Frequently Asked Questions

  • General Questions

    • Why would I want use an outfitter for my trip?

      We all lead very busy lives. The amount of time it takes the Trip Leader and designated helpers to fully coordinate a trip requires around 300 hours of his/her/their collective time and can be very stressful trying to get everything and everyone coordinated. Since your river trip is a time for vacation, relaxation, and excitement, it really helps to know that someone with years of experience is taking care of all the details. If you use an outfitter, you don't have to worry about anything but getting yourself and your personal items to the put-in location.

    • Should I pay a boatman to help us go down the River?

      No! Paying a boatman on a private trip breaks federal regulations. The punishment is $500 to $5000 in fines and 6 months imprisonment per participant. The Park Service does require you to have an experienced person with you but they cannot be paid. See NPS regulations for more information.

    • How many people should I take on the river trip?

      The usual number of people is 8 to 16 depending on your permit limitations, but smaller and solo trips aren't unheard of. In general, choose friends and family who have similar interests and abilities. Make sure everyone is in good health and can withstand the rigors of Canyon River life.

    • I have my own raft. What can Canyon REO do for me?

      Canyon REO can supply you with as much or as little as you need for your Grand Canyon adventure. We can provide you with complete packages or with just shuttles and food packs.

    • No one in my group has been down the Canyon. Is this a problem?

      As long as there are trip members who have "big water" experience and are confident with reading water and running large rapids, you should be fine. The National Park Service recommends at least one member have qualifying big water experience. Seeing the Canyon as Powell and his expedition did can add a different level of adventure and magic to the trip. We recommend everyone experience the magic of the Grand.

    • What are the best times of the year to be down in the Canyon?

      Anytime you are lucky enough to be in the Canyon is the best time to go. The most popular months are April through October. A winter trip will be different, but just as magical.

    • Which Colorado River books and maps do you recommend?

      Rivermap, Guide to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon by Duane Whittis and Tom Martin, Day Hikes from the River by Tom Martin and Belknap’s Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide are some of our favorites. Canyon REO stocks and sells all those titles.

    • My trip falls during monsoon months, what does this mean for me?

      It means a big, brown torrential river, warm weather, and lots of fun. You will get to see the Canyon in one of its prettiest forms. The water pouring off canyon walls enhances the red color of the rocks, creates waterfalls and darkens the sky, illuminating the world around you. Along with the beauty comes some inherent risk, though. Flash flooding, swelled side canyons, and unpredictable Diamond Creek Road conditions are all things to be aware of on monsoon season Canyon trips.

    • Can I purchase new or used river equipment through Canyon REO?

      Throughout the year we are turning over our old gear for new. We also offer new gear at discount prices to our package customers through Club REO. If you are looking for something in particular, we probably have it. Call us to find out what is available. Items sold year-round include kayaks, inflatable kayaks, paddles, PFDs, Paco pads and ammo cans.

  • Food

    • How does Canyon REO pack food?

      Our favorite way to pack food is by camp because it is the easiest system for campers. At each campsite you simply grab the ammo can labeled for that camp. The recipes for that camp’s meals and all the dry ingredients are in that ammo can. Coolers are packed by camp too, so you don’t have to climb on one boat to get to a meat cooler then onto a different boat to get to a dairy cooler. Fresh fruit and vegetables are packed in crates and a produce cooler so you have fresh produce for as long as possible. There are many ways to pack food. If your group doesn’t have enough boat space for our pack-by-camp system, we can work with you to pick a menu and a packing method to fit your needs.

    • How long does ice last?

      Obviously, ice lasts longer in January than it does in July, but the high-density ice we make at Canyon REO lasts far longer than the block ice sold at grocery stores. Most of our groups end their trips with ice in their last camp cooler. We attribute this to our high-density ice, the coolers we use, and our pack-by-camp system, which preserves ice in your late camp coolers.

    • How does Canyon REO accommodate vegetarians?

