Grand Canyon Raft Tours | John Wesley Powell Adventure

This article focuses on the history of rafting tours in Grand Canyon. Long before tourists flocked to the Grand Canyon and embarked on tours of the natural landmark, 35-year-old John Wesley Powell led an adventure that included 10 men in four boats covering 1,000 miles of uncharted territory in the Grand Canyon.

John Wesley PowellIt was 1869 when Powell, who was a major for the Union Army in the Civil War and lost an arm in the Battle of Shiloh, spearheaded the excursion that changed the west forever. Three months after the journey started, Powell and four other men emerged from the depths of the Grand Canyon at the mouth of the Virgin River. They were the first known men to have explored the natural marvel.

Like Powell and the men on his expedition, adventure seekers today can encounter areas of the Grand Canyon that can only be seen from the water – like emerald pools, hidden waterfalls, colorful flowers and thriving wildlife. Grand Canyon Expeditions offers eight-day motorized boat tours and 14-day to 16-day Dory boat trips on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

The guided tours include hiking remote areas of the canyon, learning about the natural splendor and scintillating history of the area, swimming in side canyons and running class IV whitewater rapids.

The Grand Canyon features a diverse and majestic geological extravaganza. It stretches for 277 miles, measures from four to 18 miles in width, and averages a mile in depth. Covering more than 1.2 million acres, the semi-arid canyon consists of raised plateaus, steep-walled canyons, desert basins at lower elevations and forests at higher elevations. Canyon walls provide wide-ranging fossil specimens, a vast array of geological features and rock types, and numerous caves.

Though the Grand Canyon is a desert, it is teeming with plants and wildlife. Cactus and wildflowers dot the riverbanks as well as cool glens with tumbling waterfalls and ferns.  Grand Canyon Expeditions passengers might see bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, and ringtail cats along the riverbanks and in tributary canyons. Hawks, golden eagles, falcons, great blue herons and egrets fly overhead.

The eight-day excursions cover the entire 277 miles of the canyon, beginning at Lees Ferry, Arizona (in Grand Canyon National Park) and ending at Pearce Ferry on Lake Mead. During the adventure, passengers will negotiate nearly 200 exciting white water rapids in safety and first-class comfort.

For people who want to experience the grandeur of the river and the canyon at a more leisurely pace, Grand Canyon Expeditions offers the 14-day to 16-day Dory trips. Sturdy wooden vessels that are designed to withstand the rigors of whitewater, Dory boats allow passengers to see the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon much like Powell and his men.

To make reservations for any Grand Canyon Expeditions tour, visit, e-mail or call 800-544-2691.
Before embarking on one of the tours, guests can get a preview of the Grand Canyon’s splendor at the Visitor Center. Located at the south rim entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park, the Visitor Center is home of the IMAX film, Grand Canyon: The Movie and the famous Condor Encounter Live Bird Show.

The Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Expeditions has teamed to offer an eight-day Grand Canyon rafting trip for two. To enroll in the contest, visit