Colorado River & Inner Canyon
The Colorado River is the beating heart of the Grand Canyon. Starting at its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, this mighty river flows 1450 miles to the Gulf of California, 277 miles of which flow through the Grand Canyon. The Colorado is the major tool in the creation of the Grand Canyon, and one of the major sources of life sustaining water for many western states. Historically the river allowed ancestral puebloan tribes to sustain themselves, by providing vital water in an arid environment. Today it is the domain of adventures hikers and rafters. Rafting Trips on the Colorado River are among the best in the world with huge whitewater rapids, stunning scenery, and great side hikes many of which can only be accessed while you are on the river. Grand Canyon Hikers main goal is usually reaching the Colorado River from the Rim, or even crossing the river via one of two suspension bridges to get to Phantom Ranch or hiking all the way across the canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim. If you're looking for more information on Colorado River activities check out our Grand Canyon Hiking or Grand Canyon Rafting Pages.
The average visitation to the Grand Canyon is only a couple hours, and few visitors ever venture below the Rim. Although the Views from the top are unsurpassed, you just don't get a true Grand Canyon experience without getting below the Rim. Stepping below the Rim gives you a totally new perspective of the Grand Canyon. This perspective changes as you make your way to the Colorado River, where there are vast stretches people cannot even see the top of the canyon. Hiking the Inner Grand Canyon, and rafting the Colorado River are the most popular way to explore it's heartland, but there are also mule rides, and some limited helicopter flights into the Canyon, and even some roads.
The Inner Grand Canyon is basically any area below the Canyon Rim to the Colorado River. With 277 River Miles, and over twice that distance along both Rims, this is a fairly vast area. Most places in the inner canyon are only accessible via foot or boat. The extensive trail system within Grand Canyon National Park covers a lot of ground, and rafters are able to visit places at the bottom of the Grand Canyon no one else gets to see. Mule rides within Grand Canyon National Park are limited to the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and North Kaibab Trail. You can also take a mule to Havasu Falls, or get below the Rim at Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Reservation. Both the Hualapai (Grand Canyon West) and Havasupai Reservations also have helicopter flights that will get you into the inner Grand Canyon. There are only two roads in the Grand Canyon that go to the Colorado River. One is the road to Lee's Ferry, where boaters start their journey through the Grand Canyon. The other road which actually carves its way through the Canyon starts near Peach Springs, AZ and follows Diamond Creek to the Colorado River through the Hualapai Reservation.
Whether you hike from the rim, hop in a raft, hop on a mule, take a flight, or drive out to a scenic overlook to get a view of the Colorado River, make sure you spend a little time taking in this awesome force of mother nature.