When one thinks of Colorado River rafting, images of whitewater rapids, getting soaked from head to toe and sometimes getting thrown from your raft come to mind. However, that wasn’t our experience when rafting down the Colorado in Glen Canyon. Colorado River Discovery offers what they call half day river floats that are calm water the entire trip and allow you to take your camera and get some great pictures or just enjoy a leisurely rafting experience without getting wet.

While you are not exactly on the river for a half day, your entire trip will take half of your day by the time you get to the river and then take an hour ride back to Colorado River Discovery’s headquarters. Your journey begins with a trip down the 2 mile long Glen Canyon Dam access tunnel as you are plunged into almost complete darkness for 5 minutes. The access tunnel is not open to the public because it is a Department of Homeland Security site and only certain rafting companies are allowed access. Because it is a secure site it also requires that your bags be inspected and of course you can’t bring any weapons of any kind including your Swiss army knife.

Once you are in the water, your guide will move their raft back a little so you can get a good look at the entire scope of the 710 foot high Glen Canyon Dam, the 4th highest dam in the United States. As you meander down the Colorado River for 9 miles you will see incredible changing geology and sheer cliff walls that range in height from 700 feet to almost 1,500 feet. You will also see some amazingly well preserved petroglyphs left by native Americans some 4,000 years ago. You are allowed within just a few feet of these archaeological treasures, but are given a stern warning not to touch them or leave your own graffiti behind as some foolish travelers have done. One not so brilliant venturer was fined $20,000 and had to pay for restoration because he defaced the petroglyphs with his initials.

Petroglyph Site

4,000 Year Old Petroglyphs

One of the more dramatic sections of Glen Canyon is the well known Horseshoe Bend where the Colorado River snakes around a peninsula of land 270 degrees. Horseshoe bend is actually much more dramatic from above than down in the river and fortunately you can stop at the overlook off of highway 89 near Page Arizona (where Colorado River Discovery resides), walk the 3/4 mile path to the overlook and see a birds eye view of this natural wonder. You will see a stunning view from the overlook, but be ever so careful from this vantage point because there are no guard rails anywhere and there are plenty of places to walk right up to the edge and drop straight down 1,400 feet to the river below.

Horseshoe Bend Overlook

Your 9 mile rafting trip finally ends at Lee’s Ferry in Marble Canyon which although it is a man made barrier, it is officially where the Grand Canyon begins. It is also where rafters that are going down the Grand Canyon for 2 to 3 weeks leave from and it is the only place where you can drive your car down to the Colorado River for a 700 mile stretch.

Seeing the Colorado River from this vantage point while actually being on the river and experiencing the dramatic sheer cliff walls, seeing the ancient petroglyphs, waving to the fly fishermen, seeing the abundance of geology (and having a guide to explain it to you) is the only way to really get the full effect of Glen Canyon and the mighty Colorado. It is also a photographer’s dream because you could almost never run out of subject matter with the changing light, seasons, moods and weather of what nature has in store here.

Experience rafting the Colorado River as soon as you can and make sure you bring your camera.

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2 Responses to “Colorado River Rafting In Glen Canyon”

  1. [...] geological formations which seem to be everywhere you look and everywhere you go. Whether you are rafting down the Colorado River, hiking in the Grand Canyon, or taking an off road jeep tour of the red rock formations in Sedona [...]

  2. Naresh says:

    Great pictures. I use to live in Yuma, AZ. I had such a great time on that river. The pics relaly bring back alot of memories growing up. Maybe that why I liked the River story so much. I could just see it.

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