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What’s the Best Time of Year to Raft Grand Canyon?

By Krystal • May 23, 2022

Short Answer: Go when you have the time and we have the space!

Our season runs April through September which coincides with the ideal time to raft in the Grand Canyon. Many of our guests raft in June, July, and August when school is out. If you have a flexible schedule, you may want to take advantage of milder weather in April, May, and September.

Summertime temperatures in Arizona can look daunting! However, heat is rarely an issue for our guests as there are a lot of ways to combat the heat. Usually, we only hear about the weather if the trip was abnormally cold – like a storm in late May. It is easier to cool down in the canyon due to the 50-70°F river water, but it can be tricky to warm back up if it is cold. Follow our packing list, and you’ll be better prepared for whatever weather the canyon throws your way.

No one knows better than Bruce, one of the owners of ARR. He was a river guide in the 70s and has been on numerous trips throughout the years. He believes planning your trip around the weather is challenging because it is unpredictable. More important is planning and packing for the possibility of extreme weather, which can happen at any time of year. Additionally, in 40 years of asking for guest feedback after a trip, the weather is rarely mentioned. Much more memorable is the canyon and who you experience it with.

Each month has its unique pros and cons, so the best time of year varies depending on who you ask. Read what ARR staff say about their favorite time of year:

Mid-July through August

“I like this time of year because the temps are still hot, which you want because of the cold river water, but there tends to be some cloud cover which takes some of the intensity of the heat away. Also, if you’re lucky enough to get rain, seeing waterfalls appear all around you is something you’ll never forget.” – Bruce

May & September

“It is hard to choose between the shoulder season months of May and September. I love May because the canyon seems to come alive in the spring with small, bright cactus blooms, birds chirping, and the chance of seeing baby bighorn sheep! On the other hand, September tends to have ideal camping and hiking weather, giving you an opportunity to explore deep within the canyon.” -Krystal

Mid-June to Mid-July

“It’s hot! Seriously hot! The sky is almost guaranteed to be a brilliant cloudless blue every day with bright stars at night. When it gets that hot in the canyon, playing in the cool water is not just fun, it’s required fun. Being with a group and experiencing the heat of the Grand Canyon together are some of my favorite memories.” -Brannon


“For myself, I love April! We run our Hiker’s Special trips this month because it’s the best hiking weather – it’s warming up enough to be pleasant, even in the direct sunlight, but not too hot. Keep in mind that the cooler weather will make it quite chilly on the water. You’ll want to follow our cool-weather packing list, and full rain gear on the boats is a must! It’s all worth it though. The bigger hikes on these trips are phenomenal and once summer arrives, they become unbearable in the heat. Visiting the canyon’s backcountry off the raft in April is a fantastic experience you won’t regret!” -Nick

We recommend taking Bruce’s advice: “Don’t stress too much about when to go; just make sure you do!”

No question too small!

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