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2114
Arizona

Off the Map: Rafting Grand Canyon's Colorado River

Fulfill the dream of a lifetime and come to the Grand Canyon to raft the Colorado River! Plus, learn about the natural history and archaeological ruins of this remote corner of the U.S.
Rating (4.71)
Program No. 2114RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
3,999
Arizona

Off the Map: Rafting Grand Canyon's Colorado River

Fulfill the dream of a lifetime and come to the Grand Canyon to raft the Colorado River! Plus, learn about the natural history and archaeological ruins of this remote corner of the U.S.
Length
10 days
Starts at
3,999
Program No. 2114 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 19 - May 28, 2021
Starting at
3,999
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 19 - May 28, 2021
Starting at
4,119

At a Glance

Looking for a rigorous and rewarding adventure? This is it. The venerable Grand Canyon and the mighty Colorado River come together to form a place where geology, water and time have created one of our nation's most spectacular natural wonders. Aboard motor rafts and on short hikes with experts, explore and learn about the canyon's incredible natural history, John Wesley Powell’s 1869 journey through the canyon, the pioneers and explorers who followed Powell and the Native Americans who consider it the birthplace of humanity.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Challenging
This program is rated as Outdoor: Challenging, requiring the highest degree of physical preparedness. Before enrolling, please consider the level of endurance and stamina needed. Eight days camping and rafting on Class IV river, strong currents, large waves. Upper body strength is required to get in and out of raft, carry gear and navigate rugged, rocky, steep, sandy terrain around camp. Participants should be able to ascend and descend two flights of stairs carrying a 20-pound bag without using a handrail in 90-degree heat; rise from a seated position on the ground many times per day; step up on a chair, stand up, and return to the floor easily. Weather is often adverse (extreme heat, cold, rain). Elevations up to 7,000 feet.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Immerse yourself in 2 billion years of geologic majesty as you spend 8 days camping in the canyon and learning about the history of this spectacular world.
  • Relive the journey of John Wesley Powell as you experience 225 miles and 85 rapids of the Colorado River while enjoying your river outfitter’s gourmet meals.
  • Enjoy expert-led hikes through the canyon’s rugged terrain and pathless, side canyons to archaeological ruins, waterfalls and other treasures accessible only by river.

