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Grand Canyon River Trip FAQ

River Trip Itineraries

Grand Canyon River Trip FAQListed below are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions we receive.  We encourage you to go through them as you are likely to find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. And of course if your question is not answered here, please feel free to Contact Us for more information.

Do I need any rafting experience?

No, the majority of the people who join our trips have little, if any, rafting experience. We provide all the necessary equipment and will be using a motorized raft. Just hold on as instructed and you will enjoy a safe and relaxing journey.

When and where do I meet the trip?

The times and locations listed below are for our “normal” trips. If you are on a charter or other special “by invitation only” trip (i.e. a Christian Leaders or Foundations in Genesis Trip) please review your information packet for the trip itinerary. No matter which trip you are on, please allow ample time in your travel plans so that if difficulties should occur, you will still be on time.

3-4 day lower river trips:

We recommend you arrive in Las Vegas the night prior to the trip. We will meet at the Desert Rose Resort at 10:30 a.m. (Note, meeting at the hotel is the only option for these trips due to the remoteness of the Bar-10 Ranch.) At the end of the trip you have the option to be dropped off at the airport or any of the hotels in the Las Vegas “strip” area. We suggest you not make return flight reservations prior to 6:30 p.m. Special room rates are available at the Desert Rose Resort (800 811-2450)  Booking information will be in your trip packet.  Luggage may be stored at the Desert Rose while on the river for a nominal fee. Vehicles may be parked during your absence with the hotel’s permission.

7-9 day upper river trips:

Marble Canyon option: The trip will meet at Marble Canyon, AZ (about 2 1/2 hours north of Flagstaff, AZ, an hour south of Page, AZ and 6 hours east of Las Vegas, NV). We recommend you arrive in Marble Canyon the night prior to the trip and stay at the Marble Canyon Lodge (800 726-1789). We will meet at 8:00 a.m., on the south side of the road at the old Marble Canyon Lodge. There is ample parking at the lodge for your vehicle; ask the registration clerk where to park. You will be flown back to Marble Canyon in time for lunch on the last day.

Las Vegas option: You may choose the optional flight (at an additional cost) from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon. A bus will meet you at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of the trip launch at the Desert Rose Resort. On the last day of the trip you will be flown back to Boulder City Airport and bused to the Desert Rose, or McCarran International Airport.  We suggest you not make return flight reservations prior to 2:30 p.m. Special rates are available at the Desert Rose Resort (800 811-2450)  Booking information will be in your trip packet. Luggage may be stored at the Desert Rose while on the river for a nominal fee. Vehicles may be parked for the week with the hotel’s permission.

How do I get to Marble Canyon?

There is an optional flight available from Las Vegas to Marble Canyon early on the first day of the trip.  You will be able to add this flight to your trip during the registration process.

Shuttle services can at times be more economical than flights, especially if you are a group of 4 or more. Listed below are companies that provide shuttle services to Marble Canyon.

Las Vegas, NV to Marble Canyon, AZ:

Bar 10 Transportation – 435-628-4010

Aztec Shuttle – 800-582-4139

Page, AZ to Marble Canyon, AZ:

End of Trails Shuttle – 928-355-2252

Flagstaff, AZ to Marble Canyon, AZ

Flagstaff Shuttle and Charter – 888-215-3105

What do I need to bring?

Not much – most people over-pack for the trip! See our packing list for suggested items to bring.

Do I really need rain gear?

Absolutely! This is the most often asked question we get. It is best to be prepared with good 2-piece rain gear no matter what time of year you visit, as your rain gear is as much for river water protection as rainfall. The temperature of the river is about 48° at Lee’s Ferry and only slowly warms as it flows through the Canyon. Should a summer monsoon storm come through, you will be quickly soaked and can become hyopthermic very quickly. Having elastic on both the wrist and ankle cuffs is helpful. We personally never do a trip without it!

Where will I live and sleep?

