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Grand Canyon
3 Day Expedition

Grand Canyon River Trip Questions

A rafting vacation in Grand Canyon often entails many questions. What type of boats are used? How does camping on the river work? What is the food like? What do I need to bring and what is supplied by Western River Expeditions? You'll find answers to all these questions and many more in the categories below.

Reservations & Cancellations

What deposit is required?

An initial deposit of $300 per person is required to secure your space. Deposits may be made by check or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).

Can I hold space without a deposit?

We do allow courtesy holds for a period of 48 hours, these do not require a payment until a reservation is made. A hold may be extended due to the time of year, availability and group size.

When is final payment due?

Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Payment may be paid by check (preferably) or credit card.

How can I make payments?

For your convenience, we offer an automatic payment service to charge the balance due to your credit card 90 days prior to trip departure or you may make partial payments by credit card or check providing the full balance is paid 90 days prior to your trip. Installment payments can be scheduled to run automatically if requested. We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not collected by the due date.

For payments over $10,000 and for large international payments, a check or wire transfer is preferred.

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

Your initial deposit of $300 is refundable less a $100 per person cancellation fee for cancellations 90+ days prior to trip departure. Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable.

Our cancellation policy applies in every instance and there will be no exceptions for any reason. Western River Expeditions will not issue any refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early whether voluntary or caused by other circumstances. Western River Expeditions is not responsible for any expenses incurred due to travel delays, flight cancellations, or illness. Western River Expeditions assumes no financial responsibility for personal injury, emergency evacuation, or personal equipment lost or damaged in any way.

In the event that we are forced to cancel any portion of the direct services provided by Western River Expeditions or contractors due to unsafe water levels, wildfire, flooding or other unforeseen circumstances, Western River Expeditions will refund the portion of the unavailable services. However, in these cases, refunds will not be given for flights or other travel expenses related to the trip.

Depending on availability and advance notice, you may have the option to transfer your reservation to another date or trip for a transfer fee. This is not guaranteed, and availability and transfer policies vary between trips.

Is cancellation insurance available?

If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you will find information about cancellation coverage at www.travelguard.com/westernriver.

Some of the most difficult situations occur when a guest needs to cancel a few days before a trip because of an injury, a family illness, or some other catastrophic event. In these situations, we generally do not have time to refill the space. Yet, we have already spent considerable time, money, and energy preparing for your trip: scheduling vehicles, flights, drivers, guides and equipment, purchasing food, etc. Because of our short season and very limited number of available seats, we cannot afford the financial loss that cancellations cause. Therefore, consider the investment you are making in your vacation and whether or not you could afford the loss if you did have to cancel.

What about tips and gratuities?

Cash is best for gratuities. (Your guides will make every effort to see that your trip is enjoyable and successful. Gratuities for guides are appropriate, greatly appreciated, and at your discretion, a gesture of thanks for their professionalism and service. A suggested guideline is 10 percent of the trip cost. The common practice is to give the gratuity to the trip leader on the last night. It will later be divided equally with the rest of the crew).

Are departures guaranteed?

If for any reason a trip had to be cancelled by our company we would provide a full refund. This refund does not include any external travel expenses (flights, hotels, etc).

The demand on our Grand Canyon rafting expeditions is high and the trips book far in advance. It is extremely unlikely that your trip would ever be cancelled due to insufficient availability.

What if the date I want is sold out?

Please contact our office if the date you desire is sold out. We will be happy to place you on our waiting list. We also offer rafting trips in many other popular areas of interest that rival those in the Grand Canyon.

How far in advance should I make my reservation?

As our dates are released a year or more in advance. It is recommended that you make your reservations early in order to get the trip date that you prefer. You are able to change the date of your trip up to 90 days prior to your trip departing.

Groups & Charters

What is the maximum number of guests on this trip?

In the Grand Canyon we run single (18 guests total) and double boat (28 guests total) launches. On our single launch all 18 guests will be on the same raft. If you are on a double boat launch there will be 14 guests on each raft. All of our launches will have two guides per raft.

How many guests per raft?

In the Grand Canyon we run single (18 guests total) and double boat (28 guests total) launches. On our single launch all 18 guests will be on the same raft. If you are on a double boat launch there will be 14 guests on each raft. All of our launches will have two guides per raft. Our rafts are large and provide plenty of room for all of our guests. You may even get up and walk around during the calm sections of the river.


Can I charter my own private trip?

A charter group can be organized for either a single boat (18 guests) or double boat (28 guests) launch. You would need to fill the entire launch.

What about group discounts?

For your efforts in organizing and filling up an entire launch you will go for free. If you are able to fill 14 seats as a group on a double boat launch you will qualify for a half-fare discount.

What is the easiest way to get my friends booked on the same trip?

Arranging a group trip with Western is an easy task. First you will want to make your own reservation. The members of your group may then call our office to join your group. If group members are paying separately each can have their own reservation while still being tied together as a group. Placing a courtesy hold on a specific trip date will enable your friends to call in and release seats from the hold as they place their individual reservations within your group.

What if I’m traveling solo?

A rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon is a perfect fit for the solo traveler. There are many advantages including greater flexibility in choosing your trip date. Traveling solo can set free your natural curiosity as you embark on an expedition that is truly yours alone to experience.

Traveling Solo With Western River

Physical Requirements

What are the physical requirements for this trip?

A whitewater rafting trip can be both thrilling and challenging. Participation requires an appropriate mind set. The same qualities that make a river trip appealing to most people can present real difficulties to others. We desire to strike the appropriate balance between encouraging our guests to stretch themselves and making sure they are protected from harm.

