|MEETING PLACE:||Bright Angel Lodge at the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park|
|MEETING TIME:||7:00 PM, the evening prior to your trip|
|RETURN TO:||Las Vegas McCarran International Airport the last day, 1-3:00 PM|
|RIVER RATING:||19 major rapids rated 5 or above on the Grand Canyon scale of 1 to 10|
|TRIP LENGTH:||7 – 9 days|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 12 years old|
|WEIGHT LIMIT:||245 pounds. If you exceed this weight, please give us a call.|
|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 trip begins at the South Rim with backpacking into the canyon down the beautiful Bright Angel Trail. We meet you at the river’s edge and immediately head straight into some of the most celebrated rapids: Horn Creek, Granite, Hermit, and Crystal are all packed into the first two exciting days. Spectacular side hikes pierce the shadows of the deep Inner Gorge: the emerald paradise of Elves Chasm, the 100-foot drop of Deer Creek Falls, limestone chutes of Matkatamiba Canyon, blue-green pools and numerous waterfalls of Havasu Canyon, and many others. We finish off by running the notorious Lava Falls – North America’s most renowned big drop.
Please Note: This trip requires backpacking your gear (20-25 lbs.) from the South Rim to the river on the Bright Angel Trail.
ATTENTION: OARS has developed a COVID-19 General Mitigation Plan that seeks to minimize the chances that disease transmission will occur on our trips. A condition of participation is to read, understand and agree to follow the rules and guidelines and participate in all screening measures. Failure to comply with these conditions of participation will result in declination of service and/or removal from the trip.
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. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip. . .
- Arrive at the South Rim. Purchase your breakfast and snacks including at least two quarts of water for your hike the next day. We’ll meet at 7:00 PM in the lobby of the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park. You will have the opportunity to meet your hike escort, others on your trip, and ask any last-minute questions about the hike. Your hike escort will give you a thorough trip orientation including a briefing on our updated COVID-19 policies and procedures.
Your Trip Begins. . .
- You’ll rise early (before first light) so you can 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). We’ll meet you at the river at approximately 1:00 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. Immediately in big water, we are drenched and exhilarated. The desert’s warmth quickly dries us again before we pull over to camp.
The Adventure Continues. . .
- Sensational rides and dramatic pictures are produced in Granite, Hermit and the rapids of the “Jewels” – Crystal, Sapphire, Turquoise, Ruby and Serpentine. We camp after a refreshing swim in the pools and waterfall at Shinumo Creek.
- Those with sharp eyes and quick cameras may be rewarded with shots of desert bighorn sheep in this portion of the Canyon. The emerald paradise of Elves Chasm, with its chain of linked pools and waterfalls, invites us to explore and swim. A sand and gravel floor serpentines through the cool narrow slot of Blacktail Canyon. Here we have an up close look at the Great Unconformity where ancient erosion removed millions of years of rock to create a gap in the Canyon’s geologic record.
- Fluted walls of jet black schist enclose us for a few miles before Bedrock and Dubendorf rapids. We drift lazily through Granite Narrows (a mere 75’ wide!!) and soon come to Deer Creek Falls, a 125’ cascade that tumbles almost directly into the river. A hike above the falls brings us to an oasis with a huge open patio. En route we discover handprints on the side canyon walls, evidence of those that visited this canyon centuries ago.
- We begin our morning gliding through some calmer stretches of river as we marvel at the walls towering overhead. A few quick strokes of the oars pull us into the mouth of Matkatamiba Canyon. We venture up the narrow limestone slot canyon into an overhanging amphitheater. Wading through the warm waters we explore the beautifully carved channel and relax in the coolness of its grotto. Back on the river we conquer Upset Rapid and then stop to camp for the night.
- Before sunrise we snack on yogurt and granola while packing sandwiches, fruit and candy for our lunches. An early start gives us a long day to enjoy the blue-green pools and numerous waterfalls of Havasu Canyon. Some linger all day at the pools near the river while others hike to see the falls several miles away. (A day pack or fanny pack are a “must” on this day.) After dinner the evening stars pale as our guides tell us tales (some real, some perhaps only “tall”) of the Colorado’s most legendary stretch of whitewater, Lava Falls. Tomorrow comes our turn in this fabled rapid.