A river trip is an outdoor experience. There are no improved campgrounds along the river. But you don’t need 40 years of wilderness experience to participate in one of our trips; we have many people come on our trips who have never camped a day in their life. They usually find they have been missing something truly enjoyable. This will probably be the most comfortable camping experience you’ve ever had! We supply all your camping equipment including cot, sleeping bag, sheet, pillow, ground tarp, and, in case of rain, a 2-person tent.

Does Canyon Ministries run non-motorized trips?

To do the amount of teaching we do, it is not practical to run either oar or paddle trips. Additionally, oar and paddle trips move about half the speed of a motorized trip, so the trips are normally 14 to 16 days. Shorter trips are available, but require either hiking into or out of the canyon, a strenuous 11 mile hike with about a 4,000 foot elevation gain/loss. Most of the people who run the Colorado through the Grand Canyon do so on motorized rafts.

What if I use a CPAP machine?

No problem, the outfitter will provide a 12V battery to operate your CPAP machine. You will need either an inverter or a DC power cable with alligator clips to connect to the battery. You must make the CPAP/battery request on the Trip Participation Form. Note that you will not be able to run the humidifier if your machine has one, as it requires more power than the battery can supply.

What about modesty?

As a Christian community, we want to insure that none of us are stumbling blocks to others. 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” This is especially true in the area of dress. Most people wear bathing suits and/or shorts and a T-shirt on the river. As we all know, these come in varying degrees of exposure. As you pack for the trip, please keep this in mind. For those joining us from other countries, please understand that bikinis and skin-tight Speedos have a very high degree of exposure by American standards.

Is a government ID required?

If you are over 18 years of age, please bring some form of government-issued identification (drivers license, passport, military ID, etc) for flights to and from the airports.

Will there be coffee?

Of course there will be coffee! Freshly brewed coffee is available every morning, along with hot water for tea and hot chocolate. A variety of teas are provided, but if you have a favorite, you might want to bring some along.

What about alcohol?

Canyon Ministries does not prohibit passengers from bringing their own alcohol, but we do not want to create a stumbling block for anyone. Should you choose to bring alcohol, you may not drink while on the river or during the day until in camp, and we request you imbibe only in the privacy of your own camp in case there are other passengers who are offended by it.

What about National Park entrance fees?

You may deduct $20 per person from your final payment if you supply a copy (both sides) of your National Park Pass with the payment. The pass must be valid through the launch date of the trip. Note that in this context, the Pass is only good for family members with the same last name and the same address, which is different than entering the Park in a vehicle.

Can I wear my contacts on the trip?

Some guides do. That said, there are things you want to consider. First, blowing sand in camp can be very irritating or may scratch your eye. On the river, you could have waves come over your head in a rapid. On side hikes, sometimes the possibility of swimming exists. If you elect to wear them on the trip, we would suggest that you bring a small bottle of water for cleaning your contacts to ensure purity and a pair of glasses as a back-up.

What about snakes and insects?

The Grand Canyon is a very user-friendly place to go camping. Snakes are rarely seen and generally stay away from campsites and other places frequented by people. Insects are seldom bothersome and there are very few mosquitoes. (Insect repellent is very rarely necessary.) However, anyone who knows they are very allergic to certain types of insect stings or bites should definitely bring any medications they have for such a situation.

How much time will I spend on the river each day?

We average 4-5 hours per day on the river plus another 3-4 hours for side hikes and a lunch stop. Some days may be devoted mostly to floating. Other days, when the attraction sites are plentiful, we will spend more time exploring and less time on the water.

What are the physical requirements to participate in a trip?

We take passengers from 8 to 88! The most difficult part for those on the upper end of that spectrum might be getting on and off the boat, and you will need to carry your gear between the boat and your campsite each day. But there are always helping hands, when needed. Everyone helps load and unload the boats unless there is a physical reason that prohibits helping…and being either 8 or 88 could be a good reason.

Are the hikes strenuous?