The remoteness of the location, rugged terrain, and being outdoors 24 hours per day are a major part of the appeal. We take pride in our ability to accommodate a variety of disabilities and strive to make our trips as accessible as possible. However, a river trip is not for everyone. The last thing we want is for you to be miserable or to get injured. Your decision to participate should be carefully evaluated.

What about hiking?

As we travel down river, we make occasional stops to lead “side hikes” which can be either very short and relatively easy, or much longer, covering significant distances and elevation. We hike over uneven, rocky, and often steep surfaces. Though all the hikes are not mandatory, when the rafts are tied up in swift current, all guests must get off the rafts and move up the shore a distance. Guests cannot be left on the rafts due to safety concerns. Reasonable mobility is important. If you have questions about your limitations, please call.

Do I need to know how to swim to go on this trip?

You need to be comfortable floating in water while wearing a lifejacket and you need the ability to propel yourself through the water to assist in your own rescue should you fall out of the raft. Falling off the boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore.

Each guest wears a lifejacket and the lifejackets, if worn properly, are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent.

Self-Sufficiency

A river trip is a participatory experience and requires each guest to be reasonably self-sufficient. Our guides will look after the safety and welfare of all the participants on the trip, but you are also responsible for your own safety! Our guides will provide you with the information and tools you need to participate; however, they already fill nearly every minute of their day performing their duties on behalf of the group. They will not be able to devote a lot of extra time to any one individual on the trip.

Remote Location

Our trips are operated in the “backcountry.” At any given time, you will be a minimum of several hours away from medical help. Our guides are all trained in wilderness first aid and some have even higher levels of emergency response training (e.g., EMT), however, sometimes injuries or the aggravation of pre-existing medical conditions are severe enough to require evacuation from the trip. We carry satellite phones but they are not 100 percent reliable in all locations. Most evacuations require transportation via helicopter which presents many challenges such as appropriate landing zones, inclement weather, or darkness.

Weather

On the same trip, you may experience extreme cold, heat, wind and perfectly comfortable conditions. For this reason, we encourage our guests to bring everything from shorts to substantial rain gear. Because our trips are in the Desert Southwest, shade is often scarce, so adequate sun block lotion and sun protective clothing is a must.

Camping

We camp and eat lunch on sandy beaches and on areas where the ground is mostly dirt and rocks. You must also be capable of safely walking across slippery, rocky, and sandy areas as you climb on and off the boat and walk along the beach to your personally selected campsite each night. Guests are required to carry their own waterproof bags with personal gear and the additional 15 pounds of camping gear (cots & tents) to their individual campsite. This can be very difficult for some guests due to the uneven terrain, deep sand, and steep beaches

Boats

Getting on and off the boats can be very challenging. We park the boats against a variety of terrain such as rocks, steep sandy beaches, and flat locations. Climbing on to a larger, motorized raft (J-Rig) requires a 2-3 foot high ascent. The boat is sometimes moving up and down and side to side when tied up in faster current. Boats may also be slippery and they have uneven surfaces. The front of the raft is turned up allowing it to climb waves. Because we have to park the rafts with the front against the shore, it makes a taller barrier to climb over when boarding or deboarding the raft.

Toilets

Toilets are available only in camp and are usually located down a narrow trail, well away from the guests in a secluded location. We do our best to mark the trail, even at night, but it is always necessary to take a short hike to access the toilets. The where, when and how of going to the bathroom during the day will be explained by the guides on your trip.

Falling off a raft

Falling off a boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore. If you end up on shore, you will need to traverse a rocky shoreline to rejoin the boat which cannot maneuver upstream.

For those participants who have heart conditions or who are very overweight, falling into the river also presents the possibility of a “cold-water immersion heart attack.” This is caused when the person swimming cannot calm his/her breathing within a reasonable amount of time (generally 60 seconds).

Lifejackets

Each guest wears a lifejacket and they are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent. The lifejackets we use are certified by the United States Coast Guard and are approved for use by our managing agencies (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management & Utah State Parks & Recreation). They are classified as “Type V Whitewater” jackets, and they come in two basic sizes “Youth” and “Adult Universal.”

Youth jackets fit someone weighing between 50 and 90 pounds (23-41kg). An Adult Universal Jacket is rated “for persons weighing more than 90 pounds (41kg).” They are highly adjustable and fit a range of chest sizes from 30 - 52 inches (76-132 cm). . Body shape can also affect the proper fit of the jacket. If you are unsure, call and speak with us. If necessary, we’ll mail you one of our jackets and you can try it on.

The Importance of Full Disclosure

We don’t want to be overly discouraging, but it is important for your safety and comfort that we be forthcoming about the specific challenges presented on a river trip. It is also vitally important that you disclose any and all physical, emotional, and mental conditions, limitations, or challenges you or your children may have. Likewise, it is important to be completely honest about the age and weight of children. Undisclosed medical or physical conditions might affect the safety and well-being of you and/or other participants on the trip. It is critical that you share this information with us in advance so that we can help keep you safe.

We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety, or the suitability of a trip like this for you. For a participant who is not capable of meeting these criteria, a river trip, particularly a multi-day trip, can be unpleasant, dangerous, or even fatal. For those who meet these criteria, these trips are often the best experiences of their lives. The difference is in determining your suitability for a trip, then selecting the right trip for you, and arriving physically and mentally prepared to actively and joyfully participate in the experience.

We encourage you to carefully evaluate your overall physical, mental, and emotional condition in relation to these environmental challenges. If you have concerns or questions about your physical condition, we recommend you also consult your physician. If you have questions about the specific parameters of a rafting trip with Western River Expeditions, please contact our office at 1-800-453-7450 or 801-942-6669. We would be happy to provide any other information you need to make this decision, or to discuss any of this information in detail.

