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.
- Paddle Boarding on Lake Powell: Lake Powell Paddleboards
- Kayaking on Lake Powell: Hidden Canyon Kayak
- Paddle Boarding in Phoenix: Desert Voyagers
See more about planning your trip to visit Havasu Falls…