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.