Lodging near Groveland, California

For those of you rafting on the beautiful Tuolumne River, you’ll be staying near the nice town of Groveland. This is a small town in the Sierra Foothills with shops, a grocery store, several nice places for lodging, and some interesting restaurant choices.

Most people associate a trip down the Tuolumne with a visit to the Iron Door Saloon, the oldest continuously open bar in California. At “The Door” you’ll be able to throw dollars at the ceiling, dance with a member of the opposite (or same) sex missing teeth, play pool, and/or try a “woo-woo.”

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Lodging

There are several very diverse places to stay in Groveland. They are all within walking distance of the Iron Door and restaurants.

Hotel Charlotte – This place is a great value with clean rooms and breakfast included. There are several types of rooms available in this charming place and most people will opt for the special double that includes breakfast and tax.

Condo Charlotte – The condo sleeps up to 6 people. Rates include a pancake buffet breakfast at the Hotel Charlotte. Requires 2 night minimum. This flexibility allows folks to do their pre-trip stay here, take a night off on the river and then return to the condo for their outbound night, or stay a few more nights to take in Yosemite and Gold Country

Groveland Hotel This historic place has beautiful rooms and is full of history. It is the most expensive place in town, but is worth it if you like 1800’s charm, a historic experience, and teddy bears on your beds. The owners are also directly involved in the day to day operation which makes for a pleasurable experience.

Groveland Motel – You should stay here if you are looking for a bargain. You can rent a semi-clean room, a mobile home, or a teepee.

Sunset Inn – Only two miles from the Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park, the three Sunset Inn Yosemite Cabins are also convenient to Groveland and rafting on the Tuolumne River. They are secluded, beautifully decorated, and sit on gorgeous property.

Yosemite Log Cabin – If you are looking to stay in a vacation home, then you’ve hit the jackpot. This stunning 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom log cabin is fully furnished, complete with an entertainment center, large deck, outdoor dining area with a bbq, and laundry facilities. Close to Yosemite as well as Groveland, this splurge is worth every penny.

Yosemite Westgate Motel – This place is about eight miles from Groveland towards Yosemite and almost always has rooms available. It’s a nice place if you are looking to get away from it all and would like hiking trails close by.

Restaurants

Cocina Micohacana – This is the choice for 9 out of 10 river guides and is well worth the wait for great authentic Mexican food. You’ll find this place in downtown Groveland.

Iron Door Saloon The Iron Door Saloon has an attached restaurant that has great food at a reasonable price.

Groveland Hotel If you are looking for fine dining in Groveland, look no further. The Groveland Hotel has great food and great service in a nice atmosphere.

The Cafe Charlotte is a hit with the locals with a reputation for good food, fairly priced served in a comforatable and friendly atmosphere.

Camping

Pine Mountain Lake Campground This is an interesting place not very far from civilization. There is room for RV’s here as well as bathrooms and fire pits.

Forest Service Campgrounds There are tons of developed campgrounds in the area. Go to the Forest Service web site to learn more about the sites and their amenities.

Add a LinkDisclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.
 

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Trinity River – Pigeon Point Run

Difficulty: Class III (one IV-)
Length: 5.7 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 4000 cfs
Gradient: 24 ft/mi
Put-in: Pigeon Point Campground
Take-out: Big Flat
Season: Year Around
The Pigeon Point run of the Trinity river is a fun Class III day trip that follows Highway 299 in a forested canyon. This is a great intermediate rafting run with a few challenging rapids in the mix.
The first few miles include several Class II and III rapids including Z Drop, a technical rapid that requires some tight maneuvering. The highlight of the trip is the Class IV- Hell Hole Rapid, which is a vertical drop into a hole at lower flows and a huge hole at higher flows. Below here are the Class III rapids Sailor’s Bar, Triple Drop, and Fish Tail.

