Photo by Kim Grandfield
Why should I choose AzRA?
Although there are many great options for rafting in Grand Canyon, we believe there are many reasons that set AzRA apart from the other companies.
Our guides: Many of our guides have chosen to guide with us for their entire rafting career, which means we have very talented and knowledgeable guides. Many of them also have different specialties and expertise, including story-telling, human history, natural history, plant life, geology, animal life, astronomy and much more. Their love for Grand Canyon is infectious, and they love to share that love with our guests.
Friendly, knowledgeable office & support staff: AzRA offers one of the largest office staff in the industry, which allows us to provide the best customer service possible. From bus drivers to warehouse to office staff, each staff member goes on one river trip a year to ensure that we can answer all of your questions as thoroughly as possible, including before, after and on your way to your river adventure.
The hiking: We pride ourselves in being one of the biggest hiking companies in Grand Canyon because we want to get you off the rafts and exploring this beautiful Canyon. You will go on one hike a day, on average, all varying in length, difficulty and terrain. See our hiking page for more details.
Trip Options: We offer three different trip types to meet the abilities of our guests; our Motor Adventure, our All-Paddle Adventure and our Classic Adventure. Our Classic Adventure is what truly sets us apart from other Grand Canyon rafting companies as it provides the opportunity to sit back and relax on the oar boats while the guide rows the raft down the river, or participate actively in the paddle raft and help maneuver the raft down river. This is a great trip option for those that want to experience both an oar raft and a paddle raft. Additionally, we’re one of very few companies that still offers an exclusively All-Paddle Adventure.
Provided gear: We provide the river equipment for your adventure, so you don’t have to worry about those details. See What Equipment is Provided for more details.
Maximize your time in Grand Canyon National Park: By ending our trips at Diamond Creek instead of Pearce Ferry in the same amount of time as other river companies, we are maximizing your time spent in Grand Canyon National Park, where we feel your experience will be most enjoyed.
In & out of Flagstaff: Your Grand Canyon rafting adventure with AzRA will begin and/or end in Flagstaff, Arizona (depending on what trip length you choose), avoiding the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, which we believe provides a gentle transition between your travels and river life. See Why Travel Through Flagstaff for more details.
Our stewardship: We pride ourselves in modeling good stewardship both on and off the river. We recycle, purchase environmentally friendly products, teach and practice minimal impact camping and serve a menu which includes as much locally grown and organic products as possible. We also support several local environmental organizations such as the Grand Canyon Trust, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council and Peregrine Fund (see the links page for a complete list of non-profit organizations we support). AzRA participates in the Grand Canyon Fund’s dollar per day donation program, which is committed to enhancing access for persons with disabilities, our Wounded Warriors, environmental education and other regional Grand Canyon related projects and organizations.
Third Generation Family-Owned Company: Alexandra and Fred Thevenin, our current owners, come from a family of boaters. Alexandra’s grandfather, Lou Elliott, and father, Rob Elliott, first started rafting Grand Canyon in 1965. Rob Elliott purchased the company and officially started Arizona Raft Adventures in 1974. In 2008, Alexandra and Fred bought the company from Rob Elliott and continued the family legacy. In addition, Fred is a second generation Grand Canyon boater and manager. Alexandra and Fred continue to guide multiple trips in Grand Canyon each year, and enjoy taking their two young daughters on the Colorado River, among many other rivers in the area, keeping the joy and love of boating going for the next generation. You can read more about them in the About Us page.
Our four Guiding Principles: See our guiding principles here. This truly sets us apart from other companies, as we use these four principles in everything that we do.
Do you offer a one day trip?
No. Because the Grand Canyon is so massive and remote, there are very limited locations to access the river. The total stretch of river we run is 227 river miles, starting at Lee’s Ferry and ending at Diamond Creek. Between those two locations, the only way to access the river is to hike in or out of Grand Canyon along the Bright Angel Trail. Our adventures range from 6-16 day trips. If you are looking for a one day trip, contact Rivers and Oceans at (928) 526-4575 or Advantage Grand Canyon at (888)244-2224-two travel agents that will help you find one-day rafting options in the area.
What are your trip lengths?
We offer a full canyon option (14-16 days), an upper canyon option (6-7 days) and a lower canyon option (9-10 days) in both our Classic Adventure and All-Paddle Adventure. Our Motor Adventure is only available in a full canyon option, and is 8-10 days in length.
All of our non-motorized options traverse the full 227 river miles (which is considered the full canyon option), and to shorten that adventure, guests can hike out of the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail at river mile 89 or they can hike into the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail at river mile 89. Upper canyon guests begin their adventure with those booked on the full canyon, and lower canyon guests join them halfway through and finish the trip with the full canyon guests.
What are your trip types?
We offer three different trip types: Our Classic Adventure, which features 5 oar boats and 1 paddle boat, our All-Paddle Adventure, which requires everyone to paddle 100% off the time, every day of the adventure and our Motor Adventure, which features 1 or 2 of our 32’ pontoon-style motor rafts. With these options, you’re sure to find a good fit for yourself or your group!
What is the group size?
Classic Adventure: 21-22 guests
All-Paddle Adventure: 18 guests
Motor Adventure: 14-15 guests on a 1 boat, or 24-25 guests on a 2 boat
What are the age requirements?
Classic Adventure: minimum age is 12
All-Paddle Adventure: minimum age is 16
Motor Adventure: minimum age is 10
There is no maximum age for any of our adventures, but we do ask that all of our guests, no matter the age, take into account that any of our adventures are physically demanding. See our Risks & Rewards page for more details.
How strenuous is the trip?
