5 Remarkable Rafting Adventures for Solo Travelers and Beginners

A scenic view of rafts full of paddlers in The Grand Canyon.

Are you craving an adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories? You heard this year will be the best time for spring and summer runoff in decades, so a river rafting adventure is a choice. But organizing a trip with friends or family seems daunting.

“I think I’ll just do this solo,” you decide.

Leaning into Western River Expeditions’ expertise for rafting and rivers, you find yourself on and off the water, sharing laughs and thrills with assorted new friends. The gathering isn’t a couple’s night or a family play date; instead, this is a “we’re all in this together” camaraderie encouraged by Nature.

A plus side of traveling solo is securing room on the raft with no space left for couples and small pairings. Solo can be a bonus when trying to wiggle onto coveted trips through the Grand Canyon. Once slotted in, however, the sense of solo vanishes among new friends, including the guides, who share the awe of majestic scenery and star-filled skies.

Many solo guests report that traveling single liberated them from the roles and expectations that may have subconsciously bound their natural curiosity back home. It also gave them the security of traveling with like-minded people.

“After hearing tales of Lava and Hermit rapids and ‘riding on the front,’ I booked a Grand Canyon trip with Western River Expeditions. None of my friends were interested, so I just signed up solo. From the moment I arrived, I was never alone,” said Sallie, a guest from California.

See stories from solo travelers who launched on a Western River Expeditions adventure. 

The Perfect Solo Trip from Western River Expeditions

Most Popular Rafting Adventures for Solo Travelers

In Arizona, Grand Canyon 3-Day River Trip: Think two nights on the river, a helicopter ride into the canyon, whitewater rafting with ample class II – III rapids, incredible meals, a jet boat ride, and easy access from Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon 3-day river trip is a popular introductory experience for solo travelers. Anticipate possible sightings of the elusive Blue Heron, rare California Condors, Big Horn sheep, and soaring hawks and eagles. Departures are from April through September. The rate is $1,750.

In Arizona, Grand Canyon 6 or 7-Day Vacation: This extended river journey descends deeper into geologic time while exploring the first 188 miles of the Grand Canyon. Guests experience world-class whitewater, including legendary Lava Falls, Hermit, Crystal, and more. More than 60 class III – V rapids provide thrills aplenty. Off the river are hikes to waterfalls and Native American sites through astounding side canyons. Departures are from April through September. The rate is from $3,345.

South of Moab, Utah, Colorado River 4-Day Cataract Canyon: This adventure over four days and three nights explores Canyonlands National Park on the Colorado River that winds through stunning sandstone sculptures while encountering some of the best whitewater in North America. Think class III – V rapids where the Green and Colorado Rivers meet in a majestic setting called “The Confluence.” This is where Cataract Canyon begins, a deep 100-mile-long chasm through the heart of the National Park. Departures are from May through September. The rate is from $1,825.

In Idaho, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River coursing through the remote and rugged mountains of central Idaho, is a legend among river runners who appreciate boundless class III – V rapids. Designated as a National “Wild & Scenic River,” this fast-paced trip has incredible hikes, hot springs, whitewater, and scenery. This pure, clear, free-flowing river drops 3,000 feet over its 100-mile course through the remote and spectacular River of No Return Wilderness, the largest Wilderness in the lower 48 states. Departures are from June through August. The rate is from $2,990.

A group relaxes on a raft in Cataract Canyon.

Overnight River Rafting Trips for Beginners

Comfort zones move front and center on Holiday River Expeditions’ newest river rafting trip.

Intro to Overnight Rafting on the Colorado River is for people who may be new to camping or river trips or are introducing children to the wilderness for the first time.

The elements of any Holiday River Expeditions are a river, a boat, and the ingredients that make for comfortable camping. The new beginner rafting trips pay particular attention to alleviating the concerns and anxieties that some first-timers may bring with them. 

“Whitewater rafting looks exciting but intimidating if you’re new to it. We designed our Intro to Overnight Rafting trip to welcome individuals or families to the river lifestyle. Expert guides and the casual pace of this trip make it accessible and fun, even if it’s someone’s first time rafting, camping, or both,” explains Trip Leader Liz Hall.

The two 2023 season departure dates for this new, 3-day/2-night introductory program are; July 18-20 and Aug. 8-10. Children ages five and up are welcome. 

From an early morning meet-up on day 1 at Holiday River’s headquarters in Green River, Utah, to the journey’s end at the river take-out, this entrée into river rafting is designed to be stress-free, engaging, and fun. 

Young and old guests delight in camping on the river bank under a canopy of stars and having the option to play on stand-up paddle boards or in inflatable kayaks on calm stretches (Class I rapids) of the Colorado River. The easy-paced journey covers 25 scenic river miles from start to finish.

The expedition travels through red sandstone cliffs, dubbed Ruby and Horsethief Canyons, on the border of Colorado and Utah. The trip starts in southwestern Colorado just west of Colorado National Monument and slowly works its way back into Utah. This stretch of river offers stunning wilderness and teems with wildlife such as bighorn sheep, river otters, cliff swallows, and bald eagles. 

Guides will point out sections of metamorphic Vishnu Schist (black) and Zoroaster Granite (pink) while floating Horsethief and Ruby Canyons, the only places on the Colorado River outside of the Grand Canyon where these Precambrian rocks are exposed.

Guides will also share their knowledge of the river and the human history of the canyon. This region is the traditional homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people who still occupy small portions of these ancestral lands.  

“Holiday has intentionally moved away from talking about these canyons and plateaus as places somehow separate from humans,” says Trip Director Lauren Wood. 

“The separate-from-humans concept has done untold damage to how we think about public lands and what they mean to the American story. Informed by our relationships with tribal elders and friends, we are re-framing stories about sovereignty, environmental justice, and sacred places.”

Rates are $645 for adults and $595 for youth and seniors. The rates include transportation from Green River to and back from the river, camping gear, guide-prepared meals, use of boats and rafts, guided hikes and nature/cultural interpretations, and the watchful eye and camping assistance of guides throughout the journey. 

Rates do not include a $4.00 per person fee added for Sovereign Lands. This fee underscores the respect and support of sovereign governments and communicates that respect with other boaters and people recreating on indigenous peoples’ lands.

Before you Go

If you’ve been hesitant about rafting adventures for solo travelers or beginners, now is the time to let go of any reservations and embrace the thrill of adventure. Western River Expeditions offers an array of popular trips for solo travelers, allowing you to immerse yourself in breathtaking landscapes and exhilarating rapids. From the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to Idaho’s remote and rugged mountains, each journey promises unforgettable experiences and newfound friendships.

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