- Pulling our dories to shore, we follow a short, steep trail to scout this whitewater giant. Each dory in turn is swept into the churning, spitting power of the largest rapid in the Grand Canyon, battered by huge waves and flushed into calmer waters. Knuckles still white, we beach below the rapid to laugh at our fears and relive each shudder.
The Last Day of Your Trip
- On the morning of your last day on the river our boats will reach Whitmore Wash. You’ll unpack your gear from our waterproof bags and repack it into your backpack. Shortly after you finish this repacking, a helicopter will arrive to lift you to the rim. For those of you not spending the night in Las Vegas, there are shower facilities available at Bar 10 Ranch. After everyone has made the flight to the rim, a charter aircraft will fly you to the Boulder City Airport, where a passenger van will meet you and take you to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. You will usually arrive there between 1:00 and 3:00 PM. DO NOT, however, plan your flights out of Las Vegas before 5:00 PM.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled professional guide service
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through breakfast on the last day
- One waterproof bag to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 20” tall x 14” diameter).
- One small waterproof bag for camera and film and other small items you’ll want during the day (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter)
- Sleep kit—consisting of a sleeping bag, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet and pillow packed in a large waterproof bag, which will be given to you on your first evening in camp
- 2-person tents on a shared basis
- 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 from Whitmore Wash to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to the South Rim and back from Las Vegas
- 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 (an equipment list provided below)
*You will need to pay the Grand Canyon National Park Entrance Fee when you enter the park on your own. If you have a park pass, please remember to bring it with you.
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: 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. For complete details and to purchase the plan we highly recommend, visit: https://www.oars.com/tpp
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.
☐ Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail 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: Confirm travel arrangements to and from your departure and return cities. Reserve overnight lodging for the night prior to your trip, if applicable. You may also wish to reserve a room for the night that you return from the river. 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 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ 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. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ 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 guide book of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
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 transportation from Whitmore Wash to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is provided.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your hike into the canyon we’ll meet at 7:00 PM in the lobby of the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park for a pre-trip meeting. You will have the opportunity to meet your hike escort, others on your trip, and ask any last-minute questions about the hike. The hike escort will also reconfirm the meeting time for the following morning.
Getting to the South Rim
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 10 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 $10 for two people plus the Grand Canyon National Park entrance fee.
Please note: You can store extra luggage with Grand Canyon Airlines in Boulder City, NV. After the river trip you will be returning to Las Vegas on Grand Canyon Airlines from Bar 10 Ranch. Please read the “Extra Luggage” paragraph which can be found after the packing list.
Mileage and Driving Times
|Flagstaff to South Rim||79 miles (1½ hours)|
|Phoenix to South Rim||223 miles (4 hours)|
|Las Vegas to South Rim||275 miles (4½ hours)|
If you’re arriving by car, there is long-term parking in Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim. When you enter the park, check with the park ranger for parking details. (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.
By Rental Car to Flagstaff continuing by Van Shuttle to the South Rim
If you plan to rent a car at the beginning of your trip, the car will need to be dropped off in Flagstaff and then continue to the South Rim via van shuttle. There are no car rental agencies located at the South Rim.
Van service from the Flagstaff Airport or Amtrak Station to the South Rim takes about 2 hours. Shuttle service can be arranged through the following company. (Advance reservations required & prices subject to change without notice):
Groome Transportation (928-350-8466): One-way fare is $34 per person.
By Air to Flagstaff continuing by Van Shuttle to the South Rim
American Airlines (800-433-7300) has flights into Flagstaff via Phoenix or Dallas.
United Airlines (800-864-8331) has flights into Flagstaff via Denver.
Van service from the Flagstaff Airport or Amtrak Station to the South Rim takes about 2 hours. Shuttle service can be arranged through the following company. (Advance reservations required & prices subject to change without notice):
Groome Transportation (928-350-8466): One-way fare is $34 per person.
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.
After Your Trip
After your trip, you will be dropped off at the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. You will usually arrive there between 1:00 and 3:00 PM. DO NOT, however, plan your flights out of Las Vegas before 5:00 PM.
