Raft and Camp the Grand Canyon

After our short time in Sedona, we headed further north into Arizona. Our next adventure was something we didn’t even know you could do just a month ago when we booked our vacation to the Southwest. Many people know that it is possible to raft the great Colorado in the Grand Canyon and those people also may know that it is almost impossible to do it unless you have thousands of dollars ready to spend, incredible luck and/or a lot of time. You see, in order to book a rafting trip down the Colorado river you need to book WAY in advance. In fact, for years it was always a waiting list. Some waiting lists were years long. Then, the lottery system started. So, if luck is on your side you can win the privilege to do a rafting tour. We met one guy who had been entering into the lottery for 8 years, finally after all that wait 2014 was finally his time and he won a spot for an 8 person trip. A typical rafting trip down the Colorado takes great skill and can range from 2 to 3 weeks in length. Since Dustin and I are not big plan in advance kind of travelers (one of the reasons we hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in a day was because we never planned for a permit) we found another way we could get a similar experience.

Some friends of ours had recently been to Lake Powell and rented a huge houseboat for the week to enjoy the water and views. Since we were planning only to be in the area for a day or two and it was just us we read online that you could rent kayaks/canoes and enjoy the day on Lake Powell. Somehow that reading lead to Dustin discovering that instead of spending the day on the Lake, you can actually get a boat to take you, your camping gear, and your canoe/kayak from Lee’s Ferry (where the typical rafting the Colorado trips begin) 15 miles upstream, back to Glen Canyon Dam. It is there they will drop you off on the banks of the river. It only took about 2 seconds after learning this was an option before we decided that this had to be part of our Arizona vacation. Dustin called and arranged the canoe rental as well as scheduled the back haul service. We also learned that along this part of the Colorado there are free campsites so literally along your 15 mile journey you can pull off and camp overnight for free!

We arrived to the town near Lee’s Ferry and grabbed some lunch. We had arranged our canoe rental with a small start up company called Kayak the Colorado. Joe had the canoe all loaded up on his pick-up truck for us to take down to the river. We met the back haul company about 2:30 PM and they loaded us up along with another couple from Germany that was on their honeymoon. Colorado River Discovery does daily boat tours on this part of the river leaving from the Dam. Our boat driver was surprised to learn none of us were locals, as she said most people don’t know a trip like this is even possible unless you live nearby. After about an hours boat ride we made it to the dam. She dropped us off and our adventure began. We canoed down river for the next couple of hours, the current only a couple mph. It was so incredibly beautiful and peaceful. It felt like we had the river and canyon all to ourselves. Most of the motorized boats (tours/fisherman) were finishing up for the day so the silence surrounding us was amazing. It reminded us of our Rim to Rim Grand Canyon hike  when we experienced such quietness, we both felt we could hear one another’s heart beat. We made our way through Horseshoe Bend and arrived to our overnight campground. Canoeing through this part was so awesome since most people only view Horseshoe Bend from above (we would do that the following day). We enjoyed our little campsite all to ourselves. The stars were spectacular! The next morning we made our way back on the river. Unfortunately, because of how the river is controlled by the dam, the water had lowered significantly over night and the flow rate had decreased quite a bit. We still had about 7 miles to go and let me tell you we had to work for those more than we expected. All in all it was a wonderful two days. We definitely would recommend this trip for outdoor enthusiasts interested in experiencing the Colorado river and the Grand Canyon in a truly unique way. It is good to be reminded just how beautiful our country truly is!


Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry Boat Ramp
Anxiously waiting for a back haul service up river
Glen Canyon Dam
“All dams are ugly, but the Glen Canyon Dam is sinful ugly.” – Edward Abbey
River Swim GIF
Dam cold water

Paddling down the Grand Canyon

Horseshoe Bend Hieroglyphics
Exploring for Hieroglyphics

Grand Canyon Hieroglyphics

Grand Canyon Lizard Friend

Grand Canyon Gondola Singer
A gondolier, he is not

Grand Canyon Fly Fishing

Horseshoe Bend Campground
Setting up camp just below the rim of Horseshoe Bend
I have created Fire
Slightly impressed he was able to create fire after bringing the wrong fuel for the camp stove, but I don’t remember Tom Hanks celebrating with Wine
Long Exposure I Love You
Things you come up with when you forget playing cards

Night Clouds

Milky Way

Paddle Gif
Paddle Paddle Paddle
Crazed Paddling
All the paddling is starting to get to him
Clear Colorado River
Above Lees Ferry the Colorado River is so clear
Grand Canyon Horses
Nearing the end we spotted an unexpected site
Horseshoe Bend Grand Canyon
The classic view of Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend Campground
Proud that not many get to say “I slept there last night” from this view

Horseshoe Bend Couples Pose


1 thought on “Raft and Camp the Grand Canyon

  1. I just love yall.

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