Skip to main content
Header image

Colorado River


The Colorado River is a spectacular sight to see, meandering for 1,447 miles (2,330 kilometers) with red rocks and canyons framing it on both sides, leading up to the Hoover Dam. The Colorado River is one of the major water sources for California and Nevada, and, not surprisingly, is a major recreational destination—activities on the river include hiking, biking, rafting, and boating.

Many travelers go to Las Vegas to experience the mighty Colorado River by visiting or canoeing the Black Canyon, so-called because of the black volcanic rocks found in the area. The canyons are majestic, red land formations that lead from Colorado toward the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Guided boating and canoeing tours take visitors down the Colorado River as it passes through the Black Canyon.

At James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, hiking, rafting, fishing, rock climbing, and swimming are all available. Another bucket list experience well worth the time investment is a whitewater rafting trip through Grand Canyon National Park.

  • The river is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers.

  • Remember to wear comfortable clothes suitable for the activities you're participating in.

  • There isn't always shade on the river, so bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

  • River trips and rafting tours to the Colorado River from Las Vegas can last anywhere from three to 15 hours, depending on the option chosen.

There are numerous access points to the Colorado River as it flows through Nevada, but most travelers visit on a guided adventure tour that includes return transportation from Las Vegas. Lees Ferry is a popular spot to access the river from both Arizona and Utah.

While there isn't really a bad time to visit the Colorado River, commercial rafting trips—particularly those through the Grand Canyon—are generally offered from April to October. Depending on where you are along the river, temperatures in June, July, and August can soar above 100°F (38°C).

Those looking for a comprehensive Colorado River experience can combine a float trip or boat ride down the river with a Grand Canyon helicopter tour or a walk along the Grand Canyon Skywalk on the West Rim.

Colorado River tours go from laid-back, flat-water float trips to white-water rafting, kayaking, speed boating, hiking, and biking. Helicopter tours of the Colorado River are a great way to get a sense of the river's massive scale—they're a dramatic glimpse of the waterway as it flows through the Grand Canyon.

Rafting trips generally take place from April–October. While water levels peak in spring in some areas, the river's flow through the Grand Canyon reflects dam releases rather than melting snow. Warm, sunny days mean April and September–October are the best times to raft the Grand Canyon.

Yes, booking Colorado River ticket options in advance is a good idea. It's essential for travelers planning trips through the Grand Canyon, where limited permits are available. Some Grand Canyon trips fill up a year ahead of time, though due to cancellations, spaces often become available 2–4 months before departure.

Dress in moisture-wicking layers of quick-drying synthetic clothing, and avoid cotton fabrics that can be cold when wet. Other Colorado River essentials include sunglasses (with a tether), a brimmed hat, and sturdy shoes you don't mind getting wet. Running shoes and sports sandals with secure straps are both popular options.

Yes, you can see the Colorado River in a helicopter—it's especially spectacular at the Grand Canyon. Helicopter tours depart from Las Vegas, the West Rim, and the South Rim. Some helicopter flights touch down below the rim so you can see the river from within the Grand Canyon.

The desert sun can be intense year-round, so come prepared with waterproof sunscreen, sunglasses (with a tether), and a wide-brimmed hat. Sturdy shoes such as sneakers or sports sandals are a must, and if you think you might get wet, plan to wear moisture-wicking clothing that will dry quickly.


Travel Like an Expert with AAA and Trip Canvas

Get Ideas from the Pros

As one of the largest travel agencies in North America, we have a wealth of recommendations to share! Browse our articles and videos for inspiration, or dive right in with preplanned AAA Road Trips, cruises and vacation tours.

Build and Research Your Options

Save and organize every aspect of your trip including cruises, hotels, activities, transportation and more. Book hotels confidently using our AAA Diamond Designations and verified reviews.

Book Everything in One Place

From cruises to day tours, buy all parts of your vacation in one transaction, or work with our nationwide network of AAA Travel Agents to secure the trip of your dreams!