The youngest passengers we can take are 8 years old on our motorized rafting trips, and 12 years old on our oar-powered trips. There is no upper age limit for our rafting trips. Regardless of age, it’s important to understand the physical nature of these trips, please review the FAQ titled “Is this trip strenuous?” for more details.
Yes, we consider most of our trips to be moderately strenuous as they are outdoor activities with exposure to the elements. *Trips that require a hike-in or hike-out of the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail are dramatically more difficult and considered very strenuous.
The minimum physical requirements are outlined in our Essential Eligibility Criteria but, the thing to remember is, this is an adventure! The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. We think you’ll enjoy your trip most if you’re physically prepared. We encourage guests (with no medical restrictions) to participate in as many activities as possible. This includes side hikes, helping the guides load and unload the rafts, setting up your own campsite, and getting yourself on and off the rafts multiple times each day. The guides will give an assessment of the difficulty level before beginning a side hike so you can choose whether to participate. They’ll also demonstrate how to set up your campsite and explain how to wash your dishes when you’re at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!
Please review an example of the Acknowledgement of Risk form that we require all of our guests to sign before participating.
The simplest answer is the best time to go rafting is whenever you have the opportunity! Our season coincides with the ideal time to be on the river in Grand Canyon. Take a look at our How to Choose page for some general weather trends.
One myth is that reservations must be made multiple years in advance. The larger your group or more restricted your time period, the more it pays to plan ahead. Otherwise, depending on availability we even take reservations throughout the season. Give us a call or check availability here.
After reviewing ARR’s reservation policies, you can secure a reservation by making a $400 deposit per person. The remaining balance is due 120 days before your trip departure. You can book trips online or by calling the office at 800.477.7238.
We encourage every guest to purchase a travel protection plan. We expect you to do your part and to protect your investment as we really do have to stick to our cancellation policy. If you do have to cancel, besides missing out on an awesome vacation, you also risk losing your full trip fare. Our policy: Your $400 deposit is refundable, less a $200 cancellation fee per person, if notification is received 120 days or more prior to departure. Cancellations within 119 to 31 days prior to departure will forfeit $400 per person. Cancellations within 30 days of departure will forfeit full fare.
We often refer people to Travelex or, for international guests, World Nomads. You’re encouraged to do your own research and consider travel protection for trip cancellation/trip interruption, emergency medical, trip delay, baggage delay and more. Remember to insure your flight to and from the area as well.
It is not necessary to know how to swim; in fact, we prefer you stay in the boat while rafting! Arizona River Runners provides Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFD) and everyone must wear one AT ALL TIMES while on the river. If you end up in the water, you do need to be able to at least move yourself around, maybe toward the boats or maybe toward shore. We think the risk of ending up in the water on a motorized trip is low. It is higher on an oar trip so, if you don’t know how to swim, you might consider choosing a motorized trip rather than an oar trip. It’s up to you to make a decision you are comfortable with.
Arizona River Runners offers two modes of transportation and each has its unique advantages. Our motorized trips are our most popular. Guests have told us that they like the comfort of the motor trip and the ability to see more of the Grand Canyon is less time. Oar-powered trips are for those who want to experience their river rafting trip in a more intimate way.
Most rivers are rated on the International Scale of 1 to 6, with a 6 meaning the river is impassable. However, the rapids in Grand Canyon use a different scale. The Colorado River is one of three rivers in the world rated by individual rapid on a 1 to 10 scale.
This system of rating arose due to the variety of rapids and volume of water in the canyon. Grand Canyon rapids are formed in a pool-drop system, which means after every rapid, there is a flat, calm section of water. On the 1 to 10 scale, flat water is rated a 1 while more technical rapids in Grand Canyon, like Lava Falls and Crystal, can be rated a 10 depending on water level. All trips include class 10 rapids except for our 3 Day Motor trips which has rapids up to class 7.
Plenty of our guests are not only first-time rafters but also first-time campers. Camping with ARR is a great way to take the plunge. When we arrive at a sandy beach each evening, our guides will setup the main kitchen, cook all the meals, set up toilet facilities for you and demonstrate how you will set up the provided camping gear.
Once you have reserved your trip we will send you a complete trip information packet full of useful details including a handy packing list. Arizona River Runners provides all the camping gear, meals and rafting equipment. You will need to bring your personal items, like clothing, toiletries, a headlamp, camera and sunscreen. You’ll likely already have many of the things you’ll need at home.
