There are occasionally spaces available for the 2021-2022 seasons for the 6-day trip. The booking calendar is live and availability does change. Check back frequently for new openings.
Have you heard of Cataract Canyon?
Rivaling the Grand Canyon in whitewater and complimented by the stunning beauty of Canyonlands National Park, you might also consider our 4-Day Cataract Canyon Expedition. Just up-river from Grand Canyon, you'll raft 100 miles on the Colorado River through the heart of Canyonlands National Park, experience some of the largest whitewater rapids in North America, and enjoy a Scenic Air Tour return over Canyonlands National Park. Top that off with all the adventure possibilities in Moab, Utah, and Cataract Canyon is a not-to-be-missed river journey.
Please note that our trips book far in advance. Due to this we occasionally have openings that arise as guests prepare to make final payments. We encourage you to check our 2021-2022 live booking calendar frequently for the latest openings.
Have you heard of Cataract Canyon?
Rivaling the Grand Canyon in whitewater and complimented by the stunning beauty of Canyonlands National Park, you might also consider our 4-Day Cataract Canyon Expedition. Just up-river from Grand Canyon, you'll raft 100 miles on the Colorado River through the heart of Canyonlands National Park, experience some of the largest whitewater rapids in North America, and enjoy a Scenic Air Tour return over Canyonlands National Park. Top that off with all the adventure possibilities in Moab, Utah, and Cataract Canyon is a not-to-be-missed river journey.
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.
Physical & Dietary Requirements
What are the physical requirements for this trip?
Please consider carefully any medical or health condition that would endanger yourself, or others on the trip, or diminish the enjoyment of an adventure vacation such as this. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remote distances from a hospital, and physical challenges of a rafting adventure. It is critical that you are in reasonable good health and physical fitness at the time of departure so that our staff can focus their attention equally on all trip participants. If you are taking any medications, we should be made aware of these and what these medications are treating. If you have any questions or concerns please talk with us and we can help you consider your options.
Fit into our Type 5 Life Jacket (maximum chest size is 52”and minimum weight is 50 pounds) required by the National Park Service.
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 supply 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 lifejackets fit those 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 unsure, we’ll mail you one of our jackets and you can try it on.
Securely grip ropes provided for handholds while running the rapids.
Gripping the ropes on the raft is the only way to ensure you stay on board. Factors such as where you sit in the raft in relation to where the waves crash can be a factor, but whitewater rafting can give an unpredictable ride.
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).
Traverse and navigate uneven terrain over sand and rocks on hikes and in camp.
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 onto 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.
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. These beautiful hikes lead to sparkling streams, pristine pools, green fern glens and ancient American Indian ruins. 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.
In camp, you will need to have the same mobility over uneven terrain, and be able to carry your personal bags to your campsite while doing so. Also, keep in mind that paths from your campsite to the toilet facilities would not be classified as “easy” to navigate at night.
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.
Carry your own dry bag which will include your 20-pound duffle bag along with the sleeping bag and ground cover we provide.
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.
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.
The nature of an outdoor adventure includes exposure to weather conditions such as heat, sun, wind or rain - sometimes in the extreme. With proper preparation procedures such as applying sunscreen, wearing the right clothing, etc., many of these factors of weather (even in the extreme) can be mitigated, and do not have to be a negative factor. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remoteness, and physical requirements of a rafting adventure.
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, darkness, or delays.
Dietary Requirements & Menu Substitutions
If you or any of the participants in your party have special dietary requirements, severe or life-threatening allergies of any kind, a multi-day rafting trip may not be a suitable trip for you. Due to space limitations and the nature of our buffet-style meal service, we are unable to accommodate dietary requests such as Kosher and Vegan. If you are unable to find options on our standard meal service (see below) that meet your dietary needs, you may supplement the existing meals where necessary with some of your own food, as long as it does not require cooking on our limited stove and cookware surfaces.
Substitutions for guests with SEVERE ALLERGIES We take allergies very seriously at Western River Expeditions. It is important that you describe to us the exact details of any allergies you may have, including symptoms and severity. If you have an allergy which may cause difficulty breathing, anaphylaxis or other severe and life-threatening reactions; please read the following points carefully. We want to make sure you are familiar with what we can and can't do for you in a wilderness setting. If you have a severe allergy you will be required to bring at least two Epi-pens on your trip. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at 1-866-904-1160.
All reasonable efforts will be made to avoid cross contamination. We cannot guarantee that any of our products are free from allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and other allergens) as we use shared equipment to store, prepare and serve them. For this reason, allergies to commonly used products such as onions, bell peppers, black pepper, garlic, or corn may not be possible to accommodate as most of these are present in the pre-made products we purchase. Please inform us as to the exact severity of these allergies, and whether it is anaphylactic or gastrointestinal.
Peanut butter will be served on a separate table with disposable utensils. Guests with severe allergies may go through the line first, before cross contamination may occur. When preparing something like a salad with nuts, part of the salad will be set aside and covered for you before the nuts are added.
It is our policy not to remove an ingredient from a trip when a guest has an allergy to the ingredient.
You are welcome in the kitchen during meal preparation to read food labels and check if you are allergic to any meal items.
Substitutions for VEGETARIAN GUESTS Western River Expeditions can provide vegetarian alternatives for many items. Please see the list below and compare it with the standard meals for your trip. If you feel that this will not be sufficient, you are welcome to bring additional options. Your guides will store any food that you bring but will not be able to prepare it for you due to limitations of the kitchen facilities such as number of pots and burners.
Black bean veggie burger patties- Replace dinner protein such as steak, chicken and trout
Tofu or Portobello mushroom - Replaces steak, chicken or trout. Available by pre-trip request.
