Paddle Boarding on Havasu Creek

You’re browsing Pinterest’s travel section, looking for ideas for your next epic adventure and you come across a slew of incredible images of adventurers paddle boarding in the Grand Canyon. Each photo explores another jaw-dropping angle but all feature the same milky pastel blue water contrasting against towering brilliant red canyon walls.

This is it, you think to yourself. I want to do that. “That,” more specifically meaning stand up paddle boarding at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. A flurry of further searches turns up images of Havasu Falls, solidifying your expectation that this will be the trip of a lifetime. Time to figure out how to make it happen. BUT, before you get too excited, read on to learn why stand up paddle boarding on Havasu Creek is impossible.


Can I go Paddle Boarding on Havasu Creek?

How do I plan a paddle boarding trip to Havasu Falls and the Grand Canyon?

Despite the dramatic images that can now be found across the internet, it is not possible for most people to go paddle-boarding on Havasu Creek.

Why can’t I stand up paddle board on Havasu Creek?

There are no roads to Havasu Creek. The area near Havasu Falls that most people visit to camp near the waterfalls is accessible by a 10 mile hike (16 kilometers) into the Grand Canyon. Carrying a stand up paddle board for 10 miles is not advised. To get to the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River (where most of the images you have seen were made), requires hiking an additional 8 miles (13 km) from Havasu campground deeper into the Grand Canyon along a rugged and difficult trail. This makes your total hiking distance somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 miles (29 km) to reach your paddle boarding spot, not to mention the 18 mile return trip.

If it’s so difficult, how did the paddle boarders in the online photos get to that place?

The only way to arrange to paddle board at Havasu Creek and the confluence to the Colorado River is to raft down the Colorado on a multi-day rafting trip, bringing your paddle boards along for the ride. The Colorado River runs 277 river miles through the Grand Canyon and the confluence of Havasu Creek is at mile 157. Rafters must begin their expedition at Phantom Ranch (river mile 88) or at Lee’s Ferry (river mile 1) and raft for at least 7, or as long as 17, days down the Colorado.

Is there anywhere to experience something similar to these photos?

Though not the same exact experience, you might consider paddle boarding in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on Lake Powell outside of Page, Arizona or on the lower Salt River or Lake Pleasant in Phoenix, Arizona. Neither of these alternatives will include a trip to the stunning Havasu Falls, but could be combined to form a week-long adventure.


See more about planning your trip to visit Havasu Falls…

Hiking to the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River.

Hiking to the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River.


  • Guillermo Gonzalez says:

    Question. Once you get to Havasu Creek why do you have to hike out? Can you paddle down river and get pick up at a other location?

    • Moderator says:

      Hi Guillermo, great question. The answer is truly that “No,” you cannot paddle down the Colorado River from Havasu Creek and get picked up at another location. The Colorado River is not easy to navigate and the distance from the confluence of Havasu Creek to the “end” of the Grand Canyon where river rafters take out is 130 miles. There are many rapids in between, none of them insignificant. Most people who raft on the Colorado River wait years for the chance because there is a complex lottery system, it is not something anyone is allowed to embark upon. This is wild and remote backcountry and though beautiful, very hard to access.

  • bjorn king says:

    so how do you arrange a trip to go paddle boarding there, is it legal?

    • AOAmicro says:

      Hi Bjorn King, it is not illegal, but due to the incredibly difficult access it’s not feasible to arrange a paddle boarding trip there. The only people we’ve known to paddle board on Havasu Creek are people who are rafting down the Colorado River on private rafting trips. These are very difficult to organize. You can contact one of the Grand Canyon rafting companies for more details.

  • Ryan Robinson says:

    I have to ask, if I’m willing to pack in a kayak, knowing I’m facing a nearly 20 mile trek in harsh conditions, is it possible to kayak a reasonable stretch of Havasu Creek?

    • Moderator says:

      Hi there, the longest distance available to kayak is only about 500 yards. Most of the photos of people in kayaks on Havasu Creek are actually coming up the creek from the Colorado during a multi-day rafting trip.

  • Nickole says:

    Hi There,

    I just want to say that your site has been the most helpful. EVERYWHERE said we could paddle board. I also clicked the link for paddle boarding in lake Powell and booked my reservation for them. They were EXTREMELY informative. Just wanna give a big thanks for the help and saving me the head ache of figuring this mess out!

  • Jason says:

    Wow, I wasn’t aware of this. Thanks for the heads up!

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