Once you’ve booked this trip of a lifetime, you are bound to have a multitude of questions. For many of our guests, camping for 7 days in a remote area with no cell service is something they have never experienced before, not to mention the world-class rapids! There are a ton of logistics to take care of on our end in the office, but a good amount of planning needs to take place on our guests’ end as well.
Do I really need rain gear? I don’t see rain in the forecast…
Yes. At a consistent 47-52°F, the Colorado River can feel quite cold in the morning, even during the height of summer. Rain gear also provides rain protection during the Arizona monsoon, which brings periodic thundershowers in June, July, and August.
Your rain jacket and pants (yes, you also need rain pants!) should be waterproof, not just water resistant. The wrists and ankles should be able to tighten with Velcro or elastic, and the hood should cinch tight around your face. Tip: pants with ankle zips or snaps make it easier to get on and off over shoes. Ponchos are not allowed. The water can splash up just as much as it splashes down.
Frogg Toggs are an inexpensive option, but they may not last you long past your trip. Other affordable alternatives include used gear you may find at your local outdoor store or REI’s used site. Otherwise, the REI brand and Columbia are great choices.
Do I really need two 32 oz water bottles?
Absolutely. Hydration is not something to mess around with in the canyon. Every year, our industry has numerous helicopter evacuations due to dehydration. Why two 32oz bottles? One might break, or get swallowed by the river, or in an emergency situation, you may need all 64 ounces to keep you safe and hydrated. If you are bringing a Camelbak for hiking, it can count as one of your bottles. Please understand that having an extra water bottle is for our top priority – your safety!
The best ways to stay hydrated are to drink continuously throughout the day, alternate between water and electrolyte-rich drinks (we’ll have either lemonade or Gatorade on your trip), and try to stay cool with protective clothing or by utilizing the river!
What shoes should I wear?
For our full canyon trips, we recommend bringing hiking sandals (like Tevas, Chacos, Astrals, or Bedrocks) and lightweight hiking shoes/tennis shoes or amphibious water shoes (like Solomons or Astrals). Either hiking sandals or hiking shoes work well on the boat and for side hikes. The side hikes you’ll take are not very long (1-4 miles), but can be technical with scrambling and exposure. Several of the hikes will also be through creeks and streams. We’ll encourage you to hike in what you are most comfortable in. Some guests also like to bring a pair of flip-flops for camp.
For our upper or lower canyon guests, hiking boots are appropriate for the (up to) 9-mile hike that has 4,400 ft elevation gain/loss on the Bright Angel trail.
Why don’t we put quantities on the packing list?
Everyone has different preferences, so we like to leave exactly what to pack up to each guest. One guest may wear the same 2 quick dry shirts the entire trip, whereas another may want a fresh outfit each day. As long as all your gear fits in your duffel and is under the 25 lb. weight limit, you can bring whatever you’d like.
Where do I go to the bathroom in the Grand Canyon?
Grand Canyon National Park requires all guests to urinate directly in the river. This can be trickier for women than men but is very doable. When the boats stop for hiking, lunch, or a requested bathroom stop, women go upriver and men go downriver – as the old river saying will remind you, “skirts up, pants down.” Instead of submerging into the very cold 50-degree river, women can find a place where they can get in up to their ankles and squat over the river. Alternatively, a female urinal can be very handy if you don’t want to get your feet wet at all.
In camp, the toilets (groovers) are the first thing set up and the last thing taken down. We recommend scouting out the toilet location in the daylight, so if you have to find it after the sun goes down, you already know where to look. We use a bathroom “key,” so you’ll know when the bathroom is in use. Normally, the groover is reserved for #2, but if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can urinate in it as well.
The majority of our phone calls end with this all-encompassing question: What else should I know?
- Bring a sarong—Sarongs (or large scarves) are very handy and multi-purpose. You can dip it in the river and cover your shoulders, legs, whatever needs cooling. It can also be held up by your partner/ friend for you to change behind at camp.
- Bring a bandana—this is another multi-purpose item you can use to cool yourself down, as well as for a napkin at lunch. Hatch does not provide disposable plates or napkins. If we gave each person one napkin per day, we would use more than 13,000 napkins each and every year. That’s 13,000 more pieces of trash that could blow out of people’s hands and litter the pristine Grand Canyon river corridor. Reusable dishes are also not an option during the day because we don’t set up for dishwashing at lunch—we would rather spend that time exploring more spectacular places in the Grand Canyon. So, your bandana can act as both your plate and napkin at lunch.
- Break in your shoes – there is nothing worse than unwanted blisters that continue to get worse and full of sand throughout your trip. If you haven’t worn your hiking shoes or sandals in a while, throw them on for a few hikes in your local area, wear them around the house or office, and get them wet and go for a walk. The more your feet get used to them, the better off you’ll be.
- Bring thick hand cream/ salve—The elements wreak havoc on your skin in the Canyon. Between the sun, water, sand, and washing your hands often, your hands will be very sad and cracked by the end of your trip. Thick hand cream is very important to keep your hands from cracking and bleeding. Putting on your thick hand cream and then gloves to sleep in at night works great!
- There will be sand. Lots of sand. Be prepared for it to be in everything.
Photo Credit: guest Stephanie M.