4 Ways to Prepare for a Grand Canyon River Trip

Grand Canyon Expeditions - Taylor GCEX Main, Grand Canyon River Rafting 11 Comments

4 Ways to Prepare for a Grand Canyon River Trip

Julian Brandes – GCE Guest

Listed below are some ways to prepare for a trip down the Colorado River. We firmly believe that though it doesn’t take much to get ready for a River Trip, it’s nice to have a written guide to help you out. When traveling with Grand Canyon Expeditions, basically all you have to do is get to Vegas with your gear, and we will take it from there!


When you are packing your waterproof bag (received at the orientation meeting) the list below is the best guide to follow and contains everything you’ll need for a River Trip. One of the easiest ways to pack is to separate articles of clothing into Ziploc bags and label them. That way, even in your company provided waterproof bag they will have an extra layer of protection from sand as well as water when they are open onshore. Remember, anything you want with you during the day will best be stored in the day use camera case provided by the company.

Required Gear

  • Two-piece rain suit
  • Lightweight fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sleepwear/camp wear
  • 2 or 3 pairs of ankle socks (good sun protection)
  • 1 or 2 swimsuits (2 piece swimsuits or sports bra and nylon shorts are recommended for women)
  • 1 pair lightweight long pants
  • 3 pair nylon quick dry shorts
  • 3 shirts (1 with long sleeves)
  • 2 pair rubber-soled shoes, multi-sport shoe/water sandals, and flip flops or lightweight walking shoe
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Shampoo and soap
  • Towel, washcloth (thin ones dry quickly)
  • 2 hats or caps with brim and ties (1 for spare)
  • Sunscreen (generous supply)
  • Hand & body lotion (16 oz. per person. Sun, water, and heat dries your skin quickly)
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Small flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries
  • Pocket-size packages of Kleenex
  • 8 Ziploc plastic bags, quart size 7″x 8″ (for personal trash, photo supplies, etc. during the day)
  • 1 water bottle (1 qt. minimum to carry water while hiking)
  • Sarong (a piece of light material that can be worn as a skirt or cover-up and used for sun protection)
  • Photo ID and credit card (in case of medical evacuation)

Optional Items

  • Camera, film or extra memory cards, extra batteries & padding for camera case
  • Sunglasses with retaining strap (a spare pair is a good idea also)
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses if you wear them
  • Bandanna or scarf
  • Insect repellent (rarely needed)
  • Small backpack
  • Cotton sheet (for sleeping on top of sleeping bag in hot weather)
  • Small inflatable pillow or small airline pillow
  • Gloves (lightweight cotton- for hiking or climbing)
  • Wet wipes (individual packets)

You can find more information by CLICKING HERE


What exactly does a trip down the Colorado River entail? Besides beautiful surroundings and a fun experience, there are many things to look forward to on your river trip. Our trip runs the entire course of the river, from the waters of Lee’s Ferry in Marble Canyon all the way down to Pearce Ferry in Lake Mead. The entire trip consists of the most thrilling whitewater and beautiful hikes that you’ll ever experience. There are also lots of flora and fauna to see!

Once you get back to the Rim World, you’ll already be ready to come back. If you want to learn more information about the Canyon, there are a number of ways to do so; you can always check out our website, call our office or find information on the National Park Service website. We’ve also comprised a list of reading material for those who want just a little bit more.


The following list of books gives a variety of interesting reading on the Grand Canyon.

Many of these books are available online at:


Beneath the Rim: A Photographic Journey through the Grand Canyon -Photographs and Text

by C.C. Lockwood **Available through Grand Canyon Expeditions Company**

RIVER GUIDE:  (mile-by-mile maps of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon)

Grand Canyon River Guide / Buzz Belknap & Loie Evans

**Available through Grand Canyon Expeditions Company**


Grand Canyon Geology / Edited by Stanley S Beus and Michael Morales

Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau / Ron Blakey and Wayne Ranney

Carving Grand Canyon-Evidence, Theories, and Mystery / Wayne Ranney

An Introduction to Grand Canyon Geology / Greer Price


A Field Guide to the Grand Canyon / Stephen Whitney

River and Desert Plants of the Grand Canyon / Kristen Huisinga, Lori Makarick, and Kate Watters