Traveling with Children

What is the age limit for this trip and is it flexible?

We will take guests as young as age 9. Due to safety concerns for all of our guests this policy is firm and has been set with much thought and discussion over our 50 plus years of experience. When deciding if this trip is best suited for your child evaluate their maturity in terms of following instructions and listening to adults and consider their physical abilities to grip the ropes on the raft tightly when going through the rapids. All guests must meet a 75 lb weight requirement as per the US Coast Guard approved life vests we are required to use.

We do not have a maximum age for our guests. However, if you are over 70 years of age the decision to take this rafting trip should be carefully considered. You will be exposed at times to extreme environmental conditions. Good health and physical stamina are required. Please consider your health and the remote nature of the Grand Canyon when deciding if this is the right trip for you.

What if my kids are picky eaters?

The policy we have developed in order to maximize the common welfare of all guests on a trip, and to allow our guides to focus their time and attention on critical aspects of a trip is that: “Guests may bring supplemental items if they do not require special preparation by our guides, or use of our cooking facilities.” We keep an ample supply of snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables, and side items to choose from, and encourage guests with special dietary requests to bring items that do not need special preparation. We have both cold and dry storage available on our boats for any supplemental products you may bring.

Below are the meal items we provide during the duration of your trip with us:

Breakfasts:

Bacon, eggs to order, blueberry pancakes with assorted syrups, sausage patties,hash browns, fresh baked muffins, melon, grapefruit, OJ.

Lunches:

Cold cut sandwich options served with a wide variety of mostly whole grain breads, assorted condiments and vegetables or the optional PB & J. A delicious Tuna Salad Medley Wrap is also served as a lunch.

Dinners:

Pasta, salad with a homemade vinaigrette dressing and warm Garlic bread. Shrimp cocktail, Steak , harvest blend rice, and dinner rolls.
Is this the best trip for younger children?

When deciding on the suitability of this trip for your child consider the maturity and physical ability of your child. At times this rafting trip consists of hours at a time drifting in very calm sections of water, this is especially true of the last morning of your trip. There are times your child will need to be able to securely grip our ropes as our guides maneuver through Class III (moderately difficult) rapids. The rafts that we use in the Grand Canyon are approximately 3 feet off the river. This is not the type of raft that will allow children to splash and play in the water as we are rafting. The hikes will require you to be vigilant as to your child’s whereabouts to keep them from possible areas of danger. While this trip is well suited for many families with children as young as 9, and many of these families have called it the trip of a lifetime, it is up to you to decide if it is best suited for your child. As a comparison, our Green River 5- Day Rafting Trip is very well suited for young families in that the water is warm, the rafts are low enough to the water for children to splash and play in the river and there are ample opportunities for children to enjoy the big sandy beaches. We also offer special menu items just for children.

Preparing & Packing

What should I bring?

Review carefully all of the suggested items listed on page 8 of our Grand Canyon 3- Day Trip Summary as it is best to be sufficiently prepared (especially for changes in the weather and temperature) to enjoy your trip to the fullest extent.

All of your personal river trip items should be packed in a soft sided duffle bag (12” x 13” x 24”). This duffle bag will be placed in a large water-resistant gear bag which will also contain your sleeping bag, sheet and ground tarp. The gear bag will be stored on the raft during the day and can be accessed in camp at night and in the morning. We will also supply a small dry use day bag (7” x 13”) in which to store any items you will need frequent access to during the day. Such items would include medications, camera, rain gear, sunscreen, etc.

Do I need a wetsuit?

We do recommend bringing a 2 piece rain suit as it is best to be prepared for all types of weather in the canyon. If you already have a splash jacket you are welcome to use this in place of the rain jacket. A wet suit is not recommended. These are difficult to take on and off whereas a rain suit can be worn over your clothes and, when no longer needed, can quickly be put away once again.

Can I bring my own lifejacket or PFD?

Guests are not allowed to bring their own lifejacket or PFD. Western River Expeditions is subject to regulations promulgated by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and State Parks. All three of these agencies require that guests of commercial outfitters wear Type V Whitewater lifejackets. Personal life jackets are usually meant for lake sports and even Type III jackets, meant for kayaking or canoeing, are not acceptable for use by our guests.

Fortunately, the newer generations of Type V life jackets are very comfortable. They also have a lot more floatation than the typical personal jacket.

What about fishing on the river?

There is fishing in the Grand Canyon, however, we typically do not recommend it. All fishing is catch and release. There is not a lot of time for fishing during the day, but early mornings and late afternoons in camp provide opportunities for wetting a hook.


A 5-day license can be purchased for about $32. Send your request to: AZ Game and Fish, 2221 W. Greenway Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85023. Western does not provide fishing gear. Your pole must be collapsible and in a case.

How should I be dressed the morning of my rafting trip?

You should be dressed and ready to go to the river as you board the bus on your first day. Ladies, if you are planning to raft in a bathing suit, you may want to wear layers (quick dry shirt and shorts) these can be placed in your day bag once you get to the river.

What about sun protection?

A good waterproof sunblock and sunscreen lip balm to protect you from the dry desert heat is essential. This should be frequently applied. Your rafting trip will be almost entirely in full sun with very little shade. A sturdy water bottle is also vital to beat combat the heat. We provide a continual supply of cold, filtered water and lemonade for you to refill your bottle throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water will keep you from becoming dehydrated.

