ENDS: Afternoon - Las Vegas Marriott OR Marble Canyon
Itinerary & Travel Details
In the grandest canyon of the Colorado River, experience the excitement, serenity, joy and enchanting beauty of the river as it transforms this divine chasm and those who venture down it. Go Grand Canyon rafting 187 miles in 6 or 7 days, each day descending deeper into geologic time. The Grand Canyon is ever-changing, with massive walls that step back to expose eons of natural history, at one place dark and narrow, and at another lush with waterfalls thundering hundreds of feet in luminous free fall. Daily side hikes lead you to sparkling streams, pristine pools, green fern glens, and ancient Anasazi ruins. The astounding scenery through Grand Canyon National Park is enhanced by the thrill of over 60 rapids where Western’s unique J-Rig rafts will give you maximum excitement and safety.
DAYS ONE & TWO »
Meet your crew and rafts at 7:30 AM at Marble Canyon, Arizona, a dramatic launch point on the Colorado River (options for travel and accommodations described on next page). After a short ride to the river’s edge you’ll load your duffle into a dry bag, listen to a brief orientation from your guides and set off down the river. Drift lazily, relax, and then savor lunch on a white sand beach. Mighty House Rock Rapid and the Roaring 20’s set the pace for the next several days. Visit Vasey’s Paradise, a spectacular cascade of water that supports a lush hanging garden, and Redwall Cavern, a vast chamber carved by the river. Hike breathtaking side canyons or visit ancient Anasazi granaries.
DAYS THREE & FOUR »
As you descend down through the inner-gorge you’re on your way to Hance, Horn, Granite, Hermit and Crystal…all rapids respected for their huge waves. Western’s knowledgeable guides lead short hikes to hidden Elves Chasm and to pounding Deer Creek Falls.
DAY FIVE »
Spend some time exploring the azure green waters of renowned Havasu Canyon where countless tranquil pools beckon you to find your own private piece of this water paradise or explore other possible side canyons and waterfalls throughout this section of the canyon. After dining on Western’s famous evening cuisine, capture the dazzling glow of the sun on the canyon’s towering walls before it slips into the horizon.
DAYS SIX OR SEVEN »
Vulcan’s Anvil, a volcanic cone mid-river, signals the approach of Lava Falls, the Colorado River’s most notorious rapid. Late morning, you’ll meet your helicopter that will take you over the canyon rim to Bar 10 Ranch for a shower and lunch, before your return flight to Marble Canyon or Las Vegas.
DEPARTURE: At 7:30 AM you will meet the guides, and the rest of the guests arriving from Las Vegas, at the small shade pavillion next to the airstrip across the highway from Marble Canyon Lodge. You should be dressed for the river, have your duffle bag packed, and your vehicle parked in the long-term parking area.
(Marble Canyon is 500 miles from any large cities with international airports, and lodging in Marble Canyon is very modest. Therefore, most of our guests arrive in Las Vegas and opt for the charter flight cost that brings them to Marble Canyon the morning of river trip departure).
Getting yourself to Marble Canyon, you should plan to arrive the night prior to your river trip. Arrive in time to check-in, enjoy a meal, grab last minute items at the store, and soak in the quiet sunset on the veranda...
Modest accommodations are available at the Marble Canyon Lodge and may be booked online or by calling (928) 355-2225. Mention that you are a Western River guest and request our discount. Reservations begin January 1st of the year in which you are traveling. Make reservations promptly as the property does fill. There is a restaurant on the property.
If you would rather take a 5 hour shuttle from Las Vegas, rather than the charter flight the morning of your trip, you might consider using Bar 10 Transportation Services.
Call (435) 628-4010 for reservations. The ground shuttle leaves from the Las Vegas airport the day prior to your trip. No charge for the Return Flight to Las Vegas if using Bar 10 Transportation services at the beginning of the trip. You MUST advise Western River Expeditions if you wish to use this service.
