If you’re an adventure lover who needs excitement instead of “just a vacation”—if you want to experience the magnificent Grand Canyon up close and personal, both rushing through the Colorado River’s powerful rapids and hiking through hidden side canyons and trails—then Colorado River and Trail Expeditions (or CRATE) just might be the perfect tour company for you! CRATE offers all kinds of trips that vary in difficulty (from motorized boats to rafts where all passengers must do their paddling part!) and in length (from 3 to 13 days), meaning there’s a perfect trip for everyone: adventure-seeking couples, families, groups of friends, and more. You can even charter your own personal adventure!
CRATE has been operating under original ownership since 1971, started by a husband and wife team (himself a river guide since 1965!). Since that time, they’ve kept their company small with only 15 river guides—all of whom are fantastically friendly, skilled, knowledgeable (concerning just about any topic that has to do with the Grand Canyon!), and excellent cooks as well—in order to provide a truly personalized experience for guests. In addition to a thrilling rafting experience, CRATE focuses on hiking the Canyon as you journey down the river (thus, the “Trail” part of their name!). Some trips involve hiking into and out of the Canyon, and all trips allow plenty of time to stop along the way and explore some of the Grand Canyon’s most beautiful and best-kept secrets. CRATE provides necessary camping gear as well as fantastic home- (or, Canyon-) cooked food. Note, though, that camping in the Grand Canyon requires strict adherence to Leave No Trace: all waste (yes, all waste) must be carried out of the Canyon. Don’t worry, though—the guides also take care of the specially designed and antiseptic-clean portable toilet. CRATE’s guests must be ready for some hard work (like setting up and breaking down camp every day) and to experience some real wilderness lifestyle. According to every customer review of the company, though, such tiny discomforts are well worth the life-changing experience!
Colorado River & Trail Expeditions Features & Amenities:
- Exceptionally skilled, knowledgeable, and friendly river guides who will help maneuver you through the rapids and along the right trails, help you set up camp, cook delicious meals, teach you about the Canyon’s history, geology, ecology, biology, etc.—anything they can do to personalize your trip!
- State-of-the-art equipment ranging from 37-foot motorized rafts (which hold 12 passengers plus crew), to 18-foot rowing rafts (which hold 4-5 passengers plus one guide), to paddle rafts (which hold 6-8 passengers—who are the crew!—and one guide)
- All camping gear, including: tents, ground tarps, sleeping bags, cots (on motorized trips) or foam pads (on rowing or paddle trips), camp chairs, waterproof storage (one bag for your sleeping bag, one for your clothes, and one smaller bag plus dry box for your day gear), and eating utensils
- Food plus hot and cold drinks (vegan and vegetarian options available!): hot, fresh-cooked meals in the morning and evening, plus a build-your-own sandwich bar for lunch
- Incredible off-river hiking adventures led by your highly trained guide
- Optional add-ons (including a night at the Bar 10 Ranch, horseback riding, helicopter rides, and more) and/or special trips (e.g., hiking- or natural history-focused adventures) are available
- Round-trip transportation to and from your trip’s designated meeting place
Notes and Things to Improve:
- CRATE does not offer day trips on the Colorado River: however, you can take a 2- or 3-day multisport trip from Las Vegas if you’re short on time
- Though CRATE provides camping gear for every passenger, you’re also required to bring your own equipment: upon booking a trip, you’ll be sent a detailed list explaining what to bring. In addition to layered clothes, CRATE recommends that you bring a small pack and water bottle, a rain poncho, a cloth hat with large brim (for protection from the desert sun), and—of course—a camera!
- CRATE does not provide alcoholic beverages; however, adults are more than welcome to bring alcohol with them for personal use
- Children must be at least 8 years old to go on a CRATE expedition—however, there is no upper age limit, and no rafting or hiking experience is required
- Please note that, on booking a CRATE trip, you’ll have to sign an Acknowledgement of Risk form and provide a deposit
- CRATE runs Grand Canyon tours between April and September; if you want to go on a particular trip, you can select from their schedule
Types of Colorado River & Trail Expeditions Available
Motorized 37’ Raft:
CRATE’s motorized rafts are specially designed for efficiency and noise reduction in the magnificent Grand Canyon. Motorized trips allow you to run the length of the river, see everything you can, and go on all the hikes, while spending less time overall. There are multiple motorized trips to choose from, including 8- or 9-day tours of the entire length of the River run by CRATE (280 miles in all!), to shorter treks* down the upper or lower Canyon, to special multisport adventures!
Non-Motorized Rafting Expeditions:
If you want to experience the majesty of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River in silence, CRATE offers multiple non-motorized adventures. Each trip includes both row rafts (where you can relax while your guide propels you down the river!) and paddle rafts (where you work alongside other passengers to paddle the raft through the rapids!); you’re welcome to switch between the two to take a break or give yourself a workout. Again, you can choose between multiple adventures based on the amount of time you have, the amount of hiking you want to do, the parts of the Canyon you want to see, and so on.
This type of trip is not for the weak of heart (or of arms)! In addition to rigorous hiking, you’ll spend your time in the river paddling your raft alongside several other passengers as your guide expertly steers you through the rapids’ best course! Depending on time and endurance, you can choose a full Canyon trip or a half trip* (either the upper Canyon or the lower Canyon).
* note that half trips require a challenging hike either into or out of the Canyon