The Grand Canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep. Two self-guided river rafting trips are available at the Grand Canyon, the difference being that permits for the two- to five-day self-guided trip are issued on a first-come-first-served basis, whereas the 12- to 25-day self-guided trip permits are issued based on a lottery system.
Two- to Five-Day Self-Guided Trip
The two - to five-day self-guided river rafting trips typically launch from Diamond Creek and takeout at Lake Mead. This includes roughly 52 river miles of both still and white water on the west side of the Grand Canyon. On the north side of the river lies the Grand Canyon National Park land and the Hualapai Reservation lies on the south side of the river. The Hualapai Reservation has become an increasingly popular spot to hike and camp. This is due in part to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a bridge with a glass bottom suspended 4,000 feet over the Colorado River and overlooking a section of the west canyon. Although hiking and camping on the north side of the river is free, the Hualapai tribe charges a fee to hike or camp on its land. The Hualapai Tribe can be contacted at: (928) 769-2216.
Note that permits for the two- to five-day self-guided river rafting trips are available to the public starting one year in advance and are distributed on a first-come first-served basis. For information on obtaining a permit, see Resources.
12- to 25-Day Self-Guided Trip
Each February, a lottery is held to assign launch dates for the 12- to 25-day self-guided river rafting trips for the following year. To be eligible for the lottery, you must be 18 years old and not already assigned to a launch date for that year. The lottery application costs an initial $25, followed by a nonrefundable $400 deposit (applied toward the permit cost), as of 2009. See Resources for a lottery application.
The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a highly technical river, according to the National Park Service. Moreover, hiking along the Colorado River can be extremely challenging even for the most advanced hiker. Thus, it is important to know your limits.