Must Haves for a Grand Canyon River Trip – A First-Timer’s Perspective

Our reservationist Kiki and her husband recently went on their first trip with Hatch! Besides having an amazing time, she wanted to share some of what she learned and hopefully help some future newbies!

Kiki: My first trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was an indescribable experience, but I’ll try anyway. The vastness of the canyon is overwhelming in an amazing way. Even without modern technology, it is impossible to get bored. The eyes are constantly entertained by the unmatched views, the rapids are equal parts terrifying and exhilarating, and hikes into the side canyons are nothing short of epic. Dusk and the depths of night are equally as captivating as the days. The stars and moon put on a show each night that made it difficult to want to close your eyes for the chance you’d miss something.

There were items that I brought with me that made the extreme experience a little easier.

Cooling Gear

I am prone to over-heating, so I ordered a cooling hat and towel from Mission Apparel. They were lifesavers on our hot days and hikes! Once soaked in water, they keep you cool for quite a while.

I also brought a sarong to soak and cover my legs or shoulders with on the raft. It worked perfectly.

I wore a lightweight long-sleeved T-shirt most days for sun and heat protection.

Good Sunscreen

I’m a burner. The sun gets me every year, no matter how hard I try to avoid burning. I’ve been searching for a good sunscreen for years that is effective, earth-friendly, and doesn’t make me look like a ghost! I finally found it right before the trip – Earth Mama tinted sunscreen. I’m happy to report that the only part of me that burned on the trip was the tops of my feet, which I could have avoided with more reapplications, and I was not ghostly at all.

Rain Gear

A question we get all the time is “Do I really need rain gear?” Yes! The river is cold! I was so happy I had my rain gear every time we went through the rapids and even when we had choppy water from the wind. The guides are great about letting you know when big rapids are coming and it is time to gear up, so you don’t have to wear your rain gear the whole time.

Camera and Journal (and waterproof bag!)

Be sure to take time at the end of each day to jot down what occurred that day. Believe it or not, at the end of 7 days, everything blurs together a bit. I jotted down highlights each night and filled in the gaps on our car ride home, embellishing on memories I never want to forget. Several guests on our trip used the time between setting up camp and dinner to draw the things they had seen that day as well. I honestly used my camera less than anticipated, for the trade-off of being engrossed in the moment, but for the times I did use it, I was grateful I had a waterproof bag for it. It not only kept it dry, but also sand free.

What I Would Have Done Differently

I wish I would have brought more warm gear for the beginning of our trip, which was on the windier and cooler side – mainly a beanie for sleeping at night and heavier layers for the chilly mornings. At the end of one day, we all got off the boats and started hugging the large rocks on the beach, trying to absorb the warmth the sun had imparted to them that day. Once out of our wet clothes, it was easy to warm up though.

Trip of a Lifetime

We all had such a fantastic time on our trip that the majority of the guests asked how they could extend their trip and join the guides the 90 additional miles down to Pearce Ferry, where the boats are taken out of the water. Seven days in the canyon may seem like a long time upon booking a trip, but you’ll soon find it very difficult to want to return to the hustle and bustle of modern life after such a remote vacation.