A sarong is very useful to cover your legs and can also be wetted in the river to help you stay cool. A head buff or bandana which has been soaked in the river may be worn around your head or neck to cool you down. Light fabrics and those treated with SPF are also recommended. A pair of socks may protect your feet from becoming sunburned. Apply and reapply ample amounts of sunscreen. After sun lotion is recommended. Wearing a hat with a brim or protection for your face, neck and ears is also an essential item. Many of these may have a strap to conveniently attach to your clothing. You will want to wear sunglasses (with a safety strap) and may want to bring an extra pair just in case!

Can I bring a camera on the river? What about charging it?

Cameras can be charged if guests bring a portable charging device. Alternately, cameras can be charged if guests bring a portable charging device. We recommend bringing extra batteries or a battery pack, rather than relying on a solar charger. If a cell phone is used for picture taking, it should be in airplane mode to conserve battery life, and be in a waterproof case.

This video features some excellent camera tips:


Guidelines for camera use on the river:

You are free to film and shoot photos during our trips, however, we ask that you consult with your guide before doing so. We have some guidelines you will be asked to follow. These include:

  • Shooting from an appropriate location - Wearing a camera in certain locations could endanger yourself or others around you. If your guide feels that your use of a camera may put you or another guest in danger, you may be asked to put the camera away or move to a safer location for filming.
  • No pole mounts or extension devices on rafts - Cameras cannot be mounted to poles or other extension devices while on rafts as this may endanger you or other guests.
  • Shut down cameras in emergency situations - For the privacy of those involved and your own personal safety, you will be expected to shut your camera down if first aid is being rendered or in an emergency situation. We need all guests to remain alert and undistracted from filming or taking pictures in such situations.
  • Anticipate battery or card change necessities - If you see your card getting full or battery getting low, change them ahead of time during an appropriate moment. Rafts or vehicles cannot be stopped to change batteries or memory cards.
  • Cameras may be damaged or lost - We cannot guarantee the safety of your camera. It may become wet, sandy, lost in the river, dropped on a hike, etc.
  • Respect the privacy of others - If someone does not want to be filmed or photographed, please respect their privacy.
  • If you’re wondering what type of camera is most suitable for the river, here are a few thoughts.

    Waterproof/Shockproof Digital Cameras - These cameras are perfect for everyday use and have become very affordable with most at $100 to $300. They’re rugged and waterproof, but also elegant and trim like any other digital camera.

    GoPro and Similar Cameras - Together with their durable waterproof cases, these cameras can take some nice shots while on and off the water. Generally, the wide angle zoom cannot be adjusted so this should be taken into consideration. We ask that you plan to mount these cameras only with the head strap or helmet mount options (bring your own helmet). You will not be allowed to mount the cameras anywhere on the rafts during travel on the river.

    Larger SLR Cameras - It is possible to bring a larger SLR camera, but be sure to have something sturdy to protect it. We recommend a hard-shell Pelican Case if you’re planning to bring a more expensive camera. Space is limited on the boats, so we try to keep additional camera equipment minimal.

    Aquapac - This is a good solution if you aren’t in the market for a brand new camera, but just want to protect the one you have. It is a flexible waterproof housing to fit a number of camera types -- including video cameras. You do need to make sure the plastic housing stays clean as you’re shooting through it, but a lot of our guests find this to be a nice solution.

    See it at Red Rock Outfitters

    Batteries and Cards - While your are in remote areas during your trip, there will not be any location to charge your batteries or devices. Consider bringing extra batteries and memory cards and don't forget to charge your extra batteries before you get to the river.

    Small Float - You might consider attaching your camera to a small float that may save your camera if you happen to drop it in the river. GoPro sells a small, attachable float that fits on the back of the camera housing that many of our guests find useful.

    How do I protect my belongings from getting wet?

    To assist in keeping your belongings free of sand and water you may pack them in sealed plastic storage bags (a ziplock or similar air tight bag).

    Western River will provide two dry bags for your use to help you protect your belongings:

    • Day Bag- this water- resistant bag (approximately 7” x 13”) can be used for the items (raingear, camera, medications, sun block, etc) you need to access during the daytime hours that will be spent on the raft.
    • Gear Bag- water-resistant large bag you will receive upon your arrival at the river. This will hold your duffle bag, sleeping bag, sheet, and tarp.
    What gear is provided with the trip?

    As noted above, we will provide you with US Coast Guard approved life vests. Western River Expeditions also provides cots, tents, sleeping bags, sheets, camp chairs and waterproof gear bags and day bags for all guests. You’ll have no need to worry about bringing any of your own camping equipment with the exception of a small travel pillow.

    What do I do with extra luggage?

    Your meeting and ending location for this trip is at the Las Vegas Marriott. They will store extra luggage for you for a charge of $5 per bag/per day. For non guests they charge $15 per bag/per day. It is recommended that you do not leave any electronics or heat sensitive items in your car due to the extreme heat.

    Where can I leave my car?

    The Las Vegas Marriott (on 325 Convention Center DR) will provide complimentary parking if you are staying with them (for standard vehicles) while you are on the river. If you are not staying with them as our guest there will be a charge of $12 per car, per day.

    On the River

    What is a typical day on the river? How much time is spent on the raft?

    A typical day will include rafting for a few hours at a time, stopping for scenic side-canyon hikes, bathroom breaks, lunch and possible short swimming opportunities. Visiting with new-found friends and learning river lore and geology from our well-trained guides adds to the enjoyment of each day. After a full day of learning and fun we arrive in camp. Guests are given time to find their favorite campsite on the designated beach and then return to the rafts for the famous “fire line” - this is our method to load and unload rafts. Your help in passing the gear off the boat is greatly appreciated; however, if you have physical restrictions or limitations that would prohibit you from participating you are not required to help.

