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
Ask everyone to get tested 2 weeks before the trip. Can’t hurt. I just got tested at my work -and assume I can get regularly retested . For free at Stanford Hospital, California! Not saying everyone who is asymptomatic can get tested but maybe by the time trips are running – regular testing will be available.
Yes, Cecile, currently it’s not an option, but may be in the future! If it is, we’ll work with our attorneys to see if it’s an appropriate ask. Thank you!
Will we each have our own individual tent?
Hi Becky, anyone who is reserved on their own reservation (which you are, as is the rest of your group) will have their own tents. For those that are on a reservation of 2+ people (or have 2+ people on an invoice), we will pack one tent for every two people. Most commonly, couples reserve this way, and plan to share a tent anyway. If anyone ever wants their own tent, they can absolutely request their own. Thank you for your comment!
Would it be possible to take everyone’s temperature when we meet the night before the trip begins?
Hi Charmaine, thank you for your thoughts. It is a possibility, but one we are talking over very carefully with our attorneys before we make any official plans. More information coming out lately is saying that taking temperature isn’t the most accurate way to test either, so we want to make the wisest and most thoughtful decision we can. We appreciate your thoughts, though, and always welcome them!
As asymptomatic individuals can be contagious, testing to me is gold standard to shoot for. I myself would have absolutely no problem paying for a test to ensure the safety of myself, as well as others I will be sharing raft(s) with for two weeks. I like this to be seriously considered as a condition fo the trip. Thanks
Hi Bruce, thank you for your thoughts! I completely understand where you’re coming from. It has absolutely been brought up in discussion in our management team (of which I’m a part of) many times. We will ultimately need to see how the availability of testing and ease with which to get tested comes about in the coming months. Currently in AZ, testing is still somewhat limited, though much better than it was before, and results are taking anywhere between 3 days to a couple of weeks. As testing standards are so different across the various states and countries, it is not currently possible to require guests to do this prior to coming on their adventure. We will absolutely keep an eye on it, and will add it to our procedures if we have the opportunity to in the future. Thank you again!
I know I’m going to. be missing the camp chairs. Did you consider assigning everyone their own chair, as you assign each one their own tent?
Rafting down the Colorado is on my bucket list. I’m a retired pulmonary doc in Bisbee AZ. As you know our state has done a terrible job of thing to control the pandemic. I have the drive two hours to Tucson to get a Covid-19 test, then wait more than a week for the results, during which time I could become infected and infectious. What are your Courtenay plans? If I make a reservation and then become positive during the two weeks prior to the top, will I get a full refund? If not, the natural inclination would be not to say anything. Hmm
Hi Paul, you can see all of our plans for this at https://azraft.com/secondary-covid-19-update-2/. If you have been exposed, experience symptoms or test positive, we will provide a full refund or full transfer to a trip in the future. We hope we can get you down river sometime in the future!