Wild River Trips: Grand Canyon of the Colorado River

Check one off your bucket list at the bottom of the Big Ditch

Ever since John Wesley Powell ran it in 1869, the Colorado River’s 220-plus-mile passage through the Big Ditch has been the big name in big water. Experiencing the whole canyon at river level is a bucket-list trip—and prices and availability reflect that. Longer guided trips sell out a year in advance, and unguided trips require entry into a lottery the previous February—so, really, we’re talking spring 2014 here.

If you’re willing to pony up a cool $2,600 per person, there are openings for two left on award-winning Western River’s 6-day trips. Fair warning to paddle fiends: these are motorized rafts.

For the budget conscious, travel 15 miles upstream of the Grand Canyon’s put-in to Glen Canyon Dam, where Colorado River Discovery leads half- and full-day motor-raft tours from $89 and $181, respectively. While you’ll technically be in Glen Canyon, you'll still get the towering rust-colored bluffs and blue-green waters its Grand neighbor is famous for.