Any prolonged backcountry adventure is strenuous in nature, and comes with inherent risks that everyone needs to be aware of. Of course the hiking and rafting pose risks in and of themselves, but many guests are surprised to find out that many of the injuries that occur on the river every year occur in camp, are because of pre-existing medical conditions and are due to a lack of paying attention. A Grand Canyon rafting trip often presents challenges to those already compromised with poor health or physical fitness. Please strongly consider and discuss any challenges with your doctor. Living outdoors for several days in a desert environment can quickly impact your health and stamina. Weather conditions vary from extreme heat to extreme cold, heavy rain, strong winds and blowing sand. We encourage you to use the following questions to help think about the ideal level of endurance and stamina needed. Can you:
* Ascend and descend two flights of stairs carrying a 20 pound bag without using a handrail?
* Get up on top of a kitchen counter, stand up, and return to the floor without using a stool?
* Climb several sets of stairs while urgently needing the bathroom?
* Rise from a seated position from the ground to standing up to 30 times a day?
* Balance a plate of food on your lap while eating?
* Suspend your weight from a pull up bar for 15 seconds?
If you or anyone in your party has any concerns about any of these, feel free to call or email us for more details at 800-786-7238 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 AM-4 PM MST (though Arizona does not observe daylight savings time).
Do I need to know how to swim?
No, as each guest wears a Coast Guard approved lifejacket while on the river. Although it is helpful to know how to swim on a Grand Canyon rafting adventure, it is certainly not required. Many non-swimmers come with us each year.
How tough are the hikes?
The hiking in Grand Canyon varies extremely from day to day and even trip to trip. The duration of hikes range from 15 minutes to 6+ hours, and can be anywhere between a few yards to many miles in length. Some hikes are in slot canyons, with little elevation gain, and some are to up and overs and require a great change in elevation. Some hikes will take you to waterfalls and side streams to help you cool off on a hot day, and others are to vistas overlooking the Colorado River. You’ll experience hot and dry hikes, cool and wet hikes, hikes with a lot of exposure and hikes with human and natural history. To read more detail and to get a more in depth feel for what the hiking is like on a Grand Canyon rafting trip, see our hiking page.
What is the weather like?
The weather in Grand Canyon is unreliable and variable—like any other backcountry expedition. However, we have put together some averages of what to expect each time of the rafting season.
April: Expect daytime temperatures between 70-80° F (21-27° C) and nighttime temperatures in the 50’s F (10° C). Late April could bring a day or two in the 80s-90s (26-32° C). A wet winter can present a brilliant display of wildflowers. A cold snap, rain and wind are likely. Winds combined with early morning and late afternoon canyon wall shade and rapid splash can be chilly.
Early-May to Mid-May: Expect warm days (80-90° F or 27-32° C) and cool nights (50-60° F or 10-16° C). Rainstorms are unlikely but possible. Strong winds combined with early morning and late afternoon canyon wall shade and rapid splash can be chilly.
Mid-May to Early-June: The weather warms up with daytime temperatures into the low 100s F (32° C). Expect some days to be over 100° F (38° C). Nighttime temperatures range in the upper 60’s F (16° C) to low 70’s F (27° C). Rain is possible and wind is likely.
Mid-June to Mid-July: This is typically the hottest, driest time in the Canyon with temperatures over 100° F (38° C) and nighttime temperatures hovering around 75-80° F (24°-27° C). Sun protection is essential! Early monsoon storms are possible.
Mid-July to Mid-August: Daytime temperatures are generally over 100° F (38° C) and nighttime temperatures are around 75-80° F (24°-27° C). There is potential for the Arizona summer rainy season. A typical storm starts with cloud coverage in the late morning-early afternoon and ends with a late afternoon thunderstorm and a clear evening. The storms bring a beautiful drama to the Canyon and help cool off a hot day.
Mid-August to Mid-September: Possible monsoon season. Temperatures usually begin to drop below 100° F (32° C) but could certainly reach 100° F (38° C) with a blast of late summer. Nighttime temperatures are in the upper 60’s F to low 70’s F (16°-27° C).
Late September-October: As autumn approaches, the weather is usually clear. Expect daytime highs in the range of 80°-95° F (26-35° C) and the lows to be in the 50s-60s (10-15° C). Cold snaps and rain are possible. Long, cool nights make for chilly mornings at camp.
To view the weather forecast, see the National Weather Service page. Note: the “Current Conditions” listed is at the South Rim of Grand Canyon, which sits at approximately 7,200 feet in elevation. The extended forecast is what you’ll want to look at for the most accurate weather conditions.
Does AzRA work with Travel Agents?
Do I need a film or photography permit to take videos or photos of my adventure?
Generally, no. If you are taking photos for private use and enjoyment, the National Park Service does not require you to obtain a permit. However, if you are using any props, actors or external lighting, or are taking photos as a commercial company or for a commercial company, you may need to obtain a permit. Contact the Grand Canyon National Park Service if you have any further questions. It’s generally best to contact them directly if you’re questioning whether you need a film permit or not.
How do I pick the best trip type for myself & my group?
First, look at the physical abilities and interests for yourself and/or everyone in your group. The best plan is to pick the trip that works best for the one in your group with the least ability. For example, if you have someone in your group that does not want to paddle, but everyone else does, it is not recommended to choose an All-Paddle adventure and force the non-paddler to be uncomfortable on the trip, or potentially be in harm’s way. The best choice in this situation would be to choose the Classic Adventure, which allows each guest to choose to paddle or not.
Second, consider how long you’d like to be on the river. If you’re only able to travel for about a week, your options are narrowed down to the partial canyon adventures or the motorized adventure. If you’d like to be on the river for as long as possible, you’ll want to consider our full canyon non-motorized adventures.
Third, ask yourself if the Bright Angel Trail is a good fit for you and/or your entire group if you decide to do a partial canyon trip. See our Bright Angel Trail details for more information.