Vegetarian pasta sauce- Replaces the meat sauce
Grilled portabella mushroom- Replaces the hamburger patty
Dishes such as green beans almondine, curry chicken salad and tuna salad can be prepared without meat. Peanut butter is always available at lunch and hummus is also provided for vegetarian guests. Whenever possible meat will be served separately from other items to maximize options for vegetarian guest. For example, the chicken for the chicken fajitas will not be mixed with the peppers and onions. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at 1-866-904-1160.
Substitutions for GLUTEN FREE GUESTS Western River Expeditions will provide gluten free alternatives for many items. Please see the list below and compare it with the standard meals for your trip. If you feel that this will not be sufficient, you are welcome to bring additional options. Your guides will store any food that you bring but will not be able to prepare it for you due to limitations of the kitchen facilities such as number of pots and burners. The backcountry often does not provide ideal conditions to avoid cross contamination. All reasonable efforts will be made to keep foods separate but if your sensitivity is severe, we may not be able to accommodate you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at 1-866-904-1160.
Gluten free bread- Replaces lunch bread, garlic bread, toast and english muffins
Gluten free pasta- Replaces pasta dinner
Gluten free pancakes- Replaces blueberry pancakes
Corn tortillas- Replace flour tortillas used for lunch wraps and chicken fajita dinner
Specific DAIRY information Many of our meals have alternative options for avoiding dairy. Depending on your sensitivity, make sure to consult with your guides, and to review the labels of the brands that are on your trip. Because of the remote location of our warehouse, we source products from different vendors each week. The only time we serve milk is the continental breakfast one morning. We can provide Rice Milk for this meal. We generally avoid cooking with butter, and your guides will be happy to accommodate this if you check with them the first day of the trip. Items to watch and avoid are:
Most of the cake and muffin mixes contain dairy or whey.
Some of our breads contain whey, but many do not.
Several desserts are cakelike products which contain dairy.
Some of our snacks.
If you are highly sensitive, we strongly advise that you bring supplemental snacks, desserts, and other foods to make sure you have adequate products to eat. We always have fresh fruits and vegetables available, but with the additional energy expended during an active trip like this, it is important to have an ample supply of alternative products you are comfortable ingesting, primarily snacks and desserts. We will have ample storage, dry or refrigerated available. We hope that this will help you plan accordingly and that you have a great trip with us!
Bacon, eggs to order, hash browns, freshly baked muffins, fresh fruit and OJ
Blueberry pancakes with assorted syrups, sausage links, fresh fruit and OJ French toast with assorted syrups, pork chops, fresh fruit and OJ
Cold cereal with milk, yogurt, bagels with cream cheese, canned fruit and OJ
Eggs to order, Canadian bacon, English muffins, hollandaise sauce, fresh fruit and OJ
7 day only: Grilled ham, pineapple, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and OJ
Coffee, hot tea, cocoa and cider are available every morning
Lunch meats (turkey, ham, pastrami and roast beef), assorted breads, assorted cheeses, lettuce, tomato, pickles, olives and red onion. This lunch is served three times.
Curry chicken salad with chicken, plain yogurt, red onion, lettuce, tomato, golden raisins, carrot, cashews and curry powder. Assorted cheeses, pickles, red onion and olives.
Tuna salad with tuna, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, dried cranberries and sweet relish. Assorted cheeses, pickles red onion and olives.
7 day only: Bean salad with black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, hominy, green chilies, jicama, salsa, shredded cheese, lime juice, cilantro and corn chips. Assorted cheeses, pickles red onion and olives.
All lunches include peanut butter and jelly, fresh fruit, chips, cookies and a variety of condiments.
New York strip steak, fresh seasonal vegetables, spinach salad with strawberries, walnuts and blue cheese.
BBQ chicken, corn bread, green salad and vegetable side dish
Chicken fajitas, sautéed peppers and onions, Spanish rice, vegetarian refried beans and fruit salad
Pasta, sauce including tomatoes, ground beef, sausage, bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms and seasonings. Italian salad and garlic bread.
Rainbow trout, baked potato with assorted toppings, coleslaw and dinner rolls.
7 day only: Hamburgers with a variety of toppings and condiments, bratwurst, sauerkraut, baked beans and potato salad.
Crab dip with cream cheese, cocktail sauce and crackers
Hummus and spinach artichoke dips served with vegetables and crackers
Guacamole with corn chips
Caprese salad containing mozzarella cheese, basil, tomato and balsamic vinegar
7day only: Meatballs and vegetables with dipping sauces
German chocolate cake, chocolate brownies or carrot cake
Fresh baked Dutch oven frosted cakes
Bananas Foster with ice cream
7 day only: Peach cobbler
Snacks may include: trail mix, granola bars, Chex mix, Ritz bits, Rice Crispy treats, candy bars and honey roasted peanuts. Fresh fruit is also available on request.
Personal benefits of full (honest) health 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.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.
What's the best way to get physically fit for a rafting trip?
Physical fitness on a rafting trip is probably the very best way to get the most out of your adventure. Hiking to hidden attractions away from the river's edge, shooting rapids with anticipation rather than anxiety, and possibly even swimming in the river are among the more active things where being more fit will enhance your whitewater rafting vacation. Feeling confident with your abilities is always a great feeling, but the rewards you'll get from physically preparing your body for a rafting trip will pay off in numerous ways, possibly adding years to your life. Now THAT'S living! So, how does one best prepare physically for a rafting adventure? Great question. We've made a list of simple exercises that can be combined together and are specifically applicable to a rafting adventure:
Strength: Gripping ropes (or paddles) is one universal constant for any rafting trip. Start squeezing stress balls or spring-loaded grip strengtheners. Keep these small items handy (pun-intended) while stopped at a red light, working at the desk, or while walking and talking. Legs are another key area to focus on - especially if you want to explore the side trips away from the river's edge. Start with walks around your neighborhood while gripping hand weights to strengthen grip simultaneously. You might as well do some curls with those hands weights while you're at it! Some hikes require some (or a lot of) stair-stepping activity. To really get your legs ready, consider squats, burpees, jump-rope or jumping jacks. All the little muscles in your feet that give you balance will come in very handy (or is that footy)? while walking on uneven terrain.