Long term parking at Marble Canyon Lodge is free, and is located across the street from the Lodge, near the airstrip. Take care that anything you leave in the vehicle will be subject to extreme Arizona temperatures, often exceeding 100° degrees (ie. electronics, chap stick, chocolate bars, soda cans). Marble Canyon Lodge will not store anything for you, including car keys. Either pack them safely in your duffle bag, or remember which rock you hide them under!
500 Miles from Nowhere
Fifteen minutes on the veranda watching the sun sink low and the world go by in this one-of-a-kind location might be all you need to change your life.
Things to do in Marble Canyon Area
Marble Canyon Book Store (Plan 5 min) »
This is a place you will naturally take advantage of when you check-in and wander around, but don't overlook the reading area they have provided. The library of books available here is fairly unique - not that you can't find them anywhere else online, etc. but the topics and titles you'll find there are so uniquely engrained into the area that you will find inspiration in just a casual browsing. Don't forget that you will be back here AFTER your river trip and you may have a whole new perspective on the contents of those books.
This should only take about 5 to 10 minutes.
Navajo Bridge (Plan 15 min) »
Want a sneak peek of the canyon you'll be traveling by river the next morning? A very short drive south from Marble Canyon Lodge you will find the highway crossing over Marble Canyon itself - about 800 feet below. No doubt you will want to slow down and get a good look, so continue to the south side parking lot where you can get out and stroll easily on Navajo Bridge.
Look for: (1) California Condors re-introduced to the area in 1996. (2) Boats and rafts drifting below. Most pass by before lunchtime. (3) Observe the narrowness of the bridge you are walking on... Imagine cars and semi-trucks passing on this narrowly constructed bridge. Marble Canyon Bridge was built in 1995 to alleviate modern traffic flow - and now you get to walk Navajo Bridge, built in 1929. (4) The south rim is Navajo Indian Reservation where they sell native crafts. The north rim is federal with a visitor center/bookstore.
This should only take about 15 minutes.
Lee's Ferry (Plan 1.5 hrs) »
Drive down a seven mile paved road from Marble Canyon leads to Lee's Ferry. It's a dead end as far as the road goes, but it is a place of confluence for many wonderful comings and goings beyond the road. Fishermen cruise 15 miles upstream to the dam at Lake Powell, tour groups drift down from the dam, and EVERY river trip ever taken through the 277 miles of Grand Canyon has begun right there at Lee's Ferry. You may see boats rigging for their turn to launch the next day.
Look for: (1) The view of the Vermillion Cliffs from the river's edge, looking downstream is fairly unique among the many spectacular views you'll be seeing on your trip, so soak that up. (2) Lee's Ferry was the only crossing for 500 miles until Navajo Bridge was built in 1929. Look for the dirt road on the far bank, leading downstream. (3) The rock layers you see all around you at Lee's Ferry are much younger (Jurassic & Triassic) than the ones you'll slice through in the Grand Canyon. (4) Take the time to read the various historical and interpretive signs.
The drive to Lee's Ferry should only take about 10 minutes, but you'll want some time to look around. Plan on about an hour or so.
Lonely Dell Ranch (Plan 30 min) »
If you have half an hour before leaving the Lee's Ferry area, you may want to hang a right hand turn (on your way out) and drive a short distance toward Lonely Dell. Park at the gate and then walk amongst the orchards and historic cabins of John D. Lee and his several wives who established the ferry and homestead beginning in 1873.
Plan on about 30 minutes looking around here. It's a short drive from Lee's Ferry.
Use this weather forecast only as a general guide. As your trip will span miles of river, this forecast from the nearest major weather station may not be indicative of the entire region where your trip will take place. Weather in the canyon may vary greatly from any specific forecast.
The Expedition Guide for each trip contains the packing list, and most of the info seen on this page. Combine the "offline" handiness of the Expedition Guide with the online resources of this travel planning page.
Keep the PDF on your phone, or print it out for quick "offline" reference.
How to Pack for your Grand Canyon Rafting Vacation
Get a better idea of each of the items on your Cataract Canyon Express packing list. See an example of each item and understand why we recommend you pack it for the river.
