Photo by Timmerman
Rafting in Grand Canyon--the Heart of Your Adventure!
Rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is what this adventure is all about! Expect to enjoy solitude and reflection through the flatwater, as well as lots of fun in the wild rapids. Most of the river corridor is filled with serene miles, drifting between the colorful canyon walls, interspersed with challenging rapids to get your adrenaline pumping.
Most days, you will be on the river for roughly 4-6 hours with stops for lunch, hikes and bathroom breaks. The terrain and the rapids are ever-changing and are subject to the whims of nature. You’ll likely hear your guides talk animatedly about a specific rapid and which run to take, or how much it’s changed since their previous visit. The changing conditions along the Colorado River make navigating the rapids both challenging and potentially dangerous.
We love rafting in Grand Canyon with you, but here’s some information you need to know:
Being in the backcountry always presents potential challenges and risks
Being on a raft on the Colorado River is safer than many sports, but injuries can and do occur. These include pinched hands and feet, cuts and bruises, twisted ankles and broken bones. As with any backcountry adventure, accidents and even death can occur. Other examples of risk include, but are not limited to:
- Being tossed into a rapid
- Being jostled into gear or other guests as rafts hit waves, rocks or cliffs
- Being lodged on rocks for extended time while waiting for rescue or assistance
- Prolonged exposure to cold water
- Slipping on wet surfaces
- Prolonged exposure to intense heat and sun
Although our guides have considerable experience, water mishaps can happen on any rafting adventure. Unplanned swims from falling out of the raft happen throughout each season. There is the occasional flipping of the small non-motorized rafts. On rare occurrences, even the larger motor rafts have flipped. Most injuries are due to improper hand holds and bracing while going through the rapids, and bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes from the jostling in the raft often occur. Fortunately, most unplanned swims are uneventful (though adrenaline-filled) and often result in exciting memories and stories!
Here’s what we do to moderate the risks:
Though risk always exists, we reduce it by having skilled, experienced and certified guides, well-maintained gear and proper safety equipment. Our guides are vetted by AzRA before being hired as river guides, and we follow all certifications and experience required by the Grand Canyon National Park Service. We supply you with Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs/lifejackets) that must be worn at all times on the river. Your guides will instruct you on how to keep your lifejackets snug and provide guidance on what happens if you inadvertently end up in the water or experience a raft flip. Our guides will provide instruction and guidance while on the rafts, as well as describe your roles while in the raft and going through rapids. Our guides may even offer practice swims in less-demanding rapids, which can be used for safety training, and to help you feel comfortable in the water. Plus, you might find that it can be fun to swim in these small rapids!
Your involvement is important in moderating risk too! Here’s what you can do:
- Read your pre-trip information thoroughly
- Listen carefully when your guides share safety instructions and describe potentially risky situations
- Participate in trainings offered
- Pay attention and be prepared
- Note what areas of the raft are more likely to flex, pinch or buck and stay clear of those areas
- Hold on to the rafts as instructed
- Always wear your lifejacket on the river and ensure that it is always snug and fully buckled
- Pay attention to the instructions on how to swim a rapid and what to do if a raft flips
- During an unplanned swim, take an active role in your own rescue
- Notify your guide if you are experiencing any physical concerns, illness or medical conditions
- Cover your skin appropriately to avoid excess sun exposure
- Stay hydrated
- Speak with your physician and/or personal trainer for these rafting details: holding on to the raft, potential to end up in 48-52 degree river water, as well as exposure to extreme temperatures from the outside temperature to the cold river water temperature.
- Have your physician and/or personal trainer consider these strengths and exercises needed for a Grand Canyon rafting adventure: cardio pulmonary 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.