GCE’s Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Grand Canyon Expeditions - Allison Uncategorized 12 Comments

March 2021
January 15, 2022
A COVID-19 update for the new year.

We have been following the CDC, NPS, and local health departments throughout the pandemic and have continued to do so during the winter.  As of now our COVID plan from last season will be followed for our 2022 season.  This plan will likely be updated prior to the start of the season to ensure it is in line with current recommendations.  

At this time, tests are not available to GCE that would allow us to easily and quickly test guests and crew.  We are monitoring the development of tests and if one becomes available and accessible to us, we will consider offering testing to all trip participants.

We are strongly recommending that all of our guides and staff receive the vaccination as soon as they are able to do so.  Our guides are Wilderness First Responders and in some states, they are already able to receive the vaccine as first responders.  We have guides that reside throughout the country and are subject to the guidelines of the state in which they live.

As we monitor and follow options that may be available to us in the near future we are encouraged by the success of our 2021 season.  We had no issues with COVID-19 during any of our trips.  This success extended to all Grand Canyon river trips, including all commercial outfitters and non-commercial trips.  Because of this, we are confident in our mitigation plan and excited for our 2022 season.  

We hope that you will join us on the river in 2022!

June 29, 2020
Please view GCE’s updated 2020 COVID-19 Mitigation Plan


May 28, 2020

Grand Canyon National Park released the official word that river operations will resume beginning June 14, 2020.
To say we’re excited is a bit of an understatement!
If you are scheduled for a trip from June 14 through September of this year, you have received an email and probably a phone call by now. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns.
May 21, 2020
Please view GCE’s 2020 COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

As of today, May 21, 2020, there are no further updates from NPS regarding river operations.


April 28, 2020

And the adventure continues.  As promised, here is the latest official update from NPS.  

Official Statement Update:

Grand Canyon National Park is extending the suspension of administrative, research, private and commercial river rafting trips through June 13, 2020, in order to comply with the local health guidance to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).   

Resumption of river trips will be evaluated periodically to provide up to 30 days advance notice to allow companies and private boaters time to adjust travel arrangements and prepare for trips. This is an update from the previous suspension date of May 21, 2020.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Grand Canyon National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Grand Canyon National Park remains temporarily closed. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website at:


April 1, 2020

We continue to follow the guidance of NPS, CDC, and local public health authorities.

As it stands today, all river trips have been suspended until May 21, 2020.  All GCE guests on trips prior to May 21, 2020, have been contacted.  According to NPS, “Resumption of river trips will be evaluated in mid-April pending current CDC guidance”.

We remain optimistic that river operations will resume by May 21, 2020.

We will keep this blog updated as things progress.

Update to Grand Canyon Expeditions cancellation policy– Effective April 1, 2020
In the event Grand Canyon Expeditions cancels a trip as a result of a travel ban imposed by federal, state, or local agencies, you may transfer your entire payment to another available GCE trip, or select
to receive a full refund. You will be responsible for any cancellation or change fees related to pre- or post-trip flights, rental cars, hotels, etc*

This temporary COVID-19 cancel/transfer policy for all 2020 bookings effective as of April 1, 2020.

*If you are traveling as part of a charter group please note that deposit/ cancellation policies differ from individual bookings. Charter Policies can be found on the group leader’s agreement.


March 13, 2020

We have received inquiries from existing and potential guests about how the COVID-19 might affect our operations and cancellation policy.  

Grand Canyon Expedition (GCE) is always concerned about the health and well-being of our local and global community. Our hearts go out to all people in the US and worldwide who are suffering directly from COVID-19 or indirectly by the measures that have been taken to contain its spread.  

Our top priority has always been and will continue to be for the safety of our guests and our employees.  GCE is committed to playing a proactive role to encourage everyone in our community to come together and prevent the spread of this virus.

At this time, there is no indication from the National Park Service that the Grand Canyon National Park will be closed, nor will any of our river trips be affected.  We do not anticipate any significant changes to how we operate our river trips. We already practice comprehensive sanitation protocols designed and proven to prevent the spread of any communicable virus or bacteria.

We adhere to the following as part of our sanitation practices:

  • Local Rules and Regulations regarding food handling and sanitation
  • The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code
  • National Park Service Reference Manual 83A – Public Health & Specifically, Chapter 5 – Backcountry Operations
  • Our facilities and equipment are inspected regularly to assure compliance with all of these codes.