    The first evening in camp, the guides will give a demonstration on how to easily assemble the cots and tents and will be available to help you if you need additional assistance. Western River provides cots, tents, sleeping bags, sheets, camp chair and waterproof gear bags for all guests. You’ll have no need to worry about bringing any of your own camping equipment with the exception of a small travel pillow.

    While you relax at the river’s edge, your guides will prepare dinner. Every night is different, but the menu may include items such as steak with sautéed onions, pasta or fresh fish. At night, whether you choose to sleep in your tent or under the vast canopy of stars, the fresh night air and the rhythm of the river will lull you to sleep.

    Each morning, your guides will prepare a delicious breakfast. You’ll have a chance to enjoy eating before returning to your campsite to take down your tent and cot and pack up your belongings in your dry bag. After bringing your bag down to the boats, guests participate in in the fire line once again and you are off on another exciting day of adventure!

    What about rapids and water levels?

    Water levels in the Grand Canyon are controlled by the Glen Canyon Dam. Throughout the rafting season you can expect to see up to Class III rapids due to the consistent flow that is being released. This also keeps the water temperature around a chilly 52 degrees as the water is being pulled from the bottom of the dam.

    What type of raft can I expect?

    The only raft we will use in the Grand Canyon is Western's J-Rig Raft.Named after Western’s founder, Jack Curry, the “J-Rig” is a patented craft offering the most flexible and comfortable ride on the river. If you’re a thrill seeker, you can sit up front where the waves hit hardest, or ride aft for more protection. There are plenty of calm sections along the river where you can move freely around the boat and trade seating positions throughout the trip.

    What is the water temperature on the river?

    The water temperature around a chilly 52 degrees as the water is being pulled from the bottom of the dam.

    What about swimming?

    At a fairly consistent 52 degree water temperature, this are is not ideal for extended periods of swimming. It does provide invigorating opportunities for bathing that will wake you right up! Circumstances allowing, you may have an option to refresh yourself under a series of waterfalls in the Travertine Grotto.

    What bathroom facilities are available during my trip?

    Because our trips operate in remote, backcountry settings, there are no permanent bathroom facilities. We use portable toilets that we haul with us. We’ve prepared a video describing toilet facilities on the river. Click on the link, watch the video and then call us if you have more questions.

    Toilet Facilities on the River

    The portable toilets described in the video are available shortly after we set up camp each afternoon until we leave camp the next morning. During the day, the guides will make frequent stops at which you can go to the bathroom if needed. During the day, urination is done into the main river channel, but if you need to do more than this, just ask your guide and he/she will introduce you to our daytime toilet system.

    What do I do about feminine hygiene during the trip?

    If you expect to be menstruating during your trip, we recommend the use of tampons rather than pads. During the day, you will constantly be getting wet, so pads are not ideal. If you choose to use pads, we recommend wearing a good pair of waterproof rain pants.

    A good strategy is to bring several sandwich-sized zip-lock bags pre-packed with individual tampons. The same bag can then be used for disposal after use. Toilet facilities will always be available while in camp and the guides will stop as often as is necessary during the day to accommodate your needs. We will always provide a means for discreet disposal of feminine hygiene items. It is best that you bring your own supplies, but we also carry a supply of feminine hygiene products.

    Additional tips that have come from previous guests:

    • Bring a sarong that can be used for additional privacy. It also helps when changing clothes.
    • Wear a two-piece swimsuit such as a tankini with swimsuit bottoms covered by shorts. This is most comfortable for wearing lifejackets, sitting on boats and going to the bathroom.
    • Bring hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and non-applicator tampons.
    Can I be contacted while on the river?

    While the remote nature of this canyon definitely adds to it’s pristine beauty, it is not conducive to outside communication. You will be able to completely disconnect from the world and will be out of contact for the duration of your trip. If you are worried about an emergency arising at home while you are on the river you will want to have a plan in place with friends or family of what to do if they are not able to contact you. Please give our office number (1-800-453-7450) to any family or friends who will need to get word to you if there is an emergency. Once you are off the river we will get the message to you.

    Can I contact others while on the river?

    You may rent a satellite phone, however, they are expensive, coverage can be very limited and you may have poor reception. The remote nature of this area is one of it’s most attractive features and we recommend that you enjoy the opportunity to disconnect and immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings.

    What if I need to take medications?

    Please check with your physician prior to your trip if you have any medical or health condition or if you are taking any medications, and then notify our office of how we can better assist you with these conditions.

    Remember to bring all necessary medications with you. We also urge you to bring extra medication in case of emergency situations. You will be able to keep medications with you during the day using our waterproof day bags. We also have dry and cold storage available for you.

    What if there is a medical situation on the river?

    All of our river guides are certified with a minimum of advanced first aid and many hold more advanced certifications such as Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). We carry multiple, well stocked first aid kits on every trip and the guides will provide any “first aid” level care that is needed or you have the option of using our first aid supplies to treat yourself.

    If the injury or illness requires medical attention beyond what is possible on the river, we evacuate the affected guest. The most common means of evacuation is via helicopter. However, on some river stretches, evacuation may occur using a high-speed boat or even a vehicle. We carry satellite phones that allow us to communicate with emergency medical professionals.

    Because we are in remote, wilderness settings, it may take a while for more advanced medical help to arrive. Please note that the satellite phones are only used during emergency situations. Because they have limited battery life, we do not leave them on at all times and it is not possible to call the satellite phone to deliver a message from off the river. There is no cell phone reception in the remote canyons in which most of our trips are conducted.

    Are there any guidelines about camera use on the river?