Packing the Best Camera for Rafting
Choosing the right camera for whitewater rafting is an important decision. With so many options out there, we discuss the pros and cons of the more common cameras we see on the river.
Do you REALLY need "Quality" Rain Gear?
Western River Expeditions sent two of our intrepid guides to answer the question once and for all: "What is Quality Rain Gear and Why Do I Need it?"
See how we pack for a Grand Canyon Rafting Trip
What does it take to host a party for up to 28 people for more than a week through 277 miles of the Grand Canyon on a massive inflatable raft?
(Note: the video shows how we pack the rafts for the entire 277 miles of Grand Canyon)
The Morning of Your Rafting Trip
Check out of your accommodations & eat a good breakfast
Meet at the airstrip pavillion at designated time
Check Confirmation for exact departure time
Come dressed and ready to raft (see diagram on Packing List)
Items Provided by Western River Expeditions
Transportation to Boulder Terminal from Las Vegas Marriott
Charter flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon & return from Bar 10 Ranch
Motor coach return from Boulder Terminal to Las Vegas
Professional, licensed guides
All meals between trip departure and return
All eating utensils and souvenir insulated bottle
Unlimited water and lemonade
Freshly laundered sleeping bag and sheet
Cot (28” x 74”)
Tent and ground cover
Water-resistant dry bag for sleeping gear and personal duffle bag
US Coastguard approved whitewater life jackets
Wilderness First-Aid kit
Get the Gear with Redrock Outfitters
Through several decades of experience on the river, Western knows what clothing and gear will keep you smiling every second of your adventure. Specifically, we’ve bundled “The Works” for him, for her and one for gear in general. Get a FREE item with a “Works” purchase. For your convenience, you can order all these items online with Western’s retail division Red Rock Outfitters.
Things to Bring on the River
Duffle bag (approx. 12”x13”x24”), packed with personal items outlined on the packing list
Extra drinks, if desired. Water and low-calorie lemonade are available in unlimited quantities on the boats, and in camp. Western does not provide beer, liquor, or soda pop. Each guest may bring one case (24) of additional canned beverages. For guests flying on the charter flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon, all beverages other than hard liquors can be purchased after your flight at the Service Station/Convenience Store across the street from the airstrip at Marble Canyon Lodge. Beer and boxed wine are usually available. Hard liquor is not available at the Marble Canyon Lodge, and must be purchased in Las Vegas before your flight. Liquor will be included in the 25 lbs limit per person or there will be $15 charge. TSA regulations require that liquor be under 140 proof and stored in the original container. Glass containers of liquor may be stored in a protected place on the boats, but glass containers of beer and soda are not allowed.
Extra snacks, if desired. (Snacks will be provided during the trip)
Photo ID, a major credit card, and cash for gratuities.
Camera(s) - Phones as cameras in waterproof cases/sleeves (Cell service unavailable)
Things NOT to bring on the River
Car keys can be left at your hotel front desk, or with stored luggage while away
Unnecessary electronic devices (game devices for kids, etc.)
You will want to have photo ID, a major credit card, and some cash for gratuities. All other valuables and jewelry should be left at home or in a safety deposit box at your hotel. In addition, as a safety precaution we suggest that you not wear rings on the river. Also, each year a few of our guests traveling on airlines arrive without luggage. With this in mind, we suggest you carry with you medications, prescription glasses, and anything you may not be able to replace the evening before your trip departs.
Transfer all your personal clothing and gear which you will need on your rafting trip to a small, lightweight duffle bag. Identify duffle bag with label, and leave any extra suitcases or luggage in your vehicle or at the hotel. Please DO NOT BRING SUITCASES on your river trip. As part of your camping equipment package, we provide a water-resistant bag in which you will place your duffle bag as well as the sleeping bag that we provide.
Post-Trip Travel Information »
Your river trip ends at Whitmore Wash (mile 187) mid-morning on the last day. You'll bid farewell to your guides and board a helicopter to exit the canyon. A scenic 10-minute helicopter ride will take you from the river to Bar 10 Ranch on the rim of Grand Canyon. At Bar 10 Ranch you will have the opportunity to shower and have a light lunch before boarding the aircraft for your flight to Las Vegas or Marble Canyon - destination must be pre-determined (return flight is included in the trip cost – original picture I.D. is required for guests 18 and older). You will return to Las Vegas or Marble Canyon by about 3:00 PM. (Please inform us prior to your trip if your return plans change for any reason).
