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Physical Nature of a River Trip

Guests are sometimes surprised at how physical a river trip can be, but commonly say it was the best trip they’ve ever done. To help you prepare for your experience, here are some of the basic physical activities that are inherent to all of our Grand Canyon rafting trips.

Please remember, all guests must meet the minimum requirements outlined in the Essential Eligibility Criteria. There are many different trip types and factors that can make your experience more physically demanding. Keep in mind any factors such as medical and mental conditions, weight, age, lack of conditioning, dietary restrictions, addictions, allergies, and any other factors that might make your experience more difficult and/or dangerous to yourself or others. One of our primary goals is to run river trips as safely as possible. As this is a whitewater trip, you need to be able to be an active participant in your own rescue in case you end up in the river. It often surprises guests that most river trip injuries happen on land. Take your time, watch your step, ask for help if you need it, and don’t go beyond your limits. If you have any questions regarding physical ability please contact us.

River trips are awe-inspiring, fun, physical and a great way to challenge yourself. The thing to remember is, this is an adventure! The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

Want a fun way to get the most out of your trip? We teamed up with Jeff Schmelzle, a professional strength and conditioning specialist, to create an introductory-level program to help you get the most out of your trip. This simple program focuses on light exercise, balance, and stretching that you can do right at home.

Click here to download the Grand Canyon Rafting Fitness Program and get started today!

Note: The Preparation Program focuses on basic physical fitness for all of our trips. Guests on any trip that requires a hike in or out of the canyon or our Hiker’s Special trips need additional conditioning/training.

Many times each day, you’ll get on and off the rafts. This can be a challenging maneuver on both our motorized and oar-powered rafts. The rafts are roughly a 2-foot step up and can be slippery and moving; the ground will likely be uneven, sandy, and slippery. Once you’re on the raft, you’ll maneuver to your seat which could be over and around tubes, boxes, or other passengers.

The rafts will have straps in multiple locations to grip as you are going downriver. It’s important you find two handholds that will allow you to hold yourself in place and not be pitched one way or another. Pay attention to the guides’ instructions and keep your hand and feet out of pinch points on the rafts.

The beaches in Grand Canyon vary greatly. Many are sandy, some have steep banks you must ascend to get to the camping area, some are covered with slippery river rock. These beaches will be your home each evening so you can expect to be walking about them often.

We rely on you to participate in the duffel shuffle each morning and evening when we arrive at our camping area. The guides depend on the group’s assistance to load/unload all guests’ bags, sleeping gear, and equipment. Some items are very heavy, like five-gallon buckets of water and propane tanks. All of that work is worth it once you’re settled in and enjoying dinner!

After the rafts have been unloaded, your job is to find your bags and take them to your chosen sleeping area and set up your space. The guides will give an orientation on how to set up the camp gear and then it’s up to you.

During the day all urine must go directly into the river, there are no toilets. This can be a very challenging aspect of the trip for some. Some people choose to wade into the river and others choose to squat at the river’s edge where there is very limited privacy.

While in camp, the guides will set up a camp toilet. Even with the toilet set up, peeing into the river or in our provided pee buckets is still encouraged. The toilet is often set well away from camp. The route to the toilet will likely be uneven, sandy, rocky, or brushy. It is recommended to scout your route to the toilet in the daylight.

This is a wilderness adventure! The weather, outdoor environment, and remote setting can bring their own set of challenges. You can expect to be exposed to prolonged sun, heat, cold, wind, rain, cold water, thunderstorms, and other weather-induced events. The Arizona sun can be intense. People often find they need to wear more sunscreen, cover-up, drink more water and eat more food and snacks in the canyon than they would at home.

Every trip provides the opportunity for hiking in side canyons along the river. These side hikes are optional and a unique part of a river trip. Hikes vary in length and difficulty. Some hikes may require moves that may feel more like rock scrambling than hiking and others may be short walks up a streambed. The more you prepare physically, the more you’ll be able to explore while on your trip.

Please note that some of our trip types do have a required strenuous 8 mile hike in or out of the canyon. Physical preparation is the key to a successful hike on these partial canyon trips.

No question too small!

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