General Notes

This program is part of our “Off the Map” series, exploring truly remote areas of the United States as a way to connect with local culture and landscapes, and disconnect with the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Our goal is to bring you to places that have limited (or no) access to Wi-Fi, cell service and other technology so you can enjoy authentic learning experiences without modern distractions. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Field Guide to the Grand Canyon
by Whitney, Stephen R
This book describes and illustrates the area's plants and animals, and offers fascinating in-depth information on the natural history and geology of this dramatic region. 272pp
Living at the Edge: Explorers, Exploiters, and Settlers of the Grand Canyon Region
by Anderson, Michael F
A comprehensive look at the pioneer history of the Grand Canyon Region, from its earliest residents to the creation of the national park at the end of the pioneer era (circa 1920). Included are close to two hundred historic photographs, many never published before, and 12 custom maps of the region. 184pp
I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People
by Hirst, Stephen
I Am the Grand Canyon is the story of the Havasupai people. From their origins among the first group of Indians to arrive in North America some 20,000 years ago to their epic struggle to regain traditional lands taken from them in the nineteenth century, the Havasupai have a long and colorful history. The story of this tiny tribe once confined to a too small reservation depicts a people with deep cultural ties to the land, both on their former reservation below the rim of the Grand Canyon and on the surrounding plateaus. 276pp
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West
by Stegner, Wallace
Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell's struggle against western geography and Washington politics. We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell's distinguished career, and appreciate his unparalleled understanding of the West. "Stegner's most exciting work." (San Francisco Chronicle) 496pp
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water
by Reisner, Marc
The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--and Eden that may be only a mirage. 608pp
An Introduction to Grand Canyon Ecology
by Houk, Rose
56pp
The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons
by Powell, John Wesley
Full text of Powell's 1,000-mile expedition down the fabled Colorado in 1869. Superb account of terrain, geology, vegetation, Indians, famine, mutiny, treacherous rapids, mighty canyons. 240 illustrations. 432pp
There's This River... Grand Canyon Boatman Stories
by Christa Sadler
An anthology of stories and artwork produced entirely by the river guiding community of Grand Canyon. Often hilarious, sometimes bittersweet and always entertaining, these true tales tell the stories of a landscape, a lifestyle and a unique community.
Breaking Into the Current: Boatwomen of the Grand Canyon
by Teal, Louise
In 1973, Marilyn Sayre gave up her job as a computer programmer and became the first woman in twenty years to run a commercial boat through the Grand Canyon. Georgie White had been the first, back in the 1950s, but it took time before other women broke into guiding passengers down the Colorado River. This book profiles eleven of the first full-season Grand Canyon boatwomen, weaving together their various experiences in their own words. Breaking Into the Current is a story of romance between women and a place. Each woman tells a part of every Canyon boatwoman's story: when Marilyn Sayre talks about leaving the Canyon, when Ellen Tibbets speaks of crew camaraderie, or when Martha Clark recalls the thrill of white water, each tells how all were involved in the same romance. All the boatwomen have stories to tell of how they first came to the Canyon and why they stayed. Some speak of how they balanced their passion for being in the Canyon against the frustration of working in a traditionally male-oriented occupation, where today women account for about fifteen percent of the Canyon's commercial river guides. As river guides in love with the Canyon and their work, these women have followed their hearts. "I've done a lot," says Becca Lawton, "but there's been nothing like holding those oars in my hands and putting my boat exactly where I wanted it. Nothing." 178pp
Introduction to Grand Canyon Geology
by Price, L Greer
This overview of Grand Canyon geology is perfect for the first-time visitor or the seasoned Grand Canyon traveler. Chapters cover the basic priciples of geology, the history of geological exploration at Grand Canyon, the canyon's structural features, and the Colorado River. Includes over 70 photos and illustrations, an index, and glossary. 63pp
The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon
by Fletcher, Colin
The remarkable classic of nature writing by the first man ever to have walked the entire length of the Grand Canyon. 256pp
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10 days
9 nights
26 meals
9 B 8 L 9 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Program Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Flagstaff, AZ
D
La Quinta Inn & Suites Flagstaff

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 - 4:15 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the conference room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 4:15 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a rewarding river adventure in a primitive/wilderness setting. Come prepared for a hands-on experience where participants pitch in with camp set up and clean up throughout the program. Transportation will be provided by van when we are in Flagstaff for local travel and then by bus when we go to/from the river. While the bus does not have bathrooms on board stops will be made for restroom breaks every hour. Be prepared for repeatedly getting on/off the raft, helping to carry gear to set up camp, and camping on sandy beaches. Some beach areas may be small and camping spots will be relatively close together. Camp will be exposed to the elements. We will hope for and frequently enjoy balmy days but be prepared for shifts in the weather including cold fronts and wind. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we'll have a buffet dinner featuring multiple dessert choices, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, or water. The restaurant does not serve alcoholic beverages.

Evening: Following dinner we will regroup to have an orientation with a representative of the raft company and review the particulars of our river adventure. Each person will receive one large and one small dry bag to pack their things into. Space is ample in these bags as sleeping bags and pads are packed separate. We’ll also discuss packing suggestions and what to expect on the river. Luggage you do not bring on the river can be stored safely at the hotel until we return. For questions, contact the Program Provider (Northern Arizona University) at (928) 523-2359; or RoadScholarprograms@nau.edu.

DAY
2
Lee's Ferry via Navajo Res., Load & Launch on River
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Driving time to river is approx. 120 miles; about 2.5 hours. Short hike of less than 1/8 mile over rocky terrain. Getting on/off raft; help carry personal and group gear to set up camp; camping on sandy beaches. Rafting up to 10 miles throughout the day; class 3 rapids. The Colorado River uses a 1-10 rapid rating scale; Class 3 rapids rated 6 – 7's locally; intensity of rapids depends on river conditions at the time of program.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the buffet will feature choices including waffles, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruits, pastries, bagels, cereals, muffins, juices, milk and coffee.

Morning: We'll then set out from the hotel and travel through the Navajo reservation, Echo Cliffs, and Marble Canyon to arrive at the Lee's Ferry raft launch point where we'll board rafts and start our journey down John Wesley Powell's "Great Unknown." We will have a thorough safety orientation with our Group Leaders before getting on the rafts.