Fourth, think about what time of year you’d like to be in the Canyon. Ultimately, depending on how far in advance you’re looking at availability, this decision may simply come down to what is left for the season. However, we recommend looking at the weather FAQ to get a better idea of what the weather is like each month and go from there!
What is the best time to go?
Anytime! But really, anytime you choose to go down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon, you’re going to have a great time. It all comes down to personal preference, ultimately.
The weather is sometimes a deciding factor for our guests. Many of our Alaskan and colder-weather location guests choose to go in April, late September or October when the average highs are more comfortable for them. Alternatively, many of our guests choose the summer because they prefer not to be cold. Some guests like the monsoon season because the drama this season creates is unlike any other time of year, and still, some guests like the dry, hot heat in June.
The rapids are exciting no matter what time you’re traveling down river as well. The shoulder season (April, late September and October) generally has slower water and lower water levels, whereas the rest of the season offers faster moving water and higher water levels. However, low water does not indicate less excitement by any means, in the same regard that high water does not indicate more excitement. The rapids tend to be more technical in low water, and some rapids are washed out in high water. No matter what time of year you decide to go, you’re going to have a fun ride through the rapids!
There is hiking all season long, but the type of hiking varies on the time of year you’re in the Canyon. The spring and fall are great times for the longer, more sun-exposed hikes because the cooler temperatures allow it. In the summer, the hikes tend to be in the slot canyons and destinations like side streams and waterfalls to help you cool down and stay cool.
What time of year has the best rapids?
Anytime! There are exciting rapids all season long! The Colorado River through Grand Canyon is dam controlled by Glen Canyon Dam, and although more water is released in the summer months to accommodate air conditioning in the Southwest heat (June-early September), that doesn’t necessarily mean the rapids are more exciting. In reality, some rapids are more exciting at low water and some are more exciting at high water. No matter what time of year you choose to raft the Colorado River, you’re sure to love it!
What is the difference between the Upper Canyon & Lower Canyon?
There are a few differences when deciding between the Upper Canyon portion and the Lower Canyon portion.
The Bright Angel Trail hike ends up being a deciding factor for many of our guests. For the Upper Canyon portion, a hike out of the Canyon is required at the end of the trip. The hike out is cardiovascularly difficult as you are hiking straight up on the Bright Angel Trail. This trail traverses switchbacks for approximately one mile in elevation, and takes on average between 6-8 hours, though it can take less time, or much longer, depending on your physical abilities. For the Lower Canyon portion, a hike into the Canyon is required to begin the trip. Although many guests assume hiking in is easier because it is not as difficult cardiovascularly, the hike in often leaves our guests much more fatigued and in quite a bit of lower body pain. Each year, we have guests forced to turn around and hike back out because their bodies simply can’t handle the constant pressure hiking in causes on their knees, backs, ankles, toes, etc., which causes them to have to miss their river trip.
The other deciding factor is the time it takes to traverse the Upper versus the Lower Canyon. The Upper Canyon portion is 6-7 days long, and the Lower Canyon portion is 9-10 days.
The type of hiking on the different portions of a Grand Canyon rafting trip also helps our guests decide which adventure to choose. Many of our geologists prefer the Upper Canyon portion because you start right outside of Grand Canyon National Park, so you start at the beginning of the amazing geology and watch it grow around you as you travel down river. The day before and the day of the big hike out, you are in the deepest part of the Canyon, where you can see the different rock layers. Some rock layers are also only at river level on the Upper Portion. However, on the Lower Canyon portion, you start in the deepest part of the Canyon, and you watch the Canyon decrease around you as you go down river. There are waterfall and side stream hiking destinations on both halves of the river, but there tend to be more on the Lower portion.
The rapids are a little different depending on which portion you decide. On the upper, the rapids tend to start smaller, and gradually get larger as you go down river, where the largest rapids on that portion of the river are on the second to last day. Oppositely, on the first day of the Lower, you’ll hit some of the biggest rapids in Grand Canyon. For our first-time rafters who are a little leery about the rapids, the upper portion is a good fit for them. For our more experienced and thrill-seeking rafters, the lower portion is generally their first choice.
Lastly, we find that the longer you can be on the Colorado River rafting adventure, the better, so we recommend the full canyon option as often as possible. No matter which portion you choose, you’ll find that you’ll want to come back for more!
Can I use the mule duffel service?
Yes, you may use the mule duffel service if you are hiking in or out of your Grand Canyon rafting adventure. Although we recommend that you are fit enough to carry your gear in or out, we understand that it might make your hike more comfortable. Even if you use the mule duffel service, you still need to carry all essential items with you on the hike such as water, snacks, rain gear and any non-replaceable items.
This service is provided by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, and you must follow their guidelines when using this service. Contact them directly at 888-237-2757 to make your reservation.
If you decide to use this service for the upper portion, your gear will be available for you to pick up THE DAY AFTER your hike around 3 or 4 PM, as we cannot guarantee that we can get your duffel to the drop-off location by the 6:15 AM pick-up time. If you decide to use this service for the lower portion, you must drop your gear off at the mule barn no later than 4 PM THE DAY BEFORE your hike in.
Are there opportunities for persons with disabilities?
Yes. We can make accommodations for many different levels of disabilities. Depending on your type of disability, you may be a good candidate to join one of our already scheduled river adventures; possibly a motor adventure will be the best decision. We may also recommend putting a charter trip together too so that we can make all the accommodations necessary. You can read more about what we’ve done in the past on our disability page. Call our office to speak with one of us about your specific needs.
Does AzRA sell any of the clothing & gear I need to bring with me?
Why travel through Flagstaff?
