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Basic Guidelines for Rafting the Grand Canyon in Summer

Rafting the Grand Canyon in Summer
Experiencing the Grand Canyon while rafting the Colorado River is entirely different from viewing the Canyon from the rim. For an adventurous vacation, plan on going rafting in the Grand Canyon this summer.
UStravelia Staff
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited natural attractions in the world, with over 5 million visitors per year. Of those 5 million, however, only about 50,000 per year will experience the Canyon from the Colorado River, traveling through geologic history amidst the awe-inspiring rock faces. There are several outfitters and guide companies that offer rafting trips through the Canyon, with options available in duration and distance traveled, as well as which parts of the Canyon will be explored.

Prepare for the Extreme Heat and Cold

If you are considering a river rafting trip on the Grand Canyon during the summer months, it's important to be aware of the intense heat that is present almost all the time. The summers are hot in Arizona in general, but the rock faces of the Grand Canyon tend to trap the heat and make breezes less likely and effective at cooling travelers. Fortunately, however, the Colorado River holds averages temperatures in the 40s and 50s even during the hottest summer months, so there is always some relief available.

As your guides and boatmen will stress, the sun and heat of the Grand Canyon are among the most difficult obstacles to overcome. While enjoying the scenery and riding the tremendous whitewater, it's pretty easy to forget about proper hydration and skin care. Before you know it, you could have a significant sunburn or become so dehydrated as to require treatment.

For many, the instinct when hot is to remove as much clothing as possible. But it only takes a short time in the Canyon before you realize that it's much more comfortable when your skin is actually covered than it is when you're fully exposed to the sun. Large hats with brims and shirts that cover the arms are generally preferred, although it's important that the materials be light and breathable, and preferably quick-drying.

On the flip side of the heat is the extreme cold of the river water. As mentioned, water temperatures in the hottest months in Arizona are still well below 60 degrees, which quickly becomes painful after only a few moments of exposure. In order to protect yourself from the frigid waters, especially in the early mornings before the sun has risen above the Canyon walls, it's a great idea to have rain gear available that will keep you somewhat dry and help to keep you warm when the white water hits. It sounds strange, but even in 100-degree temperatures, you'll need your rain gear to keep you warm.

Heed Your Boatmen

When rafting the Grand Canyon, the best protection against injury, illness, and other bad experiences is the knowledge bestowed upon you by your trip guides and boatmen. There is no substitute for experience and that axiom is never more applicable than in the forbidding environment and extreme conditions of the Canyon. In order to be licensed to guide tourists on the Colorado River through the Canyon, boatmen endure rigorous testing and many have traveled the river dozens of times over their years.

In addition to basic personal safety procedures, boatmen will take the time to explain that because of its remote location, it is quite difficult to arrange an extraction from the Grand Canyon. And, to make things more difficult, the only evacuations from the Canyon will occur via helicopter. In order to facilitate an emergency evacuation due to injury or illness, your boatmen must first find an appropriate Landing Zone for the helicopter along the banks of the river within the Canyon. This is not an easy task as sites change rapidly along the river banks as a result of water level changes, rock slides and flooding. In short, there is no guarantee that emergency services will reach you in a timely manner in the event that you have sustained a severe injury. So be smart and listen to your boatmen at all times.

Overall, there are few experiences in the world that rival rafting the Grand Canyon. It is a lifetime worth of memories in only a few days and the professional men and women who will serve as your guides only serve to enhance the experience. With the proper common sense approach and minimal preparation, this is one of the safest and most enjoyable vacation options available while exploring such a vast and remote location.