Option to Return to the South Rim After Your Trip
At the end of the trip you will take the helicopter from the river to the rim (Bar 10 Ranch) and then transfer to a plane for your return to Las Vegas. There is an option of flying from Bar 10 Ranch to the South Rim (Grand Canyon Airport) instead of Las Vegas. The additional cost is $10/person. The flight needs to be confirmed prior to your final payment. Call or email our office to make a reservation. There is not a set schedule for this flight, but it generally arrives at the Grand Canyon Airport by at least 12:00 noon. The airport is located about 10 miles outside the park. If you need to return into the park (Grand Canyon Village), you can call the taxi (928-638-2822) upon arrival. If you need van shuttle service to Flagstaff, Groome Transportation (928-350-8466) provides this service. Currently they do not pick-up at the Grand Canyon Airport, so you may first need to take a taxi (928-638-2822) from the airport to their pick-up point. Advance reservations are required for the shuttle. Contact Groome Transportation for details and reservations.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you reserve rooms well in advance at the hotels listed below, in order to guarantee lodging. Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost.
At the South Rim Before the Trip
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 Las Vegas After the Trip
- Las Vegas offers a vast variety of lodging options from budget hotels to luxurious casino resorts. You can check availability and prices on the website: www.lasvegas.com.
BOAT TYPE (see photos at http://www.oars.com/experience/boats/)
On our Grand Canyon Dories trips we use 17-foot hard-hulled boats. The dories are elegant, handcrafted vessels which are not only enjoyable to look at, but provide an exciting and responsive ride. They hold up to four passengers. We travel in a flotilla with the maximum group size of 16-20 passengers.
There are 19 rapids rated 5 or higher on the Pipe Creek to Whitmore Wash section. Whitewater in the Canyon is rated on a scale of 1–10 (unlike most western rivers which use the I–VI scale). A “1” is a small riffle, and a “10” is the most difficult rapid still considered runnable. The two most noted of the Colorado’s rapids, Crystal and Lava Falls, are both rated a 10. The intensity of all rapids naturally depends on the water level, so readings for low and high water levels may vary slightly.
Based on various circumstances such as water levels and current flow we on occasion find it necessary to have our passengers walk around certain rapids. The decision is made by the trip leader with the first concern being the safety of each passenger and secondly the ability to run a rapid without damaging the boats. This will give you a great opportunity to take some wonderful photos of the dories as you watch your guides demonstrate their boating skills. When conditions warrant, you may also be asked by your trip leader to wear a helmet. For your own safety, however, you may feel more comfortable wearing the helmet even more than specifically requested by the trip leader.
HIKES 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 and take in a few tanning rays or read a book instead.
Hiking Down to the River From the South Rim
The hike requires carrying your personal effects in a backpack, (which with careful packing, should weigh between 20-25 lbs. when fully loaded) as you traverse the Bright Angel Trail between the South Rim and the river (Pipe Creek). The hike is 7.7 miles, descending about 4500 feet and may be one of the most physically demanding endeavors you will undertake in your life. It is essential you can comfortably complete the hike into the canyon carrying a weighted pack along with food and 2-3 liters of water (20-25 lbs.). Temperatures on the trail can easily reach 110 degrees or more during the summer months. The combination of carrying a backpack, the potential for extreme heat and the elevation change of almost one vertical mile makes this an incredibly challenging day. This hike can be exhausting for even the most physically fit and prepared hiker.
Be honest with yourself. If you are not already a backpacker or frequent hiker this trip may not be right for you. You must be committed to doing additional training and conditioning before you begin your trip. It’s up to you to carry your backpack. An inability to successfully complete the hike endangers not only yourself, but also the other guests and guides on the trip.
The Bright Angel Trail is a well-traveled, well-defined, maintained trail and offers some spectacular views of the Canyon. It is also patrolled by National Park Service rangers. Drinking water is available (subject to pipeline breaks) throughout the year at Indian Gardens. Water is available seasonally (May-September) at 1.5 mile and 3 mile rest houses from the rim.
As required by the National Park Service, we have a hike escort accompany our guests on the hike to the river. 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. She/he can give you great advice and hiking tips as you make your descent to the river.
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 (appox.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 which 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.
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a bag line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious salad, spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink to top it off. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious pasta dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be a supplemental menu fee, ranging from $5 – $25 per person per day, to cover any increase in our costs.
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.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
In camp we provide sodas, water, coffee and tea. We also carry powdered drink mixes such as Gatorade, Gookinaid or similar to mix in your water bottle. National Park Service regulations prevent us from providing alcoholic beverages to our guests. You are welcome to bring a supply of alcoholic beverages in non-breakable containers or you can order them using the alcohol order form which will be sent to you a couple months before your trip departs. Please Note: There is no drinking allowed while on the river. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is only allowed while in camp.
