Rafting on the Grand Canyon – Part 2

Advanced planning (and booking)

You can’t make a decision like this at the last minute and expect everything to go your way. Many of the companies you will be looking at are booked up to years in advance. If you’re looking at the private trip from Diamond Creek, you’ll also require a permit, which is distributed 12 months in advance. You’d need to enter a lottery for a place on a longer private trip.

Due to the popularity of the ride between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek, the NPS established a lottery in the 1970’s, as well as a waiting list for non-commercial trips. By the year 2003, that waiting list grew to such a degree that anyone adding their name to it would theoretically be required to wait two decades for a place. In reality, however, there was an opportunity to benefit from cancelled trips. As the waiting list wasn’t working, it was changed to a lottery in 2006.

The NPS bases its lottery points on the number of years since the applicant last visited, with up to five years for five standard points. Those who enrolled in the previous waitlist system receive additional bonus points. Those with extra points are awarded extra entries and, therefore, have an improved chance of winning. An individual is now allowed to take multiple trips within a single year.

Secure the necessary safety equipment

The piece of safety equipment you should prioritise is the portable flotation device, a required piece of equipment on any river trip. Among the more important reasons, according to the NPS, is the temperature of the water.

Since 1963, when Glen Canyon Dam was constructed, the water in the canyon has been released from some 61m below the top of the dam. This has created dangerous conditions for boaters. If you fall into water of this temperature, you may only have minutes of being able to use your muscles in a bid to survive.

There should also be first aid kits secured in waterproof containers. Items advised to be included in these kits include tweezers, a thermometer, a gauze, Betadine, Band-Aids, and antibacterial soap and ointment. It’s also a requirement that each trip includes emergency signalling materials.

The NPS also insists on non-motorised boats having extra paddles or oars. Motorised boats are required to have an additional working motor, as well as spare parts that often break, such as water pumps. There should also be fire extinguishers on motorised boats. Every trip requires a boat repair kit and every inflatable raft should carry an air pump.

Stay hydrated

It’s important to eat enough food and drink enough water with any activity, even if you don’t feel as though you need it. You’ll be facing high temperatures and you won’t want to wait until you’re thirsty before you drink. The recommendation from the NPS is that you drink a minimum of one gallon of water daily. If not water, a sports drink or fruit juice are also fine.

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