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If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s Trinity River below Pigeon Point description.
Take a look at allaboutrivers.com for more information on the Trinity.
Directions
To reach Pigeon Point Campground (put-in): Find Highway 299 which is a National Scenic Byway and a fun drive. If you’re coming from Redding, drive about 60 miles west until you see signs for Pigeon Point campground on the left. If you’re coming from Eureka, drive six miles past the metropolis of Big Flat (take-out) and look for the campground on the left.
To Big Flat (take-out): Big Flat is a small group of buildings and trailers six miles west of Pigeon Point Campground on Highway 299.
Outfitters
Birch Circle
Living Waters Recreation
Redwoods & Rivers
River and Rock Adventures
River Dancers
Rubicon Whitewater Adventures
Trinity River Rafting
Turtle River Rafting Company
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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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California Rafting Outfitters

Raft Entering Stern Rapid on the Tuolumne River in CaliforniaThere are an amazing number of rafting outfitters in the state of California. Most are “mom and pop” companies that provide personal service and smaller sized trips. Some outfitters are large corporations focused on larger sized trips that run many different rivers. Each river company also hires guides that have varied style and personality.

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The outfitters provide the river permits, insurance, equipment, trained guides, and shuttles. Most are in the rafting business because they love river rafting and running trips.

Featured Outfitter

 

Featured Outfitter

Action Whitewater Adventures (AWA)

Adventure Connection (AC)

All-Outdoors (AO)

American River Recreation (ARR)

American River Touring Association (ARTA)

American Whitewater Expeditions (AWE)

Beyond Limits (BL

Bio Bio Expeditions (BIO)

California Canoe and Kayak (CCK)

Current Adventures Kayak School (CA)

Earthtrek Expeditions (ET)

Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC)

Kern River Outfitters (KRO)

Kern River Tours (KRT)

Klamath River Outfitters (KRO)

Living Waters Recreation (LWR)

Mariah Wilderness Expeditions (ME)

Momentum River Expeditions (MRE)

Mother Lode River Center (ML)

Outdoor Adventure River Specialists (OARS)

Outdoor Adventures, UC Davis (OAUCD)

Peak Adventures (PA)

River and Rock Adventures (RRA)

Redwoods & Rivers (RR)

River Dancers (RD)

River Runners (RR)

Rock-N-Water (RW)

Rogue Klamath River Adventures (RKRA)

Rubicon Whitewater Adventures (RWA)

Tahoe Whitewater Tours (TWT)

Tributary Whitewater Tours (TWT

Turtle River Rafting Company (TRR)

W.E.T. River Trips (WET)

Whitewater Connection (WC)

Whitewater Excitement (WE)

Zephyr Whitewater (ZW)

 

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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River Classification System

International Scale of River Difficulty as defined by American Whitewater

Class I (easy): Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. The river has few obstructions which are all obvious and easily missed with little training. The risk to swimmers is slight and self-rescue is easy.

Class 2 Rapid on Rancheria Creek in CaliforniaClass II (novice): Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+.”

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class III rapid on the Smith River in CaliforniaClass III (intermediate): Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required. Large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on larger volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare and self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class III-” or “Class III+” respectively.

Class IV Rapid on the MIddle Fork of the SmithClass IV (advanced): Intense and powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. The rapids may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast and reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require mandatory moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting is usually necessary the first time down. The risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential and requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended for kayakers. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated as “Class IV-” or “Class IV+” respectively.

class V rapid Lewis's Leap on Cherry CreekClass V (expert): Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Rapids may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. The eddies that exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. More difficult Class V rapids may combine several of these factors. Scouting is recommended and may be difficult. Swims are dangerous and rescue is often difficult even for teams of experts. Proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential. There is a large range of difficulty that exists beyond Class IV which makes the difficulty of Class V rapids very diverse.

class VI rapid on the South Fork of the PayetteClass VI (extreme and exploratory): These rapids have rarely been attempted and exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability, and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. These rapids are for teams of experts at favorable water levels. After a Class VI rapid has been run successfully several times, its rating may be changed to Class V.

Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting the Kings River

Difficulty: Class III
Length: 9.5 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 8000 cfs
Gradient: 35 ft/mi
Put-in: Garnet Dike Campground
Take-out: Kirch Flat Campground
Season: April – July

The Kings River is a great one day big water rafting trip in California. It’s high elevation snow pack allows it to be run (without and upstream dam) well into the summer and provides a big water runoff during the peak snow melt. This is one of the few rivers in California in which you can experience a Class III river and true big water.

You’ll put in near the Garnet Dike Campground and quickly run Banzai, the most difficult rapid. This Class III+ rapid has big holes at all flows. Other Class III rapids to note are Mule Rock, Fang Tooth, Sidewinder, and Ranch Rapid. You’ll probably want to take out about a mile past a concrete bridge at the Garnet Dike Campground on the right.