    We do have several guidelines and suggestions for camera use while on your trip. You are free to film and shoot photos during our trips, however, we ask that you consult with your guide before doing so. We have some guidelines you will be asked to follow. These include:

    • Shooting from an appropriate location - Wearing a camera in certain locations could endanger yourself or others around you. If you guide feels that your use of a camera may put you or another guest in danger, you may be asked to put the camera away or move to a safer location for filming.
    • No pole mounts or extension devices on rafts - Cameras cannot be mounted to poles or other extension devices while on rafts as this may endanger you or other guests.
    • Shut down cameras in emergency situations - For the privacy of those involved and your own personal safety, you will be expected to shut your camera down if first aid is being rendered or in an emergency situation. We need all guests to remain alert and undistracted from filming or taking pictures in such situations.
    • Anticipate battery or card change necessities - If you see your card getting full or battery getting low, change them ahead of time during an appropriate moment. Rafts or vehicles cannot be stopped to change batteries or memory cards.
    • Cameras may be damaged or lost - We cannot guarantee the safety of your camera. It may become wet, sandy, lost in the river, dropped on a hike, etc.
    • Respect the privacy of others - If someone does not want to be filmed or photographed, please respect their privacy.

    If you’re wondering what type of camera is most suitable for the river, here are a few thoughts.

    Waterproof/Shockproof Digital Cameras - These cameras are perfect for everyday use and have become very affordable with most at $100 to $300. They’re rugged and waterproof, but also elegant and trim like any other digital camera.

    GoPro and Similar Cameras - Together with their durable waterproof cases, these cameras can take some nice shots while on and off the water. Generally, the wide angle zoom cannot be adjusted so this should be taken into consideration. We ask that you plan to mount these cameras only with the head strap or helmet mount options (bring your own helmet). You will not be allowed to mount the cameras anywhere on the rafts during travel on the river.

    Larger SLR Cameras - It is possible to bring a larger SLR camera, but be sure to have something sturdy to protect it. We recommend a hard-shell Pelican Case if you’re planning to bring a more expensive camera. Space is limited on the boats, so we try to keep additional camera equipment minimal.

    Aquapac - This is a good solution if you aren’t in the market for a brand new camera, but just want to protect the one you have. It is a flexible waterproof housing to fit a number of camera types -- including video cameras. You do need to make sure the plastic housing stays clean as you’re shooting through it, but a lot of our guests find this to be a nice solution.

    See it at Red Rock Outfitters

    Batteries and Cards - While your are in remote areas during your trip, there will not be any location to charge your batteries or devices. Consider bringing extra batteries and memory cards and don't forget to charge your extra batteries before you get to the river.

    Small Float - You might consider attaching your camera to a small float that may save your camera if you happen to drop it in the river. GoPro sells a small, attachable float that fits on the back of the camera housing that many of our guests find useful.

    The Great Outdoors

    What can I expect at camp?

    Awaken to the smell of coffee as your guides prepare a delicious breakfast for you to enjoy along the banks of the Colorado River! After a filling and delicious breakfast you will be ready to return to your campsite where you will need to take down your tent and cot and pack up your belongings in your gear bag for the day. After bringing your bag down to the boats, guests participate in the “fire line” - the way we load and unload rafts. Your help in passing the gear to the boat is greatly appreciated; however, if you have physical restrictions or limitations that would prohibit you from participating you are not required to help. Once the rafts have been loaded you are off on another “Grand” expedition, a day filled with discovery and adventure.

    You will arrive back in camp in the early evening hours. The first evening in camp, the guides will give a demonstration on how to easily assemble the cots and tents and will be available to help you if you need additional assistance. As stated in our packing list, Western River provides cots, tents, sleeping bags, sheets, camp chair and water-proof gear bags for all guests. You’ll have no need to worry about bringing any of your own camping equipment.

    While you relax at the river’s edge with your fellow guests, your guides will prepare a scrumptious dinner. Every night is different, but the menu may include pasta, salads, rice and steak.

    Whether you choose to sleep in your tent or under the vast canopy of stars in the brilliant night sky, you will enjoy the fresh night air and the rhythm of the river as you drift off to sleep.

    What are the sleeping arrangements during the trip?

    Western River provides cots, tents, sleeping bags, sheets, camp chair and water-proof gear bags for all guests. You’ll have no need to worry about bringing any of your own camping equipment. Our tents can sleep two guests comfortably though many of our guests prefer to sleep out under the brilliant star filled sky.

    Can I bring a CPAP machine on the river?

    Choosing to participate on a rafting trip if you require a CPAP machine is a decision that you must carefully make. Often, but not always, there is a corollary between the physical condition of a participant and the need for a CPAP machine. It is very important that you carefully consider whether a river trip is the right choice for your vacation.


    It is essential that guests are able to complete the trip without a CPAP if the equipment or connections do not work properly, fails prematurely, or does not have the battery life that you anticipate. If your health or life is at risk if one of these situations occur, you are probably not currently a candidate for this type of adventure vacation. Medical evacuation is not a viable option when planning and self-selecting a multi-day river trip, as it is not always available in a timely manner. You need to be able to safely complete the trip without a working device!


    Guests who do bring these devices must bring a CPAP machine with a self-sufficient power supply. We have had guests surprised that the battery ran out the second night. The newer machines are amazingly compact with long-life battery technology. Choosing to participate on a rafting trip if you require a CPAP machine is a decision that you must carefully make. Often, but not always, there is a corollary between the physical condition of a participant and the need for a CPAP machine. It is very important that you carefully consider whether a river trip is the right choice for your vacation.