      We have worked with many vegetarians. The first question we ask is about the food preferences of the vegetarians on your trip. Typical requests are for veggie burgers, vegetarian breakfast “meat”, tempeh, tofu, extra beans, hummus, Tofurky™ products, extra eggs and meals with lots of vegetables. Please see our Canyon REO’s Favorites for Mixed Groups for a sampling of meals that accommodate mixed groups of vegetarians and meat eaters. We’ve chosen meals that are fairly easy on the cooking crew. If you want to customize your menu, you might want to find out if folks are willing to prepare two separate meals or if they are more comfortable preparing dishes in which the meat can be added after vegetarian portions are removed.

    • Several people on our trip have allergies to specific foods. Can you accommodate them?

      As food allergies to dairy, nuts, wheat and gluten have become more common, we have developed more options for people with food allergies. In some cases, we’ve developed highly-customized menus for folks with serious conditions. Sometimes, all that's needed is for us to include soy milk along with regular milk. If someone in your group has a food allergy, we are happy to help.

    • Does Canyon REO include organic food?

      We typically pack some organic food. If your group would like more organics than we usually send, we are happy to work with you on availability and cost.

    • Can I have pre-cooked meals?

      Pre-made frozen dinners are available upon request, especially for early camps. These dinners are easy to re-heat in one or two pots, and work well for small groups who don’t want to cook a dinner from scratch every night.

    • How much beer is too much beer?

      When it overloads the boats, you’ve got too much. The great thing about a private trip is it’s your trip. Feel free to bring as much or as little as you want. Once the boats are loaded at Lee’s Ferry, you will know if you have too much. At that time the group can make the decision on what stays and what goes.

  • Boats

    • What size and how many rafts should we take?

      You have to consider how many people per boat and how much food will be needed for your itinerary. Generally 16 to 18 foot oar boats are a good all-around size for the Canyon and for carrying your gear.

      Consider these factors and general guidelines, then call us if you still have questions.

      - How many boatmen are on the trip? You cannot take a boat if there is no one to row it! - How experienced are your boatmen? Larger boats are more stable.
      - How much fresh food does your menu call for? Fresh food takes the most space.
      - How much gear are you bringing? Winter trips and longer trips require more space.
      - How many people are riding in the rafts?
      14’ = 1 passenger and a boatman
      16’ = 2 passengers and a boatman
      18’ = 3 passengers and a boatman

      A 16 person, 16-18 day trip typically has five boats.

    • What is the difference between "locks and stops" and "locks and rights"?

      "Locks and Stops" fix your blade into the power stroke position and prevent the oar from rotating within the oarlock. When your oar and blade can’t rotate, you get consistent purchase with every stroke. You can still pull the oar into the boat and out of harm’s way if needed.

      "Locks and Rights" allow you to "feather" and manually control the angle of your oar blade by rotating your wrist forward and back. “Feathering” allows you to change the angle of your oar blade so that it can cut through wind and waves with little resistance.

      Oar rights are designed with flexibility in mind and can be flipped either direction to accommodate your preference. Canyon REO believes in choices and is happy set your oars however you would like.

    • What size oars do you provide?

      It depends on the size of raft you will be renting. Typically we offer 10’ oars with our 16’ rafts, and 11’ oars with our 18’ rafts. We also offer 9’, 9.5’, and 10.5’ oars if you would prefer those.

    • What about paddle rafts in the Canyon?

      If you have oar rafts to carry your gear, a paddle boat can be a fun and exciting way to raft the Canyon. Optional paddle rafts (12' up to 18') are available with our Deluxe Outfitting Package, on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserve early for the best selection.

    • What are trailer frames and beaver boards?

      A trailer frame is an extension to the main frame providing a covered spot for crates of produce, propane, ammo cans or whatever else you need. It also provides a great platform for sleeping and a great seat for passengers during the day. A beaver board, also known as a rear deck is a coated plywood deck that covers the rear floor behind the rower and is designed to carry ammo cans and aluminum boxes without hurting the raft.

    • What's a playboat?

      Canyon REO defines a playboat as any boat that is not carrying the main group gear. We offer whitewater kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards. Optional playboats are available with our Deluxe Outfitting Package, on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserve early for the best selection.

  • Logistics

    • Just how bad is Diamond Creek Road?