Flagstaff is a lovely mountain town with a quaint small-town feel. It is the perfect transition between the start of your adventure and the end of your adventure. It also allows you to avoid the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. Flagstaff is only two hours from Grand Canyon National Park as well—if you’re interested in seeing the Grand Canyon from the rim, it’s an easy, beautiful drive. Additionally, there are a many, great sites to visit around the area such as Walnut Canyon National Monument, Meteor Crater, Snowbowl Ski Area, Montezuma Castle, the inspiring Red Rocks of Sedona, the historical character of Williams and our very own Historic Downtown, among many opportunities to hike our beautiful mountains.
Want a list of the most popular things to do in the and around the Southwest? View our Southwest Fun In the Sun Guide!
Why end the trip at Diamond Creek? (Full and lower canyon only)
We feel this offers you the fullest experience, maximizing your time in the heart of Grand Canyon and provides you with the most amount of time in the section of Grand Canyon that has all the best hikes and the famous rapids. Ultimately, we feel it is more important for you to experience and explore the most beautiful parts of Grand Canyon, which can be found between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek.
The Diamond Creek take-out point avoids the controversial use of helicopters, which is necessary at Whitmore Wash, or adding an extra 54 miles to your trip below Diamond Creek to Lake Mead. The time it takes to traverse these additional 54 miles takes away from the time you’d have to relax and enjoy the most scenic areas upstream in Grand Canyon.
Plus, you’re not missing much in those 54 miles. That portion of the river is mostly flat water, (except for three low rated rapids) very slow moving and very warm (often 115+ degrees during the summer, with little shade to be found). The scenery changes drastically as it turns into barren cut banks and impenetrable thickets of invasive tamarisk brush, which makes finding camp spots difficult. Finally, there is an influx of tourists brought in by helicopters from Las Vegas for sightseeing trips and pontoon rides on this section of the river, so you very quickly lose the serene and alone feeling you’ve predominantly had during the other days of your expedition.
One common misconception is that by going all the way to the lake means you get to experience the blue waters of Lake Mead; however, due to a large unrunable rapid, recently created by the extremely low water levels of Lake Mead, all commercial trips are required to take out at Pearce Ferry Road, which is 20 miles from Lake Mead.
What else is there to do in the surrounding areas of Flagstaff?
Sedona is a very popular travel location for our guests, as it’s an hour south of Flagstaff on a very beautiful switchback drive, and takes you to the famous Red Rocks. There are also many historical, Native American sites in the area including Wupatki National Monument, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well. In addition, there are a lot of hiking and biking trails throughout Flagstaff, as well as Flagstaff’s Historic Downtown. Of course, the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is only two hours from Flagstaff, making that an easy day excursion while you’re visiting.
Request your complimentary Fun in the Sun Southwest Guide for many fun and exciting travel options in and around Flagstaff!
What if I want to explore Grand Canyon before or after my adventure?
We encourage you to do so! It is only approximately two hours from Flagstaff, making your travel options quite simple. If you will be traveling with a vehicle, you can drive there, or if you’d prefer not to drive yourself, Arizona Shuttle provides three shuttles every day to the South Rim from Flagstaff. Additionally, Xanterra operates the Grand Canyon Railway where you can travel to the South Rim by train (this begins in Williams, Arizona so you would have to travel there first—it’s approximately 30 minutes west of Flagstaff).
If you want to visit the North Rim of Grand Canyon, plan on the travel time taking approximately 4.5 hours from Flagstaff. You’ll also need to plan your travels accordingly as the North Rim is closed for much of the fall and winter due to snowy weather conditions. Check here for updated information on their season. There are no shuttle options from Flagstaff to the North Rim, so you will need to have a vehicle to get yourself there.
If you are planning on staying overnight at either the South Rim or the North Rim, we highly recommend that you plan in advance as their hotels book up very quickly (as do the restaurant reservations at the North Rim). Contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts for South Rim reservations and Forever Resorts for North Rim reservations.
How do I make a reservation?
You have two options when making a reservation. The first is to call our office and speak with our staff to check availability and make a formal reservation over the phone. The second option is to reserve online.
Both options take 5-10 minutes of your time, and you will need to provide the name, date of birth, height and weight and contact information for each person in your party.
After making your reservation, you will have 10 days to pay the $400 per person, non-refundable deposit.
When is the deposit due?
Your deposit is due 10 days after making your official reservation. The deposit is $400 per person, and is non-refundable once it is paid. The deposit is name transferrable, and is transferrable within the same season to a different trip (pending availability). We recommend Travel Insurance to help protect you and your trip investment.
When is the final payment due?
Our final payments are due four months prior to your trip launch date. (or 6 months prior if you’re a charter). Your invoice will reflect the deposit due date, as well as your final payment due date.
Final payments become non-refundable once the final payment deadline passes.
Is the tip included in the trip cost?
No, tip is not included. The industry standard for tipping Grand Canyon river guides ranges from anywhere between 7% to 12%, and is completely at your own discretion. You could write your trip leader a check for the tip amount (in his/her name), and he/she will disperse it to the rest of the guides. You can also give the guides a cash tip if that options works better for you. Do not send your tip check made out to AzRA.
What is your cancellation policy?
Your deposit is always non-refundable, and once the final payment deadline passes, all payments are non-refundable. However, if you make payments toward your rafting adventure, and you were to cancel before your final payment due date passes, payments are refundable minus the deposit.
You can read our reservation and cancellation policy page here.
What are my options if I or someone in my party has to cancel?
You have two options:
- You can switch to another trip date within the same season pending availability. We will simply transfer the funds to the new trip. If there is a cost difference between the two trips, you will either need to pay or forfeit the difference.
- You could find someone to fill your space(s). We’ll transfer the funds to the new person(s), and they will reimburse you directly.
If you purchased trip protection insurance, you can also file a claim with your insurance provider. See our Travel Insurance page for more information.
Should I purchase trip travel protection?