    It is essential that guests are able to complete the trip without a CPAP if the equipment or connections do not work properly, fails prematurely, or does not have the battery life that you anticipate. If your health or life is at risk if one of these situations occur, you are probably not currently a candidate for this type of adventure vacation. Medical evacuation is not a viable option when planning and self-selecting a multi-day river trip, as it is not always available in a timely manner. You need to be able to safely complete the trip without a working device!


    Guests who do bring these devices must bring a CPAP machine with a self-sufficient power supply. We have had guests surprised that the battery ran out the second night. The newer machines are amazingly compact with long-life battery technology. One such company is: http://www.mytranscend.com/ This company manufactures new generation portable C-PAPS (“transcend portable cpap”), for under $500, and weigh less than 1 lb. The batteries are also 1.1 pounds and last 7-14 hours.


    The batteries are $250: http://www.directhomemedical.com/rechargeable-batt... This website also has $300 solar panels the size of a newspaper that will completely recharge these batteries each day. These panels will work on our rafts during the day. However, if the weather is overcast, these might not be sufficient!


    It would be prudent to bring at least one extra battery. These are acceptable items to bring on an airline if they are in your checked luggage. However, please make sure that you cover the terminals with electrical tape or another physical barrier! Duct tape actually conducts electricity and could short out, causing a fire. Your CPAP and batteries should just be placed in your checked luggage.


    Guests with older technology machines that require 12 V automotive type batteries cannot fly this battery to or from their river trip due to airline regulations. For guests with these machines, we will supply one long life automotive gel cell battery, rated at 625 cranking amps, provided we receive the request at least 14 days prior to trip departure. It is important that the guest know how long one battery can power their specific machine, and they must be able to complete the trip without health risk based on the timed battery life. Guests are also responsible for bringing the right adapters and check the compatibility at home. The battery we supply has top posts. All other connections are the responsibility of the guest.


    Additionally, guests with this type of CPAP must be able to carry the 40 pound battery and the machine off the boat and across the beach to their campsite each night with their regular gear. This can often be up to 100 yards across moderately difficult terrain.


    Thank you for carefully considering additional challenges that traveling with a CPAP requires on a multi-day backcountry camping and rafting expedition. It is important to us that you choose wisely, and come well prepared to self-sufficiently manage this need while camping in the backcountry.

    How do I bathe while on the river?

    Bathing in the Colorado River is a most refreshing experience! Placing your cot near the edge of the river with the items needed items for you bath will make this a simple process. These include a biodegradable soap (soaps like Dr Bronner’s Peppermint are refreshing and can be used to wash your clothes in the river and keep them smelling nice and fresh) shampoo, a bath sponge, a quick drying towel (microfiber works well) a change of clothes and lotion.

    First scout out a shallow spot along the bank of the river. Test the area with your foot to make sure the water is shallow and to ensure that you are away from the current.

    Scrub your body (and bathing suit) with the bath sponge and shampoo your hair. The next step is to dash into the chilly river and take an invigorating quick dip to rinse. This is also a good opportunity to wash your dirty clothes. Once clean there are plenty of branches from which to drape your clothes or you may bring a rope and clothespins to assist in the drying process.

    It is important to remember lotion. Apply an after sun lotion once you have bathed to aid in moisturizing your skin and helping it to heal from sun exposure.

    You will want to use the clean filtered water we provide for brushing your teeth. Do not drink the river water.

    Bathing at the end of your rafting day is a revitalizing experience which will aid in a restful slumber!

    What about bugs?

    Biting insects are of little or no concern in Grand Canyon. We occasionally see horse flies, but we generally do not see mosquitoes or gnats. Other, non-biting, flying insects are present and mostly are an issue when they are attracted to your flashlight or headlamp. The way to solve this is to bring a headlamp that has the option of using a red light.

    Many people worry about snakes and scorpions. Both are an important part of the desert ecosystem, but neither likes to be around humans very much. With proper precautions that will be explained by your guides, you can generally avoid them altogether.

    While it is rare that we see snakes or scorpions, when we do, your guides are expert at moving them away from camp so they will not present a safety concern. We are respectful of these native creatures and we do our best not to harm them, but we also take all precautions to make sure they don’t bother our guests.

    What do I do with jewelry while on the river?

    It is best to leave your jewelry behind. Rafting is an active vacation and jewelry often gets in the way. Earrings and necklaces can get caught on lifejackets. Rings can also cause injuries when you are holding on tightly to ropes.

    Food & Beverage

    What meals are provided with the trip?

    Day One: Breakfast provided by the Las Vegas Marriott, lunch and dinner will be prepared by our guides

    Day Two: Breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by our guides

    Day Three: Breakfast prepared by our guides, lunch box provided by Capriotti’s

    What is the food like?

    Come hungry! Our guests are surprised by the quality and variety of food that we are able to provide in such a remote environment.. Look forward to the smell of pancakes, bacon and sausage at breakfast. Delicious lunch buffets include deli style lunch meats and a wide selection of breads. We offer a variety of fruits throughout the day. Dinners are delicious and filling and include items such as meat, salad, pasta, and bread.

    What beverages are supplied and what can I bring?

    Western provides an unlimited supply of water and lemonade. Bring along your own water bottle (24 oz or more) for filling and refilling. We encourage you to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day to avoid dehydration in the canyon.

    Western does not provide beer, liquor, or soda pop. Guests arriving on the charter flight from Las Vegas must purchase beverages before leaving Las Vegas. These items are not available for purchase at Bar 10 Ranch. TSA regulations require that liquor be under 140 proof and stored in the original container (we ask that you transfer bottled alcohol to unbreakable flasks prior to departing for the river). It is included in the 25 lb (20 lb duffle bag + 5 lbs of beverages) limit per person or there will be a $15 charge.

    What about dietary restrictions or food allergies?

