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Grand Canyon River Rafting, girls only

March 2006

Planning a girls only trip and need some advice/recommendations. Any rafting companies recommended? Specific guides? Time of the year to go? Minimum/maximum number of days to spend? Any advice on logistics? Any other advice that I haven't thought to ask? Thanks for your responses in advance!!! Celebrating Our Milestone Birthdays

Check out for their great Grand Canyon river trips. A group of us went on the 6 day last summer and had the time of our lives. It was the best trip we ever took (and we've all traveled a lot). Go for the 6 day, not the 3 day (too mild, end of the trip for guides, not as scenic). They were a top notch outfit - fantastic guides, great food, big safe yet awesome raft, cots to sleep on, perfect in every way! Would go again!
You may have your heart set on the Grand Canyon and I certainly wouldn't blame you. I wanted to throw out a recommendation anyway. In Stanley, Idaho there is a company called Rapid Transit. They run trips (I think 7 days or so) down the Middle Fork of the Salmon river. I have done this trip twice with friends and it is truly one of the most beautiful remote places I have ever seen. (I have done a lot of hiking around the Grand Canyon and it's great as well). I would at least check it out. The guides are wonderful, usually play guitar, set up tents and cots for you and cook gourmet dinners. This is one of those undiscovered things. I believe the Grand Canyon trips run anywhere from 7 days to 3 weeks. Kim

Rafting on the Grand Canyon's Colorado River

Sept 2005

Hi - My husband has decided that he'd like to celebrate his 50th birthday next year with a family raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Now we just need a great company to raft with, and would appreciate any recommendations, cautionary tales, or advice about specific companies, times of year to go, other relevant advice. Our kids will be 10 and 12 and are good swimmers and hearty campers. I think one week would be better than two, which seems one week too long. The website has recommendations for California and Oregon trips but not Arizona's Colorado River. Many thanks for your input. D

Good friends of mine just took a 7 day river rafting trip down the Colorado this summer - the same reason - to celebrate #50! They loved it and the company they used, Arizona River Runners. Their web site is Valerie
a few ideas though my trip was 11 years ago so can't remember the name of the company. went in late May, weather was warm enough and there were not the huge crowds of summer tourists, (however Northern Arizona does get cold at night and cold! winters so you might want to research typical May weather to decide.) Otherwise you might try for later summer which would be more crowded but the sun has warmed the river some by then. I had to choose between 5 days or 10 days, though without kids, was very glad I was able to do the 10 days. 7 would be good, as you said one week, but if your choice is 5 or something more, you can really see a lot more, and much more remote parts of the canyon, by going longer (even though the first 5 days are incredible, too.) My trip ended at a place where we got helicopters out and landed on the Utah side (and bus back to the south rim). The shorter trip would end at one of the spots where you can hike out of the canyon. You can probably get a ''dragon'' map of the river at REI (forget the proper name of these) and see where the different stops along the river are. Flagstaff is a cute mountain town with shops, some good restaurants, hiking, etc. if you decide to stay along the way to the G.C. Happy Rafting. Signed: chris
The Grand Canyon is a wonder, and it is a privilege to be there. It is considered ''Mecca'' in the river rafting world - I have been down there three times and consider it to be one of the most life changing experiences of my life.

Because I am a river rafter myself, my trips have been ''private trips'' organized by friends, however I do know of a couple companies that are highly regarded. In order to give you an appropriate recommendation, however, I would need to know what you are looking for. Do you want to travel downriver in an oar raft with guide and a few other people? Or do you want to be on a big motor rig with up to 35-40 other people? Two reputablecompanies that do a very good job are Outdoors Unlimited and Oars, to get you started.

I disagree with you about timeline - in my humble opinion one week would be far, far too short to experience the wonder of the place. If you go on a one week trip, you are going to be in a motor boat, flying past some of the best side hikes and scenery that the world has to offer. When I was down in the canyon, I would often see these folks flying by and think of how much they were missing.

Feel free to contact me - it would be a pleasure to help your family with what could very well be a trip you will all cherish for the rest of your lives. Mary

My best friend just returned from what sounds like an awesome trip. this is what she had to say: Hi - I just returned from a Grand Canyon rafting trip. It was incredible. I went on a two week hybrid trip with AZRA ( I wanted to have the option of paddling, and also the option of lounging around. It was also important to me that there was no motor boat associated with the trip. The two week trip travels approximately 225 miles on the river - and it is awesome. The AZRA guides were knowledgeable, skilled, safe and fun. The oar boats had 5 people (4 guests and 1 guide) and the paddle boat had 7 people (6 guest and 1 guide). Everyday you can just jump on whatever boat with whoever you want to hang out with that day . The weather was perfect. It wasn't too hot during the day and it was very nice in the evening. I think a trip in the middle of summer would be a bit too hot. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks...I think the minimum age for some of the trips is 12 - so you'll have to check that out for the 10 yr old

The one week trip means you only travel half the canyon. If you start at Lee's Ferry (16 miles below the dam) you will hike out at Phantom Ranch - in the Grand Canyon. It is a tough vertical hike (with your pack) and, though beautiful - it is not a mellow way to end a raft trip. You also miss most of the super big rapids. People who were on our trip who left us at Phantom Ranch regretted not doing the entire trip. The alternative is to hike in at Phantom Ranch. 4 people joined our group at Phantom Ranch. They also had a tough time coming down (in fact guides had to hike up and assist them down) - and they had wobbly legs for about two days. I suppose if you go on a motorized trip you can do the entire thing in a week - but it looked like a very different experience. It depends on what the person really wants to do.