Lunch: Buffet lunch on a canyon beach with cold cuts, beverages, and assorted goodies.

Afternoon: Continuing to raft down the Colorado River, we'll learn some of the fascinating story of the Grand Canyon's geology and natural history en route to the first evening's campsite. Upon arrival at our campsite after continuing downstream, we’ll help the crew unload the communal cooking equipment, food, and personal gear from the boats. We’ll each find our own space to set up on the sandy beach. Camp will be exposed to the elements and tents will always be available, but under clear skies most participants opt not to set up a tent and, instead, sleep under the stars. Some beach areas may be small and camping spots will be relatively close together. We will hope for and frequently enjoy balmy days but be prepared for shifts in the weather including cold fronts and wind. Once camp is set up, the crew will prepare a meal. A group toilet system will be set up at camp each evening, with a thorough orientation to the system and hygiene. During the day, female and male areas will be identified along the shoreline and bushes with a discussion of correct protocol.

Dinner: In the open air, we’ll have a sumptuous meal. All river meals will be buffets. Everyone will be responsible for washing their own dishes and assisting with clean-up as needed.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy the brilliant night sky and hit the sack early to rest up for the next day's adventure. Be ready to pack up camp and continue downstream in the morning.

DAY
3
Rafting Marble Canyon, Incomparable Views & Stunning Stops
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 10 and 50 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down/set up camp. Hike distances are dependent on camp locations and local conditions and can range from 1/2 to 2 miles; terrain of all hikes ranges from sandy washes, shallow creeks, established dirt trails, to off trail rocky terrain; elevation changes up to 500 feet on some hikes.

Breakfast: Wake up early to the shout of “coffeeeeee!” as our rafting leaders prepare a tasty buffet meal, which will change daily. Choices include, depending on the day, an egg dish, French toast, fresh fruit, breakfast meats, bagels, juice, and water. All river meals will be buffets.

Morning: After breaking down camp and helping to load the raft, we'll continue rafting downstream with interpretation of geologic, natural, and human history anecdotes en route.

Lunch: Buffet lunch on a canyon beach.

Afternoon: We'll then continue rafting downstream further into the Grand Canyon, with stops for short side hikes. After setting up camp for the evening, enjoy some time to chat with new friends, take a hike before dinner or wash up in the cold water of the river!

Dinner: River camp buffet. You may offer to help the crew in prep and clean up. Wonderful fare served up every night in beautiful riverside settings.

Evening: At leisure. Be ready to pack up camp and continue downstream in the morning.

DAY
4
Another Day in Paradise
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 10 and 50 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down/set up camp. Hike distances are dependent on camp locations and local conditions and can range from 1/2 to 2 miles; terrain of all hikes ranges from sandy washes, shallow creeks, established dirt trails, to off trail rocky terrain; elevation changes up to 500 feet on some hikes.

Breakfast: River camp buffet.

Morning: Once finished packing up camp and loading the raft, we'll climb aboard and float downstream.

Lunch: Buffet lunch on a canyon beach.

Afternoon: Carrying on down the river, we'll go deeper into the Grand Canyon, with stops for short side hikes. Along the way, we'll enjoy continued interpretation by our raft leaders about passing sights.

Dinner: River camp buffet. Everyone will be responsible for washing their own dishes and assisting with clean-up as needed.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy the evening chatting with the group, writing in your journal or looking up from your spot in camp as the stars begin to pop out. Be ready to pack up camp and continue downstream in the morning.

DAY
5
Following the Rhythm of the River, River Odyssey
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 10 and 50 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down/set up camp. Hike distances are dependent on camp locations and local conditions and can range from 1/2 to 2 miles; terrain of all hikes ranges from sandy washes, shallow creeks, established dirt trails, to off trail rocky terrain; elevation changes up to 500 feet on some hikes.

Breakfast: River camp buffet.

Morning: We'll continue floating downstream after packing and loading the raft. More rapids, more side hikes, and more unknown adventures as the day dictates.

Lunch: Buffet lunch on a canyon beach.

Afternoon: Cooling off with a river dunk before reboarding boats to continue rafting downstream, we’ll approach the halfway point of the river's path through the Grand Canyon. We'll also explore some of the side canyons and hikes with our river leaders, as they see fit.