OARS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our guests and for our staff. We ask that smoking of any kind be done away and downwind from other trip participants.
We are obligated to adhere to the regulations established by the managing agency with jurisdiction over the area in which our trip operates. Use of marijuana on federal lands, whether it be medicinal or recreational, is illegal and therefore we ask that you refrain from bringing it with you on your OARS trip.
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 lunch time and before hikes for filling personal water bottles.
Fishing is an additional activity you can do in 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 at www.azgfd.com. A license can also be purchased at the South Rim in the General Store (located in Market Plaza). We practice catch and release with artificial lures and flies. You should therefore 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.
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impact, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing and is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
We also carry a small container called the “day tripper” that can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and oversized hand wipe.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, the common refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” We practice this approach by urinating in the river during the day. For use in camp at night we provide pee buckets so that urination can occur in a secluded location and then be dumped into the current where it will be carried downstream.
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 such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s, which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) 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 and keep your feet out of the water. Keep your toenails trimmed. After a day on the river, 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.
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 therefore 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.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
We provide a small waterproof bag (17” tall x 9” diameter—approximate sealed size) to hold your camera and other items you might need during the day. While these bags are designed to be waterproof, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home*.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
*The use of drones is prohibited by the National Park Service in the Grand Canyon.
We are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel.
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river. They can call out, but we cannot call them. Periodically the trip leader will check in with our office. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind, however, it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Our guides do not carry firearms on our trips, and in most cases are prohibited from doing so by the managing agency. As a matter of preference, we ask all our guests to kindly leave your own firearms at home or in your vehicle.
If you require the use of a CPAP machine and intend to bring one with you, be sure to alert your OARS Adventure Consultant prior to your trip to let us know the dimensions of the machine, description of battery(s), and any protective case(s). Travel-sized CPAP’s are readily available and often come with a battery kit. You must assess the power needs of your CPAP and bring the battery(s) needed to operate it for each night of your travels. If this is a challenge for you please contact your OARS Adventure Consultant and our team will work to ensure you’re able to power the machine during the trip. We’re able to accommodate the transportation of your machine and accessories on the trip in metal dry boxes or soft dry bags; however, please understand that despite efforts to protect your equipment we can’t guarantee your machine and accessories won’t suffer water or impact damage; therefore we recommend additional protective case(s) for your machine & accessories. Additionally, on trips lasting longer than five or six days, multiple batteries or a charging system will likely be required. Solar chargers are recommended, but please note they cannot always be relied on due to the dynamic and unpredictable nature of an outdoor adventure. We suggest testing out any charging system before you leave home to ensure compatibility with your CPAP machine. Please, remember that your trip is happening in the wilderness. Despite everything there is still a possibility your machine may malfunction, and if your machine or power source does not work correctly, there are no resources for you or OARS staff to use to remedy the situation. You should be prepared to finish out the trip as planned without the use of the CPAP machine.
Traveling at High Altitude
The South Rim is 7000 feet/2,135 m 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 all. Please familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment and more about altitude illness at the CDC.
Weather & Water Conditions
In the desert climate of the Grand Canyon, temperatures and weather can fluctuate a great deal throughout the day. It can be clear, dry and hot and in the next moment it can be cool and rainy. These conditions can manifest in any month. There are no absolutes when talking about weather in the canyon. The descriptions and 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.
April: April is less crowded in the canyon and is an excellent time to view cactus in bloom. The days are shorter with a chance of possible storms, but at night you can sit around the campfire (April & October only).
May: A favorite time for people to visit, but also one of the most crowded. The weather is moderate and consistent, but can be windy at times. The water is very often clear from mid to late May.
June: Early June has hot days and mild nights. Temperatures increase with each day into the month. A very busy time to be in the canyon.
July: Very hot with the chance of some early monsoons which are more prevalent in August. Any and all weather can be experienced at this time. When rain showers do materialize the afternoons are generally cooler.
August: Traditionally this time of year is the monsoon season with clouds building up early in the day, releasing with heavy short bursts in the afternoon, and often clearing by evening. The clouds and showers help lower the extreme temperatures.
