|MEETING PLACE:||DoubleTree Hotel, 1175 W Route 66, Flagstaff, Arizona|
|MEETING TIME:||6:30 PM, the evening prior to your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 3:00-4:00 PM|
|RIVER RATING:||47 major rapids rated 5 or above on the Grand Canyon scale of 1 to 10|
|TRIP LENGTH:||16-18 days|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 12 years old|
|WEIGHT LIMIT:||260 pounds. If you exceed this weight, please give us a call.|
|BOAT TYPE:||We raft the river in 18′ inflatable rafts that hold 4 passengers and a guide. The guide rows the raft with a long pair of oars.|
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. . .
We’ll meet at 6:30 PM at the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff for a pre-trip meeting. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and guides and ask any last-minute questions. Your guides will give you a thorough trip orientation including a briefing on our updated COVID-19 policies and procedures. They will also pass out your waterproof river bags so you can pack your belongings that evening.
Your Trip Begins. . .
At 7:00 AM you’ll board our van at the DoubleTree Hotel. By this time your waterproof bags should be packed, luggage stored, cars parked, breakfast eaten and room keys turned in. Our van will drive you to Lees Ferry (2½-hour drive) where we’ll load the rafts, give a river safety talk and fit you with a personal flotation device (PFD) before putting on the river. Our apprehensions are quickly converted to exhilaration as we splash through Badger & Soap Creek Rapids. The desert’s warmth quickly dries us again before we reach camp. After a delicious dinner we stretch out in our sleeping bags to drift off to sleep under a starry sky.
The Adventure Continues. . .
The river twists between rising cliffs, offering new vistas at every bend. At North Canyon we walk across folded layers of sedimentary rock which leads to a pool trickling down from the polished funneled canyon. Our afternoon of lazy drifting is enlivened by the rapids of the “Roaring Twenties.”
The vibrant colored walls of Marble Canyon tower overhead as we continue our float past the fern-fringed springs of Vasey’s Paradise for a stop at Redwall Cavern. This vast, half-circular chamber carved out by the river, offers a cool recess to rest. A few miles downriver we scramble over short, steep rock formations into Nautiloid Canyon where we find a unique display of fossils exposed in the smooth rock canyon floor.
Relaxed drifting occupies much of the day interspersed by a few good rapids. A stop at Nankoweap Canyon gives us an opportunity to climb to the Ancestral Puebloan granaries that rest high on the cliff overlooking the Colorado River for a spectacular view of the river and vibrant canyon hues below. If we are lucky, the Little Colorado will be flowing with opaque turquoise (instead of muddy brown) water, which will invite us to stop for a swim.
For a few miles the canyon opens up, revealing ancient volcanic rocks and the cliffs of the South Rim. We then go through a series of challenging rapids which drop us into the narrow, rugged trench of the Inner Gorge. We’re drenched in turn by the big waves of Unkar, Nevills, Hance, Sockdolager and Grapevine rapids. We arrive at Pipe Creek where we may trade partial trip passengers.
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 rafts to shore, we follow a short, steep trail to scout this whitewater giant. Each raft 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.
Today we pass Whitmore Wash. Pictographs can be found under a rock overhang a short distance from the river. As the canyon opens up we cross into the shattered Hurricane fault zone and then head west.
205, 209 and 217 Mile rapids discount the myth that all the good whitewater occurs above Whitmore Wash. We spend a delightful day discovering, splashy, fun-filled rapids.
Our last full day on the river, we slip past Diamond Creek and then enter the lower Granite Gorge. As we make our final camp at, or just above, Separation Rapid, we feel a strange sense of loss ― our adventure is coming to a close. The stars seem extra lovely tonight.
The Last Day of Your Trip
After an early breakfast, we’ll load our gear into the jet boat. We’ll bid farewell to our guides and then head to Pearce Ferry (a 1 hour, 40 mile ride). Arrive at the take-out point on Lake Mead by mid-morning. After equipment is loaded into our vehicles, we’ll be driven back to the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff, arriving between 3:00 and 4:00 PM.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled professional guide service
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the last day
- Two waterproof bags to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 22” tall x 14” diameter; 3386 cu in; 55 L). Your sleeping bag and pad must fit into one bag and your remaining gear will fit into the other bag. Please note: If you rent our gear it will come already packed in one of the two waterproof bags. Your remaining gear, therefore, must fit in one
- One small waterproof bag for 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)
- 2-person tents on a shared basis and ground tarps
- 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 rafts and related equipment
- Transportation by van from Flagstaff to put-in at Lees Ferry and return from Lake Mead
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Flagstaff
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Grand Canyon National Park Entrance Fee*
- Sleeping bag & a deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad (these items may be rented from OARS.)
- 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 prior to your trip departure.
Available For Rent
- Sleep Kit: Can be rented for $50 per person. Sleep kits consist of a sleeping bag with liner, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet, pillow and pillowcase. Please indicate on your Guest Registration Form whether you want to rent a sleep kit or if you prefer to bring your own.
- Sleeping Pad Only: The deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled pad only may be rented for $20
TRIP PREPARATION CHECKLIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: For complete details and to purchase the plan we highly recommend, visit: https://www.oars.com/tpp
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 when getting a quote here: https://www.oars.com/tpp
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.
☐ 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 and can meet our essential eligibility requirements.