In today’s changing travel environment, it’s important to protect your trip investment so you can relax and enjoy your trip. Unforeseen events such as flight delays, baggage loss or even an unexpected sickness or injury could impact your travel plans. Consider purchasing a travel protection plan to protect your trip investment. For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click here to enroll online or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-6004.
Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (formerly known as Stonewall Insurance Company), 1314 Douglas Street, Suite 1400, Omaha, NE 68102. 11.17 W20
Do you offer any discounts?
Yes, we offer a few different discounts. For our guests who have traveled with us four or more times, they become part of our Granite Adventure Club, and receive a 10% discount for life. If you return to travel with us within 3 years of your previous trip, you will receive a 10% discount. Additionally, if you are a part of a group of 10 or more friends and/or family, each group member will receive a 5% discount after 10 deposits are paid. See our blog article on charters for more information on putting a group together!
We also offer a 10% military discount for all active and retired US military personnel. This discount is only applicable to the military service member. It does not apply to family members.
Lastly, we put trips on sale every once in a while due to low bookings or a large group cancellation. See our trips on sale page to see if we have any current trips on sale. You can also join our email list to receive an email when we put a trip on sale. Follow us on Facebook for updates on sale trips as well.
What equipment is provided?
We provide you three dry bags to carry all of your gear down river:
White day bag, which is essentially your carry-on luggage as you’ll have access to it every day while you’re on the rafts.
Blue bag, which is what we call your checked luggage as you’ll only have access to it while in camp.
Blue bag with sleeping unit, which contains a sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner and a ground tarp.
We supply everything you need for camping, except a pillow.
Sleeping bag, a 25 degree bag approximately 6’6” long and 31” wide.
Sleeping pad, which is 60” long, 22” wide and 1 ½” thick.
Tent, a 3-man free-standing tent for every two people per reservation.
We also provide you with your life jacket, a mug, a mile-by-mile river guidebook, basic first aid items, a library of Grand Canyon related books (available in camp), eating utensils, a camp chair, toilet paper, a portable camp toilet, hand wash station with soap, drinking water, meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day, snacks, electrolyte replacement mix and morning beverages (orange juice, tea and coffee).
What drinks are provided?
We provide you with an endless supply of drinking water and electrolyte replacement mix. In the morning, we also provide you with orange juice, herbal teas, hot cocoa and coffee. If you’d like to bring sodas, additional juices, wine, hard liquor or any other beverages, you are welcome to do so. Please decant any liquids from glass containers into plastic containers for safe storage on the raft. See “What drinks can I bring” below for more details.
Can I bring my own life jacket?
No. Per our contract with the Grand Canyon National Park Service, all of our guests are required to wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device provided by AzRA Grand Canyon with our company name clearly displayed on the back.
What kind of tent do you provide?
Our tents are ALPS brand and are approximately 48 sq. ft. in size. They are three-man, free-standing dome tents. They all have an optional fly, and are very simple to assemble with just two telescoping poles that piece together to form the dome of the tent. We supply one tent for every two persons on a reservation, unless more are requested.
What kind of sleeping pad do you provide?
Our sleeping pads are Paco Pads, which is simply a brand of sleeping pad often used by river rafting outfitters. They are used to pad the boats during the day and sleep on at night. They are a pre-inflated, medium-density foam pad. Dimensions: 60” long, 22” wide, 1 ½” thick. Most of our guests find them completely sufficient for sleeping on, but if you find that you need a little more support, you may bring an additional pad as long as it fits into your personal dry bags.
What will I need to pack?
Because of the varying weather throughout the season, it is very difficult to put together a list that contains everything you’ll need depending on the time of year you’re traveling. We have put together an extensive packing list catered to the time of year you decide to raft with us, which you can find in your online trip portfolio.
What drinks can I bring & how many?
You’re welcome to bring sodas, juices, wine, hard liquor, etc. as long as whatever you bring is either in cans or decanted into hard plastic containers (boxed wine works well for wine). We don’t want any glass on the river for safe storage reasons, and flimsy plastic bottles (such as Gatorade) are difficult to smash and store after use. We carry all of the trash (and recyclables) out of the Canyon with us, and reducing waste is very important to us. Aluminum cans are very easy to smash and store, making them the best option for sodas and other beverages. Hard plastic bottles are great for hard liquor as the bottles are reusable.
Motorized Adventure guests can bring 36 cans per person (or the equivalent in ounces in other options) on their adventure. Classic Adventure and All-Paddle Adventure guests can bring 3 cans per day (or the equivalent in ounces in other options). Less is allowed on non-motorized adventures simply due to space limitations.
Can I bring an extra sleeping pad?
Yes, you may bring an additional sleeping pad with you as long as it fits into one of the dry bags we provide for you. See What equipment is provided for specific measurements.
Are cots provided?
No, we do not supply cots. If you would like to bring one on the trip, you may do so as long as it fits into one of the dry bags we provide for you. See What equipment is provided for specific measurements.
Can I bring my own tent & sleeping bag?
Yes. Although you are welcome to bring your own sleeping gear, be aware that our gear is sufficient and is used to getting beaten by the elements for such lengths of time. Some of our tents and sleeping bags return to us needing repair, so you might appreciate using ours instead of bringing your own and having to repair it when you return home.
Additionally, if you are hiking in or out of the Canyon, it is much more convenient to use our gear so you can avoid hiking yours in or out on the Bright Angel Trail.
Can I bring my own dry bags?
We kindly ask that you do not bring your own dry bags. The bags we provide are more than sufficient for what you will need to carry when you’re in Grand Canyon, and they’re specifically designed to fit our rafts.
Can I bring my ammo can?
No. We do not have safe places to store them on the rafts. The contents of your ammo can will fit nicely in our white day bag. See What equipment is provided for specific measurements.
Do I need to bring a helmet?