This is a great river for beginners and seasoned experts alike due to the big fun rapids, plentiful campgrounds, good river access, easy shuttles, and fun atmosphere.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s Main Kings River description.

Go to allaboutrivers.com for more information on the Kings River.

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Directions

To reach Kirch Flat Campground (take-out): Find the growing metropolis of Fresno in the Central Valley of California. From Fresno take Highway 180 east 18 miles to the town of Centerville. Hang a left on Trimmer Springs Road and follow it along Pine Flat Reservoir. After you pass the reservoir start looking for signs to Kirch Flat Campground.

To reach Garnet Dike Campground (put-in): From Kirch Flat Campground get yourself back on Trimmer Springs Road and head further up the river about ten miles to Garnet Dike Campground.

Outfitters

Kings River Expeditions

Mariah Wilderness Expeditions

Whitewater Voyages

Zephyr Whitewater

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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pictures

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Rafting the East Fork of the Carson

Difficulty: Class II
Length: 20.4 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 4000 cfs
Gradient: 25 ft/mi
Put-in: Hangman’s Bridge
Take-out: Ruhenstroth Dam
Season: Spring Runoff

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The East Carson is one of the few raftable rivers that flows down the steep east side of the Sierra. It drops quickly from its origins near Sonora pass and through the Carson-Iceburg Wilderness, before it passes by the charming town of Markleville where most rafters throw their rubber (or plastic) on it for a scenic float. This trip has many Class I and II rapids that are fun for beginners. Expert rafter types find the rapids boring but make the drive over the Sierra each year to take in the hot springs and pleasant scenery with family and friends.

If you start a trip early in the season you’ll encounter cold weather and majestic views of snow covered peaks. During the late spring and early summer the weather is great and the flows are usually high.

This run consists mainly of continuous Class I and II rapids with some swift current. The one rapid of note is Sidewinder which is a s-turn affair that will scare those of you in innertubes and open canoes. If you’re a Class IV boater you probably won’t want to embarass youself by scouting it. Just past Sidewinder is a hot spring pool that flows over rock into the river.

About half way down the river you’ll enter Nevada which means that there won’t be any take-out tax. If this is your first time in Nevada, welcome. After entering the Silver State you paddle through Horseshoe Canyon and then to take out.

Warning grafitti on the rocks will let you know that there is a dangerous diversion dam ahead and that you should pull over on the right. The grafitti heeds very solid advice. Be careful here as running the dam would not be a smooth end to your (or any) trip.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s East Fork Carson description.

Directions

To Hangman’s Bridge on Highway 89 (put-in): Most people from California will get themselves on Highway 88 and drive over the Sierra by Kirkwood Ski and Summer Resort. Once you get to the charming town of Woodfords take a right on Highway 89. You’ll soon drive over Hangman’s Bridge after passing Markleevile.

To Ruhenstroth Dam (take-out): From put-in, head back to Highway 88 on Highway 89. Once you get to Woodfords take a right on to Highway 88 so that you’re headed east. Follow Highway 88 for about 14 miles and take a right on Highway 395. Five miles south of Gardnervile just past the Lahontan Fish hatchery bust a right onto a dirt road. Drive about a mile up the dirt road to a BLM parking lot next to a big broken dam. It’s worth a few minutes of your time to scout the area carfully so that you know when you’re coming up on the dam.

This is one of those trips in which most people hire a shuttle driver or two in order to save time and help support the local economy. Contact Family Shuttle Service at 530-694-2966 or River Rat Shuttle Service at 530-694-2448 for more information.

Outfitters

American River Recreation

River and Rock Adventures

Rubicon Whitewater Adventures

Sunshine River Adventures

Tributary Whitewater Tours

WET River Trips

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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California Rafting Rivers

Northern California is full of whitewater rafting rivers. Most groups concentrate their time on the forks of the American River, but there are many other quality runs in the state. Below is a list of the most commonly run rivers and links to information about them.