September: Moderate temperatures cooling as the month progresses. The days are mild with cool nights. There is less traffic in the canyon since September 15 is the last launch date for motorized trips.
October: Can be very nice, but always presents a possibility of storms. Need to be prepared for changes in weather conditions. Nice temperatures for side hikes and opportunities to sit around the campfires at night (April & October only).
Average Air Temperatures/Rainfall
|MONTH||DAY (°F)||NIGHT (°F)||RAINFALL|
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 since the South Rim is around 7000’ in elevation. Keep this in mind especially if you are on an early spring or late fall trip.
Current Weather Conditions
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date forecast. We recommend the National Weather Service web site. The web site provides a current weather forecast along the Colorado River as well as on the rim.
Water Levels & Temperature
The water levels of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon are regulated by the release of water from the Glen Canyon Dam. The Colorado generally fluctuates up and down several feet within the day, based on the time of year and demand for electricity. Because the flow is dam regulated, even in a drought year, the water levels are fairly consistent. The temperature of the river is always 48°-55° F.
River Runners Responsibility Code
- Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
- Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
- 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.
- Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
- Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
- Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
- No drugs or alcohol prior to, or during, your trip; alcohol is allowed in moderation in camp on overnight trips.
- Minimize your impact on the environment.
- Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
- Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
- Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
- Weigh less than 245 lbs. to ride in a dory.
- Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
- Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
- Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
- Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
- Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
- Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
- Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
If you are on a trip that requires you to hike in to meet the trip or hike out to finish your trip, the following physical criteria are:
- Ability to walk eight or more miles in a backcountry desert environment, with a backpack carrying all of your belongings for the trip plus sufficient water and food.
- Ability to independently navigate rough terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to walk and maintain your balance on backcountry hiking trails, including trails with rocks, roots and low branches. The trails are dusty, steep, and present numerous reinforced log steps, loose rocks, and mule excrement. They range in width from 3 to 5 feet with exposed overlooks.
- Ability to carry your own pack with a minimum of 2 liters of water, sufficient food, rain gear, insulating layers, sunscreen and all of your belongings for the trip (approx. 20-25 lbs.).
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information about Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense, and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison oak/ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-trip/
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
Face Coverings/Hand Sanitizer
All guests must supply their own hand sanitizer and reusable/washable face coverings (minimum of two) consisting of two or more layers. A clean face covering should be used each day of your trip; masks may be reused if they are washed. For more information, visit the CDC.
During the day—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and 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 an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. 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. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco® at www.chacos.com, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to 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. 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” in order to fit into the PFD.) For your 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.
Hot Weather Trips
During summer months, conditions on the river may be hot and sunny. These trips require less gear than spring or fall trips, but thoughtful packing is still required. Protection from the sun and heat will be critical to your enjoyment and health while on the river and during side hikes. To protect yourself from the sun’s rays, consider bringing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
A good way to keep cool is with a sarong or long-sleeved cotton shirts. Old collared dress shirts work well. They can be soaked in the water and worn in the raft or carried on a hike for later use. This method of evaporative cooling is very effective. Bandanas are another useful item that can be used in this manner.
Camp-wear should be made of cotton and be loose-fitting. A combination of shorts/skirt and a lightweight top is ideal for staying cool on hot afternoons.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on river trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. In cooler weather a rain jacket and pants work 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’s hot. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Something warm for your top & bottom: You need to be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double up on your base layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a set of warm, dry clothes for camp.
April, Early May, Late September and October Trips: These are surely some of the most beautiful months in the canyon, but they can also produce some surprisingly chilly times. During the spring and fall the sun is not far enough north in the sky to reach its warming rays down into the bottom of the canyon for as many hours a day as it does in the summer. This means more shady areas, fewer sunny ones. The temperature of the river is the same in August as it is in January, 48°-55°. Therefore, when you are splashed (drenched) going through the rapids and you’re in a shady area, you will get very cold unless you are prepared.
Rain gear protects you from rain, wind and the splash of the rapids. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for 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.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. Rheos, the official sunglasses sponsor of OARS guides, offers polarized floatable nautical eyewear with 100% UV protection at www.rheosgear.com. Use promo code OARS15 to save 15% on any purchase from The Nautical Eyewear Collection.
In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes are generally not a problem on this trip, although it’s a good idea to come prepared with a small amount of insect repellent just in case.
