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How to Bathe on a Grand Canyon Rafting Trip

By Krystal • January 19, 2020

Bathing on your rafting trip can be challenging for a few reasons. The biggest hurdle is the cold water of the Colorado River. The water temperature can range from 50-70°F depending on the time of year. Check the current river temperature here. Additionally, not every campsite will have a good wading area to bathe in. Some beaches are rocky by the river, some quickly drop off, and others may have a fast flowing current nearby. Luckily, we have a few tips to help you stay clean and feeling fresh on your river trip!

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes or face wipes work great for a quick clean-up at night or in the morning. You can also use wipes to clean your feet and put lotion on before getting into your sleeping bag. It is almost impossible to rinse your feet and get back to your campsite without getting sandy again.

Biodegradable Soap

Only biodegradable soap (shampoo, body wash, etc) is permitted in the main channel of the Colorado River. We recommend brands such as Dr. Bronner’s, Camp Suds, or Mrs. Meyers.

Moisturizing Lotion

Lotion is a key ingredient to feeling rejuvenated as the canyon air is extremely dry. The longer your trip, the more important this is as the constant wet to dry can take a toll on your skin. You will likely want to moisturize every day.

The “jump-in/ jump-out” Method

We’ve found this technique to be the best way to bathe in the Colorado River. When you come across a good bathing beach, take a deep breath and jump in quick! Then jump out, lather up, jump back in to rinse off, and jump out! This is the best way to limit your time in the cold water.

Often, we try to avoid pulling into camp when it’s super sunny and hot, so you may not want to get cold and wet at that time of the day. Pack your toiletries in your day bag so you can bathe at lunchtime. This gives you a chance to bathe when it is usually hot and allows time to warm back up. If you have long hair, your souvenir mug can help with washing it.

Sit in the Front

Depending on the rapid, those sitting in the front of the raft may be hit with a little splash or get completely soaked. Either way, the first seat will give you a good rinsing off.

Side Streams and Waterfalls

Take advantage of every opportunity you have to swim in the side streams or stand under a waterfall. The water is typically clear and not as cold as the Colorado River. Although no soap is allowed in or near side streams, they are great to rinse off in and leave you feeling refreshed.


Bring something to use as a towel that is thin, lightweight, and fast drying. We recommend a small travel towel or sarong. Sarongs come with the added bonus of converting into a privacy screen to change behind.

Bathing is handled differently in the canyon and it may be challenging at times, but we think experiencing the majesty of the Grand Canyon is well worth it!

Woman holding a synthetic towel

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