Almost 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. However less than 1% of those people see the bottom of the canyon. Spending a day rafting the Colorado River provides a much deeper Grand Canyon experience. The question to answer is which one day Grand Canyon rafting trip is best for you. The main rafting options in or near Grand Canyon are the Hualapai River Runners whitewater trip, the Glen Canyon flatwater tour and the Black Canyon smooth water trip. While only one of these trips is in the actual Grand Canyon, the other two options provide a similar experience with easier access and a lower cost.
In addition there is the Grand Canyon Fly n’Float tour that flies people from Las Vegas by small plane to western Grand Canyon and helicopters them into the canyon for a short scenic pontoon boat tour of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.
One Day Hualapai Whitewater Rafting
The Hualapai River Runners 1-day rafting trips meet and end in Peach Springs, Arizona on Historic Route 66. The Hualapai tribe have exclusive access to run this, the only true one day Grand Canyon rafting trip. As a bonus this motorized trip also has fun whitewater (Killer Fang Falls being the highlight rapid) and the option for a helicopter ride out of the canyon. Those that take the helicopter lift also have the option to visit the Skywalk within Grand Canyon West on their way back to Peach Springs.
The trip runs March through October. Monsoon seasons trips in July and August can be cancelled when the road to put-in at Diamond Creek washes out during a rain storm and the Hualapai are unable to regrade the road before the next trip.
Many Las Vegas tourists make the 2.5 hour trek to Peach Springs for this trip. The Hualapai also provide lodging options in Peach Springs for around $140/night (as of 9/2021). Hualapai rafting trips costs $360 per person with the helicopter ride being an extra $139.
Map: Las Vegas to Hualapai River Runners in Peach Springs
Smooth Water Rafting One Day Trips
The float trip through Glen Canyon’s Horseshoe Bend provides a dramatic experience similar to Grand Canyon and is perfect for people who want to spend a 1/2 day rafting without whitewater or rapids. The trip starts at the base of Glen Canyon Dam (below Lake Powell) and continues down to Lees Ferry which is the start of Grand Canyon National Park and the launch point for many multi-day rafting trips through Grand Canyon.
The best smooth water option is a self-guided kayak trip that uses a back haul service to take you from Lees Ferry upstream to the base of Glen Canyon Dam. Those wanting a shorter day can get dropped off farther downstream from the dam. The trip can be done in 1/2, 1, or 2 days and costs around $110 per person with the kayak rental. Kids must be at least 5 years old.
Video: Smooth Water Kayaking Tour
Day Tour Meeting Location
The kayaking tours meet and end at Lee’s Ferry, the start of the Grand Canyon. The rafting trips run out of Page, Arizona. Both trips operate from March through November. Page is right next to Lake Powell making the float trip an easy addition to Lake Powell vacations. Both Lee’s Ferry and Page are a little over a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada for those looking to fly into the area.
There is an all-inclusive bus tour that takes you directly from the South Rim of Grand Canyon to the river rafting float.
Map: Las Vegas to Float Trip Meeting Spot in Page, Arizona
A Day of Rafting from Grand Canyon South Rim
From South Rim you can be driven to Page, AZ to go smooth water rafting through Horseshoe Bend by hopping on a bus from Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines. Round trip the bus ride and motorized float trip takes a little over 12 hours. The bus even picks you up and drops you off at your hotel.
Covid put a big wrench in the flights that used to run from the South Rim to Page. No date for re-starting this option is currently known.
Black Canyon 1-Day Rafting at Hoover Dam
The Colorado River below Hoover Dam provides a nice one-day rafting float trip that operates year round. Black Canyon trips fill up do being 1 hour from Las Vegas, Nevada. While not part of Grand Canyon, Black Canyon provides memorable scenery during the 3 hours spent on the water. The trip launches below Hoover Dam and ends in Willow Beach Arizona. In total, the day of rafting takes around 6 hours door-to-door.
The Black Canyon tour costs $115 per person.
Nearby Family Float 1/2 Day Trip
The Verde River near Clarkdale, AZ provides a fun 3 hour float in sit-on-top kayaks. The river contains small splashy rapids under the shade of large trees. Most trips see a train roll by along the far bank. The trip spends 2.5 hours on the water and kids 5 and older can participate. These budget friendly tours costs $100/adult and $80/child (5 – 12 years old).
Best Grand Canyon Rafting Option for One Day
Seeing the Grand Canyon from the Colorado River provides an unforgettable experience. The best option is the Hualapai River Runners whitewater rafting trip since it is in Grand Canyon. However, the flatwater trips through Black Canyon and Glen Canyon contain similar eye-popping scenery. The scenic Verde River is nothing like the Grand Canyon but it is in the area as well as close to popular Sedona, AZ making another fun outing.