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Cold Weather Tips

By Krystal • February 27, 2023

If you are on one of our trips in April/May, September/October, or your forecast looks rainy; you will want to pack some additional layers to help keep you warm on the river. Cold weather is excellent for hiking and hanging out at camp, but can be challenging when rafting if you are not dressed appropriately. River water temperatures typically range from 50-70°F depending on the time of year. Check the current river temperature here.

We believe there’s no such thing as bad weather in the canyon, only bad clothing choices! To prepare, review the “Early/Late Season Clothes” section of your Trip Info Packet and check out the following tips:

  1. Most importantly – no cotton! Cotton takes too long to dry and loses its ability to insulate once it is wet. You will get cold and stay cold. Instead choose layers such as wool, fleece, polypropylene, and Capilene that have the ability to retain heat when wet.
  2. Pack several lightweight/midweight items that can be layered. Layering gives you the option to add or remove layers for changing conditions and helps to regulate your body temperature. In addition to your river clothes, we recommend bringing long underwear, mid-weight fleece pants, and a fleece/warm jacket. Your outer layer should be your waterproof rain gear. It is a good idea to bring two sets of base layers: one to wear while rafting and a dry set to change into at camp.
  3. Most of the time your gear can be laid in the sun to dry out, but if the weather doesn’t allow for hours of sunshine, you’ll want to plan ahead. Be cautious of your warm layers getting wet. Your dry bags should be tightly rolled and secured to the boats. Tighten your rain gear wrist cuffs and use your hood when running rapids.
  4. Bring a warm winter hat/beanie to keep your head warm. Again, wool or fleece is a good choice.
  5. Cover your extremities. Bring wool or neoprene gloves and socks/booties. These items do not take up much room in your bag and can make a huge difference.
  6. Stay hydrated. This is important year-round, but being dehydrated in cooler weather can cause your core temperature to drop. Luckily, warm water for tea and cocoa will be available at camp in the mornings.
  7. Rotate seats on the raft. The front seats are thrilling, but they are also the wettest. If you start to get cold, ask to move to the back for a little while. This blog has great info on where to sit on our motorized rafts.
  8. Use a tent. This will keep you warm as the dry desert temps drop quickly at night.
  9. We will provide sleeping bags rated for cooler weather and a fleece liner in your sleep kit.

We strongly suggest bringing these additional items to be prepared for any unexpected weather and be happy if you don’t need them. Have a great trip, stay warm, and enjoy the Grand Canyon!

No question too small!

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