Without a doubt the best way to experience the Grand Canyon is a raft trip down the Colorado River. And the best way to run the river is the All-Paddle rafting trip offered by Arizona Raft Adventures (AzRA).
This summer marked my seventh trip with AzRA, and 1,000 river miles. The all-paddle trip this summer was the most fun of all the various types of trips I have been on.
Paddling the length of the Grand Canyon might seem like it would be more strenuous than you would want to get yourself into. But if you are in reasonable shape and have an adventurous spirit, it is a very rewarding experience. My fellow travelers ranged in age from 15 to 69. A third were in their 60’s and another third were in their 50’s. So this type of trip is not limited by age. Most had some experience on a raft, although none had been on a Grand Canyon trip before.
Paddling averaged about three hours in the morning and about the same in the afternoon. Most of the time you are drifting with the current and not actually paddling. The guides are experts at pacing the amount and duration of your paddling, and I don’t recall anyone saying they were exhausted at the end of the day.
What makes this type of trip rewarding is that you are actually an active partner in moving the expedition down the river, just as all the explorers that came before you have done.
Probably the best part of a paddle trip is the people you are sharing your adventure with. You are all sharing a common love of the Canyon and the joy of discovery as you progress down the river. The white water rapids are exhilarating, and conquering them together with your teammates quickly bonds the group together and makes for some lively conversation at dinner.
Occasionally a paddler will get knocked out of the boat and do a little swimming in the rapids. These people are known as the Swim Team, and have a sort of hero status in camp at the end of the day. All said they felt well prepared by the guides to safely ride it out until a boat could haul them back on board.
The all paddle trip is only offered a few times a year, so you may have to plan a year or two in advance. My wife and I have already booked a paddle trip for next summer. Maybe we will see you on the river!
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