    On multi-day river trips, our food service is limited by several factors:

    • We use a portable, camp-stove style, kitchen with a limited cooking surface and a limited supply of propane.
    • Our cold and dry food storage capacity is also limited because it all has to fit on the boats along with the camp gear and the guests.
    • Because we operate in remote, rural locations, many items are simply not available.
    • Our guides, who are also the cooks, are so busy with all of the tasks involved with running a river trip, that they do not have excess time to prepare special food requests. They strive to maximize the time spent hiking, rafting and enjoying the canyon with less time spent preparing food.

    Within these limitations, we’ve crafted a menu that is designed to be prepared quickly and efficiently and to appeal to a large variety of tastes. All of our meals are served “buffet or family style” with any custom, per person preparation being limited to things like “how would you like your steak cooked” or “do you prefer your eggs scrambled or over-easy?”

    While we try to accommodate some special dietary needs, we are not always able. If you have a specific food allergy or sensitivity, please let us know. If you have dietary restrictions based on a lifestyle choice or religious practice, please let us know. If your food allergy is severe, we need to have a more in-depth conversation about what can and cannot be done.

    Please understand that we may not be able to completely meet your needs. However, we have found that most people find what they need from within our established menu.

    The policy we have developed to maximize the common welfare of all guests on a river trip, and to allow our guides to focus their time and attention on critical aspects of a trip is that:

    • Guests may bring supplemental items if they do not require special preparation by our guides, or use of our cooking facilities. We will always have an ample supply of snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables, and side items to choose from. While our storage space is limited, we have both cold and dry storage available on our boats for any supplemental products you may bring.
    • We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety if your food allergy is severe enough to cause anaphylaxis. You must bring an adequate supply of your own Epipens to meet your needs. Please understand that one injection of an epipen will only last 10-20 minutes and that an evacuation from the river may take hours.

    Please let us know of any special dietary needs well in advance. Special food requests made within two weeks of the trip launch date may not be able to be accommodated.

    Can I bring my own food and snacks?

    We bring a variety of snacks on every trip. As a general rule, snacks will be served mid-morning and mid-afternoon while traveling down river. If you would like to bring some of your own snacks, small, pre-packaged items are best. We can provide cold or dry storage. If you have special dietary needs, bringing some of your own snacks that work well for you is a great idea.

    Travel & Logistics

    When is the best time to travel?

    Our rafting begins in April and ends at the end of September. The water remains close to 52 degrees throughout the season. Due to this area being dam controlled you will also see consistent rapids (up to a Class III) all season.

    Air temperature is the major difference when choosing the ideal month. You will find milder temperatures in April, May and September. The cacti are in bloom in April and May. The big horn sheep and other wildlife are more abundant in late August and September. Keep in mind you will be on a rafting adventure through one of the greatest natural wonders of the world which makes anytime a great time to experience a rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon!

    What weather should I expect?

    Be prepared for the heat and the possibility of cooler weather and rain showers. In April and May it is possible to see both snow and temperatures over 100 degrees on the same trip. During late May-September, it is normal to see average daytime temperatures over 110 degrees, with little shade.

    Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather we suggest that you follow our suggested packing list as it is best to be prepared for any weather conditions you may encounter on your trip. This is applicable to all trips throughout the season. The following chart shows averages for the months of March through October. Temperatures and precipitation will vary. A rain storm or a cool front can happen anytime.

    You can find current weather forecasts at Refer to the 7- Day Phantom Ranch Forecast as this is the closest forecast that relates to your trip:

    7- Day Phantom Ranch Forecast

    The portion of the canyon in which you are rafting may be over 100 miles from the point at which this weather is being forecast. It may be warmer on your trip than the 7- Day Phantom Ranch forecast.

    How do I get there?

    Your trip meets at 6:10 a.m. at the Las Vegas Marriott on 325 Convention Center DR., Las Vegas, Nevada. Taxi service is available from the Las Vegas McCarran Airport. The Las Vegas Marriott is also conveniently located near the Las Vegas Monorail Station that goes to the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Guests staying at this property enjoy free parking and baggage storage is available for $5 per bag per day. Luggage storage for guests not staying at The Las Vegas Marriott is $15 per bag, per day.

    What transportation is provided with the trip?

    The transportation included in your trip price is as follows:

    • Shuttle service to Boulder Terminal
    • Charter Flight from the Boulder Terminal to the Bar 10 Ranch
    • Helicopter Flight from Bar 10 Ranch to the Colorado River
    • Jet Boat across Lake Mead to Pearce Ferry
    • Shuttle service from take out at Pearce Ferry to Las Vegas Marriott
    Am I able to drive out and meet you at the Bar 10 Ranch instead of taking the flight?

    Due to the extremely remote location of the Bar 10 Ranch flying is the best mode of transportation. Accessing the ranch with a vehicle is very difficult. There is no pavement and the rocky dirt roads require the use of all terrain vehicles. You may not leave a vehicle at the ranch as there is no way to return to it. You will be 100 miles downstream when you complete your rafting adventure with us.

    What accommodations are recommended before and after the trip?

    Pre and post trip accommodations are your responsibility. We do have a negotiated rate with the Las Vegas Marriott and we highly recommend this property. It is not on the strip and well managed. They take excellent care of our guests and have a wonderful reputation.


    It is recommended that you arrive in Las Vegas early on the day prior to your trip so as to avoid any possible flight delays. We also recommend that you plan a night’s stay the day you return from the river. Indulge in a hot shower and enjoy a long night’s rest prior to returning home.
    What do I do with car keys?

    Car keys can be packed in your duffel bag. It is recommended that you place these in a zippered pocket in your bag.

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