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Colorado River: Day Trips and Tours from Las Vegas

The Colorado River is the sixth-longest river in the United States and runs for over 1,400 miles. It snakes through a total of nine states in both Mexico and the southwestern US. The river is known for stunning canyons, raging rapids and 11 national parks along its banks.

Visitors from all over the world travel to the Colorado River each year and participate in a variety of water and outdoor activities. You can do anything from a helicopter tour to white water rafting. The river offers something for everyone, so consider booking a Colorado River tour on your next trip!

Here's all you need to know about the Colorado River, one of the most scenic day trips from Las Vegas.

Where is the Colorado River located?

Since the river is so long, you can access it from a handful of states and even countries. In the US, the river basin states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

You can easily access the river by car, foot, guided tour, plane/helicopter or boat. Many people access the river at popular points like the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and the Hoover Dam. The river sits just southeast of Las Vegas making it another popular access point.

What are the best things to do at the Colorado River?

The Colorado River is a haven for outdoor activities and stunning scenery. One of the most iconic locations along the river is the Grand Canyon. Visitors travel from far and wide to marvel at this natural rock formation that the river carved.

Here you can go hiking, skydiving, rafting, horseback riding, ATV riding, swimming and boating.

After the Grand Canyon, you can make your way to another well-known site, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. This part of the river curves into the shape of a horseshoe and it was named accordingly. You can also find great hiking trails in this area.

Visitors also often make their way to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. The dam sits on the border of Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon portion of the Colorado River. It was created to control floods, provide irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power.

Lake Mead is a reservoir that sits at the bottom of the dam. In terms of water capacity, it is the largest reservoir in the US.

If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, you can go white water rafting or kayaking on the river. Rafting is one of the most popular activities on the river amongst visitors.

You can explore the river up close and personal on these exciting expeditions. You and your group will make your way down the Colorado River in a raft or kayak through the raging rapids.

Many people opt to explore the river from above by taking a helicopter tour or airplane ride. Since the river stretches so far, it is impossible to even scratch its surface. You can cover more ground on one of these rides.

Many aerial flights take you through the Grand Canyon and provide you with one of the best bird’s eye views in the world!

What are the best tours to visit the Colorado River?

Black Canyon kayaking tours

Kayaking in the Black Canyon is a popular activity among visitors and locals alike. On these tours, you will make your way down the river with a guide into the canyon. You can explore the emerald green waters of the Emerald Cave, Sauna Cave, the Hoover Dam and Willow Beach.

Some kayak tours provide lunch as you make your way down the river. The tours occur multiple times throughout the day, so you can book a day or evening tour.

White water rafting tours

White water rafting is the perfect activity for thrill-seekers and adventure-lovers. You will join a group of fellow travelers, as you make your way down the river in a small raft. Expect to encounter the raging rapids of the mighty Colorado River.

These tours are a great way to explore the water up close. You will see the flora and fauna that surround the river, hidden waterfalls and a handful of different canyons along the way. Please note that most tours have a minimum age requirement for children.

West Rim combination tours

Many tour operators offer combination tours that give you both an aerial and aquatic experience. You can book a West Rim tour to see the river in a helicopter, cruise down the river on a boat tour and step over the Grand Canyon at the Skywalk. Combination tours are the best way to get the most bang for your buck!

ATV tours

While most people opt to explore the river by water, you can explore it by land as well on an ATV tour of the Colorado River. Hop on a four-wheeler and make your way along the river banks. You will also have the opportunity to do some off-road racing as well. It is sure to be an experience that you won’t forget!

What are the prices of Colorado River tours?

The cost of each tour depends on what the tour includes, where it departs from, how many stops it makes, the tour operator and how long the tour lasts. You can expect to pay anywhere from US$28 to US$1,250.

Kayaking tours vary in price depending on how long they last. Some tours last for two hours while others last for five days. These tours cost anywhere between US$84 and US$1,250. White water rafting tours cost anywhere from US$69 to US$699.

West Rim combination tours tend to be a bit more expensive because they include multiple activities. You can expect to pay between US$319 and US$759. ATV tours cost anywhere between US$250 and US$704.

Where do Colorado River tours start?

Many of the Colorado tours depart from Las Vegas. It is one of the most visited cities in the world, so many people add a tour of the river during their stay in Sin City.

Since the river sits about 30 miles outside of the city, most tours provide round-trip transportation from your accommodation. If not, you can make your way to the designated meeting spot in the city to gather with the rest of the tour group.

When is the best time to visit the Colorado River?

The best time of the year to visit the Colorado River depends on where you access the river and your weather preferences. You can expect warm and sunny summer days in most of the states that the river travels through with moderate winters.

Melting snow feeds the river, so its condition varies from year to year. You can typically expect a mild rafting experience from May through September.

We recommend taking a tour during the morning. You will have plenty of daylight to take in your surroundings while avoiding the warmest time of the day in the afternoon. Many tours do not operate at night because the activities are dangerous in the dark.

You can schedule your tour at any point on your trip. If you schedule it towards the beginning, you have enough time to book another one if you can’t get enough of the river!

Are there any tours to the Colorado River from other cities in the United States?

Yes, there are other tours departing from other cities in the US:

Travel tips

  • Bring plenty of sunscreen! The sun is intense in the southwestern US, especially during the summer.
  • Check the minimum age requirement for each tour. Some tours allow children to participate under adult supervision once they reach a certain age.
  • Determine your budget before booking a tour. Most tour operators offer something for every budget!

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