☐ 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.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your trip we will meet at 6:30 PM at the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff for a pre-trip meeting. Your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation and pass out your waterproof bags so that you can pack your belongings that evening. The trip leader will also reconfirm the meeting time for the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
Getting to Flagstaff
American Airlines (800-433-7300) has flights into Flagstaff via Phoenix or Dallas.
United Airlines (800-864-8331) has flights into Flagstaff via Denver.
By Van 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. Passengers are dropped off at the Flagstaff Amtrak Station.
The trip takes about 3 hours and 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 $49 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): Services Northern Arizona
Mileage and Driving Times
|Los Angeles to Flagstaff||466 miles (7½ hours)|
|Phoenix to Flagstaff||145 miles (2½ hours)|
|Las Vegas to Flagstaff||254 miles (4½ hours)|
If you are arriving by car, parking is available at the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff for OARS passengers who stay at the DoubleTree Hotel before or after their river trip. You must stay one night at the hotel to park at their facility. 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:
All Guard Self Storage: (928-526-0578)
Route 66 Storage: (928-779-5460)
By Bus or Train
Greyhound and Amtrak both service Flagstaff. Amtrak arrives each evening from the East and every morning from the West.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your river adventure, you will be returned to the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff. You should arrive back by approximately 3:00-4:00 PM.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you reserve rooms well in advance at the hotel listed below, in order to guarantee lodging. Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost.
In Flagstaff Before & After the Trip
DoubleTree by Hilton Flagstaff
1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
To receive the special OARS rate use the web link below to make a reservation. Reservations can be booked about 11 months prior to arrival and no later than 30 days prior. 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.
2022 Trips – Online Booking Link: https://group.doubletree.com/cxdwx9
2023 Trips – Online Booking Link: https://group.doubletree.com/fa5zqa
The DoubleTree Hotel offers complimentary van transportation from the airport between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Call the hotel upon arrival for pick-up.
If you need transportation during other hours, you should contact a local taxi service:
Apex Cab: 928-779-0000 (Advance reservations recommended)
Burly Cab: 877-287-5922
BOAT TYPE (see photos at http://www.oars.com/experience/boats/)
On our Grand Canyon trips we use inflatable oar rafts, the most stable of whitewater craft, which are rowed from the center of the boat by your guide. Our rafts carry four passengers and a guide plus gear. We travel in a flotilla with the maximum group size of 16-20 passengers.
There are 47 rapids rated 5 or higher on the Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry 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 second the ability to run a rapid without damaging the boats. This will give you a great opportunity to take some wonderful photos of the rafts 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.
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 place an order using the alcohol order form which will be emailed to you about two 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 in Flagstaff at Wal-Mart. 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 (www.drbronner.com), 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 to 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.
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 be used to 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 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 case 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 powering or recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS, a CPAP 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. Solar panels must be designed to withstand outdoor elements and fit in your dry bag (roll-up or no larger than 12” x 12”). Keep in mind direct sunlight in a river canyon may be limited and even non-existent at camp (mornings and evenings).
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry a satellite communication device for emergency use. 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 CPAPs 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. 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
Flagstaff is about 7000 feet/2,135 m above sea level, 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 raingear and clothing that can be layered.
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 website. The website 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.
- Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- 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.
- 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.
- Your children are your responsibility!
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.
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 260 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, raingear, 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.
Raingear 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 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.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously! 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.
A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are also a must. Rheos, the official sunglasses sponsor of OARS guides, offers polarized floatable nautical eyewear with 100% UV protection. Use promo code OARS15 to save 15% on any purchase from The Nautical Eyewear Collection.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitos 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.
You can either bring your own sleeping bag, pad and ground tarp, or you can rent our sleep kit. If you are purchasing your own bag for the trip, keep in mind that a medium weight synthetic-fill bag is recommended for April and October.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, sheet and small pillow. Sleep kits including these items may be rented for $50. (April, May, September and October trips require a medium weight synthetic-fill bag)
☐ Daypack for day hikes. It should be large enough to carry water, lunch and a camera, as well as a warm layer of clothing for spring & fall trips (750–2000 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)
☐ 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) 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-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 for gratuities and goodies at Phantom Ranch (credit cards also accepted at Phantom Ranch)
☐ 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: 3-4 pair 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: a two-piece is recommended instead of a one-piece for changing and using the restroom. 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 (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. Some guests may prefer an athletic skirt or dress
☐ Face covering(s) for use while riding in shuttle vehicles and entering enclosed spaces.
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
☐ 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
☐ Stand-up Urination Device
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore. 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Local Outdoor Equipment Stores
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 pre-trip meeting each person will be given two large waterproof bags (approximate sealed size: 22” tall x 14” diameter; 3386 cu in; 55 L). One bag will be for your clothing and personal items. The second bag will be for your sleeping gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet and pillow). These two bags will essentially be your “checked luggage” and will only be accessible in camp. Tents are stowed separately. Please note: if you rent our sleep kit, it will come already packed in one of the two waterproof bags issued to each passenger. 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: 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 takes precedence over style. At the end of the trip you will return to Flagstaff with your packed waterproof bags where you will be able to unpack your gear for your return trip home.
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.
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.
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 where passengers may store additional bags. Your trip leader will explain the storage procedure at the pre-departure trip meeting.
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, a personal check, or by mobile app (a “peer to peer” payment method such as Venmo, PayPal or similar) 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.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
The best Grand Canyon books
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 Deposit
- 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.
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 when getting a quote here: https://www.oars.com/tpp
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 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 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 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.