Arizona River Runners offers only a few oar trips each season. Due to limited availability, these trips tend to sell out earlier than our motor trips. Oar trips are longer in duration than motorized rafting trips because the rafts go the speed of the current, about 4-5 miles per hour. To experience the full Grand Canyon, you’ll need about 2 weeks. However, there are partial canyon options if you don’t have that much time and are up for a hiking challenge. You can do either the upper section and hike out, or you can hike in and join a trip for the lower section of the river. The hike into or out of Grand Canyon is strenuous – about 8 miles long with nearly a vertical mile of elevation change! Though very rewarding, you definitely will need to consider your hiking abilities if you are hoping to do one of the partial canyon trips.
Our oar rafts are NOT paddle rafts, so guests will not be issued paddles at any time. The guides will row all the rapids using a centralized set of oars while you enjoy the ride. The river is about 92% flatwater, so you’ll be happy that the guide is the one rowing. If you’d like to try rowing, let your guide know and they’ll let you have a chance at the oars in one of the flatwater sections.
A benefit to oar trips is that you have ample time with your guides to chat, hear stories about historic river runners, ask geology questions, and listen to in-depth interpretation of the Grand Canyon. There is one guide and 3-5 passengers per 18-foot raft. There are usually about 6-8 rafts on each trip, each with their own guide. The rafts travel downstream together, do all the hikes together and always eat and camp together. Many passengers find it’s great to switch rafts each day to be able to hear the different jokes, stories, and information from each guide.
Many of our oar trip launches have a motorized support raft to carry supplies (food, sleeping gear, kitchen equipment, etc.). Don’t worry, most of the time you’ll only see the motor support raft at side hike stops, lunch and in camp as they usually trail behind the oar boats.
Each guest is issued a small, waterproof day bag to store personal items they’ll need throughout the day. These will simply clip to the straps next to you on the boat. Bring a carabiner with you to easily clip your water bottle to the raft. For soda and beer, mesh drag bags are provided and we’ll drag these beverages in the water alongside of the raft. Since the river is always about 50 degrees F, it helps keep beverages cool. A variety of sweet and salty snacks, fresh fruit, water, and electrolyte mix will be available on the rafts at all times.
Like the sound of this trip? You can compare our oar trip types here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us, chat us or email us. Get ready to hold on, have fun and enjoy your trip!