Lees Ferry, Arizona is a small town located on the Colorado River a few miles south of the border between Utah and Arizona. It’s a unique geographic location with regards to the river, because it’s the only spot for hundreds of miles where you can easily access both sides of the river. It also marks the separation between the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River. More importantly, Lees Ferry is the official start of the Grand Canyon, with the nearby Glen and Marble Canyons marking the uppermost part of the main canyon. There are also a number of geographically striking features in the Lees Ferry area, including the remarkable Vermilion Cliffs and the tree-covered Kaibab Plateau.
Once a historically important site for ferries and water transportation, today Lees Ferry is primarily used as a departure or arrival point for numerous waterborne activities on the Colorado River, such as rafting and hiking tours, as well as fishing and other leisure activities. (Note to fisherman: it’s widely considered the best trout fishing site in the entire southwest). It’s also a very popular camping area (run through the National Park Service), offering basic amenities alongside sites of historic interest, such as the restored Lonely Dell Ranch Historic District.
A wide variety of rafting tours depart from or conclude at Lees Ferry. Here is a selection of available tour companies and the general services they offer.
- Arizona Raft Adventures: This company specializes in multi-day rafting trips on the Colorado. From all-paddling whitewater excursions to the immensely popular Classic Adventure motorized raft, there’s an option for every taste and budget.
- Canyoneers: Three different rafting trips with a variety of extra options are available (including type of boat, the inclusion of hiking, overnight stay, etc.).
- Colorado River Discovery: Many of these rafting tours begin from Page, Arizona, and continue down to conclude at Lees Ferry. They also offer a backhauling service that will bring your smaller personal craft from Lees Ferry to sites further up near Glen Canyon Dam.
- Colorado River & Trail Expeditions: Offering multiple rafting options, these trips also include stays at local ranches, helicopter rides, bus tours, and much more.
- Grand Canyon Tour Company: Depending on the type of boat, this excursion takes 3 – 7 days to traverse the Colorado River from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek.
- A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc.: Featuring multi-day whitewater rafting excursions, these ventures also include hikes, nature walks, and even a visit to Native American ruins.
- Outdoors Unlimited: This company offers multi-day long term rafting trips (up to two weeks in duration!), which also include hikes and occasions to explore Native American ruins.