Lungs & Heart: Breathing heavy is a sure sign your heart rate is up. You probably know lots of ways to get your heart rate up, but one of the best ways to work your entire body (muscles AND heart and lungs) is an exercise with a stupid name, called "Burpees." (No, that's not what you get from consuming a 7-11 Slurpee too fast). You can do burpees at any pace you are ready for, but do it long enough to get breathing hard, then catch your breath and repeat for, say 5 minutes a day. Add in walking your dog, using hand-grip weights or anything else that also strengthens your grip to be more time efficient as you prepare.
Flexibility: Sitting in a raft is different from how we normally sit in a chair. Walking on uneven terrain is different than on a paved path. Flexibility may be more important than strength in helping prevent injuries. Consider that when you absolutely don't want to exercise, but you do have a minute to stretch. Always be stretching.
Balance & Mental Awareness: Of course knowing your own limits is vital for keeping yourself safer - and that responsibility can't be placed on anyone but you! While exercising and preparing for your rafting trip, pay attention to two things: (1) Your own sense of physical balance, and (2) how much harder you can push yourself that you initially may have thought. These two things will keep you safer, while also moving beyond self-imposed limitations and comfort zones. That's the definition of a great adventure!
Drink lotsa water: Get used to drinking a lot of water as you exercise more. In the hot sun, even simply sitting on a raft, you will sweat and burn more calories than you may have thought. Hydration is not an area to "push through" and "be tough" about! Drink water! Reward that hard working body!
Swimming skills are a plus! Swimming is a great way to prepare for a rafting trip too. You may (voluntarily or involuntarily) be doing some swimming on your rafting trip. Don't let that scare you. You've got a lifejacket (PFD) on at all times and may only need to do some strokes and kicks to get yourself back to the boat, or to shore.
Myth #9 on our 11 Myths of Whitewater Rafting page dispels the notion that you must be athletic to enjoy a rafting trip. Take a look there if you want to learn more about what to expect on rafting vacations.
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.
If I'm pregnant, can I still go rafting?
If you are pregnant, you will not be permitted to go rafting. Our trips take place in remote wilderness settings where access to advanced medical care can be hours away (possibly overnight), and conditions such as extreme heat and vigorous activity can exacerbate discomfort and any known or unknown conditions.
Please remember that you will not always be pregnant, but the river will always be here. We do not believe it is worth the risk, no matter how early you are in your pregnancy. We think moms are special and hope you understand.
If you think there is a chance that you may be pregnant after making your deposit you should take out cancellation insurance that would have coverage to cancel for any reason or plan to have someone take your place. We offer the name change option for you or anyone in your party for $50 per person.
Can I bring a CPAP machine on the river?
If you use a CPAP machine, please ensure that you can complete the trip if your CPAP machine fails or your batteries don’t last. Medical evacuation is only available for severe injury or an imminently life threatening condition. You must be able to safely complete the trip without a working device! Please contact our office to advise us if you will be bringing a cpap machine on your trip. 1-801-942-6669
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.
Reservations & Cancellations
What deposit is required?
An initial non-refundable deposit of $500 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?
At the present time we are not holding space without a deposit.
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?
You may make partial payments by credit card or by mailing in a check providing the full balance is paid 90 days prior to your trip. We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not collected by the due date. These payments may be made online or by phone. 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 Grand Canyon 6/7 Day trips require a $500 non-refundable per person deposit. 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.
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.
Trip or date transfers into following season are not allowed.
Is cancellation insurance available?
If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you will find information about cancellation coverage on our Cancellation page.
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?
The industry standard is 10% of the cost of the trip for the guides’ good service. For excellent service, you may want to tip a larger amount. It is easiest for the guides if you give the tip in cash. If you are uncomfortable carrying a large amount of cash, you may make a check out to the Trip Leader. Our guides work tirelessly from before dawn to late at night making certain you have the best experience possible on your trip. Your trip price generally includes transportation services. Though it isn’t necessary, you may want to consider a tip for the driver or pilot. If you are a trip organizer you may want to collect the gratuity ahead of time for your entire group or party. You may give the gratuity to your Trip Leader and it is then divided equally among all the guides. It is easiest to give your thanks and your gratuity the last night of your trip as the departure point at the helicopter pad the last day gets very busy.
Are departures guaranteed?
The Grand Canyon trips are very popular and will be filled well ahead of the departure date. Some of our departures are 1-boat trips and some are 2-boat trips. The 1-boat trips have 18 guests per launch. The 2-boat trips have 28 guests per launch, about 14 guests per boat.
The water flow in the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is regulated by the Glen Canyon Dam. Due to hydroelectric power contracts, the flow is mostly consistent throughout the rafting season of April through September. That is just one of the many reasons the trips in Grand Canyon are so popular. The water coming from the dam comes from the bottom of Lake Powell and is cold year-round at 50 degrees.
The weather in the Grand Canyon can vary from area to area. You will want to come prepared for any type of weather. The canyon is generally dry and sunny; however, Mother Nature always has some surprises so it’s best to be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures as well. Remember that this is dry, desert heat with little or no humidity. Following is an Inner Grand Canyon Average Temperature & Precipitation chart.
Temperature and Precipitation in Grand Canyon
Mean Max. Temp
Mean Min. Temp.
What if the date I want is sold out?
