Please note that this plan is part of a larger plan we’re working on. We will update this with any changes as the plan morphs.
First and foremost, thank you for your overwhelming kindness during this unprecedented time in history. We have received emails and phone calls about how much people have cherished their river trips in the past, and how much people are looking forward to experiencing it this year when things settle down. We’re often reminded of how truly privileged we are to work with such amazing and caring guests, as well as how lucky we are to work and serve in Grand Canyon.
We have recently had quite a few questions about what safety procedures will look like once we’re able to get back on the river and wanted to address those questions to the extent currently possible. The reality of Grand Canyon rafting trips is that there are many details out of our control. This is true for many aspects of a backcountry rafting expedition such as where we’ll camp, where we’ll hike, what the weather will be like, what the itinerary of each day is, etc.—and our guides will often go into a trip with Plan A, B and C, and end up on Plan Q. This will be similar when it comes to the details of handling Coronavirus.
With that in mind, we are making plans for what we CAN control, while acknowledging that there are details out of our control. Our current plan is three-pronged: 1. pre-trip details, 2. on-river details, 3. Park Service involvement.
- Pre-Trip Details—guest self-assessment
- We will reach out to all guests 14 days prior to each trip, asking them to evaluate their health. If they have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, we will refer them to their health care provider. Depending on each situation, we may ask them to cancel/rebook their adventure.
- Three days prior to each trip date, we’ll email all guests again and ask them to re-evaluate their health. If they have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, we will refer them to their health care provider, and potentially cancel/rebook their adventure.
- At the orientation, we will again ask everyone to evaluate their health. If they had recently been experiencing symptoms, or started experiencing symptoms that day/evening, we will cancel their adventure and reschedule them on a future date.
- On-River Details—guide training on prevention & response
- Prevention of an illness
- Employee health screening prior to the trip.
- Increased handwashing/hand sanitizing protocols. Required before touching food or communal water containers.
- Individual snack containers.
- Wash all dishes, kitchen utensils and tables with hot, soapy water, followed by bleach disinfection.
- Additional sanitization of kitchen and commonly shared items, such as water jugs and electrolyte replacement mix containers.
- Assign tents for the duration of the trip.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize rafts and all river gear between each trip.
- Response to an illness
- When on a Classic Adventure or All-Paddle Adventure, we will isolate ill participant(s) to separate raft, keep them separated from the group, and serve them directly when in camp and off the rafts (to avoid passing through kitchen and touching food and kitchen items).
- When on a Motor Adventure, we will isolate ill participants(s) as well as possible, 6 feet away from others when on the raft. We’ll also keep them separated from the group and serve them directly when in camp and off the rafts.
- Initiate further sanitation of raft in camp each day.
- Increase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks as necessary for all trip participants.
- Prevention of an illness
- Grand Canyon National Park Service Involvement
- As our authorizing agency, we will be working with Grand Canyon National Park Service directly.
- When necessary, we will initiate communication with Grand Canyon National Park Service regarding how best to handle illnesses when/if they arise.
- Grand Canyon National Park Service will decide whether to evacuate someone from a rafting trip or not. Although we will initiate the conversation, they will make the final decision to evacuate or not.
- As of 4/23/2020, we have not received any guidance from Grand Canyon National Park Service on how they will be handling Coronavirus cases on the river.
As a constantly changing situation, our plans and procedures will be re-evaluated as AzRA, the Center for Disease Control and National Park Service gain more knowledge on COVID-19. We appreciate your patience very much during this unusual time in Grand Canyon rafting. Please know that your safety and health, as well as the safety and health of our employees, is of utmost importance to us, and we want to take as many measures as possible to maintain a healthy atmosphere.
Through all of this, we are continually reminded how wonderful it will be to be back on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, where we’re outside, away from all the distractions of our busy world, taking in the majesty and grandeur of a place we call home.
If you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call or email our office Monday to Thursday, 9 AM to 4 PM MST, and we will be happy to assist you. We remain hopeful that we will be sharing this adventure of a lifetime with you very soon!
Photo Credit: Marc Muench