The hikes vary in length and difficulty, averaging less than 2 miles round trip and range from a simple walk to occasional steep climbs. They are always optional and we will do our best to describe the difficulty. Most guests are capable of handling all the hikes, but on the longer, more strenuous ones, pre-conditioning will definitely pay off. If you are able to walk 2-3 miles, you should not have a problem.

What can I expect for weather?

Temperatures in Grand Canyon range from lows of around 60° to highs around 100° in May and September. It is warmer in June, July and August, with temperatures ranging between 75° and 115°. Humidity is very low and the sun is very intense. The rainy season usually begins around the middle of July and lasts 4-6 weeks. Afternoon temperatures are generally lower and the rain showers can materialize suddenly and disappear just as suddenly. It is best to be prepared with good rain gear no matter what time of year you visit. A light fleece jacket is a good idea and is recommended on all trips, just in case.

Grand Canyon Average Weather

MonthCanyon South RimCanyon North RimCanyon Bottom (River Trips)

Temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit, precipitation in inches.

How’s the fishing?

Among trout fishermen, it is widely known that some very good fishing is to be had in the Colorado River! Fishing is best between Lee’s Ferry and the confluence with the Little Colorado River, 60 miles downstream. You will need an Arizona Fishing License, which can be purchased online here, or at Marble Canyon Lodge on full-length trips. Note that the clarity of the water will dramatically impact the fishing. Fishing on the 4-day trips is often poor due to the turbid water.

We’d like to bring our children. Is there a minimum age?

We limit our expeditions to children from 8 to 88 (and older). If your children enjoy outdoor life, feel at home around water, and adjust easily to being with an adult group, they’ll enjoy the trip with you.

What kind of toilet facilities are available on the river?

Ah, the one question that everyone asks sooner or later, usually sooner. All river trips in Grand Canyon National Park are required to use portable re-useable camp toilets. We set up a portable “potty” each evening in a naturally private and open-air location. It’s almost the same as you have at home, except the view is much better!

For women only!

Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, it is suggested that you come prepared for it. Sandwich size zip-lock bags can be used during the day and disposed of when you reach camp. [Brand name] o.b. tampons are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. Many women also like bringing a small supply of baby wipes.

Why are the 4-day trips so expensive?

Yes, on the surface these trips seems expensive, but it includes the following transportation: bus from the Desert Rose Resort to the airport, charter flight to the Bar 10 Ranch on the North Rim, helicopter ride to the Canyon floor, 2 large rafts for the days on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, jet boat out of the Canyon to Pearce Ferry on Lake Mead, bus return to Las Vegas where you are delivered to the Las Vegas International airport or the Desert Rose Resort. That’s a lot of modes of travel! Plus while at the ranch it includes horseback riding, skeet shooting, an evening show, meals and lodging and while on the river all meals and camping equipment. Additionally, Canyon Ministries provides someone from our team to help guide and present a Biblical perspective of the Canyon, which is a unique perspective of our trips.

What about tipping?

You will find that the crew works hard to make sure you have an enjoyable and safe trip. Oftentimes guests don’t realize the amount of work these guys do! Typically it is customary to tip the crew 8% – 10% of the cost of the trip. At the end of the trip, please give it to the Trip Leader, who divides it among the crew. Cash is preferred, but checks written to the Trip Leader will work as well.

Will my cell phone or blow dryer work in the bottom of the Canyon?

No, nor can you listen to the game on your radio. Silence is golden.

How, when and where do I make my payment?

For trip reservations, fees are paid online directly to the outfitter. The deposit is payable at time of reservation, with the remainder due 120 days before the trip.

What is the cancellation policy?

120 or more days before trip if written notification is received by Arizona River RunnersRefund of deposit, less $100 service fee per person
119 days to 30 days prior to tripForfeiture of entire deposit
Less than 30 days before tripForfeiture of full fare

What about trip cancellation insurance?

Trip Cancellation Insurance is highly recommended!

For travel insurance, you might contact one of these companies:

Travelex  800-228-9792
Travel Guard Insurance 800-826-1300
Travel Insured International Travel Insurance 800-243-3174


Please feel free to Contact Us!