When you look at availability online “Contact Us” is displayed when a departure is sold out or has fewer spaces than you requested. By calling us we can check last-minute availability on trip dates that are close to your requested date that may still have space. We are always happy to put your name on a waitlist, and will contact you by phone and/or by email with dates that become available. We can also describe and suggest other trips that would fulfill your vacation plans.
How far in advance should I make reservations?
We start taking reservations for our Grand Canyon trips well over a year in advance. Reservations are accepted in January of the year prior to the trip departure. Many dates will be sold out over a year in advance. You can check for availability online or by calling our friendly staff. Plans change in people’s lives, so there is sometimes cancellation space available when a trip was booked earlier.
Groups & Charters
What is the maximum number of guests on this trip?
The 1-boat trips have a maximum guest total of 18. The 2-boat trips have a maximum guest total of 28. Twenty-eight is the maximum Grand Canyon National Park regulation for a launch size.
How many guests per raft?
The 1-boat trips have a maximum guest total of 18. The 2-boat trips have a maximum guest total of 28 so there will generally be about 14 guests per boat. Twenty-eight is the Grand Canyon National Park regulation for a launch size.
Can I charter my own private trip?
In order to have a private charter, your group needs to fill the entire launch of either 18 or 28. You’ll need to check with us to see which dates have 1 or 2-boat launch sizes. There are no group rates.
What about group discounts?
There are no group rates.
What is the easiest way to get my friends booked on the same trip?
Arranging a group trip with Western is an easy task! When you make your personal reservation, check total availability so you can choose a trip and date with enough seats for your friends to join. Call our office at 866-904-1160 and put down your deposit. Members of your group may then call in and mention that they are traveling with you. If group members are paying separately each can have their own reservation while still being tied together as a group.
Depending on availability, it may be possible to place a courtesy hold for a few days on your specific trip date to enable your friends to call in with their own deposit. Seats would then be released from that hold as they place their individual reservations within your group.
What if I’m traveling solo?
A Grand Canyon trip is a great choice when you are traveling solo. There is no single supplement. We provide your camping equipment and are happy to issue you an individual tent. The group environment of a Grand Canyon trip makes it very comfortable for you. We hike together, eat together, and camp together. You will be able to choose where you want to set up your own individual campsite each night on the river. As the raft pulls up to a beach, the guides will instruct where the kitchen and bathrooms will be and guests are then free to choose where they want to camp on the rest of the beach area.
Traveling with Children
What is the age limit for this trip and is it flexible?
All guests must be 12 years old at the time of travel. We do not make exceptions to that minimum age requirement. We do have life jackets for youth under 90 lbs, but the youth should weigh no less than 75 lbs. There is no age maximum but it is important to realize that special consideration should be given if you are 70 years of age and older. The intense environmental conditions in the Canyon and the physically taxing nature of the adventure can make this trip extra challenging for elderly guests.
What if my kids are picky eaters?
We are happy to send you a copy of our standard menu. We serve big ‘western style’ breakfasts with food such as pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns etc. There is always fresh fruit as well. Lunches are build-you-own sandwich style with deli meats and all the fixings. There is always peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches. Lunches also include fruit, chips and cookies. Dinners are steak, BBQ chicken, fajitas, spaghetti and fish with lots of great items to go with each meal.
Is this the best trip for younger children?
Children age 12 and older do great. We have other trips that are more appropriate for children younger than 12. Youth as young as 9 may go on the Grand Canyon 3 or 4-day and the Green River and Southwest Sampler are suitable for youth as young as 5.
Preparing & Packing
What should I bring?
Guests should bring their river clothing, camp clothing, hygiene items, flashlight, water bottle and 2-piece rainsuit in a soft-sided duffel bag, not to weigh more than 20 lbs. We provide the dry bag to store your duffel bag in which will also contain your sleeping bag, sheet and ground cover. This dry bag will be stored under tarps during the day and will be available each night as you get to camp. A smaller day bag will also be provided for you to store the items that you need access to during the day, such as sunscreen, rainsuit, camera etc. Because the weather can be so variable in the canyon it is important that guests make adequate preparation for sun and heat as well as cold and rain. If you come prepared with the gear we recommend, you will have a successful adventure. It is better to be prepared and not need it than to need it and not have it! Our Packing Guide page will give you the list, and a video to help you know how and what to pack. We are often asked if guests can bring a pocket knife or multi-tool. Though this is not prohibited on the trip or the charter flight there is no need for a knife or tool. We request you leave them at home.
Do I need a wetsuit or splash jacket?
We recommend a good quality 2-piece rainsuit rather than a wetsuit as you will likely be taking it off or putting it on several times throughout the day. Wetsuits are too hard to get in and out of. A splash jacket is nice if you already have one, but a 2-piece rain suit with a jacket and pants works well and is required for each guest. The water in the river is 50 degrees year round as it comes out of the bottom of Glen Canyon Dam. Depending on where you are sitting on the raft you will be splashed by that cold water and at times the big waves will splash over the entire raft. Trust us - you’ll want that 2-piece rainsuit. It’s the first item on the list of what you should bring.
Please check the weather carefully and note the "cold weather items" on the packing list, especially if you are traveling in April, May, late August or September. Some guests have suggested that we recommend packing a 'dry top' or paddling jacket in addition to your rain gear tops and bottoms. If you tend to get cold, you may want to consider it! On very cool or wet days it will provide additional comfort.
Here are links to reasonably priced options: MENS | WOMENS
What if I need to take medications?