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Coast Ranges

Sierra Nevada

Smith River

Scott River

Cal Salmon River

Lower Klamath River

Upper Klamath River

Clear Creek

Trinity River

South Fork Eel

Middle Fork Eel

Main Eel River

Russian River

Rancheria Creek

American River

North Fork American

Middle Fork American

South Fork American

Pit River

Upper Sacramento

North Fork Feather

Middle Fork Feather

North Fork Yuba

Pauley Creek

Middle Fork Yuba

South Fork Yuba

Truckee River

Giant Gap

East Fork Carson

North Fork Mokulumne

North Fork Stanislaus

Main Stanislaus

Tuolumne River

Cherry Creek

Merced River

Kaweah River

Kings River

Upper Kings

Forks of the Kern

Upper Kern

Lower Kern

Southern Oregon

Rogue River

Illinois River

Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting California’s Salmon River

Difficulty: Class V
Length: 10.2 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 4000 cfs
Gradient: 54 ft/mi
Put-in: Nordheimer Creek
Take-out: Wooley Creek
Season: March – June

The Cal Salmon River is the next step up for rafters that have done the North Fork of the American or the Main Tuolumne and want something more difficult. The Cal Salmon has many Class IV rapids and includes three challenging Class V rapids. The water is clear and the beauty of the bedrock canyon is stunning. Additionally, this run is a long drive from California’s population centers so it is rarely crowded.

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Featured Outfitter

W.E.T. River Trips runs early spring rafting trips on the California Salmon River from mid-march through June depending on flows.

Rafting on California's Salmon River - Cascade Falls RapidThis awesome river is nicknamed the ‘Cal Salmon’ in boating circles to distinguish it from the easier (and more popular) Salmon River in Idaho. There is boatable whitewater on the Cal Salmon above Nordheimer Creek on the main river as well as on the North and South Forks of the Salmon. There is also a great run below Wooley Creek that runs into the Klamath River and its classic big water Class IV rapid Big Ike. Multiple river access points allow the intrepid rafter to paddle any type of rapid that he or she desires. The most popular run is the one from Nordheimer Creek to Wooley Creek described here.

Rafting on California's Salmon River - Bloomer FallsBelow put-in at Nordheimer Campground are some easy warm up rapids that will hopefully prepare you for the Class IV Bloomer Falls. This used to be a dangerous Class V rapid until the Forest Service cleared the channel with dynamite. This made it a Class II rapid until it filled in with sediment and is now an intimidating Class IV drop. Bloomer Falls is quickly followed by the Class IV rapids The Maze, Lewis Creek Falls, and the Class IV+ Airplane Turn.

The action eases up for a while in preparation for the Class V rapid Cascade which has three distinct challenging lines for a raft. Cascade is soon followed by the Class IV+ rapids Achilles Heel and Whirling Dervish as well as many more Class III and IV rapids.

Freight Train Rapid on the Cal SalmonThe juice of the trip are the Class V rapids Last Chance and Freight Train which occur around mile six. Last Chance is a straightforward rapid that leads into a meaty boat flipping hole. The “boat-flipping-hole” is particularly important here since Last Chance is immediately followed by the Class V rapid Freight Trainwhich would make a horrible swim. Freight Train is a long, steep, fast, and powerful rapid that ends in a narrow chute. This is one of those rapids that you will never forget whether you have a perfect run, or swim it from top to bottom.

Below Freight Train is a Class IV+ rapid (and river access) at Butler Creek. For the next few miles the action eases up with the occasional Class III and IV rapid. One rapid of note is Gaping Maw, a long and complex rapid with big holes that is definitely worth scouting. Many trips that have flawlessly run the Class V rapids above have had problems with “the Maw.”

The take-out is at a bridge which crosses the river just past the confluence with Wooley Creek. The river is mostly class II below Wooley Creek.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks’s Salmon River description.

For more informationa about the Cal Salmon, go to AllAboutRivers.com

Directions

To Nordheimer Creek (put-in): There are many options for reaching the Cal Salmon depending on where you’re coming from. Most people that raft the Cal Salmon come from Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay area and will start by driving north on Interstate 5 to Redding.

From Redding take Highway 299 west through the wonderful hamlet of Weaverville and along the Trinity River. Once you reach the town of Willow Creek, hang a right on Highway 96 (north). You’ll follow the Trinity River for a while, and at Weitchpec you start traveling up the Klamath River. Once you pass Orleans, you should start paying attention for a bridge that crosses the Salmon River. Just past this bridge at Somes Bar, hang a right on Salmon River Road. There are many river access points along the Cal Salmon river with plentiful parking. The normal put-in for this run is at Nordheimer Creek Campground.