We found the people at Rivers and Oceans ( to be very helpful in getting info about all the different outfitters and trip options. They were not helpful as a travel agent. I suggest doing your research through them and then booking a trip directly with the outfitter that is offering the trip.

Have fun. Shahana

River rafting with our teenager

March 2004

We middle-aging parents and our teenager would like to spend a couple of days in August within a half-day's drive of the East Bay where we could do a couple of half-day or three-quarter-day semi-challenging guided rafting trips, plus maybe some trail riding or other kind of fun, active land activity. Would like specific recommendations for locations, guide companies, etc. -- also places to stay nearby and restaurants. Thanks! Shar

Friends of ours, Mel and Scott, own and run River and Rock Adventures ( near Coloma on the South Fork of the American River. They offer a number of rafting options from 1/2 day trips to 2 day trips geared towards families (and have 2 small boys of their own). We went rafting with them two summers ago and had a great time. They have camping available but can probably recommend nearby motels if you would prefer that. Check out their website for more information. Happy rafting! Cindy
Shar, I have done a bunch of rafting trips up on the American, near Lotus, CA. The Middle Fork is the best for beginners. I have also done the North Fork twice which is for more advanced rafters. There are about 30 companies up there. I would recommend Whitewater Voyages owned by Bill McGinnis. Very experienced. Very nice job., I think. klevenson
Hello: I feel compelled to correct an earlier statement: the Middle Fork is NOT best for beginners, the South Fork IS. The Middle Fork is rated Class IV, out of V, while the South Fork is a Class III. In addition, the Middle Fork has a rapid that is so difficult that all rafters must walk around the rapid (called a ''portage''). Class III is fun, but not dangerous, and is plenty exciting and great for kids. The North Fork, also mentioned by a previous poster, is rated Class V, and should definitely NOT be a choice for kids, or those without some previous rafting experience. Do have fun and enjoy, there is nothing quite like rafting to make your spirits soar!!! River Guide Mommy

River rafting with 8 - 10 year olds

August 2003

Wondering if anyone in the digest community has positive experiences to recommend regarding river rafting with kids in the 8 - 10 year old range. Would especially appreciate the name of a reliable, experienced river rafting company with trips within reasonably close driving range to the Bay Area (such as the American River) and one that has experience with trips for kids would, of course, be best. Thanks so much. Future River Rafters

My wife and I took our nearly 8-year-old daughter on a half-day rafting trip on the American River this summer. The company was Gold Rush River Rafting. We got drenched; we had a blast. The guides let her ''paddle'' for part of the trip. Remember to wear a bathing suit, T-shirt and tight-fitting hat, and bring a change of clothes. Allen
Turtle River Rafting Company is great with small children (age 4 and up). http:/ / My family started with them when my children were little and then graduated to ARTA.

Trip in the Sierra with 7 year old April 2003

I'm seeking tips on river-rafting tour companies in the Sierra. We're hoping for a one-day trip on a fairly easy river (our daughter is 7, swims well and loves water), preferably with a stop for swimming. The American seems like a good candidate, but we're open to other rivers. Allen

Hooray for you! I can't wait to introduce my children to rafting - aged 2.5 and 8 mos, so I have a bit to wait :-) It is a wonderful activity to share with your family.

The South Fork of the American is the standard, accessible river commonly run around here. There are several outfits that service the S. Fork American, all are pretty reputable, and there really isn't that much to distinguish them, except for the ''non- traditional'' outfits. Examples: Outdoors Unlimited at UCSF and Friends of the River both run trips to the American, but are not traditional rafting companies. With OU, your money goes to support other outdoor activities at UCSF, and at FOR, your money goes to protecting rivers. Both great outfits. (conflict of interest disclaimer: I learned to guide at OU, and used to guide for them regularly, until my little ones arrived on the scene).

There are also other rivers to try: No. Fork American: more difficult, but I believe there is a shorter run that is pretty easy; Trinity River, down south; East Fork of the Carson, East side Sierra; Klamath River, up north; etc. Most of these runs are either much farther away, or have much shorter seasons. So, for a first time, your best advice is the American.

Hope you have a great trip! Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.

Sign me: can't wait to get back on the river! kelly

I recommend you contact Turtle River Rafting company for a family rafting trip. They are a great, very family oriented company. 1-800-726-3223. They may have one day trips. Regarding the American River. Most people go down the South Fork of the American River, which is a class III river. It may be too festive for a 7 year old and scare her. There is a class II run on the South Fork American. Ask them about that. JoAnne
I've been river-rafting for twenty-five years and have rafted the American River probably close to a hundred times (including working as guide for a commercial outfitter). The South Fork of the American is a good candidate for you to consider. There are two sections -- commonly called the Upper and Lower (or Gorge) section. The minimum age for most of the commercial outfitters is 8...but if your daughter is a good swimmer and comfortable with the water, she should do fine. I would recommend you do the Lower (Gorge) section. The first couple of hours is very calm water, giving you (and everyone else on the raft) time to get used to paddling. On the Upper section, the more exciting Class III whitewater comes fairly soon after putting in.

Other options for Northern California river trips that are do-able with a seven year old include Cache Creek and sections of the Klamath. But there are far fewer commercial outfitters offering trips on those rivers.

The company I used to work for (on weekends) is a great company. It's one of the largest (in California), they have an excellent safety record, and do a good job. They're called All Outdoors and they can be reached at 925-932-8993.

Have a great time! We took our (then) five-year old on her first trip last summer on the Rogue River up in Oregon and she loved it. Berkeley dad

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