Western's J-Rig Raft
Named after Western’s founder, Jack Currey, the “J-Rig” is a patented craft offering the most flexible and comfortable ride on the river. If you’re a thrill seeker, you can sit up front where the waves hit hardest, or ride aft for more protection. There are plenty of calm sections along the river where you can move freely around the boat and trade seating positions throughout the trip.
General Information & FAQS
A Typical Day on the River
After meeting your guides you will be given a trip orientation that will include how and where you can sit on the rafts, how to hold on, and safety precautions while on the river.
A typical day will include rafting for a few hours at a time, stopping for scenic side-canyon hikes, bathroom breaks, and lunch. Visiting with new-found friends and learning river lore and geology from our well-trained guides add to the enjoyment of each day.
After a full day of learning and fun we arrive in camp. Guests will be allowed to find their favorite campsite and then return to the rafts for the famous “fire line” - the way we load and unload rafts. Your help in passing the gear off the boat is greatly appreciated; however, if you have physical restrictions or limitations that would prohibit you from participating you are not required to help.
The first evening in camp, the guides will give a demonstration on how to easily assemble the cots and tents and will be available to help you if you need additional assistance. Western River provides cots, tents, sleeping bags, sheets, camp chair and water-proof gear bags for all guests. You’ll have no need to worry about bringing any of your own camping equipment.
While you relax at the river’s edge, your guides will prepare dinner. Every night is different, but the menu may include items such as grilled chicken breast, steak with sautéed onions, pasta or fresh fish.
At night, whether you choose to sleep in your tent or under the vast canopy of stars, the fresh night air and the rhythm of the river will lull you to sleep.
Each morning, your guides will prepare a delicious breakfast. You’ll have a chance to enjoy eating before returning to your campsite to take down your tent and cot and pack up your belongings in your dry bag. After bringing your bag down to the boats, guests participate in the fire line once again and you are off on another fun-filled day of adventure.
Rafting vs Other Vacations
The setting and pace of a rafting adventure gives you something you don’t find in other vacations. On a Western River Expedition, you will quickly discover why so many are calling this “the best vacation of their lives.” It’s the combination of drifting over tranquil pools of water under the shadows of towering rock formations, the exhilaration and thrill of rolling waves and crashing whitewater, the exploration of seldom-seen waterfalls and Native American history, the peaceful moments of reflection as you gaze up at the star-studded sky and the fresh feeling of renewal as the morning sun slowly filters through winding canyons. All this provides an indescribable sense of belonging. A sense of oneness with yourself and those around you. A sense of adventure, reflection and renewal. Come discover the difference.
Physical Requirements & Dietary Restrictions
Please consider carefully any medical or health condition that would endanger yourself, or others on the trip, or diminish the enjoyment of an adventure vacation such as this. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remote distances from a hospital, and physical challenges of a rafting adventure. It is critical that you are in reasonable health and physical fitness at the time of departure so that our staff can focus their attention equally on all trip participants. If you are taking any medications, we should be made aware of these and what these medications are treating. If you have any questions or concerns please talk with us and we can help you consider your options.
Fit into our Type 5 Life Jacket (maximum chest size is 52”and minimum weight is 50 pounds) required by the National Park Service.
Each guest wears a lifejacket and they are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent. The lifejackets we supply are certified by the United States Coast Guard and are approved for use by our managing agencies (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management & Utah State Parks & Recreation). They are classified as “Type V Whitewater” jackets, and they come in two basic sizes “Youth” and “Adult Universal.”
Youth lifejackets fit those weighing between 50 and 90 pounds (23-41kg). An Adult Universal Jacket is rated “for persons weighing more than 90 pounds (41kg).” They are highly adjustable and fit a range of chest sizes from 30 - 52 inches (76-132 cm). Body shape can also affect the proper fit of the jacket. If you are unsure, call and speak with us. If unsure, we’ll mail you one of our jackets and you can try it on.