Outfitters

All-Outdoors

Bigfoot Rafting

Bio Bio Expeditions Worldwide

Blue Sky Rafting

Living Waters Recreation

Momentum River Exeditions

OARS, Inc.

Outdoor Adventures, UC Davis

Redwoods & Rivers

River Dancers

Rogue Klamath River Adventures

Rubicon Whitewater Adventures

Turtle River Rafting Company

Tributary Whitewater Tours

W.E.T. River Trips

Whitewater Voyages

Wilderness Adventures

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River

Difficulty: Class IV
Length: 277 miles
Flows: 8,000-50,000 cfs
Gradient: 16 ft/mi
Put-in: Lee’s Ferry
Take-out: Lake Mead
Season: Spring through Fall

A rafting journey through one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is highly coveted and hard to come by. The Grand Canyon is the longest rafting trip in the United States, and definitely one of the most spectacular as well. While thousands of tourists visit the Grand Canyon , and some even venture down the nine steep miles to the Colorado River, it is said that the only way to really experience the Grand Canyon is to float through it.

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With limestone walls rising over 1000 feet from the canyon floor, side hikes to crystal-clear, turquoise swimming holes, incredible wildlife, and house-size rapids, the Grand Canyon is a one-of-a-kind adventure. From relaxation and quiet moments of observation, to heart-pounding, adrenaline saturated drops, such as the most famous rapid, Lava Falls, the river takes its travellers from one extreme to another. Many people say a whitewater vacation on the Grand Canyon is a life-changing experience, and everyone agrees it is definitely the experience of a lifetime.

People can choose to experience the Grand Canyon in a variety of watercraft. For more excitement, opt for a hardshell kayak, inflatble kayak, whitewater canoe, or a rubber raft. Three women even river boarded all 300 miles during the winter and made a film about it, Three Women, Three Hundred Miles. Dories can also be a delightful experience, and are rarely seen on other rivers, so many people say natural wooden dories are their first choice. Large, mortorized rafts are an option for less athletic and less adventureous travellers.

The waiting list for permits is temporarily closed for private boaters and a new system is currently being negotiated. During peak summer dates, there is often a two or three year wait to reserve a spot on a commercial trip. So, if the opportunity arises for you to join a Grand Canyon trip, drop everything you’re doing, pack your bags, and head to Arizona.

For more information about rafting the Grand Canyon, check out allaboutrivers.com’s Colorado River page.

Directions

There are several places that private boaters and commercial trips put-in and take-out along the Colorado River. The most popular put-in is Lee’s Ferry. It is also the only place in 700 miles along the Colorado River that you can drive your car right up to the river. Many trips consider Phantom Ranch the easiest half-way point. If there are people looking to leave or join a full-length trip, they can hike in and out of the Grand Canyon on Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim. For a full 277 mile trip, the take-out is Lake Mead.

Directions to Lee’s Ferry Put-In:

From Phoenix – Head east on I-40. Take the Hwy 89 North exit toward Page/ Grand Canyon. Continue 110 miles. Turn left onto Highway 89A toward the North rim of the Grand Canyon and continue for 15 miles. You will cross the Colorado River. Keep going for 9 more miles. Turn into the Glen Canyon/ Lees Ferry Recreational Area.

From Las Vegas – Take I-15 North. Exit on Highway 9 toward Hurricane. In Hurricane, just follow the signs to Lake Powell/ Highway 59. In the town of Colorado City, the highway number changes to Highway 389. Don’t be alarmed! Just continue until you reach Fredonia. Turn right onto Highway 89A. Follow Highway 89A and see directions above.

From Page – Highway 89 South 29 miles. Turn right on Highway 89A and follow the directions from Phoenix.

It is recommended to hire a shuttle service to the Lake Mead Take-out.

Canyon REO is a great shuttle service that offers full-service on your Grand Canyon trip. They can also do food drops and equipment rentals.

Outfitters

Arizona Raft Adventures

Arizona River runners

Canyon Expeditions

Canyoneers

Colorado River and Trail Expeditions

Diamond River Adventures

Grand Canyon Expeditions

Hatch River Expeditions

Moki Mac River Expeditions

O.A.R.S.

Outdoors Unlimited

Tour West

Western River Expeditions

Wilderness River Adventures

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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