No. Unlike other rivers, where the rapids are created by boulders and a lot of rocks, the Colorado River’s rapids are created by the hydraulics of the fast-moving water and the canyon walls. Because of this, helmets are not necessary, are not standard in Grand Canyon and generally increase the likelihood of experiencing heat-related illnesses.
Do I need a wet suit or a dry suit?
No. Rafting the Colorado River through Grand Canyon can be very warm, whether you travel with us in the cooler seasons or not. With a wet or dry suit, you will find yourself very hot and uncomfortable most days. We recommend you bring paddle gear (in April, late September and October) or rain gear (May-August) to protect you from the cold river water.
Should I pack cotton or synthetic clothing?
Generally, you’ll want both. In the summer months (late May-August), you’ll want to have one synthetic-blend top, but the rest of your tops should be cotton. Cotton is essential for keeping cool in the summer heat as it stays wet longer and provides sun protection during the day.
In the spring and fall months (April-early May and September-October), you’ll want to have one or two synthetic tops and one cotton top. You can still get warm in the spring and fall months, which is why having cotton will be helpful.
Do I need bug repellent?
Generally, no. Grand Canyon is not a very buggy place because of the dry, arid climate. However, some areas of Grand Canyon are buggier than others, as are certain times of year. If you’re the type of person who attracts the one mosquito within a mile radius, you may want to bring some bug repellent. However, most guests and guides find it unnecessary.
Should I bring my cell phone or tablet?
If you can avoid it, do so! But we realize that many people use their phones and tablets as their cameras these days. You will not have cell phone reception in Grand Canyon, but if you would like to use your cell phone or tablet to take photos, you are welcome to do so. Be mindful of the fact that your electronic device will be subject to heat, water and lots of sand, so there’s a risk of getting ruined. We recommend that you purchase some sort of water resistant container to store it in. It’s also helpful to bring extra batteries (if your device has the option) and/or bring a small portable solar charger.
Will my cell phone work in the Canyon?
No, you will not have cell phone service in Grand Canyon, which is one of the best parts!
Can I bring my CPAP machine?
Yes. Please contact our office directly to receive all the details about what to bring. We do not provide batteries or solar chargers for CPAP machines due to the unreliability of the system in the Canyon and the environmental impacts of the trip (water, sand, heat). It is very common for CPAP machines to quit working during the trip because of these impacts. If the need is a life necessity, you may want to reconsider whether or not this is the best adventure option for you.
Can I bring musical instruments?
Yes, of course. We recommend that you bring it in a hard-shelled case to keep it as protected as possible. If it’s a guitar you’d like to play, we have some river guitars we can send down river for you to avoid having to travel with your own. Contact our office if you are planning to bring an instrument so that we can plan on providing you with an extra dry bag to store it in.
Can I bring my fishing pole?
Yes. The best fishing is in the first 60 miles of your rafting adventure, however, there is great fishing along the entire length of the Colorado River. See our fishing page for more specific details on fishing in Grand Canyon.
Do I need to bring a first aid kit?
No, we carry a variety of first aid items, as well as a trauma kit. Most of our guests find these kits to be completely sufficient, but some of our guests who work in the medical profession bring some of their own first aid items. You are welcome to bring your own if you’d like as long as it fits into your personal dry bags.
Do I need to bring my own food?
Generally, no, we will provide you with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks along the entire length of your river adventure (starting with lunch on the first day and ending with lunch on the last day). If you have any dietary restrictions due to an allergy or medical necessity, we can generally make accommodations. If you have dietary restrictions due to a specific diet you eat, please consider eating around your restrictions while on the river. We have lots of options available in our menu, and most people find it easy to just pick and choose what they eat. It is very important we know about your dietary restrictions as soon as possible to ensure we can accommodate you. Keep in mind, we may not have the resources in the wilderness environment to accommodate your food needs. The more time our guides spend in the kitchen each night preparing different meals for our guests, the less time we get to spend hiking and truly exploring Grand Canyon-the very reason you are likely choosing to go on this wonderful adventure!
Be as thorough as possible regarding your dietary restrictions, including what you don’t eat and what you can eat instead. If there is a specific brand or food item you particularly like, our food manager may recommend that you bring your own. However, it is important that you contact our office first, as we may or may not be able to accommodate your needs.
What happens if there is an emergency on my river trip?
What phone number should I leave my family and/or friends while I am away in case of an emergency?
Our office numbers: 800-786-7238 or 928-526-8200. During the river season, there is a message prompt to be connected to the manager on duty if someone needs to get a hold of us after hours. Be aware, if there is an emergency at home, it is unlikely that we can send a message to you on your river trip. Although the guides carry a satellite phone, it is kept turned off unless they need to make a call out (this is to save the battery power). We will get a message to you as promptly as possible upon your return.
Does trip insurance cover me in case of an emergency?
It is our understanding that Travelex will cover medical costs in case of an emergency while on your adventure. Contact them for more specific details at 800-228-9792.
Is there a daily itinerary?
There is not a standard itinerary for each adventure simply because Grand Canyon provides so many different options every day! However, there is a general plan for each day. Coffee is called around dawn, and breakfast is served soon after. The kitchen is cleaned up after breakfast, and all the gear is loaded up on the boats. There’s generally a morning chat about what to expect for the day, and then you’re on your way down river. You may only make a couple of miles before stopping for a hike, you may make river miles until lunch and hike around there or you may make lots of river miles in one day to put you in a great place to hike most of the next day. There is almost always a hike each and every day, varying in length and difficulty. Once you get to camp for the day, everyone will help unload the boats, make up camp, socialize while the guides cook dinner, eat dinner, clean up and then either socialize or go to bed. Then you start over the next day—ready for a new adventure!
How much will we hike?