Securely grip ropes provided for handholds while running the rapids.
Gripping the ropes on the raft is the only way to ensure you stay on board. Factors such as where you sit in the raft in relation to where the waves crash can be a factor, but whitewater rafting can give an unpredictable ride.
Falling off a boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore. If you end up on shore, you will need to traverse a rocky shoreline to rejoin the boat which cannot maneuver upstream.
For those participants who have heart conditions or who are very overweight, falling into the river also presents the possibility of a “cold-water immersion heart attack.” This is caused when the person swimming cannot calm his/her breathing within a reasonable amount of time (generally 60 seconds).
Traverse and navigate uneven terrain over sand and rocks on hikes and in camp.
Getting on and off the boats can be very challenging. We park the boats against a variety of terrain such as rocks, steep sandy beaches, and flat locations. Boats may also be slippery.
As we travel down river, we make occasional stops to lead “side hikes” which can be either very short and relatively easy, or much longer, covering significant distances and elevation. We hike over uneven, rocky, and often steep surfaces. Though all the hikes are not mandatory, Guests cannot be left on the rafts due to safety concerns. Reasonable mobility is important. If you have questions about your limitations, please call.
In camp, you will need to have the same mobility over uneven terrain, and be able to carry your personal bags to your campsite while doing so. Also, keep in mind that paths from your campsite to the toilet facilities would not be classified as “easy” to navigate at night.
We camp and eat lunch on sandy beaches and on areas where the ground is mostly dirt and rocks. You must also be capable of safely walking across slippery, rocky, and sandy areas as you climb on and off the boat and walk along the beach to your personally selected campsite at night.
Carry your own dry bag which will include your 20-pound duffle bag along with the sleeping bag and ground cover we provide.
Guests are required to carry their own waterproof bags with personal gear and the additional 15 pounds of camping gear (cots & tents) to their individual campsite. This can be very difficult for some guests due to the uneven terrain, deep sand, and steep beaches.
A river trip is a participatory experience and requires each guest to be reasonably self-sufficient. Our guides will look after the safety and welfare of all the participants on the trip, but you are also responsible for your own safety! Our guides will provide you with the information and tools you need to participate; however, they already fill nearly every minute of their day performing their duties on behalf of the group. They will not be able to devote a lot of extra time to any one individual on the trip.
The nature of an outdoor adventure includes exposure to weather conditions such as heat, sun, wind or rain - sometimes in the extreme. With proper preparation procedures such as applying sunscreen, wearing the right clothing, etc., many of these factors of weather (even in the extreme) can be mitigated, and do not have to be a negative factor. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remoteness, and physical requirements of a rafting adventure.
REMOTE LOCATIONS:Our trips are operated in the “backcountry.” At any given time, you will be a minimum of several hours away from medical help. Our guides are all trained in wilderness first aid and some have even higher levels of emergency response training (e.g., EMT), however, sometimes injuries or the aggravation of pre-existing medical conditions are severe enough to require evacuation from the trip. We carry satellite phones but they are not 100 percent reliable in all locations. Most evacuations require transportation via helicopter which presents many challenges such as appropriate landing zones, inclement weather, darkness, or delays.
Payment & Cancellation Policies
Paying your balance
Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and may be paid by check (preferably) or credit card. We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not collected by the due date.
Cancellation & refunds
The cancellation policy applies at the time of deposit. Details regarding cancellations and travel changes for each trip can be found at WesternRiver.com or on your reservation confirmation. If you must cancel any reservation, the cancellation policy applies in every instance and there will be no exceptions for any reason. Western will not issue any refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. Western River Expeditions is not responsible for any expenses incurred in preparation for any cancelled trips or for costs incurred due to travel delays, flight cancellations, or illness. If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you may find information about cancellation coverage and policy details at: westernriver.com/cancellation
If you have additional questions, our friendly staff is available Monday – Friday from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM Mountain Time.