A Great Sampling of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River
This Grand Canyon vacation consisted of excellent transportation and coordination throughout. The flight in had great views and an informative narration. The helicopter ride was breathtaking. The whitewater rafting was, as expected, incredible. Was pleasantly surprised by the number and size of rapids. The jet boat at the end was cool. Transportation back was comfortable and clean.
Our guides were competent, entertaining, good cooks, and made sure everyone was comfortable. They were very friendly and personable.
The whitewater rafting was everything we expected and more. The J-rig is a great way to get down the river and through the rapids safely and with good sport. We ended up never using our rain gear, as the cold water was refreshing and needed given the hot and dry August air and sun. The middle day is where the vast majority of the rapids are, making the first day a good learning and breaking in day and the last day is all flat water, but with awesome scenery.
This trip also has some great mini day hikes, none which require extensive trekking. Our favorite was Three Springs. The stream water was refreshingly warm and the scenery was incredible. We got to see a rattlesnake, but our Guides took care of it.
Our campsites were pretty dang awesome. First night, we stayed right next to the Pumpkin Springs. We slept on cots with nothing but a sheet needed. Fell asleep to the sound of the river. Second night we camped by Spencer Creek, which had a nice warm creek to relax in. It did, however, have a very healthy fly population. The bats need to go there more often. If bugs are attracted to you, bring lots of bug spray. Ants are also very common at the campsites, including red fire ants.
Bring lots of string sunscreen and make sure you put it on at the ranch before you begin the trek. I got burned on my feet the dirt day and couldn't really recover from there. Hot dry wind, the sun, and constant water splashing do not feel good on a burn once you get it. I do, however, have a really cool sandal tan/burn.
I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up going to the bathroom. At camp, there are quasi-toilet facilities: one in a tent and the other off in a corner somewhere. Urine must be put in the water, which means women must find a secluded spot somewhere (sometimes including the back of the raft) and hover. Or, what happens most often, is you find yourself waist deep in the cold river "smiling" and taking care of buisness. Upstream, a fellow river runner might be submerged giving themselves a bath. It's refreshing and works great, but the first time is shocking for all.
Read the packing list and use it, but recognize that you may very well not use everything. I wore one bathing suit, one quick dry shirt and pair of shorts, a good hat, sunglasses with croakies, and a pair of Chacos the whole three days. However, it's better to be overpacked than under packed. We also took advantage of the beverage allotment and enjoyed a cold soda (cooled in the river quickly) at mealtime.
We got back 2.5 hrs early, which was nice but also a pain to coordinate with our local transport. I don't know a good solution for this other than to have a phone number for your next destination on hand and to nicely ask the shop owner in Arizona where you'll get lunch if you can borrow her phone. I didn't bring my phone for the heat and in order to check out electronically, but fellow travelers didn't get phone signal until we were fairly close back to the Desert Rose.
In summary, we would definitely travel with Western River again. I don't know that I'd want to do the same trip twice. Also, the longest Grand Canyon trip might be more than I personally would want, but I can recommend this trip greatly. I did the 4 or 5 day precursor trip 14 years ago and loved it as well. Definitely recommend this trip to anyone wanting a taste of the River and the Canyon!
Kathryn - Orlando, FL, USA
Arizona - Grand Canyon Rafting 3 Day