We supply a sleep kit consisting of a sleeping bag, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, ground tarp, 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.
Suggested Packing List
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)
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Photo I.D. – Very important. Adult passengers (18 years or older) will be required to show a government issued photo I.D. before boarding the helicopter at Whitmore Wash (along the river).
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized such as Rheos floatable eyewear www.rheosgear.com) with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Toiletries, including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s)
☐ 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-a 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® chacos.com)
“Aqua socks” strongly discouraged
☐ Athletic Shoes or lightweight hiking boots: comfortable, with good tread and well broken-in (not new)
☐ Hiking socks: 2-3 pair mid-weight
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: 2 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: a two-piece is recommended for women for changing and using the restroom. Tankinis and board shorts are a great option.
☐ Shorts: 2 pair lightweight and quick-drying
☐ Hiking shorts: 1 pair (some people prefer different shorts for the river and hiking)
☐ T-shirts/tops: 2-3
☐ Synthetic or merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom, light to mid-weight (optional for late June & July trips)
☐ Fleece top & bottom: 1 set light to mid-weight (optional for late June & July trips)
☐ Camp clothes: comfortable and appropriate for season. Cotton recommended for hot weather trips. Women may prefer an athletic skirt or dress
☐ Face Coverings such as a bandana, cloth mask, or neck gaiter: minimum 2-3
Additional Essentials for spring (April/May) & fall (September/October):
☐ Extra pair of dry footwear for camp
☐ Wetsuit booties and/or neoprene, wool or synthetic 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 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 towels
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your dry bag
☐ Ear plugs
☐ 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
☐ Feminine Urinary Device (for women only)
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.
Local Outdoor Equipment Stores
Canyon Village Market “General Store”, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park (928) 638-2262
Aspen Sports – 15 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ (928) 779-1935
Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters – 12 E Aspen Ave, Flagstaff, AZ (928) 774-4775
Big 5 Sporting Goods – 2775 Woodlands Village Blvd, Flagstaff, AZ (928) 214-0590
REI – 323 S Windsor Lane, Flagstaff, AZ (928) 213-1914
Packing Your Gear
At the river each person will be given one large waterproof bag (approximate sealed size: 20” tall x 14” diameter; 3079 cu in; 50.4 L) for your clothing and personal items. We also provide a small waterproof bag for day use where you can keep items such as raingear, camera, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter; 1081 cu in; 17.7 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 takes 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.
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. Your packed backpack must also not exceed 25 lbs. Oversized and overweight backpacks will not be allowed on the helicopter or plane when you exit the canyon at Whitmore Wash.
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. The last evening on the river you will repack your clothing and personal items into your backpack to go out by helicopter at Whitmore Wash.
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, most hotels in Las Vegas will store extra luggage for guests who stay either before or after a trip. Another alternative is to store your luggage ($15/bag) with Grand Canyon Airlines at the Boulder City Airport. When dropping off your bag please advise Grand Canyon Airlines that you are traveling with OARS and your date of return. Please note: At the end of your trip you will fly from Bar 10 Ranch to the Boulder City Airport. You will then need to retrieve your luggage before boarding the van for transport to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.
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.
Tipping is optional, but 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 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.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
Explore gear made and tested for water-lovers
The best Grand Canyon books
OARS practices a Leave No Trace conservation ethic
Watch our “How To Pack For A River Trip” video
Flagstaff Visitors Convention & Visitors Bureau
Grand Canyon info and area maps
Terms & Conditions
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 prior to your trip.
- For Whitmore Wash to Pearce Ferry trips a deposit of $500/person is required at the time of reservation. A second deposit of $500/person is due in our office by November 1 of the year prior to your trip.
- If you make your reservation after November 1 of the year prior to your trip, the entire $1500 or $1000 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.
Cancelling 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 prior to departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days prior to the departure date will be cancelled 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 prior to 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 (see Travel Protection below).
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|180 or more days prior to your trip||$200/person|
|179 to 120 days prior to your trip||$400/person|
|119 to 90 days prior to your trip||$750/person|
|89 days or less prior to your trip||Full Fare|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail 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 prior to 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 cancelled 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 cancelled 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. For complete details and to purchase the plan we highly recommend, visit: https://www.oars.com/tpp
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.
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 itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and wellbeing 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 245 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 at 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.