Before You Go
Grand Canyon Dories – Pipe Creek to Diamond Creek
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, and sometimes the weather. Please refer to your confirmation letter for the exact dates of your trip.
|MEETING PLACE:||Bright Angel Lodge at the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park|
|MEETING TIME:||7 PM, the evening before your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||DoubleTree by Hilton, Flagstaff, Arizona about 2:00-3:00 PM|
|RIVER RATING:||23 major rapids rated 5 or above on the Grand Canyon scale of 1 to 10|
|TRIP LENGTH:||11 days/10 nights|
|BOAT TYPE:||We navigate the river in 17′ hard-hulled dories that hold 4 passengers and a guide. The guide rows the dory with a long pair of oars.|
The Day Before Your Trip
Arrive at the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park. Purchase your breakfast and snacks including at least two quarts of water for your hike the next day. We’ll meet at 7 PM in the lobby of the Bright Angel Lodge. You will have the opportunity to meet your hike escort, others on your trip, and ask any last-minute questions about the trip.
You’ll rise early (before first light) to get an early start on the trail. Meet your group and hike escort at the place and time determined at the pre-trip meeting the night prior (for spring and fall trips we usually meet about 5-5:30 AM and for summer trips about 4-4:30 AM).
Your river guides will meet you at the river at approximately 1 PM where you will repack your gear into waterproof bags. After a safety talk, we’ll load the dories, fit you with a personal flotation device (PFD) and start down the river. We’ll immediately hit a stretch of drenching big water before we pull over to camp for the night.
Day 2 – 10
Travel downriver. Refer to the trip page for a more detailed sample itinerary.
The Last Day of Your Trip
On the last day, we’ll reach Diamond Creek. At the take-out we’ll de-rig boats and board a van for the drive back to Flagstaff, arriving at the DoubleTree Hotel between 2 to 3 PM.
INCLUDED IN YOUR TRIP COST
- Skilled professional guide service
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the last day. Ice will not be available for drinks.
- 1 waterproof bag to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 22” tall x 14” diameter; 3386 cu in; 55 L)
- 1 small waterproof bag for a camera and other small items you’ll want during the day (approximate sealed size: 18.5” tall x 8.5” diameter; 1050 cu in; 17.2 L)
- Sleep kit—consisting of a sleeping bag with liner, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, sheet, and pillow packed in a large waterproof bag, which will be given to you on your first evening in camp
- 2-person tents, based on double occupancy. Solo travelers and odd numbers on the booking will have their own tent (no additional cost) and will not need to share. Extra tents can be rented for $30 each. A ground tarp is included with each tent.
- Personal flotation device (PFD), which must be worn at all times on the river in compliance with National Park Service regulations
- 12-ounce insulated Klean Kanteen with Café Lid to use for drinks in camp
- Camp chairs
- Eating utensils, cups, and plates
- Highest-quality dories and related equipment
- Transportation by van from Diamond Creek to Flagstaff
NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR TRIP COST
- Transportation to the South Rim and back from Flagstaff
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Grand Canyon National Park Entrance Fee*
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages
- Items of a personal nature (see suggested packing list below)
*Grand Canyon National Park Entrance Fee is refundable if you provide your Adventure Consultant with a copy of your National Park Pass before your trip.
AVAILABLE FOR RENT
- Extra Tent: Can be rented for $30 per tent.
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: Learn more about the plan we highly recommend and get a quote.
Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage can be purchased as stand-alone coverage, independent of a comprehensive travel protection plan. You can get a quote for this type of policy by entering a Trip Cost amount of $0.
Please note: By entering a Trip Cost amount of $0, the plan will not include Trip Cancellation coverage and you may not be eligible for Emergency Medical Expense benefits relating to any pre-existing conditions.
☐ Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation email for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles, and lodging: Verify with your adventure consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable. It is important to make reservations early as rooms may be limited during peak travel periods.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our Whitewater Orientation video before joining us.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. If you exceed 245 pounds, please give us a call. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip and can meet our Essential Eligibility Criteria.
☐ Payments: A second deposit is due by November 1 of the year prior to your trip. Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip departure. (If you are traveling as part of a charter group, please note that final payments are due 120 days prior to departure.)
