In September 2019, my friend and I went on a road trip through Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. (For more information about this road trip, click here) While on this road trip, we of course visited the Grand Canyon National Park. How could you go to Arizona and not go to the Grand Canyon?! But, not only did we want to see it from the top like you can see in all the pictures, we kind of wanted to see it from the river too. And the best way to do that was to go rafting! Since we didn't have much time, the 14 days rafting trip through the whole Colorado River wasn't exactly a possibility, but with Hualapai River Runners, we could go rafting for a day at the West end of the Grand Canyon.
We arrived the day before in Peach Springs, Arizona, a small reserve on road 66. We were to leave early in the morning from the Hualapai Lodge, and since there was no campground in Peach Springs, we were allowed to park and spend the night in their parking lot. The lodge is beautiful and there is a restaurant and small shop where you can purchase everything you might need or have forgotten for your day of adventure, like sunscreen, watershoes, dry bags, etc.
Early in the morning, we had breakfast in the van and walked to the front desk to wait for our guide. There were about twenty of us going on this expedition that day so we all climbed on a bus for the 1-hour drive to the Colorado River. The ride wasn't exactly peaceful as it is a dirt road, but the views as we climbed down the canyon was incredible. Soon, we had made it to the end of the road where the rafts were waiting for us to board. We put on our lifejackets, put our personnal items in a barrel for safe keeping and climbed aboard. There were 6 of us in our raft, plus our guide, as we started our journey down the river.
As indicated on the website, the first few miles are rapids, small ones and medium ones, nothing to make you fall overboard, but just enough to be completely drenched and have fun! The water is freezing cold and my hands were white from holding on to the raft as hard as I could, but I don't think I had laughed that much in a long time. The whole time, our guide was telling us about the region, its climate, vegetation and history, about the Hualapai tribe and their legends and traditions, about the history of his ancestors and how they try to preserve their way of life while adapting to the 21st century.
Once we were completely drenched to the bones, it was time for our first stop on the side of the canyon. We hiked a short way through a side canyon to a beautiful waterfall where we could sit in shallow pools and take pictures or relax for a while. Then, it was time to get back on the raft and get through the last rapids before lunch.
For lunch, we stopped at a small beach. Lunch was provided and thankfully dry as we had a sandwich with our choice of juice, water or soda, chips, cookies and fruits. I probably ate way too much and it wasn't the most healthy, but after hanging on in the rapids, hiking and swimming, I was hungry! We had some time to dry off in the sun and get to know our boat mates while we ate and then it was back to the water as it was really hot in the sun. I think I put sunscreen on about four times that day and still got sunburnt.
The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising along the canyon and looking around trying to convince ourselves that we were living this for real. I think the canyon is even more impressive from the bottom. The walls somehow seem taller and the river seems narrower.
Our boat mates had also made the reservation to be helicoptered out and go to the skywalk, so in the middle of the afternoon, we left them on the side of the canyon where the helicopter would pick them up and continued our journey just the two of us and our guide. Since it was just the two of us for the remaining 10 miles, our guide let us drive the raft and decide when we wanted to stop for a swim so we had a great rest of our afternoon and definitely took advantage of the swimming and walking along the shores.
We arrived at the dock at about 7 PM and had an hour of bus ride by ourselves to head back to the lodge. Both of us were exhausted and slept almost the whole way back, but we were also very satisfied of this day on the Colorado River.
So, was this day crazy expensive and definitely not something I could afford at the time? Absolutely! Do I regret it? Absolutely not!
I think it was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy we took the opportunity. How many people can say they were in the middle or the bottom of the Grand Canyon? I would definitely recommend it or even the multiple day expedition. I would have kept going for a few more days without tiring.