You should bring with you any needed medications and either keep them in your day bag if you will need them during the day or in your duffel bag if only needed in camp in the morning or night. We do offer cold storage if needed. You will be required to furnish the office with a list of the medications you take and why they have been prescribed so our guides can be well informed about any medical conditions that might impact your trip. We encourage you to bring extra medication - enough for a few days beyond what you will actually need. You will be required to sign a Waiver Form and we require you to list any and all medical conditions. Our trips in the Grand Canyon operate in what is known as the “backcountry.” At any given time, you will be a minimum of several hours, if not a day or more away from medical help. Emergency first aid and trip evacuation are difficult to initiate and carry out in these remote areas. There is no guarantee that we can evacuate you to obtain medical help in a timely manner. If you are on any medications, it is important to determine if those medications could contribute to the possibility of developing a heat-related illness, as many medications (both prescription and over the counter meds) can negatively affect your body’s ability to regulate its water and electrolyte/salt balance.
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?
You will be required to have an Arizona State Fishing License which may be purchased in Marble Canyon, AZ. The fishing may not be successful due to the water being silty. There is not any fishing time during the day and it is a catch and release. Guests generally prefer to use the available camp time to visit with other guests or relax in the beautiful surroundings of the Grand Canyon.
How should I be dressed the morning of my rafting trip?
You should be dressed ready to board the rafts whether you are meeting in Marble Canyon or coming from Las Vegas on the charter flight. That would consist of swimsuit with shorts and quick-dry shirt, sunhat with an under the chin strap or clip to your shirt, sunglasses with a retainer, footwear which can be worn on the raft and during the hikes, your 2-piece rainsuit handy for your day bag, camera and a smile!
What about sun and heat protection?
You will want to have a more than adequate supply of sunscreen and will need to reapply frequently. You also might want to consider quick-dry long pants and long sleeves for added protection. You will need to especially be diligent about protecting your feet with lots of sunscreen or socks. You do not want to suffer from sunburn on this trip. It is important that you have a hat to protect your head and face from the sun as well and have a strap that goes under your chin or a hat clip to keep it from blowing off. Ladies may also find it useful to have a sarong to put over their legs during the smooth-water time as their shorts may not be long enough to cover down to the knees. There is also a recently introduced item out called a “buff”. This can be worn around the neck or put on the head for additional heat relief. Anytime from about mid-May and even into the September launches, the potential for 100 degrees plus temperatures is likely. Managing the heat on the river is very possible and you can have a comfortable trip. Keep in mind that this is the desert with very little or no humidity. Using river water for cooling will help to keep your core temperature cool. Guides will often suggest that guests soak their hat, shirt, and or life jacket in the cold river water. It’s wise to get wet before going on a hike as your body will perspire and you will become dehydrated more easily. It may be difficult to tell because sweat evaporates more quickly in the dry air. You will need to drink plenty of water and be careful not to dehydrate your body even more with too much soda or beer. It’s also important to keep in mind that you will need to eat more salt than you normally do to keep your electrolytes in balance. You will notice that we often offer salty snacks for this purpose. It’s also important that you eat at meals and take advantage of the snacks we offer in between to keep things in balance.
Can I bring a camera on the river? What about charging it?
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.
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?
The dry bag we provide will keep your duffel bag and its contents dry if it is properly rolled down and secured with the straps on the sides. You will use the smaller day bag in which to keep items that you will need access to during the day, and if you are careful to secure it properly those items will stay dry as well. You may tuck your raingear under the ropes on the raft when you are not wearing it so that you don’t have to put it away in your daybag when it’s wet
If you are staying at The Las Vegas Marriott in Las Vegas prior to your trip they will store your extra luggage for a fee per bag/per day (the cost is more if you are not staying at the Marriott). You can arrange this the night prior to your trip or when you check out in the morning. You will only want to bring on the trip those items on the packing list, and we recommend you pack as lightly as possible to keep the weight down as you will be transporting your dry bag with your duffel and sleeping bag back and forth from the raft to your campsite each evening and morning. If you are meeting the trip in Marble Canyon, the lodge there does not store luggage or personal items. You will need to leave additional items that you are not taking on the river in your car trunk. Be aware that the Arizona heat in a car can be very extreme over a week’s time.
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.
On the River
What is a typical day on the river and how much time is spent on a raft?
Itineraries vary on every trip and can depend on factors such as weather, time of year, where you camp and what hikes we do. We aim to please every guest but we also have to manage the trip itinerary for the needs of the entire group. Campsites are not assigned and are first come, first served. We try to do all of the main hikes offered in this stretch of the canyon. Hiking also varies depending on the weather and availability of the hiking areas. For these reasons we can only provide an outline of what you might expect on your trip. The day begins around dawn when you will hear a wake up call for coffee. Breakfast is usually ready about 30 minutes later. Before breakfast you will want to start breaking down your camp and getting ready to pack up your gear so that you can be ready when the guides have breakfast cleaned up and are ready to load up the rafts. You are on the rafts for about an hour to an hour and a half at a time with breaks for lunch, possible hikes, bathroom stops etc. This comes out to about 6-7 hours a day, though some days will be shorter and some longer. A balanced itinerary is planned by your guides each day by your trip leader. You will hike in side canyons and stop for scenic points of interest. Your trip leader will try to get to camp in the late afternoon. Once in camp you can do more hiking around the camp, bathe, and relax. Appetizers will be prepared and then dinner in the evening hours. After dinner you can choose to socialize with friends, family or other guests or turn in for the night keeping in mind that your next day will also start at dawn.
What about rapids and water levels?