☐ Final Packet: Approximately 110 days prior to your trip departure, a final packet of information along with an invoice will be sent to you including a mile-by-mile guidebook of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
RIVER RUNNERS’ RESPONSIBILITY CODE
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
4. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
5. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
6. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
7. No drugs or alcohol prior to, or during, your trip.; alcohol is allowed in moderation in camp on overnight trips.
8. Minimize your impact on the environment.
9. Wear the OARS-issued and properly–fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when in the boats or swimming. Wear a helmet when required.
10. Your children are your responsibility!
You will need to get yourself to the South Rim the day prior to the start of your river trip. At the end of the trip, we will return to Flagstaff (you will be dropped off at the DoubleTree Hotel between 2 and 3 PM). We, therefore, recommend using Flagstaff as your beginning and ending travel destination from your home city, then taking a one-way van shuttle to the South Rim to begin your trip.
GETTING TO FLAGSTAFF/SOUTH RIM
By Air to Flagstaff continuing by Shuttle Van to the South Rim
- American Airlines (800-433-7300) has flights into Flagstaff via Phoenix or Dallas.
Van service from the Flagstaff Airport or Amtrak Station to the South Rim takes about 2 hours. Shuttle service can be arranged through Groome Transportation (928-350-8466). One-way fare is $41 per person (advance reservations required & prices subject to change without notice).
By Shuttle from Phoenix
If you fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, you can arrange to be met at the airport and transferred by van shuttle to Flagstaff and the South Rim. The trip takes about 5 hours and can be arranged through Groome Transportation listed above (advance reservations required).
Additional Transportation Options
If the van shuttle times do not accommodate your travel schedule or if you need transportation to a different city, you may wish to contact one of the following companies:
- Williams Taxi & Shuttle (928-635-1111): Service areas include Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon region, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Advance reservations recommended.
- Flagstaff Limousine (928-774-5466) Servicing Northern Arizona.
By Bus from Las Vegas
Daily scheduled bus service to the South Rim can be arranged with Grand Canyon Tour Company (800-222-6966). $99 one-way (advance reservations required & prices subject to change without notice).
Parking is available at the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff for OARS passengers who stay at the hotel at least one night before or after their river trip. (Please Note: There is no rental car drop-off at the South Rim.) OARS cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to vehicles or their contents.
For large vehicle parking such as RVs, campers, or trailers, parking arrangements can be made at one of the following facilities in Flagstaff:
By Air from Las Vegas continuing by Taxi to the South Rim
Bar 10 Transportation Services (435-628-4010) arranges flights from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon Airport (South Rim). The approximate cost for the flight is $265 (subject to change without notice). The Grand Canyon Airport is located 7 miles outside of the park. 24-hour taxi service is available from the airport to the South Rim (Grand Canyon Village) by calling (928) 638-2822. The taxi price is approximately $29 for two people plus the Grand Canyon National Park entrance fee.
PRE- & POST-TRIP ACCOMMODATIONS
At the South Rim Before the Trip
Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost. The South Rim has a number of lodges to choose from. Along the rim, closest to the Bright Angel trailhead are the El Tovar, Bright Angel, Thunderbird, and Kachina Lodges. Set back about two blocks from the rim is the Maswik Lodge and about two miles away is the Yavapai Lodge. Because this is a national park, the lodges fill very quickly, so we recommend booking early. Reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance.
To reserve El Tovar, Bright Angel, Thunderbird, Kachina, or Maswik Lodges contact:
- Xanterra Parks & Resorts (888-297-2757)
To reserve Yavapai Lodge contact:
- Delaware North Corporation Parks and Resorts (877-404-4611)
In Flagstaff After the Trip
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff
1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
To receive a special rate for OARS guests use the links below to book online. Reservations can be made about 11 months in advance and no later than 30 days before your trip. If you call to make a reservation, mention you are traveling with OARS. Rates are based on single or double occupancy and are subject to change without notice.
The DoubleTree Hotel offers complimentary van transportation to the airport between 8 AM and 8 PM.
If you prefer to return to Las Vegas at the end of your trip, you can arrange transportation with one of the companies listed below. Please contact your Adventure Consultant if you choose this option. Otherwise, we will assume you will be returning to Flagstaff with our group.