The amount of hikes, and difficulty of the hikes, will greatly vary depending on the group you’re traveling with. The guides will take your group on a couple of different hikes the first couple of days to gauge the interest and abilities of the group. Then, they’ll cater the rest of the hikes on the trip according to what the group is interested in and capable of doing. Some hikes will be 30 minutes from the boats to a natural history site, some hikes can take upwards of 4-6 hours to complete and there are many in between. See our hiking page for more hiking details.
How strenuous are the hikes?
Most of the hiking routes in Grand Canyon are not maintained and may include wading through creeks, uneven terrain, loose or wet footing, scrambling over hot boulders, navigating in and around slippery spots and areas with steep drop-offs/cliffs. Additionally, you’ll find most hikes have great elevation gain at some point along the trail.
The guides try to accommodate a variety of fitness levels and hiking abilities. Our expedition participants continually comment about how amazing the hikes were on their trip, but were much more difficult than anticipated. We recommend physical conditioning and consistent exercise at least three times a week, months prior to a trip. See our hiking page for more hiking details.
What are the rapids like?
Grand Canyon rapids are rated on a 1-10 rating scale, versus the 1-6 scale most rivers are rated on. This is because the Grand Canyon is not technical like most rivers, instead the rapids are created by the hydraulics of the large amount of water.
With that being, depending on the water level, there are some rapids rated at 7-10, and most of them are rated in the middle or at the low end of the scale. The Colorado River is 90% flat water, so although this is a whitewater adventure, there are many serene, flat-water sections for you to enjoy the scenery. See our rafting page for more details.
The rapids are also cold and splashy! The water in the river averages 48-52° F (8.8°-11.1° C). There are roughly 160 rapids between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek. Some of the more popular rapids on the upper portion include House Rock, Unkar, Hance and Sockdologer, and some of the more well-known rapids on the lower half include Horn Creek, Granite, Hermit, Crystal and Lava. To view some videos of the rapids, visit our YouTube page at www.youtube.com/AzRaftAdventures.
What topics are generally discussed on my river adventure?
Topics will range from flora and fauna, to geology, to astronomy, to the basics of rowing a boat. Our guides are knowledgeable in so many topics, and they each know different topics from each other. You’ll likely learn something new every day of your adventure depending on whose boat you end up on that day!
How do I physically prepare for a Grand Canyon rafting adventure?
There really isn’t a one-size fits all answer to this question, as everyone who joins a rafting adventure is in different levels of physical activity in their daily lives. We would recommend, no matter how active you already are, to either start engaging in some sort of physical activity in preparation and/or to increase your current level of physical fitness.
Above all else, we recommend that you speak with your physician and/or physical trainer directly about the physical requirements for a river adventure and how best to prepare for one. Speak with your physician and/or personal trainer about specifics such as: moving around on uneven terrain (on hikes, as well as in camp), hikes each day (typically 3 miles or less, but occasionally as long as 8-10 miles), hikes with an elevation gain/loss up to 3000 feet, holding on to the raft during flat water, but mostly through rapids, the potential to end up in 48-52 degree river water, aiding in self-rescue in the case of an unexpected swim while rafting, exposure to extreme air temperatures and sun exposure, assisting in helping unload and reload the rafts each day, carrying all of your gear on and off the rafts and around camp daily, as well as the general cumulative effects and fatigue of being in the backcountry environment for multiple days.
Additionally, have your physician and/or personal trainer consider these strengths and exercises needed for a Grand Canyon rafting adventure: cardio pulmonary exercises, strength exercises, endurance exercises, balance, foot work exercises and grip strength exercises. Take this information with you when you speak with your physician and/or personal trainer.
We encourage you to use the following questions to help think about the ideal level of endurance and stamina needed. This is also helpful information to take with you when you speak with your physician and/or personal trainer. Can you:
- Ascend and descend two flights of stairs carrying a 20 pound bag without using a handrail? This is similar to getting around camp with your dry bags.
- Get up on top of a kitchen counter, stand up, and return to the floor without using a stool? This is similar to getting on and off the boats (particularly the motor boat if that’s the adventure type you’re on).
- Climb several sets of stairs while urgently needing the bathroom? This is similar to locating and getting to the groover (toilet facilities) in camp.
- Balance a plate of food on your lap while eating? If you choose to sit in the provided camp chair while eating dinner, your food will be on a plate in your lap.
- Suspend your weight from a pull up bar for 15 seconds? This is similar to holding onto the raft during the rapids. Sometimes you’re holding with all of your strength.
- Do a UPS delivery person’s job from 6 AM-8 PM? This is similar to the activity level you’ll likely experience on your Grand Canyon rafting adventure. You’ll be sitting down and getting up multiple times a day, walking around with heavy bags, hiking and exploring, maneuvering around camp, etc.
If you have any questions/concerns about any of these details, feel free to call or email us, and we will be happy to help as much as we can.
What is the camping like?
Camping varies so much at every camp! Some camp sites will be flat and rocky, some flat and sandy, some will have a bit of an incline getting to a campsite, some will be small and some will be big. See our camping page for more details on what to expect of the camping conditions in Grand Canyon.
For many guests, this trip is a first-time back-country camping experience. After an eventful day on the river, you will stop late afternoon and make camp. The camps are not maintained by the National Park Service and vary considerably. You should anticipate a lot of sand, sand and more sand! Maneuvering around camp can be challenging. Upon arrival at camp, everyone pitches in to help unload the boats and set up camp. We provide you with all of your sleeping gear (minus a pillow). If you use a tent, you are required to put it up (the guides can provide you with instruction if necessary). The kitchen is set up with a water filtration system, a fully stocked commissary and propane stove to cook the delicious meals.
Camping in Grand Canyon is sure to be in your top 5 camping experiences, if not number 1!
What is the food like?