You may be used to the Class I-V river rating scale. The Grand Canyon uses a rapid rating from 1 - 10 instead as the Colorado River is so very different in sections of the river. The rapid rating is given according to water levels and degree of navigational difficulty. Your guides will give you an idea of each rapid in plenty of time for you to be seated safely and be prepared to hold on accordingly. The trip starts out with a variety of rapids (some small, some big) and builds as the days go on so that you have a chance to decide where it’s best for you to sit. You’ll want to take the opportunity during the trip to try out each section of the raft. By the time you get to rapid day - usually on day three you will be experienced and know where you want to be seated through the heart of the canyon for the larger rapids. On that day you will experience several #10 rapids as you descend down through the canyon where the river narrows and the walls get higher and higher. Your guides will be watching to see that you continue to remember how to sit and hold on and have your life jacket properly buckled and fitted. You’ll become familiar with some unique river terms and instructions. Keep in mind that the water level in Grand Canyon is regulated by Glen Canyon Dam and will be mostly consistent throughout the rafting season from April - September.
What type of raft can I expect?
All of our Grand Canyon trips are operated with our unique, patented j-rig raft. This craft gives guests the opportunity to sit in several varied seating positions and gives guests the chance to move around easily and relax during the calm-water stretches. Learn more about our J-Rig here.
What is the water temperature on the river?
Because the water is released from deep in Lake Powell through the Glen Canyon Dam the water is a cold 50 degrees year round. That’s the reason we have you bring a 2-piece rainsuit - for protection against that cold river water more so than even for actual rain. You will want to keep your core body temperature warm enough to be comfortable. Put on your rainsuit before you get cold as it’s much harder to warm up than it is to cool down. The cold river water always affords you the chance to cool down. There is seating on the raft that provides chances for you to warm up as well. Guests will be moving around on the raft throughout the day and you can always request that a guest change places with you.
What about swimming?
You will use the river to quickly take a bath each evening, but will not be permitted to swim as hypothermia can set in quickly in 50 degree water. The water is also swift and there can be a lot of hydraulics going on that would be unsafe for you. You will be able to play in the side streams and waterfalls which will be warmer than the river water but will still be plenty cool and refreshing.
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. You'll find the video on our camping in Grand Canyon page, about midway down the page.
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?
It is impossible for us to reach you once you are on your river trip. However, you may leave the office phone number (1-800-453-7450) with your family and friends. We will have a message waiting for you as you exit the canyon. The Grand Canyon National Park Service will not bring in a message by helicopter and will only do a helicopter evacuation for a guest that is injured or ill on the trip and whose medical condition would be worsened by staying on the trip. Because of these reasons, we recommend discussing what this means to you with your family and friends. For example, if you have an elderly parent, you may be concerned that they fall ill or pass away while you are gone. Talk about the what if’s with your family before the trip, discuss decisions they could make without consulting you and perhaps talk about whether you would want your family to postpone a funeral service until you would be able to attend.
Can I contact others while on the river?
As mentioned above the Park Service will only evacuate a guest for a serious on-river medical emergency. You may rent a satellite phone; however, be aware that the service is very limited and the reception may be very poor. For this reason it’s generally best for you to relax and enjoy your trip and pick up the serious business of life when you return. Take advantage of the opportunity to be “unplugged” from our busy digital lives.
The Great Outdoors
What can I expect at camp?
Your guides will give a good camp orientation before you reach your first camp. As the rafts pull up to the beach guests will be instructed where the guides are going to locate the kitchen and the bathroom areas. Guests may then choose any other area on the beach for their own personal campsite. Guests will then be called back to the boats to help unload the dry bags and some kitchen gear. This is done in a fireline manner with guests assisting. The Grand Canyon is a friendly place to camp; it is generally warm and there are few insects. The guides will do a tent and cot set up demonstration and then guests are free to carry their dry bags and other gear to their chosen campsite and get set up. As soon as the guides get the kitchen set up and dinner started they will prepare some appetizers. Dinner will be ready about 30 minutes later. You will be given a plate and silverware and a cup - all of which you will wash after each meal and keep with your gear.
If there is time the guides may organize some camp games and/or activities or you are always free to just relax on your own. Wake up time will be at dawn with the call for coffee and/or hot chocolate with breakfast to follow soon after. Guests should start breaking down their campsite prior to breakfast so that they will be ready to load the rafts with another fireline when the guides get the kitchen broken down. A toilet and hand-washing system is always set up in each camp - generally two areas; one in a tent and the other in a secluded open-air area a small distance away from the main camp. It will be clearly marked so that guests can find it at night. The toilets are the first thing set up in each camp and the last thing taken down in the mornings. Guides will give a warning call when that time is near. Hand washing is stressed and you should be diligent about washing your hands and using the provided sanitizer after visiting the bathroom and again before eating. Departure time in the morning is usually around 7:30 - 8:00 AM. The guides want to get going on the river early in order to be able to enjoy as many of the scenic stops as possible. Learn more about camping in the Grand Canyon.
What are the sleeping arrangements during the trip?
Guests are supplied with a sleeping bag, sheet, cot and tent. The tents are 3-man tents designed to accommodate two people and their cots and gear. Many guests choose to sleep out under the stars and enjoy that unique experience. If it looks like it might rain, then it would be a good idea to set up a tent and move your cot inside the tent if Mother Nature blesses the desert with some rain during the night. A tent can also be used for changing clothes and storing your gear. If you do set up a tent it is important that you put your gear bags inside and maybe even a heavy rock in the corners to keep the tent upright should the wind decide to blow. Guests that are traveling solo would not be expected to share a tent and would be issued an individual tent if they wish to use one. The tents and cots are loaded back on the raft and will be given out again at each campsite. You may not get the same tent or cot each night so you should turn it in as neat as possible. It’s easiest to roll up the tent if you leave a cot up to put it on as you roll it up. That keep it up off the ground and will lessen the amount of sand that might collect in the tent.
How do I bathe while on the river and take care of personal hygiene?