An Introduction to Grand Canyon Ecology/ Ross Houk

River to Rim / Nancy Brian


Exploration of the Colorado River & Its Canyons / J.W. Powell

The Grand Canyon Reader / Lance Newman

There’s This River / Christa Sadler

An Introduction to the Grand Canyon Prehistory / C. Coder


Native American History 


“How many miles is the trip? Why do we need a rain suit? Will we be camping on the beach?” Our staff receives a lot of phone calls each day – most from guests just like you. We have been asked pretty much every question there is to ask, and there is no question not answerable. If you need to chat, have questions or just want someone to let you know what to expect, give our office a call at 800-544-2691. We love visiting with our guests and helping you prepare for the trip of a lifetime.


One of the most important things to do before your river trip is to relax, and prepare to have fun! Our guides will take great care of you, and we will have everything you need to camp, eat and spend 8 days down the Colorado River! Nothing we say can prepare you for the beauty of the Canyon, the thrill of Whitewater Rapids and the Camaraderie of the group of people you’ll be spending time with – but we hope this guide has been helpful.

Comments 11

    1. Post
  1. 4 of us from Scotland had a fabby time in September 15 on the river. Taylor and her mum Danelle (hope the spelling is correct) were great fun and the staff were amazing. If you only have 1 adventure in your life this is it with GCEX. David and Marianne

    1. Post

      Thank you for the wonderful comment David! We had an amazing trip with the 4 of you, and hope you are all doing well!

  2. I just returned form an eight-day motorized trip…45 years to the day after my first! May I suggest several additional items to your packing list?

    1. Cheap rugged sunglasses. If you are fortunate enough NOT to wear prescriptions, leave your fancy Oakleys at home. Go to ebay, amazon or a local welding supply store (!) and buy a couple pairs of Uvex safety glasses, tinted. They are sporty-wrap around glasses, cost about ten bucks a pair, and have a one-piece tinted lens. If they get damaged, scratched or stepped-on, you’re out a minimal amount–I wear them every day at work and they are indestructible. The one-piece lens makes it a cinch to clean them after a good splash in the rapids. On to my second item…

    2. Cut a couple of small, 12×12 pieces of chamois cloth and carry them in your pocket for quick cleaning of your glasses, wiping of drenched waterproof-cameras, etc. I carried two of them on my trip and at any given time, probably passed them to everyone on my raft. They dry quickly.

    3. A broad-brimmed cotton hat, especially in the late summer months, with a chin strap. Cotton absorbs water. I like the Tilley T3, which, when dipped in the cold river water and placed on your head, may be the most refreshing air conditioning ever invented.

    4. A flashlight called a “Big Larry.” Available on amazon and elsewhere. Takes 2 AA batteries, is really bright, and, most important, has a magnetic base. One of your important carry-on items on this trip will be a steel ammo can. The Big Larry light sticks to the ammo can and lights up your sleeping area when necessary, and, when put under an overturned white bucket, makes a nice faux after-dinner “campfire” in your camping area. Also flashes red as an emergency locator beacon if necessary.

  3. I took this trip in 2004 and I am coming back in 2019 to do it again! My one piece of advice is to prepare yourself for the hiking. I hiked a lot with several pounds of camera gear (I was on the photo specialty trip) and I would wear out quickly. This time I am preparing by hiking as much as I can prior to the trip with a full load of gear to better mirror what I will actually be doing.

  4. Thanks for the tip to separate our clothing into labeled Ziploc bags to make sure they stay dry and clean. My husband and I think it would be a fun bonding experience for our family if we all went on a river rafting trip together, but I was feeling a bit apprehensive because I’ve never done anything like it before. I’m glad I read your article because following your preparation tips will help me approach the river rafting trip with a lot more confidence!

    1. Post

      Hello Peter!

      It all depends on how you feel. There are some physical aspects to our trip (including a bag line to get gear on and off the boats, and carrying your gear to camp), but if you can handle that we would love to have you!

  5. My wife is planning for a vacation for us. She loves adventure and she can’t wait to experience the river rafting in the grand canyon. I like that you added on this article the required gears so that we will be sure that we have all the things prepared on the day of our travel. I’ll also never forget to bring my waterproof bag. Cheers!

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