TRAVELING AT HIGH ALTITUDE
The South Rim is 7,000 feet above sea level at its highest point, therefore you may experience symptoms associated with altitude illness. We recommend the following measures to help prevent altitude illness: arrive ahead of your scheduled departure to allow for acclimatization; drink 3-4 quarts of water every day; make sure about 70% of your calories come from carbs; only use alcohol, tobacco or sleeping aid medications in moderation or not at all. Please familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment, and more about altitude illness at the CDC.
HIKING TO THE RIVER FROM THE SOUTH RIM
This trip requires carrying your personal effects in a backpack, (which should weigh between 20-30 lbs. when fully loaded with 2-3 liters of water) as you traverse the Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim to the river (Pipe Creek). The hike is 7.7 miles, descending about 4,500 feet, and may be one of the most physically demanding endeavors you will undertake in your life.
As required by the National Park Service, we have a hike escort accompany our guests on the hike to Pipe Creek. Essentially, you hike at your own pace, with the hike escort being the “sweep” person following the last hiker in the group. Our hike escorts are well-trained and have a great deal of experience hiking the Bright Angel Trail. They can give you great advice and hiking tips as you make your ascent to the rim.
To adequately prepare for this demanding experience, please carefully review our guide to hiking the Bright Angel Trail.
Please Note: This hike should only be undertaken by those in very good physical condition. It is not recommended for anyone who is in poor general health, is elderly, has heart or lung disease, is overweight, or is not physically fit. If you have any of these conditions or are unsure whether you are in good enough shape for this hike, we strongly urge you to get your physician’s approval for this trip.
By booking this trip you have confirmed you are capable of backpacking your gear (approx. 20-30 lbs.) into the canyon unassisted. Although it may be possible to hire a separate mule service to carry your duffel into the canyon, this duffel service is limited and may NOT be available.
Duffels going In-Bound by mule need to be reserved for drop off at the BOAT BEACH (not Phantom Ranch). Only one (1) duffel per person can be accommodated. Contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts (888-297-2757) right away for information about the mule duffel service. It is mandatory you contact our office if you reserve the duffel service. Otherwise, we cannot guarantee we will be able to accommodate the logistical considerations related to the additional service. You are also responsible for providing your own duffel for this service. It needs to be completely collapsible to be rolled up and packed in your waterproof bag while on the river.
Mule Ride Into the Canyon
While all guests should be fit and capable of backpacking into the canyon, you may choose to ride a mule instead. For details and reservations contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts at 888-297-2757. The mules need to be booked in advance and may NOT be available. In this case, you should be prepared to backpack into the canyon. Please note: mule riders must weigh less than 200 lbs. fully dressed. It is mandatory you contact our office if you reserve the mule ride. Otherwise, we cannot guarantee we will be able to accommodate the logistical considerations related to this additional service. You must also reserve the Duffel Service as noted above.
HIKING ALONG THE RIVER
Each day varies, but on average you’ll spend three to five hours on the boats. The rest of the time is spent hiking and exploring side canyons, eating, or just relaxing in camp. The easiest hikes are no more difficult than negotiating a few yards of beach sand or stepping over a few rocks. Others may go for several miles over a rough trail, climb steeply up a hot hillside, require the use of both hands over awkward boulders, and demand caution as you totter on a narrow trail above a steep cliff. Our guides are happy to help novices with hand and footholds and reassurance. Many times their helpfulness enables the timid and inexperienced to get to special places that many other groups pass by. Remember, however, all hikes are optional and you can choose to relax or read a book instead.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan, and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, so feel free to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions. Please let your Adventure Consultant know if you intend to do so.
Our drinking water comes from the river and is filtered through a purification system we provide. (No iodine is used in the purification process.) We store the purified water in large containers that are accessible in camp, at lunchtime, and before hikes for filling personal water bottles.
In camp, we provide sodas, sparkling water, and filtered water. Coffee, tea, and juice are served at breakfast. We also carry powdered drink mixes such as Gatorade and Vitalyte or similar to mix with water in your water bottles.
