Budget to Raft the Grand Canyon

If you really want to experience the Grand Canyon, a mere hour-long stop on a road trip won’t suffice. Get up close and personal with the canyon with a rafting trip along the Colorado River. Here’s everything you need to travel the Grand Canyon via raft.
Grand Canyon 1

If you really want to experience the Grand Canyon, a mere hour-long stop on a road trip just won’t suffice. To truly get up close and personal with the canyon, you need to hit the Colorado River on a multi-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.

Many people are surprised at how accessible rafting trips can be. Guided tours take care of planning the logistics and teaching you how to maneuver the craft – previous paddling skills are typically not necessary. As long as you are reasonably fit and ready for an adventure, then you’re well suited for the trip.

This is a bucket list item that’s definitely worth saving for. Here are the saving goals you need to set in order to budget for the trip of a lifetime down the Grand Canyon.

Airfare to Las Vegas

Most trip operators will take care of transporting you from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, but you’ll need to figure out how to get yourself to Sin City in the first place.

Flights to Vegas tend to be cheapest in August and October, which is perfect for rafting—any time between May and September is a great time to do this trip. August falls within the Grand Canyon’s “monsoon season”, and October tends to be one of the cooler times to make the trip.

Of course, the exact cost of flying to Las Vegas will depend where you’re flying from, so check flights from your local airport to set a more precise savings Goal.

Return flight for one

Outfitter fees

The cost of the trip itself will depend on several factors. There are many different licensed companies offering rafting trips through the Grand Canyon—some offer budget-friendly, low-frills options, while others come complete with an overnight stay at a ranch and a helicopter drop into the canyon. Regardless of which outfitter you choose, your rafting gear, camping gear, and meals are included in the fare.

The type of trip you pick—motorized or paddling or rowing—will affect costs, with motor trips tending to cost less than the human-propelled options.

The length of the trip you choose will also affect how much dough you need to set aside for this getaway. For example, a five-day trip will cost you somewhere in the $1,800 - $2,000 range per person, whereas a full 15-day trip will set you back at least $4,000.

Grand Canyon Hero

Eight-day paddle trip

Rain gear

No matter what month your trip falls in, high quality rain gear—both a rain jacket and rain pants—is an absolute must. Not only will you get wet on the river itself on even the sunniest of days, but relentless downpours are not unusual in the Grand Canyon. Come prepared.

Rain jacket and pants

Hiking boots

A sturdy pair of hiking boots is a must for a Grand Canyon rafting adventure. Some outfitters start with a serious hike into the canyon, or conclude the trip with a steep, uphill trek. Most tours will also present the opportunity for side hikes throughout the canyon, which many claim are the highlights of the trip. You don’t want to miss these epic trails, so pack a pair of reliable, broken-in hiking boots that can handle steeps, rocks, and uneven surfaces.

Hiking boots

Sun protection gear

You’ll find that there is very little shade as your raft your way down the canyon, so good sun protection is essential. To beat the heat (and the burn), be sure to take plenty of sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, a good sun hat with a chinstrap, sunglasses with a safety strap, a bandana or a buff to keep the sun off your neck, and a water bottle.

Grand Canyon 3

Sun protection gear

Water shoes

A pair of quick-drying water sandals will become your most prized possession over the course of the trip. You’ll be in and out of the raft more times than you can count, maneuvering your way through slippery rocks and uneven surfaces, often while carrying gear on your back. Invest in a pair of sturdy water shoes. This is not the time for flip-flops.

Water shoes

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