Hidden Hikes On A Grand Canyon Rafting Trip

 By: Wendy Rubicam
A whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon not only gives you the thrills and adventure of being on the mighty Colorado River, but also gives trip participants access to some of the area's least traveled hikes. These hikes are exclusive to those who are rafting, and many can only be accessed from the river. Seeing the Grand Canyon from the river offers a unique perspective to begin with, but when our guests are able to take advantage of these exclusive excursions, the journey is that much richer and more unique.

Participants on 6, 7, 8 and 13 day trips will have access to many of these hidden side-canyon hikes. At river mile 20 you can take in the spectacular limestone walls of North Canyon. The polished rocks in this unique canyon feature an array of colors and form that is simply beautiful. At mile 47, those feeling adventurous can set off on a hike that rises 600 feet above the river, and leads into a narrow shadowed canyon where you can wade into the creek ending up at a picturesque waterfall in Saddle Canyon.

In the right conditions, a short hike along the Little Colorado River will amaze visitors as the incredible opaque, turquoise colored water of the Little Colorado entices swimmers to its warmer waters before it reaches the confluence of the Colorado River, blending into the emerald green flow.

Another favorite hike at mile 72 takes rafters up to Hilltop Ruin, the site of the largest prehistoric dwellings in the Canyon. The river here is shallow and wide, with level and open spaces and amazing panoramic views of the North and South rims. The ruin has been exposed by some excavation and also by erosion, and is easily visible to visitors.

A Colorado River trip is a great combination of time spent on the water, relaxing in camp and the many hiking excursions. Arizona River Runners guides are dedicated to helping their guests enjoy all aspects of their Grand Canyon rafting adventure, and can recommend and lead a variety of hikes depending on guest's interests, abilities, available time and conditions in the Canyon. Bird and wildlife lovers are often treated to sightings of native creatures, and those interested in plants will see a variety of species along the way on their hikes. River guides are constant students and teachers in the Canyon, and love to discover and share what they have learned with their fellow travelers.

Elves Chasm is another popular destination for a short, scenic hike. Aptly named, it is a green haven of clear pools, moss and ferns that is truly magical. Venture less than 20 more river miles and you will experience the refreshing spray from the thundering 100-foot waterfall of Deer Creek Falls. The more experienced hikers can take the switchback climb up to the narrows where the trail traverses ledges carved in ancient limestone above the creek to a spectacular spot called the "Patio."

What is great is that each of the many possible hiking destinations has its own unique characteristics, allowing river runners to explore and experience a more in-depth view of this Grand Canyon. Just as one view from the rim doesn't give you a true picture of the Canyon, looking up from the river could be limited as well. Venturing out into side canyons, experiencing waterfalls and creeks, geological phenomenon and signs of ancient civilization all add to any visitor's knowledge and understanding of how vast and varied the Grand Canyon truly is.
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