The National Park Service does not allow us to provide alcohol. However, you can purchase alcoholic beverages via an online form which will be emailed to you about two months before your trip departs. Your order will be delivered to our warehouse and packed in the boats. If you prefer to bring your own alcoholic beverages, it needs to be in non-breakable containers and given to your trip leader at the pre-trip meeting in Flagstaff.
Please note: Due to a finite amount of space in the boats, there will be NO ice available for cocktails or to keep drinks cold. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is only allowed in moderation while in camp.
Bathing is only allowed in the river but is definitively not allowed in any of the side streams that feed into the river. If you plan to bring soap, we recommend using a liquid biodegradable soap like Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s, which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section, or another eco-friendly soap option. Bathing wipes (pre-moistened disposable towels, preferably biodegradable) are good alternatives to submersion in the river and are especially convenient for spring and fall trips.
Good foot care is a must. You should have footwear that is comfortable and well broken in but is newer and will not fall apart. Closed-toe shoes are the best protection for hikes. Avoid sunburn and try to keep your feet out of the water. Keep your toenails trimmed.
Serious foot maladies, referred to broadly as “Tolio,” can occur on long river trips. To help avoid this, once in camp each evening wash your feet with soap, moisturize, and put on clean, dry socks and shoes. Always wear shoes, even in camp. If you experience any foot care problems, ask your guides for assistance immediately.
It’s very important to take care of your skin while on your Grand Canyon trip. The combination of sun, sand, water, and wind quickly causes extreme dryness, which can then lead to cracked skin. Once your skin cracks it will have a hard time healing until you return home. Hands and feet tend to take the greatest beating and should be given the most attention. When you arrive in camp each afternoon it is a good idea to bathe and moisturize your skin with a heavy-duty moisturizer. Put on clean, dry shoes to give your feet a break from the elements. Some people also like to apply moisturizer to their feet and hands before bedtime and then cover them with socks and/or gloves. Each morning before leaving camp, apply plenty of sunscreen and remember to reapply during the day. By drinking plenty of water and staying well hydrated you can also help prevent your skin from cracking.
WILDFIRES & SMOKE
Fire activity can impact the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property.
Learn more about traveling during wildfire season with OARS, including info about some of our protocols and travel protection recommendations.
Fishing is an activity you can do at camp or when we stop for lunch. The best fishing is on the upper section from Lees Ferry to the confluence of the Little Colorado River where the catch is trout, but you can fish anywhere along the river. The conditions are dependent upon the clarity of the water. You will need to purchase an Arizona state fishing license, which can be purchased online through Arizona Game & Fish. A license can also be purchased in Flagstaff at Walmart. We practice catch and release with artificial lures and flies. You should de-barb your hooks before you leave home. You’ll need to bring your own gear and it’s best to have a collapsible pole in a case.
Click on the links below for additional information on the following topics:
- Electronics & Technology
- CPAP Machine
- Power Sources
- Portable Toilet
- Smoking, Vaping & Cannabis
There are no absolutes when talking about the weather in the Grand Canyon. The chart below lists average weather conditions, maximum and minimum temperatures, and average rainfall. This chart should be used only as a general guide. Packing according to the list will prepare you for all weather conditions.
AVERAGE AIR TEMPERATURES & RAINFALL
|Day (°F)||Night (°F)||Rainfall|
Current Weather Conditions
We recommend checking the National Weather Service website one week before your trip for an up-to-date forecast. The website provides a current weather forecast along the Colorado River as well as on the rim.
Summer Temperatures (June, July & August): Please note that the average summer temperatures listed can be misleading. These temperatures are recorded in very specific locations and circumstances. In the summer it is not uncommon for the temperature to rise above 110° F. At the same time, temperatures can suddenly plummet with increased cloud cover. The advice is to always be prepared with rain gear and clothing that can be layered.
Temperature at the Rim: The temperature at the rim is generally 20-30 degrees cooler than along the river. Keep this in mind especially if you are on a late fall trip.
For more helpful information about what to wear and how to pack for a river expedition or to view our packing video, please visit our packing essentials page.
