Little Colorado - 03. Cameron to Colorado River

Little Colorado, Arizona, US


03. Cameron to Colorado River

Usual Difficulty I-IV (for normal flows)
Length 55 Miles
Avg. Gradient 23 fpm
Max Gradient 80 fpm

Little Colorado near mouth

Little Colorado near mouth
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 03/22/09 @ 825 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09402000 200 - 10000 cfs I-IV 00h52m 0 cfs (too low)
Flow range for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

Below Cameron, the Little Colorado River flows towards the Grand Canyon through an impressively deep and narrow canyon of its own.   The distance from Cameron to the confluence with the main Colorado is approximately 55 miles, so boaters must expect to take several days.   The steepest 3 miles are reported to be class 4+ in difficulty.   Class 3 and some 4- rapids may be encountered throughout the rest of the canyon.  

All but the last 3 miles of this section are within the Navajo Tribal Reservation.   The last 3 miles are within Grand Canyon National Park. 

Take out:  Since flows in the Little Colorado are unpredictable, but permits for the Grand Canyon must be obtained far in advance, it is highly unlikely that boaters can coordinate a trip down the Little Colorado with a trip through the Grand Canyon.   So, boaters are faced with the dillemma of climbing out of the canyon at the end of their trip.  There are dirt roads along the rim in several areas and probably trails leading out of the canyon to those roads in some spots.  It is unclear what take out strategies have been used by boaters doing this section.

Elevations and gradient:
Cameron  4120 feet.   
Confluence with main Colorado,  2720 feet.
Total drop is 1400 feet over 55 miles, creating an average gradient of about 25 feet per mile. Much of the early distance appears to be very flat.  In the heart of the canyon there are sections of 30 to 40 feet per mile and one mile appears to drop about 80 feet.   

Permits are required from the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department for all trips on the Little Colorado River.  As of 2009, the backcountry permit fee is $5 per person, plus $5 per person per night camping fee.


Cameron Visitor Center is located near the put in. 
P.O. Box 459
Cameron, AZ  86020
tel : 928.679.2303

Permits are also required from Grand Canyon National Park, if you plan on boating the final 3 miles to the confluence with the main Colorado. Contact:  

  • Backcountry Information Center: (928) 638-7875 between 1 pm and 5 pm Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays
  • River Permits Office: (800) 959-9164 or (928) 638-7843

Creative arraignments may be possible.

Other Information Sources: 
Little Colorado River Tribal Park
Video from helicopter showing Cocconino Platuea and small portion of Little Colorado Gorge.
Through the Little Colorado River Gorge, sun and shadows helicopter video.
QUICKSAND AND BLUE SPRINGS Exploring the Little Colorado River Gorge - Book about hiking.
Paddling Arizona at

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-15 03:25:06

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 11 2009 (3567 days ago)
Paul MartzenDetails
Thank you for these recent comments. I am correcting the description as best I can (without having
done the run) and eliminating the hyperbole. Any additional information would be appreciated. Looks
like somebody copied the previous description straight from the Southwest Paddlers website which
appears to be canoe oriented.
February 26 2009 (3580 days ago)
x (1)
I aborted a trip here with a planned hike out option, as did many others, because it is NOT class
V. According to reliable sources, it's about 3 miles of good class IV+, and the rest is painfully
flat. Beautiful, but the 12 hour hike out was not worth it. Paddling AZ calls it class IV, and
unlike the one here, the description in Tyler's book is trustworthy.
February 6 2008 (3966 days ago)
x (1)
This run's illegal only if you end your trip within Grand Canyon National Park and don't obtain a
permit from the Navajo tribe.

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