Amazingly delicious! Many of our guests return from their trips and tell us they ate better on the river than they do at home. Our menu varies from salmon, couscous and fresh salad, to steak night with mashed potatoes, and consists of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, meats and desserts. We offer eggs to order for many breakfasts, as well as fresh fruit, yogurt and cereal. Lunches tend to be sandwich style to avoid the use of plates, as well as wraps such as Caesar salad wraps. We purchase as many local and organic products as we can, and pride ourselves in providing as many options for food restrictions as we can. Though we can accommodate most dietary restrictions, we are still limited on the amount of food we can carry due to space limitations.
Contact us for any dietary restrictions you have before making an official reservation so we can have a thorough conversation with you regarding your needs. Once reserved, read the Dietary Restrictions document in your portfolio for details on what we can accommodate. Please do not bring your own food unless instructed to do so, due to lack of storage space.
For a taste of some of the meals we cook on the river, see our blog and click on “River Recipes”.
Do you accommodate dietary restrictions/preferences?
Most restrictions can be accommodated, yes. We may have space limitations for some preferences. Contact our office ahead of time with your dietary restriction needs and we will send you more information and explain what we can provide while on the river.
What is the bathroom situation like?
Throughout the day, all urine goes directly in the river. When you arrive at camp, we set up a portable toilet or “groover” for all solid waste (toilet paper is provided). There is also a daytime solution to solid waste that your guides can explain to you if the need arises. Your trip leader will talk in more detail about the bathroom etiquette.
How do I take care of personal hygiene?
You will bathe in the river, of course! Brush your teeth, shave or take a quick bath with biodegradable or all-natural products at the edge of the river to ensure liquid waste (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc.) goes into the water. Many women have recommended using leave-in conditioner while on the river for convenience.
If you are going to be menstruating during the trip, we recommend using tampons if possible. Pads are not ideal during the day as you are constantly getting wet. If you prefer pads, wear a pair of waterproof rain pants. Bring small sandwich size zip-lock bags to carry new and used products. The trip will make stops throughout the day and if you need to address your period during this time, you can usually find some sort of privacy (maybe bring a sarong too). Female guests have recommended bringing hand sanitizer, baby wipes and non-applicator tampons.
What are the different types of heat-related illness?
Dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and hyponatremia (water intoxication) are the most common types of heat-related illness.
Dehydration: this is caused by not getting as much water as your body needs, and can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough or both. If you are thirsty, you’re dehydrated. To avoid this, drink and eat regularly on your adventure.
Heat exhaustion: this is the most common heat-related illness we see in Grand Canyon. It can be accompanied by a fever around 104°F (40°C), excessive thirst, nausea, fainting, cool and clammy skin, weakness, muscle aches, heavy sweating, slow heartbeat and dizziness. Sometimes grouchiness can be attributed to heat exhaustion also. To avoid heat exhaustion, drink and eat regularly throughout the day to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance.
Heatstroke: this can develop following heat exhaustion if the condition is not treated. This is caused by the body’s temperature rising, causing the cooling system in your body to stop working. This could be a life-threatening condition characterized by nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, fatigue, rapid heart rate, hot and dry skin, shortness of breath and decreased urination. Drink and eat regularly to avoid heatstroke.
Hyponatremia (water intoxication): this is caused by an inadequate level of electrolytes (salt) in your body. Symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, fatigue, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, and in extreme cases seizures and coma. Avoid this heat-related illness by eating regularly, and drinking water with electrolyte replacement mix added. Also, don’t overload your body with too much water—make sure to balance your water intake with eating and the electrolyte replacement mix, which replenish the electrolyte levels in your bloodstream.
What can I do to avoid a heat-related illness?
The best thing you can do to avoid heat-related illnesses is to eat and drink continuously throughout your adventure. It’s best to nibble and snack often during the day, and to drink water and a Gatorade-style beverage often while you’re on the raft, hiking, in camp, etc.. You’ll want to avoid chugging a whole bottle of water, and then not drink anything else for a few hours. Keep your eating and drinking consistent.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re communicating with your guides if you start feeling ill (e.g. have a headache, feel light-headed, are starting to get grouchy, etc.). Your guides will be able to help you cool down, get you some snacks and/or provide you with quick electrolytes replacements.
Understand that heat-related illness can occur during anytime in Grand Canyon because of its extremes. Recognize the signs, take the proper precautions to avoid a heat-related illness and communicate with your guides.
What advice do you often hear from previous guests?
Be prepared for A LOT OF SAND.
Keep your skin as hydrated and moisturized as possible to avoid cracking and painful cuts, especially in your hands and feet. Take a heavy-duty balm or moisturizer to fight the extreme elements (wind, water, sun, sand) you’re exposed to all day, every day.
If you’re from a generally humid area, bring some saline nasal spray as your nose dries out quickly in our arid climate!
Although the sarongs are not listed as mandatory items, they SHOULD be! They are that important in the summertime heat!
**As we receive more great tips from our guests, we’ll be sure to add them here**
What books do you recommend I read either before, after or during my adventure?
All AzRA participants will receive a complimentary copy of Larry Steven’s Colorado River in Grand Canyon river map and guidebook. This water-resistant guide contains mile-by-mile details of the river, as well; as information on geology, biology, natural and human history. If you’d like this book prior to your trip, contact our office to have us send one by mail.
We also sell a variety of interesting and informational books in our Red River Sports store, including Grand Canyon books for the kiddos. These books would be a great place to start! Most, if not all, of these books are also located in our Grand Canyon river library that will be available to you at camp every day.
Can I share photos with my fellow travelers before or after my expedition?
Yes! In your online trip portfolio, there is a button labeled “Interact and Share Photos”. There, you can upload a photo and write a bio of yourself, message other members in your party and share photos and videos. If you or your group leader does not have an online portfolio yet, email the office to request an invitation. This site is specific to your trip date.