The information below is based on traditional weather patterns which can be changeable and unpredictable. There are NO absolutes. We, therefore, recommend using the general packing guidelines along with checking the forecasted weather conditions shortly before your trip departs. It’s better to bring something you may not use on the trip, as opposed to being unprepared and miserable.
During the day—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and a synthetic or Merino wool shirt as a base layer. Additional layers for sun protection or insulation can be added and subtracted depending on the weather, temperature, and how wet you’re getting in the rapids.
In camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great camp wear. Anytime the forecast calls for cool evenings and cold nights, a dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
During the day—The best choice is a sports sandal with a secured heel strap or shoe designed for water sports that drains water, protects your toes, and won’t come off in swirling currents. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. No flip-flops, Crocs, or slip-ons while on the river. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to the risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand or stepping on a sharp stick. The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water, and a great way to take care of your feet. Flip-flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp only.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. Ball caps are also useful since they fit under helmets, which are required in some of the larger rapids.
In camp—When the weather is cool or cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
Each passenger is required to wear a PFD (personal flotation device) while on the boats and in the water. On the first day of the trip, you will be issued a PFD that will be yours to wear for the duration of the trip. The guides will make appropriate adjustments to your PFD to ensure a proper fit. (Please note: You must weigh less than 245 pounds and have a chest size smaller than 56” to fit into the PFD.) For added protection, in some of the larger, more challenging rapids, your trip leader will also ask you to wear a helmet. Some passengers may decide to wear it even in some of the smaller rapids.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously! Along with appropriate clothing (see below), sunscreen, lip balm, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses are always necessary throughout the year.
Rain gear protects you from rain, wind, and the splash of the rapids. It is one of the essential items that all guests should have no matter the time of year they are traveling. Our river guides always bring their rain gear. Look for a jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists, and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Early September Trips (Typically considered hot weather trips)
During this time, conditions on the river will most likely be hot and sunny. Protection from the sun and heat is critical. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Old collared cotton dress shirts work well. They can be soaked in water and worn to create evaporative cooling. This method is also very effective using a bandana. If you are wearing shorts, place a sarong across your upper legs to protect from the direct sun. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate.
For July and August trips, you should also be prepared for “monsoon” season which can often produce afternoon thunderstorms with heavy rain. Waterproof rain gear with a jacket and optional rain pants is a must. During the storm, the temperature can drop very quickly and you may get chilled until the rain subsides. You should therefore also have a synthetic warm top and bottom like fleece.
Mid-September and October Trips (Typically considered cooler/cold weather trips)
Due to the sun’s movement, at these times of year, there are more shady areas in the canyon than in the summer months. When you are splashed (drenched) going through the rapids (about 48°- 55°), you may get very cold. You need to be prepared for cold water and inclement weather as well as warm days. And, even though temperatures will be somewhat cooler than the mid-summer trips, sun protection is still very important.
A base layer of synthetic or Merino wool long underwear keeps you warm even if it’s wet, dries quickly, and is compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack. It can be layered under shirts, shorts, pants, waterproof rain gear, etc., then stripped off when it’s warmer. Double up on your base layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a dry set for camp. For additional layers of warmth bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
A splash jacket can replace a waterproof rain jacket while on the river, however, you will still want a lightweight rain jacket for use on hikes and in camp. Also, in cooler weather, waterproof rain gear works better than a wetsuit, because the jacket and pants can be put on when it’s cold, or when you’re going through whitewater, then easily taken off when the sun comes out and it warms up.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes are generally not a problem on this trip. It’s still a good idea to come prepared with a small amount of insect repellent.
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich-size Ziploc™ bags. These bags can store products during the day while you are on the river. Used pads or tampons can be disposed of in the trash at lunch or at camp. We provide some menstrual products on most trips for emergencies.
We supply a sleep kit consisting of a sleeping bag, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, sheet, and pillow. The complete customized sleep kit is designed for your comfort and decreases the amount of gear you will need to carry in your backpack.