There are no shower facilities on a river trip. It’s easy to take a quick dip in the river, step out, soap up with biodegradable soap and shampoo and then quickly rinse off in the river. You can find biodegradable soap and shampoo at most camping supply stores or you can purchase them from our Red Rock Outfitter online store. Be sure to pack any soap products in a plastic ziplock baggie just in case it leaks. Don’t forget that the river is cold (48 to 52 degrees) so most bathing and washing is quick! You may want to bring your cot down to the river’s edge and put your bathing items and towel on the cot to keep them out of the wet sand. Before you enter the river, make certain it is a good, safe spot as some locations have deep water and/or swift current.
Brushing teeth: To brush your teeth please use our filtered water and not the river water. Brush your teeth by the river and spit the toothpaste into the river as toothpaste can attract ants.
Shaving: whether or not you shave is a personal preference. If you decide to shave, you must do it by the river with the cold river water.
Laundry: You’ll end up wearing the same clothes most of the time so you won’t need many changes. It’s common practice to launder your clothes in the river as you are taking care of your bathing. There are bushes and branches around camp to hang your clothes on or you can bring a small rope to string between the bushes or put around your tent - a small supply of clothespins works well. The air is dry and clothes dry relatively quickly.
Contact Lenses: It is common for passengers to wear their contact lenses during their trip; however, this trip is sandy and can be windy which makes handling contacts a challenge. It’s recommended that you bring eye drops to help with the dry winds and blowing sand. You should wash your hands or use non-alcohol baby wipes to remove the sand from your hands before handling your contacts. We recommend that you bring at least one spare pair of contacts, extra solution, as well as your glasses just in case you need them.
Skin care: We cannot stress enough for both men and women the importance of giving extra attention to your skin. You will experience extreme sun exposure, sand, wind and dry air. Remember also that your skin is repeatedly getting wet and then drying out - that can be especially hard on your hands and feet. It’s very important to use a good moisturizing lotion as often as possible, especially before going to bed. You especially need to take care of your feet by avoiding getting them sunburned. Clean your feet with soap once a day and put dry shoes on when you are in camp and remember to always wear your shoes - even in camp. If you should start having problems with any areas of your skin don’t hesitate to talk to a guide about it. They are there all summer and have some great solutions.
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?
Lunch and dinner will be provided the first day of your trip, followed by breakfast, lunch and dinner the other days. The last day you will have breakfast on the river and then a light lunch at Bar 10 Ranch before you board the planes to fly back to Las Vegas or Marble Canyon.
What is the food like?
It’s delicious and amazing! Many of our guests tell us they can’t believe the type of meals the guides are able to prepare in this backcountry. Western River has put a lot of thought into the menu to supply guests with adequate calories and a balanced diet. You’ll be burning up a lot more calories than you may be used to so take advantage of all the great meals. We will feed you hearty meals from lunch the first day through breakfast on your last day with us and even give you snacks in between. Our food consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, meats and desserts. The meals vary and are plentiful so that all tastes are usually accommodated.
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?”
For a full list of meals served, and possible substitutions based on dietary restrictions, allergies, and preferences, please see the section titled: “Dietary Information & Restrictions”
What beverages are supplied and what can I bring?
Water & Lemonade:
Western River supplies a generous amount of cold water and lemonade. It is always available on the rafts and in camp. You are welcome (encouraged) to fill your water bottle as many times during the day as you can. Hydration (ie. water) is essential to your physical health in the hot desert sun. Drink lotsa water! You will be provided with a mug or small capacity (17oz) bottle that is yours to keep. Water in the desert is very precious and not to be wasted.
Soda & Alcohol
Western does not provide soda or alcohol. Each guest may bring up to a case (24) of canned beverages. These will be stored in dry storage on the raft where you will have access to them during the day. You can load the "drag bag" with a selection of choices for the day. This will make more sense when you arrive at the boats!
If you are on the charter flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon: For reasons of weight restrictions on the plane, it is imperative that you make your beverage purchases AFTER the flight to Marble Canyon. The convenience store at Marble Canyon has a good supply of different brands of soda, beer and a selection of boxed wines. They do not sell hard alcohol. If you choose to bring hard alcohol on the flight it must be in its original and unopened container.
What about dietary restrictions or food allergies?
Please refer to the "Physical & Dietary Requirements" section, located above.
Can I bring my own snacks?
You may bring your own snacks, but we provide a variety of snacks on every trip. They are generally 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 dry storage space, or you may pack them in your personal duffle or day bag.
If you have special dietary needs, bringing some of your own snacks that work well for you is a great idea.
If you have allergic or dietary reasons to be concerned with the food we will prepare and serve, please refer to the "Physical & Dietary Requirements" section above, where you will find accepted substitutions for our regular fare. If these listed substitutions are desired, then they must be specifically requested as part of your reservation when you disclose your personal information.
What about liquor and controlled substances?
Hard alcohol is allowed at your own discretion. Storage will be provided on the boats. Be aware that FAA guidelines require liquor to be in unopened (sealed) containers during flight, even if packed in your bags.
Note: Hydration (ie. drinking enough water to offset diuretics such as alcohol or even caffeinated beverages) is especially vital to your health and safety on the river in the hot desert sun. Also, be aware that intoxication on a rafting trip, along the river and in camp can be particularly dangerous, so we advise prudence!
Controlled substances, such as Marijuana, are illegal to possess in Grand Canyon National Park.
Travel & Logistics
When is the best time to travel?
The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon is unusual because its water flow is controlled by Glen Canyon Dam. It is, therefore, not spring snow melt so there are not higher water and bigger rapids in the spring compared to later in the summer. The flows are regulated by the Bureau of Reclamation as they manage the large reservoir waters of Lake Powell and a hydroelectric generating station at the Dam just 15 miles above where the trip starts at Lees Ferry. This is one of the reasons the Grand Canyon trips are so popular; there is plenty of water to run the river through our entire season of April - September. There is the possibility of having higher water flows in July and August when the demand for summer electricity is higher. Some of the rapids do get more intense with higher water but some may get washed out. A bit lower flows can make the rapids more challenging and exciting. The water level is measured in cubic feet per second and will generally range somewhere between 8,000 and 17,000 cfs. Whether you are on the river during lower, more technically challenging levels or higher levels with bigger waves, the rapids are always fun and exciting!