In one word, delicious! Prior to every trip, a lot of time is spent planning and organizing menus. We offer, hearty, well-rounded meals. Each morning brings a different menu of classic breakfast items such as egg omelets or pancakes and sausage. Fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and an assortment of teas, and hot chocolate accompany each breakfast. Lunches are typically sandwiches with a deli spread of meats, vegetables and cheeses. Peanut butter, jelly, honey, cookies and chips are always available with lunch. Tasty dinners include meals like salmon and wild rice, build-your-own chicken fajitas, spaghetti, and grilled rib-eye steaks. There are always an array of side dishes, salads and desserts to round out your meal. An assortment of snacks (candy bars, fruit, trail mix, cookies), as well as water, sodas, and electrolyte replacement powders are available at all times on the trip.
We feel that our meals are nutritious and will accommodate the majority of guests. If you have a medically- or ethically-mandated special diet, please inform us so that we can determine if we can accommodate. In the dry, hot climate of the canyon, with elevated exposure to the elements and physical exertion, we recommend you abandon any voluntary, restrictive diets that you may follow at home such as low fat or low carb. If you have any severe food allergies please contact our office with plenty of time before your trip so we can determine a plan of action.
*We recognize that some guests have severe food allergies. Although we often can make modifications, we want you to understand that we cannot guarantee 100% safeguard from exposure to your allergen while on your trip. Additionally, other guests may bring snacks and we may interact with other groups who are carrying food with your allergen. We strongly encourage guests to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.
There are a couple of things that may be helpful to know about bathing on your Colorado River trip. First, the river is always cold, about 50° Fahrenheit. Your motivation to bathe may be challenged by this fact, especially in the morning! Second, not every camp has a beach with a good wading area. Some beaches are rocky by the river, some have a fast current flowing by and some drop off fairly quickly.
So how do you stay fresh and clean on your Grand Canyon vacation? Baby wipes. If a bath isn’t an option, baby wipes and face wipes work great for a quick clean up. Also, we highly recommend that you jump into every side stream and waterfall, because they are typically clearer and not as cold as the Colorado River. However, there is no soap allowed in or near side streams in Grand Canyon; side streams are great for a refreshing rinse.
When a good beach lends itself to bath time and you are ready to brave the cold, go for it. You need to have biodegradable soap and shampoo. Many people find the in-and-out method most effective. Jump in quick, jump out, lather up, jump in quick, rinse off, jump out. For people with longer hair, you may want to wash it using your souvenir mug.
A key ingredient to feeling good after a bath is lotion. The air is extremely dry and you will want to moisturize every day.
We do NOT recommend bringing solar showers because they are difficult to store and very difficult to use on the river.
During the day, all urine must go directly into the river – that means squatting/standing near the river’s edge or wading in. There will be pit stops during the day, but if you have to go between stops, tell the guide before it’s an emergency so they have time to find a good place to pull over. If you need to poop during the day, the guides have a portable toilet system. Don’t be shy to ask for it if you need it. In camp each evening, we set up a hand wash station and camp toilet for solid waste, while urine continues to go into the river. At the hand wash station, we have a system to “lock the door” so you aren’t disturbed while using the toilet. The toilet looks similar to what you have at home: a white toilet seat. It just doesn’t flush and it has a MUCH better view! It’s beneficial each evening, when camp is made and before the sun sets, to make sure you know where the toilet is set up. At night, we provide handy pee buckets so you don’t have to find your way to the river in the dark. In the morning, dump your pee bucket directly into the river. The guides will explain the details of the sanitation and bathroom procedures in greater detail during on-river orientation.
It’s important to eat food and drink plenty of water. Don’t let worries over having to use the bathroom hinder you from staying hydrated, nourished and happy. We can’t stress these things enough.
If you might be on your period while on your river trip, it’s helpful to plan ahead and pack for the unexpected. If you will be using tampons, bring a ‘Go With Your Flow Pack’ or several Ziploc bags and plenty of baby wipes. Make sure you keep these supplies handy during the day, in your provided day dry bag. When you change during the day, you can wrap the trash in a baby wipe, put that in a Ziploc and dispose of it in the boat trash system or into the hygiene disposal at the camp toilet. As you will get wet a lot on your river trip, using pads is not the best option.
Being a desert environment, mosquitoes and flying insects are not a big problem. Snakes and scorpions are rarely seen. If you do happen to spot any critters, remember they’re going to be doing their best to get away from you. Give them some space and notify a guide. You can reduce the possibility of an encounter with a critter even further by shaking out your shoes and PFD in the morning before putting them on, as well as waiting until you are heading to bed to roll out your sleeping bag.