Equipment and Personal Items
☐ Backpack for your hike into the canyon: Internal frame or frameless, with a hip belt, not to exceed 40-45 liter (2500-2700 cubic inches) capacity
☐ Daypack for day hikes along the river. It should be large enough to carry water, lunch, and a camera, as well as a warm layer of clothing for spring & fall trips (750–1500 cu. in)
☐ Two 1-liter water bottles: durable and reusable, insulated bottles recommended for trips in hot climates to prevent water from becoming too hot to drink. For day hikes, hydration systems like a CamelBak® are great, but you will still want one water bottle while in the boat
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into a raft)
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Polarized sunglasses with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Toiletries, including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s) and shampoo
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream: 1 bottle (skin tends to get REALLY DRY – VERY important item!)
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts (blowing sand can cause problems for contact wearers)
☐ Cash or personal check for gratuities
☐ Hand Sanitizer
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®). “Aqua socks” strongly discouraged.
☐ Athletic shoes or lightweight hiking boots: comfortable, with good tread and well broken-in (not new)
☐ Hiking socks: 3-4 pairs, mid-weight
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: 2-3 lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap – flexible enough to fit under your helmet
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended
☐ Swimwear: tankinis and board shorts are a great option
☐ Shorts: 2 pair lightweight and quick-drying
☐ Hiking shorts: 2 pair (some people prefer different shorts for the river and hiking)
☐ T-shirts/tops: 3-4
☐ Synthetic or Merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom, light to mid-weight
☐ Fleece top & bottom: 1 set light to mid-weight
☐ Camp clothes: comfortable and appropriate for the season. Cotton is recommended for hot weather trips. Some guests may prefer an athletic skirt or dress.
Additional Essentials for Fall (September/October)
☐ Extra pair of dry footwear for camp
☐ Wetsuit booties and/or neoprene, synthetic or wool socks (for wearing inside your river shoes)
☐ Additional fleece top & bottom
☐ Extra set of synthetic or Merino wool long underwear top & bottom
☐ Warm hat and gloves: 1-2 sets, synthetic or wool
☐ Fleece vest
☐ Extra dry skin cream: Look for creams that have such labeling as healing, therapeutic, salve, for rough cracked skin, etc. Healing foot creams are also a good idea.
☐ Neoprene paddling gloves
☐ Hiking poles (collapsible): highly recommended for the hike into the canyon. Do not need to fit in a waterproof bag.
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Solar shower: small “solo” showers heat up faster and are easier to use
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable cleansing towels
☐ Small bags: stuff sacks, zip locks, or similar for organizing items in your dry bag
☐ Whisk broom: small (no long handle), to sweep wet sand off of tent and ground tarp
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Stand-up urination device
Packing Your Gear
At the river, each person will be given one large waterproof bag (approximate sealed size: 22” tall x 14” diameter; 3386 cu in; 55 L) for their clothing and personal items. We also provide a small waterproof bag for day use where you can keep items such as rain gear, camera, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. (approximate sealed size: 18.5” tall x 8.5” diameter; 1050 cu in; 17.2 L). The bags are cylindrical in shape and pack from the top. Your daypack will also be with you during the day. To prevent items from getting wet in your daypack, it is a good idea to first place everything into a plastic bag and then into the daypack.
Please pack light; river attire is very casual―comfort, convenience, and boat space take precedence over style. Clothing can easily be washed out in the river with biodegradable soap. With the dry, warm climate in the canyon, lightweight clothing generally dries out quickly. Please Note: The color of the river fluctuates from completely clear to very silty. Light-colored clothing has the possibility of becoming permanently stained. Remember, everything you bring on the trip, you will need to carry into the canyon in your backpack.
A communal waterproof boot bag will be provided where each guest can store their hiking boots/shoes for the day. When we stop for a day hike along the river, the boot bag will be accessible for each person to retrieve their hiking footwear.
You will need to provide a backpack for the hike into the canyon. The backpack should have an internal frame or be frameless (no external frames), have a hip belt, and not be over 40-45 liters (2500-2700 cubic inches) in capacity. When you arrive at the river after your hike from the South Rim, you will repack your gear into our waterproof bags. The empty backpacks will be stored separately on the boats.
We recommend you take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary. Keeping gear to a minimum ensures it will fit into the waterproof bags we supply and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking in camp. If you do have extra luggage you do not wish to take on the river, OARS has arranged a special storage room at the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff where passengers may store additional bags. If you wish to leave luggage at the DoubleTree Hotel, you will need to call OARS ahead of time to pre-arrange for access to the storage room.