Dinner: River camp buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Another evening in a different camp with a different view. Aaah, life doesn't get much better than this! Be ready to pack up camp and continue downstream in the morning.

DAY
6
Exploration of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 10 and 50 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down/set up camp. Hike distances are dependent on camp locations and local conditions and can range from 1/2 to 2 miles; terrain of all hikes ranges from sandy washes, shallow creeks, established dirt trails, to off trail rocky terrain; elevation changes up to 500 feet on some hikes.

Breakfast: River camp buffet.

Morning: As we float, we'll gaze in wonder at the Canyon's many geologic sites and scan the beaches and rocky crags for desert bighorn sheep and mule deer while swallows skitter just above the river's surface in search of rare insects.

Lunch: Buffet on a canyon beach.

Afternoon: We'll explore more of the Grand Canyon and its side canyons. Engage all your senses - sights, sounds, smells, the sun's heat, the chilling refreshment and power of the river's water - all while experiencing the wonders of the Canyon.

Dinner: River camp buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy the brilliant night sky and hit the sack early to rest up for the next day's adventures. Be ready to pack up camp and continue downstream in the morning.

DAY
7
Continue Rafting with Hiking & Scenic Stops
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 10 and 50 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down/set up camp. Hike distances are dependent on camp locations and local conditions and can range from 1/2 to 2 miles; terrain of all hikes ranges from sandy washes, shallow creeks, established dirt trails, to off trail rocky terrain; elevation changes up to 500 feet on some hikes.

Breakfast: River camp buffet.

Morning: We and the river are now in sync. The camp routine is now second nature as we look forward to another day in paradise, another day of new sights, another day with new friends.

Lunch: Buffet on a canyon beach.

Afternoon: We’ll relish every moment as the journey continues. After continuing to raft downriver, we'll find a place to stop and set up camp.

Dinner: River camp buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Be ready to pack up camp and continue downstream in the morning.

DAY
8
Side Canyons & River Views
Grand Canyon, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Campsites along river

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 10 and 50 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down/set up camp. Hike distances are dependent on camp locations and local conditions and can range from 1/2 to 2 miles; terrain of all hikes ranges from sandy washes, shallow creeks, established dirt trails, to off trail rocky terrain; elevation changes up to 500 feet on some hikes.

Breakfast: River camp buffet.

Morning: We'll break camp, load the boat – which has become our home away from home – and set out for the last full day on the river.

Lunch: Buffet on a canyon beach.

Afternoon: As we continue rafting, we'll explore in the lower end of the Grand Canyon taking note of the awesome power of lava in the preserved lava flows.

Dinner: River camp buffet.

Evening: At leisure for our last night on the river. As much as we may look forward to showers, now is the time to breathe deeply of the Canyon's essence and preserve in your mind the special place you've had a privilege to experience during the last week. Feel the sand between your toes one last time before drifting off to sleep under a star-filled sky. Be ready to pack up camp and conclude our river adventure in the morning.

DAY
9
Diamond Creek, Historic Route 66, Arrive in Flagstaff
Flagstaff, AZ
B,L,D
La Quinta Inn & Suites Flagstaff

Activity note: Getting on/off raft; rafting between 5 – 10 miles throughout the day. Help carry gear to break down camp and pack up. Drive to Flagstaff is approximately 140 miles; about 3.5 hours; roughly 20 miles of transfer is via bumpy dirt road; those with back concerns should consider sitting in the front of the bus.

Breakfast: River camp buffet.

Morning: We'll finish up the last leg of our rafting trip to Diamond Creek on the Hualapai Reservation. Upon arrival, we'll unpack the raft, load all our gear into our vehicle, and begin our transfer back to Flagstaff.

Lunch: At a pleasant spot outside in Seligman, we'll have a buffet lunch akin to our meals on the river.

Afternoon: Continuing our transfer through the Hualapai Reservation, we'll reach historic Route 66 and ride it back to "civilization" for a late afternoon check-in at the hotel in Flagstaff. Take some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we'll have plated meals with our fellow intrepid adventurers! Enjoy a choice of entree, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Back at the hotel, we'll take some time to recap the trip, share some of our favorite experiences and accomplishments from the program of a lifetime, and plan our next Road Scholar adventures with new friends. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes
Flagstaff, AZ
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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