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Rafting in Grand Canyon

Leeds, United...
2 posts
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Rafting in Grand Canyon

How does the water level vary throughout the rafting season as I assume the rafting can be affected by too much or too little water in the river?

My wife and I will be visiting from the UK maybe this Sep/Oct or next year with a view to rafting down the canyon (it's on our bucket list).

David P

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
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15 reviews
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1. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

The water is dam-controlled, so flow and water temperature will be consistent year-round. Having "too little water" is never a concern, nor are there any times when the river cannot be run.

If, by "rafting down the canyon", you're talking about rafting through the main part of the Grand Canyon, be aware that this is a significant commitment that requires at least a week. Partial canyon trips of 3 or 4 days are available but will require you to either hike in or out of the Canyon. This is a strenuous hike of 8-10 miles with nearly a mile of elevation gain or loss, carrying your gear.

Rafting trips, including commercial trips, are strictly controlled by the Parks Service and generally book up months in advance. If you're interested in a trip for this fall, availability may be quite limited. You can check with Rivers and Oceans for availability and the different types of trips available:

www.rivers-oceans.com/rafting_grandcanyon.htm

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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2. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

Use the link provided by DTF to get an overview of rafting options in the GC. And yes, you do need to plan and book 6-12 months in advance.

Southern California
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3. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

I understand the river is dam controlled, but isn't there still fluctuations in the amount of water released?

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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4. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

Yes, there are some fluctuations. Releases do vary throughout the day, as well as from day to day. But, in all honesty, unless you're one of the drivers or running the river in a kayak or the like, I'm doubtful that you would notice the difference. The river management policy was drawn up having taken the river runners into consideration, to provide a consistent flow. I'm not an expert on this, but the numbers 10-14,000 CFS sticks in my mind. Every so often, a big release is planned and announced to clear sediment.

Imo, selecting the month based on weather (temperatures) and the trip based on type of boat and length of the trip is going to be much more effective than worrying about the releases, as these things will affect your experience much more. The big rapids are class IV and V and they're never downgraded.

FWIW, you can see raw data at the Bureau of Reclamation website. You can also sign up for RSS feeds on their website; you want the 'upper Colorado' releases for the Glen Canyon dam.

Release data for June: usbr.gov/uc/water/rsvrs/ops/crsp_40_gc.html

RSS Feeds: www.usbr.gov/newsroom/rssxml/rssfeeds.html

Also, RRFW is a good resource for understanding the river management, rafting, etc.: https://rrfw.org/

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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5. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

Fluctuations in the river will have title or no impact on the quality of your raft trip. There are too many other factors to consider as you do your advance planning.

Leeds, United...
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6. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

Thank you everyone for your advice. My wife and I have had a rethink and after some more research we will probably make the trip next year in May or June. Best wishes, David

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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7. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

As water releases from Glen Canyon Dam pass through turbines making hydro power... Water levels down stream depend, in part, on the number of air conditioners turned on in the "Desert" South West ... As power demand fluctuates day by day, even hour to hour... River tour operators have learned to cope... As above, the river tour guest, may not notice ... carracar

Edited: 26 July 2013, 03:44
8. Re: Rafting in Grand Canyon

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