What weather should I expect?
There are certainly no guarantees when it comes to weather in the Grand Canyon and conditions can be variable and unpredictable. There are, however, typical types of weather that you may expect throughout the rafting season. We recommend coming prepared for all types of weather; hot/dry and cool/wet. You should bring a quality 2-piece rainsuit not only for rain protection but also for the cold river water regardless of when you travel. Keep in mind that any weather forecast predictions given may be for over a hundred miles from where you are in the canyon; and what is happening in one area may not be happening in an area even a few miles away. Expect rain any month; however, afternoon thunder showers are most likely in July and August. There is an advantage to July and August because you are more likely to have some cloud cover and if it does rain there may be rainbows or waterfalls coming off the canyon walls that are magnificent to behold. A cooling rain in the desert is always a welcome thing. Tents that are set up properly can protect you from any rain that may occur at night. Generally the months of April, May and September are cooler with the hot months being June, July and August. Using our weather widget to get an idea of what to expect.
Keep in mind that if you look up Grand Canyon on weather.com you will see temperatures listed for the rim and not for the river level. It is much cooler up on the rim so don’t be misled. We will send out an up-to-date weather forecast in an automated email prior to your trip.
How do I get there?
The Grand Canyon 6 or 7-day trip has two travel options: Option 1: You may drive and meet the trip in Marble Canyon, AZ. You may park your car at no cost across the street from the Marble Canyon Lodge. Reservations for the night prior to your trip can be made by calling 1-800-726-1789 or booking a reservation online at www.marblecanyoncompany.com. You should be ready to meet your guides for the trip at 7:30 AM. We will then fly you back to Marble Canyon at the end of the trip to arrive around 3:00 PM. Original picture I.D. is required for all passengers 18 and older.
Option 2: If you plan to fly to meet the trip you should plan on flying to Las Vegas at least the day prior to your trip. We will arrange for you to fly on the charter flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon the morning of your trip (there is an additional charge for this charter flight). We pick up our guests at The Las Vegas Marriott Hotel at 4:45 AM for the flight and we have a contract with the Marriott property for some blocked space. We will provide you with a link to make a reservation to stay the night prior and possibly the night after your trip. The hotel stay is not included in your trip price. That block of rooms is released 30 days prior to each departure date and the hotel does fill up so it will be important for you to secure your reservation before that time. Guests will meet in the lobby at 4:45 AM for a bus transfer to the Boulder City Terminal and a flight to Marble Canyon. Original picture I.D. is required for all passengers 18 and older. Las Vegas guests will then be flown back to Las Vegas at the end of the trip to arrive around 3:00 PM to the Marriott Hotel. Your river trip ends at Whitmore Wash (mile 187) mid-morning on the last day. You’ll bid farewell to your guides and board a helicopter to exit the canyon. A scenic 7-minute helicopter ride will take you from the river to Bar 10 Ranch near the rim of Grand Canyon. At the Bar 10 Ranch you will have the opportunity to shower and have a light lunch before boarding the a plane for your flight to Las Vegas or Marble Canyon. - this return flight is included in your trip cost. Marble Canyon does not have any car rental facility and you cannot drop off a car that you may have rented at another location. There is a ground shuttle service available from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon the day prior to your trip. That service may be booked by calling 1-435-628-4010. If you choose to come on the ground shuttle and wish to be flown back to Las Vegas that flight can be arranged with prior written notice to Western River.
What transportation is provided with the trip?
Guests who have booked the optional 50 minute charter flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon, AZ will be picked up at The Las Vegas Marriott by a charter bus and taken to the Boulder Commuter Terminal for that flight. Some guests will choose to drive to Marble Canyon, AZ and park their vehicle there for the week. All guests will be transported by van from Marble Canyon, AZ to Lees Ferry. Lees Ferry is the launch site for all of our 6 or 7-day Grand Canyon trips. Lees Ferry is considered Mile 1 on the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon. At the end of the trip all guests will be flown by helicopter to the Bar 10 Ranch (an 8 minute ride) where they will have the opportunity to shower and have a light lunch, after which they will be flown to either Marble Canyon, AZ where their car is parked or to Las Vegas if they flew over on the charter flight. Both flights are approximately 50 minutes long. Those guests who flew over on the charter flight from Las Vegas will land at the Boulder Commuter Terminal and then be taken by charter bus back to The Las Vegas Marriott to arrive by 3:00 PM.
What accommodations are recommended before and after the trip?
Guests meeting in Marble Canyon, AZ should make reservations at The Marble Canyon Lodge for the night prior to the trip as the meeting time is 7:30 AM. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-726-1789 or online at www.marblecanyoncompany.com. Guests are returned by 3:00 PM and don’t generally stay the night after they return.
Guests who have added the charter flight from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon should make reservations at The Las Vegas Marriott. Guests for that flight are picked up at 4:45 AM at The Marriott. A discounted group rate link can be found on our Las Vegas travel planning page. Guests are returned to The Marriott by 3:00 PM. Guests may find it more relaxing to stay an additional night at The Marriott on their return. If guests choose to fly home on the same day they return, flights are not recommended prior to 5:30 PM or 6:00 PM to give adequate time to get to the main airport, check in, get through security and board the flight.
What do I do with my car keys?
You should pack your car keys in a ziplock bag and put them in a zippered pocket in your duffel bag.