Glen Canyon

1 day rafting
motorized rafts at the bottom of Glen Canyon Dam

The 1-day float trip starts at the Glen Canyon Dam and ends at Lees Ferry (River mile zero). It’s a motor trip offered by Colorado River Discovery. They bill this as a half day trip, but with the added transportation options from the South Rim, it’s often more like a full day activity.

These trips operate from March through November, based out of Page, Arizona. Some of the highlights include stopping to view ancient rock art petroglyphs, and floating through the scene of the famous Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend, as seen of from the popular overlook near Page, AZ

Rafting in a day from the South Rim

Page can be an out-of-the-way destination from the South Rim. As a result, the following guides offer an air tour, rafting trip, and in some cases a hiking/jeep tour… all wrapped into one amazing, full day!

Such great awesomeness is available through Grand Canyon Airlines or Papillon Helicopters.

They fly you over the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to Page. After landing, the first stop is the exquisitely beautiful Antelope Canyon. It’s one of the most-photographed places in Northern Arizona. Next they’ll set you off on the river trip, and finally return you to the South Rim via bus through Arizona’s Painted Desert.

I think this is the most dynamic, amazing day tour available at the South Rim. The age limit of 4 years old makes it a great option for a family vacation.

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

The Hualapai White Water

The Hualapai River Runners offer the only one-day, whitewater rafting trip that’s legitimately in the Grand Canyon. They provide round-trip transportation for the day, beginning and ending in Peach Springs, Arizona. Peach Springs is located roughly halfway between the South Rim and Las Vegas, on historic Route 66.

This is a motor ride that’s available from March through October. The put-in is at Diamond Creek, and they take out with a six-minute helicopter flight that lands you in Grand Canyon West.

You run a few notable whitewater rapids (Like the Killer Fang!), stop at a waterfall, and take in some history at Separation Canyon.

Personally I don’t like to promote the Hualapai Tribe’s operations. They exploit the Canyon and strictly forbid hikers from “trespassing” on their slice of the wilderness… but people really seem to have a lot of fun on this trip.

The cost for their rafting trip in 2013 was $382 per person.

The Black Canyon below Hoover Dam (Las Vegas)

A few of the Grand Canyon tour guides use Black Canyon Adventures as a day trip option, so it’s worth a mention here. This is much more of a “Vegas” river adventure, since the float trip begins below Hoover Dam… far beyond the end of Grand Canyon at Lake Mead.

This is a smooth water motor trip.

Some of the air companies bill it as a “Grand Canyon” tour from Vegas. They fly you to the airport in Boulder (Nevada), turn you over to the river trip, and return you to Vegas. Some may wrap up the package with an air tour that’s genuinely over a part of the Grand Canyon.

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
$534 per person, but pricing booked online usually drops to around $420.

Maverick Helicopters
$584

Grand Canyon Helicopters
$554 and includes a champagne toast!