All of our guides carry current certified food-handlers permits.  All of our guides are certified to the level of Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  Both of these certifications emphasize sanitation as the key to the prevention of communicable diseases.

We operate in an open-air environment. Any airborne contaminants dissipate much more easily than in a confined space. Our entire group sizes are limited to no more than a maximum of 32 persons on every launch (including the crew operating the trip). The group with whom you will travel is mostly isolated from other groups on the river.  Interactions with other groups are very limited and unlikely over the course of your trip.

If a guest chooses not to travel due to fears about the Coronavirus our standard cancellation policy still applies. We have not altered our cancellation policy.

If your health care provider confirms that you have coronavirus within 14 days of your trip, we certainly do not want you or those living in your household to travel at that time. Please call us so we can discuss alternatives and potential resolutions.

In the very unlikely event that GCE chooses to cancel a trip due to concerns about COVID-19, we will be contacting each guest individually about options available to you at this time. 

As always, we encourage you to purchase trip insurance. It is the guest’s responsibility to understand any and all restrictions that their travel insurance may or may not cover.

  • In each camp, we set up two hand-washing stations. One is near the toilet facility and the other is near the kitchen. These stations allow a person to wash their hands without the need to touch any surfaces after the washing is completed. 
  • We also set up a hand-washing station at every lunch stop. 
  • Hand sanitizer is provided upon request, especially when snacks may be made available while on the boats.  
  • It is our policy that no one may come to the meal table without having first washed their hands with soap and water followed by the use of hand sanitizer.
  • Of course, awareness of this specific virus will cause us to be even more vigilant in our efforts to keep surfaces clean, require hand-washing, and practice safe handling of food and anything else that has the potential to spread communicable diseases. 
  •  In addition to our on-river sanitation protocols, all of our equipment (boats included) are sanitized between trips.

We will follow the CDC and WHO for facts as they become available. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us at 800-544-2691 and/or 435-644-2691.



Marty Mathis
Grand Canyon Expeditions

Comments 12

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  1. clearly this is not current [03/29/2020] info –the Park Service has cancelled river trips through May 21,2020 – so the question remains what about future trips – any changes ??

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  2. Hello,
    Looking for an update as promised on the trips planned after May 21st. Currently booked for June 4th but have a hard time believing this will actually happen. When will this decision be made please? Obviously need to cancel airline tickets & hotel rooms in advance. Thanks.

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  3. We were crushed when the park service pushed the closure to middle of June, since we supposed to leave June 4th. But I was treated with such kindness, compassion and professionalism when notified about the change we would need to make. Disappointed to have to postpone our trip, but were really impressed with Grand Canyon Expeditions and how they handled this. This can’t be easy for them and we appreciate being treated so well.

  4. I have a trip planned end of June. If you look on the Grand Canyon river trips it is closed now until June 13 how then is it possible to give us a 30 day notice? I have not gotten airfare or hotel reservations to LasVegas because I don’t want to lose the money if trip is cancelled. Also have not bought necessary ideas needed for trip. 30 days notice is not a lot of notice for airfare and necessary ideas needed. I also have two elderly parents living with me that I need to make arrangements for if I’m going to be gone for 10 days.
    I know you are counting making your money and resuming the trips but it put a lot of unnecessary pressure on those of us who really need more than a 30 day notice.
    I know this is a hard time for everyone. I was looking forward to the trip. But it clearly looks as if it would not be if it anyone going until things have calmed down. There are new COVID 19 cases and deaths continuing in Las Vegas as of

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      Hi, Susan. We completely understand where you are coming from. We are at the mercy of the National Park Service and the CDC. We have asked for as much notice as possible and promise to relay that to our guests. I wish we had more that we could share at this time, but unfortunately we do not. This is an incredibly hard time for everyone and we really appreciate your understanding.

  5. Thank you so much for your understanding when we had to postpone our trip scheduled for late June. When the pandemic did not come under control as soon as hoped, our doctor told us we would be crazy to travel this summer. You were very supportive and easy to work with to reschedule. When we tell friends about our planned trip, they call it the trip of a lifetime. I can’t agree more. Look forward to it in a couple years!

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