Leave your valuables at home. For necessary personal items such as a wallet, credit cards, etc., we recommend putting them in a zip-lock bag at the bottom of your waterproof bag with your clothing.
- Visit our Trip Resources page for more info on the use of drones, electronics, cannabis, CPAP Machines, firearms, and more.
- Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
- Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear at REI.
- Recommended Reading: The Best Grand Canyon Books
Tipping is appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10 – 15% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader, in the form of cash or a personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note your trip cost includes a $1/person/river day donation to the Grand Canyon Fund, an environmental trust fund. Your contribution will be deposited with the foundation, through which grants are distributed to organizations such as the Grand Canyon Trust, Friends of the River, etc. This donation is voluntary and may be subtracted from your trip cost if you choose not to participate in the program. Please notify our office if you choose not to participate.
We respect and recognize that many of the river canyons on state and federal lands where we operate are the ancestral homes of indigenous communities. Where we operate on the Colorado River between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek, we acknowledge the territories of the Navajo Nation, the Pueblo of Zuni, Ute, Southern Paiute, Hopi, Hualapai, and Havasupai.
Today there are 11 federally recognized tribes that still inhabit the region and share deep cultural connections to the river, land, and historical sites now found within Grand Canyon National Park. To learn more, visit:
Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians
Las Vegas Band of Paiute Indians
Moapa Band of Paiute Indians
Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe
The Pueblo of Zuni
Reservations and Deposits
- A $1000/person deposit is required at the time of reservation for all Grand Canyon trips over five (5) days in length. A second deposit of $500/person is due in our office by November 1 of the year before your trip.
- If you make your reservation after November 1 of the year before your trip, the entire $1500/person deposit is due at the time of reservation.
Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/MasterCard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|180 or more days before your trip||$200/person|
|179 to 120 days before your trip||$400/person|
|119 to 90 days before your trip||$750/person|
|89 days or less before your trip||Full Fare|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation email for details.
OARS reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. In such instances, we will inform you at least 45 days before departure. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
Because our trips in Grand Canyon are heavily booked or completely sold out 12 – 18 months in advance, there are limited opportunities to transfer to a new trip. Generally, transfer requests must be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above. Contact our Grand Canyon reservations department for more information.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
Because there are costs that you will incur if you cancel the spaces on this trip that we’re now holding for you, or in the event you need to be evacuated during the trip due to an unforeseen illness or injury, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase an optional travel protection plan. A travel protection plan may help reimburse the cost of your pre-paid, non-refundable payments in the event you are prevented from taking your trip for a covered reason. Trip participants must understand that in the event of an illness or injury on a wilderness trip, evacuation can be prolonged, difficult, and expensive. Learn more about the plan we recommend.
Please note: To be eligible for coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your initial trip payment and you must be medically fit to travel at the time you pay for the plan.
Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage can be purchased as stand-alone coverage, independent of a comprehensive travel protection plan. You can get a quote for this type of policy by entering a Trip Cost amount of $0.
Please note: By entering a Trip Cost amount of $0, the plan will not include Trip Cancellation coverage and you may not be eligible for Emergency Medical Expense benefits relating to any pre-existing conditions.
One Trip Per Year Rule
Grand Canyon National Park Service regulations prohibit individuals from participating in more than one recreational river trip (commercial or non-commercial) per year on the Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek section of the Colorado River. Because of this regulation, O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. cannot accept a reservation from any individual who has or will participate in any other full or partial canyon commercial or non-commercial river trip within the same calendar year. If you have already completed or have plans to participate in any other Grand Canyon river trip during the same year you are traveling with us and would like to go again, please wait until the following year or later for your next trip. Grand Canyon National Park’s one-trip-per-year rule is strictly enforced by the National Park Service.
Liability Release / Assumption of Risk
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release / assumption of risk form before the trip, confirming awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss, or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, pandemics, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings, and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories, and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced in accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, all travelers must obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. Prices subject to change without notice. Upon advancement of deposit, the depositor agrees to be bound by the above-recited terms and conditions. OARS is an equal opportunity provider.