How can I raft the Grand Canyon

Only a few are allowed to raft in the Grand Canyon - that's how it works

The characteristic rock formations look impressive from above. Adventurous visitors can also experience the Grand Canyon on a rafting tour on the Colorado River. However, not everyone can simply throw themselves into the floods.

For an unguided rafting tour (12 to 25 days) you have to apply in advance to the administration of the national parks of the USA, the "National Park Service" (NPS). The selection process is pretty tough though. In 2019, the authorities allowed 463 people to take part in the white water adventure - a low rate with just under 8,000 applications. For the year 2021, 461 places will be allocated.

Conditions for rafting in the Grand Canyon

The selection process uses a so-called "weighted lottery" (in German: weighted lottery). This means that the organizers weight the participants in advance.

On the website, those responsible state that applicants who have recently paddled the Colorado River are given fewer chances of getting one of the coveted spots than people who have never paddled on it.

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In addition, there must be at least one person in a group who has some rafting experience. "The Colorado River is a technically demanding river, not one for beginners," writes the NPS on its website about the application criteria.

Alternative: Guided rafting tours in the Grand Canyon

For 2021, the application period runs until February 25th (local time). Applicants must be at least 18 years old. In addition, the group must agree in advance on the exact time frame for the booking, changes to the date are no longer possible afterwards.

Anyone who was not lucky in the main lottery can still hope to be accepted in one of the replacement procedures. These are held during the year when participants give up their places. If you don't feel comfortable going on a tour without a guide, you can also book a guided tour.