No one can tell you what to expect from a Grand Canyon raft trip better than someone who’s actually taken one. Not one of the pros who lives day to day on the river every season, but someone maybe just like you, who has wanted to try a white water rafting trip for years and finally gets there. After thoroughly researching all the rafting trip options, Dan Watson and his wife decided to book their Grand Canyon rafting adventure with Arizona River Runners. Dan explains that ARR had the right trip available for them, “We initially thought about 3-4 days, but the more we looked into it the more we wanted a longer trip.” In hindsight, he says that he would definitely recommend a minimum of 6 days/5 nights, so participants can see the majority of the amazing Grand Canyon.
One of the things that Dan and Mary Lou thought added the most to their experience in the Canyon was the many side hikes that are available. “I strongly recommend that anyone on a Grand Canyon raft trip take all the hikes they offer. You see so much more and experience what the Canyon is all about on the hikes,” Dan says. The Watsons especially enjoyed the magical Elves Chasm, Havasu Creek and swimming in the Little Colorado, as well as the excitement of Hermit and Lava rapids. Looking back on their whitewater trip, Dan shares their special appreciation of the ARR guides, saying, “My wife is a two time cancer survivor and would not have gone all the way on a couple of the more difficult hikes if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of the guides. There were a lot of scrambling type hikes, but the guides were GREAT. When my wife or anyone, for that matter, needed a hand they were right there to help.” He concludes, “She was so thankful for both their encouragement and their help. The guides wanted to ensure she enjoyed the experience to the fullest and they did.”
Dan recalls that the guides were also interesting and fun to be around. “Kelly was a great storyteller, about other whitewater trips and happenings and told great jokes!” he says. “Troy and Kelly were great with their knowledge of the river, history, geology and animals. Tyler was amazing with all his knowledge!”
Dan and Mary Lou hadn’t expected the food to be very good on the trip, and were pleasantly surprised by how fresh, healthy and delicious the meals were. Dan shares an example of how the rafting company caters to their guests, recalling, “It was my wife’s 65th birthday the last night of the trip and I had mentioned it to the office staff. They must have made a note of it because they baked a cake for her – in a Dutch oven – it was delicious, and just a great celebration with the whole group!”
So what advice would this first time rafter give to someone considering a Grand Canyon white water rafting trip? He recommends doing some physical training and practice hikes in advance for conditioning. That way, you can be sure to be ready to take advantage of all the incredible hidden side-canyon hikes within the Canyon. In terms of packing, Dan recommends following the outfitter’s excellent guidelines, bringing closed-toe water shoes that work for side hikes, layer your clothing, and good quality rain gear. “Be prepared to get SOAKING wet!” he exclaims. “And bring a waterproof camera so you can get pictures while on the raft.”
Crossing an item off of your bucket list is a major accomplishment, and when asked if Dan and Mary Lou waited too long to take their incredible journey, Dan responds, “No and yes. “No” in that we’re so glad we did it when we did; but “yes” because if we had done it earlier in life we would have taken the trip again!” So it seems that based on these rafters’ experience, it’s never too soon (or too late) to take the plunge and experience a whitewater trip in the Canyon for the adventure of a lifetime.