Arizona may be known for being a desert with scorching temperatures and rocky terrain, but it is also home to some of the most thrilling river trip tours in the nation. There are 49 rivers throughout the state we call home, including the famous, 1,450 mile-long Colorado River!
From kayaking through Salt River to white water rafting through the Grand Canyon, Arizona has everything you need to experience a one of a kind trip for the entire family. Below are seven of the best river trip tours in Arizona, complete with descriptions, pricing, and more!
Kayak to Emerald Cave
The Colorado River’s lengthy run makes for tons of different water activities. For a low to mid intensity activity, try Riverdogz’s kayak tours to Emerald Cave! This experience is the perfect setting for guests to enjoy a leisurely four-mile journey down the river, followed by a short hike.
The tour’s description boasts a moderate intensity level and is perfect for beginners, even those who have never set foot in a kayak before. Led by a professional guide, passengers experience some of the area’s best features, including Willow Beach. There are also ample opportunities to spot some of the native wildlife.
Snacks, kayaks, and safety equipment are provided, but guests should plan to bring their own sunscreen. Prices begin at $133 per person, with a choice between a three or four-hour trip.
Arizona River Runners
For a variety of trips that will fit every adventurer, check out Arizona River Runners. The company offers three main trip types:
For those interested in a fast-paced tour, the motor option offers three to eight-day packages through the Grand Canyon.
The three-day option takes visitors to the Bar 10 Ranch, where they can enjoy horseback riding, shooting, and ATV tours. The six to eight-day trips allow visitors to camp alongside the river while experiencing waterfalls, canyons, and creeks. At the end of the trip, a helicopter will fly tired guests out of the canyon, with starting points in Marble Canyon or Las Vegas.
For a slower and more intimate experience, try the oar trip, in which you experience guides steer rafts of three to five people for a week-long experience.
If walking is more your style, choose the hiking option for unbeatable side excursions.
Arizona River Runners has a minimum age of eight years old for the oar trip, or twelve years old for the motor trip. Prices range depending on the trip’s type and length, but typically start around $1,500 to over $4,000 per person.
Raft Out of Flagstaff
If your trip through Arizona takes you to Flagstaff, stop at Arizona Raft Adventures! This company offers a myriad of packages and experiences. You’ll have no problem finding the perfect fit for you. For a whitewater rafting experience like no other, try the Classic Adventure.
Guests are seated in either an oar boat or paddle boat with four other passengers and a guide. Anyone over the age of 12 can participate, either by rowing the raft or simply enjoying the ride. However, this is no easy day trip. Customers can choose between three packages: full canyon, upper canyon, and lower canyon.
Each package lasts anywhere from 7-16 days and traverses 90-220 miles. Due to the trip’s length, prices are much steeper per person: the shortest trip costs an average of $2,500 while the longest trip will set you back closer to $4,600.
Explore Salt River
This classic river trip is only a short drive from Phoenix. Your day will begin with a safety orientation; the trip itself is incredibly beginner-friendly! Professional guides take you through gentle rapids before a quick lunch break. After your meal, challenge fast-paced whitewater rapids to finish off the day!
The trip package includes lunch, proper equipment, and the fees for passing through Apache land. Guests eight years old and over are welcome, along with service dogs, and those traveling with strollers. It is also wheelchair accessible.
Tickets start at $179 per person for an affordable trip the whole family can enjoy.
Mild to Wild Rafting
Explore the Verde River, federally designated as “Wild and Scenic,” with Mild to Wild Rafting! Guests can choose between one or two-day adventures from February to May. This is the perfect experience for beginners, or those traveling with younger children. The intensity is only rated mild to intermediate.
Guests will enjoy beautiful views of the canyon along with options to see some of the Grand Canyon’s natural wildlife, plants, and birds. Additionally, passengers can choose between a standard boat, a premium boat, or an inflatable kayak.
No experience is necessary, but there is a minimum age requirement of six years old for a boat and twelve years old for an inflatable kayak.
The one-day trip begins with the rafts’ descent into the canyon, followed by a deli-style lunch. The more challenging rapids are saved for after your meal, so eat lightly! The price for a one-day trip depends on the type of boat you choose, but it begins at $155 per person and climbs to $185 per person for adults.
The two-day trip is similar to the one-day trip; this difference is that it ends with a night camping on the river. The guides prepare both a campfire dinner and breakfast for the next morning, followed by more rapids and swimming in a natural hot spring! Prices depend on the boat choice but begin at $515 per person and end at $565 per person for adults.
Run the Verde with OAC
For another rafting experience through the iconic Verde River, try the Outdoor Adventure Center! The Classic River Run is the company’s most popular tour for thrill-seekers of all ages. Guests will spend around two hours floating down a 3-mile stretch of the Verde in inflatable kayak boats, observing the native wildlife and beautiful scenery famous to the area.
The tour company provides guides, equipment, and even transportation to and from the boathouse, where the trip begins. Guests should bring their own sunscreen and water. Lunch is not served due to the trip’s short duration, so hungry visitors should pack a few snacks into their bags before departure.
The cost of the Classic River Run starts at $89 per person, which is affordable on almost any budget.
River Tubing with Sedona Adventure Tours
Last, but certainly not least, is Sedona Adventure Tours, with the unique option to travel down the Verde River in an inflatable tube. Consider it the “lazy river” version of whitewater rafting, perfect for when you want to experience the river up close without fear of falling out of your boat.
Trips last two to three hours and begin at the Black Canyon River Access Point in Cottonwood. Tubes will be provided, along with squirt guns for the inevitable water fights you’ll have on your float. Children over the age of five are welcome, but all dogs and other animals should be left at home.
Sedona Adventure Tours offers tubing for the affordable price of $37 per person on weekdays and $40 per person on weekends, making it the perfect family adventure.
Final Thoughts on Whitewater Rafting
Arizona is a great place to enjoy river tours and excursions on the many gorgeous rivers. Combine beautiful scenery, swimming, hiking, and camping into one experience led by knowledgeable guides, and you’ve got a fantastic time! No matter your skill level, you’re sure to find a package perfect for you and your family in our wonderful Grand Canyon state.