Grand Canyon Rafting (Colorado River)

Grand Canyon

While the formation of the Grand Canyon is highly debated by geologists, its majesty is without doubt. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon from the top and the view/feeling was simply awesome. It has since been my wish to re-visit that place again, but from a different perspective – the bottom-up view.

When it comes to touring Grand Canyon, I am spoilt for choices. I could tour on coach, helicopter, cruise and even mule. I could spend a few hours at the rim or a few days hiking/rafting in the canyon. Any of these options is sure to be mesmerizing and I was lucky enough to experience a full day rafting trip at the Colorado River during my last trip to Las Vegas. It was a marvellous adventure that I would like to share with you.

The tour started very early at 4.30am pickup at our hotel at the Las Vegas strip. We had a very chatty and friendly driver and that helped to make the long journey (three hours) seemed shorter. By 8am, we reached the Hualapai Lodge, where we were transferred to a “school” bus to take us down to the floor of the canyon.

Hualapai Lodge

Our bus to the bottom of the Canyon

Below are some views along the way, including some deserted structures that looked failed space shuttles and some wild donkeys or mules. Sorry, I really cannot tell the difference. 😉 We also stopped by a high ground for some nice views of the canyon.

Wild donkeys spotted on our way down the Grand Canyon

A nice view of Grand Canyon

On our way down to the floor of Grand Canyon

Another view

Starting point of the rafting

We started the rafting at about 9am and each raft can take upto eight people, excluding the experienced navigator. There was nothing much that we needed to do in the raft actually, except to hold onto the rails (for our dear lives). We were told that the rapids that we experienced ranged from grade four to seven (one being the easiest). The first one was a “simple” grade four rapid and by the end of it, all of us were already drenched in the freezing cold Colorado River water! It was quite an interesting experience as the weather was very hot (I guessed it was more than 35℃) and yet the water was icy-cold.

Our rafts

Rapid grade 4 (I think)

See the white box? That was our supply of water and snacks. 😉

Our footwear

Another shot of the raft

The only way is forward …

Take the front seat … if you love splashes

Rapid grade 6, I think

Drenched souls after the rapid

We rafted for an hour and conquered numerous rapids before we stopped by an island for a short hike to a mini waterfall. The above photo was taken by the official photographer, who was stationed on the island (on the left). If you are planning to take this tour, remember to sit on the left side of the raft so that you (and not your back) will be facing the camera most of the time.

All nicely docked …

More rafts

The hike to the waterfall was a rather short one (ten minutes). But it could be challenging for some, in my opinion. You had to go up borders and climb rope ladders as shown in the photos below. But I guess if you are game for rafting, then this hike shouldn’t pose any problem, right? ;-P

It was really very refreshing to be under the mini waterfall on a hot day and if time permits, I wouldn’t mind meditating under this waterfall. LOL. And by the way, if the journey to the waterfall looked daunting, the journey back was not simple either. Again, take a look at the photos below to see what I mean.

After the nice break, we continued with our adventure where we went through a few more rapids, including a grade seven. Seated second from the front, I was shielded from most of the splashes by the guy in front of me. However for the grade seven rapid, our raft was literally lifted off the river and I could feel the free falling of the raft and the pounding of the waves (from the top). In this case, I was in the worse position than my friend who was at the front seat. So I guess life is fair – You won’t get the shorter end of the stick every time. 😉

Once we were done with all the rapids, we stopped by another island for our packed sandwiched lunch. The lunch was simple but we were not complaining. In a hot day like that, all we wanted was water, especially cold ones. Coke had never tasted so good …

Our lunch stop

After lunch, we set off again on the Colorado River for another 30 minutes but it was just a leisure drift from this point onwards. We had plenty of time to get ourselves dried or rather “baked” under the hot sun and at the same time enjoying the beautiful scenery. The rock formation, texture and composition would serve as good and educational geography lessons.

View from the Colorado River

What do you see? Limestone? Sandstone? Shale? Granite? Or Schist?

West Rim, Grand Canyon

Another view of West Rim, Grand Canyon, with a glimpse of the cruise on the lower right

The helicopter was expecting us at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon at around 2.30pm and the helicopter ride back to the top of the canyon was about six minutes. After which, it was another 3 hour car journey back to our hotel. Again, we had lots of fun and laughter discussing about the regulations in different countries – We had Singaporeans, Americans and Spaniards in the van.

Our helicopter

A closer look

Take the front seat for the best view inside the helicopter


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