Grand Canyon Kayaking

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Where is the Grand Canyon?

Is Grand Canyon kayaking a must-do experience for kayakers?

When is the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon for kayaking purposes?

The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona and is one of the most well-known natural landmarks in the United States. For those who love kayaking, it’s an absolute must-see, and it draws kayakers from all over the world every year.

The Grand Canyon is an impressive piece of natural history with or without kayaking; however, those who want to get up close to nature in this area are sure to enjoy the experience of kayaking in the Grand Canyon as well.

There are many different experiences you may enjoy when kayaking the Grand Canyon throughout the year. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • In April, water levels are lower and the water is cold. However, flowers bloom at this time of year and tour space is limited, so it’s not very crowded.
  • May through June may be the best time of year when it comes to temperatures and crowds both.
  • July through August are the worst times of year to kayak the Grand Canyon. Due to heavy rains, kayaking may be dangerous or impossible. Crowds also peak during this time, and temperatures may reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • September and October are warm, with cool nights, and with much fewer crowds. Motorized boats are not allowed on the river during these months.

Keep all this in mind when deciding which time of year is right for you to visit the Grand Canyon for kayaking.

Kayaking the Grand Canyon

Experienced Needed: Advanced

  • Portions of the Grand Canyon may be acceptable for Intermediate or Intermediate-Advanced kayakers.
  • However, it’s a good idea to have as much experience as possible before tackling this impressive body of water.
  • No matter your skill level, you should never take a completely solo trip on the Grand Canyon. Always have someone with you or very close by.

Location: Arizona; Grand Canyon National Park

Portions Available for Kayaking:

  • It is possible to kayak much of the Grand Canyon in chunks. However, these portions still may take several days to complete, so keep this in mind when planning your trip duration.
  • If you choose to do the whole Grand Canyon in one trip, know that even experienced paddlers tend to take two to three weeks to complete this journey.
  • The Upper Canyon is the shortest trip, averaging around six days and 89 miles of river from Flagstaff to South Rim, Arizona.

How to Get to This Location:

  1. From Las Vegas (the nearest major airport), take US-93 South to I-40 East.
  2. Get onto I-40 East in Kingman toward AZ-64 N/West Historic Route 66.
  3. Take exit 165 off of I-40 East toward AZ-64 North.
  4. Continue on AZ-64 North until you see signs for the Grand Canyon.
  5. Follow the signs to the public parking lots.

Ideal Trip Duration: Multi-Day

  • It can take up to three weeks to kayak from Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek—the 227-mile length of the Grand Canyon—and even shorter trips take nearly a week to complete. Ten days is a good amount of time to spend on the river when you don’t want to spend several weeks.

Family-friendly?

  • No; the Grand Canyon is not a trip that is intended for children. Even teens should generally not undertake this kayaking challenge. Some older teens may be able to manage it, if they are in shape and experienced with kayaking. For the most part, however, this trip is for adults only.

Notable Sightseeing:

  • Incredible rock formations – There is no shortage of amazing geology to look at and appreciate all along the Canyon. Take time to admire the walls of this amazing location.
  • Archeological sites – You can get out of your kayak and hike to some unique and surprising archeological digs along the way.
  • Redwall Cavern – At Mile 33, this cavern is a great place to stop and enjoy some lunch. Camping isn’t permitted here, however.
  • Lava Falls Rapid – This is the last and most well-known rapid on the river. Groups usually stop on the shore just beyond the rapid to have a drink after making it through.

Onsite Rental Availability:

  • Yes, there are kayaks as well as rafts available for renting in the areas surrounding the Grand Canyon. However, you may still need to haul them into the Grand Canyon yourself, if the rental company doesn’t offer shuttle service. Check with your outfitter ahead of time to confirm this.
  • Group guided tours are readily available for booking year-round throughout the Canyon. These tend to meet on-site or some distance away, with shuttle service included to the put-in location.
  • Rafting tours are more common, but kayaking tours are still possible, especially at times of the year when the water is higher.

Pros

  • There is nothing quite like kayaking on the Grand Canyon, and most kayakers agree it’s the best river for paddling in the world.
  • The rapids on the Grand Canyon are steady and intense, but they aren’t impossible, so they’re perfect for kayakers who know what they’re doing.
  • There are plenty of guided group tours available for those who want a little additional assistance, but it’s entirely possible to take a self-guided Grand Canyon kayaking tour as well.
  • There are many sights to stop and see along the way, and hundreds of photo ops.

Cons

  • Because of changing environmental factors, the water levels are not as high as they used to be in the Grand Canyon, so the kayaking experience is always changing too.
  • There is a lot of flatwater on the Grand Canyon, and it may get very tiresome, boring, and lonely for some kayakers.
  • Kayakers who don’t know how to safely roll their watercraft will tip over time and time again in the currents of the Grand Canyon, even in unexpected locations.

Because of ecological damage to the Colorado River, permitting is required and strictly enforced in the Canyon.

Conclusion

So, are you ready to schedule your trip to the Grand Canyon? Keep in mind that many kayaking trips in this location book up at least a year in advance, and sometimes up to two, depending on demand and the time of year.

So why would you want to go to so much trouble to go kayaking in a busy place like this? Here are a few reasons to consider planning a kayaking trip to the Grand Canyon:

  • The Grand Canyon is full of history as well as environmental, ecological, and geological information.
  • There are a lot of bragging rights when it comes to kayaking the Grand Canyon!
  • In this area, there is a lot of unique wildlife and plant life that can be seen from the safety of the kayak.
  • With many whitewater experiences, this destination is perfect for more skilled and adventurous kayakers looking for a challenge.
  • It is easy to plan your kayaking trip along with camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities in the Canyon.

Whatever your reason might be, book your trip to the Grand Canyon and enjoy the sights from a completely different perspective!

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