      Diamond Creek Road is approximately 20 miles of unpaved road that can flatten tires, damage vehicles, and foil take-out plans even in the best of conditions. The last mile or so can be the most torturous, running through creeks, streams and loose gravel. Sometimes we encounter large boulders that wash into the road. Canyon REO plans for a minimum of one hour to reach the beach and counts on it taking more time during monsoon months. We will do everything in our power to reach your group on the scheduled take-out time and day. Our heavy-duty 4x4 vehicles have allowed us to pick up groups in some of the worst conditions. If your trip is planned during the winter months of January and February, or during monsoon season (July through September), we will make contingency take-out plans with you.

    • One of my participants had to cancel last minute, what do I do?

      If it is less than 30 days prior to your trip, it is likely we have already begun packing, prepping and shopping for your trip. Within the 30-day window, Canyon REO will not lower invoice totals for dropped participants. Call us if you have questions about this.

    • What time can I expect to arrive back in Flagstaff after take-out?

      Normal take-out time at Diamond Creek is 10:00 am. Once on the beach you will de-rig the boats and help load up the trailer. This takes anywhere from 1 – 1.5 hours. The drive up the road to Peach Springs is another hour minimum, and from there we head 40 miles to Seligman for lunch. Seligman is approximately 1 hour west of Flagstaff. Groups usually make it back into Flagstaff around 4PM. Due to the unpredictable conditions of Diamond Creek Road, we recommend you don’t book flights until the following day. This allows for the “what if’s,” and gives you a chance to decompress a bit before a big travel day.

    • What are Hualapai fees and why do I need to pay them?

      The Hualapai Tribe owns Diamond Creek Road and charges these land-crossing fees to pay for road maintenance and repair. Each time a person or vehicle uses Diamond Creek Road, whether for takeouts, or re-supplies, a fee is assessed. We can add these fees to your invoice and pay the Hualapai on your behalf. We actually recommend paying these fees through us to make things easier for you. We don’t charge anything for this service and the Hualapai are used to working with us, so it’s typically more efficient to have us deal with them.

    • How will the rig day and launch day unfold time- and event-wise?

      Most groups choose to meet here in Flagstaff and be shuttled to Lee’s Ferry. Under this scenario you will meet at Canyon REO at 9 am the day prior to your launch day. You will pack dry bags, load personal gear and go through orientation. Between 11-12 noon we will load up and head out of town. We stop at Safeway for lunch before heading on to the parking storage lot. From there we will go on to Lee's Ferry. The Rigger will have arrived earlier and will have your boats blown up, ready to load. Your group will work with our Rigger to load the boats. Around 5:30 or so you will float about 100 yards down to Boatman’s beach, set-up camp for the night and relax until dinner at Marble Canyon Lodge. The following morning the rangers will meet you around 9am to finish orientation and check id’s. When the rangers are done, you are on your way!

    • What types of shuttles are there?

      Canyon REO offers a number of different shuttle options for your Grand Canyon trip. We shuttle vehicles and groups to and from the River, to Phoenix, Las Vegas, or the South Rim. We offer all group shuttles, all vehicle shuttles or half and half shuttles depending on your needs. Visit our shuttle page for detailed descriptions of each shuttle option.

    • Where can I park my vehicle?

      There are a number of storage options, some free, some at a fee. Lee’s Ferry offers free long-term parking at your own risk. Summertime temperatures at Lee’s Ferry can be extreme and security isn’t the greatest. Flagstaff has a much milder climate, so most groups opt to have their vehicles stored here.

  • Health & Safety

    • What flotation PFD do you recommend for the Canyon?

      Use whatever PFD is most comfortable for you, as long as it meets the specifications required by the NPS (Type I, III or V). Canyon REO has Astral kayak jackets with 15 lbs of flotation, everyday paddling jackets from Stohlquist and NRS with 17.5 lbs of flotation, as well as Extrasport Hifloat (B-22 and B-27) jackets with a whopping 22-27 lbs of flotation. We want you to feel safe and comfortable in whichever jacket you choose, so we offer a number of options to accommodate your needs.

    • How reliable are satellite phones in the Grand Canyon?

      The trick to satellite phones is clear visibility into the sky. Canyon walls can often block the satellites, so sometimes a hike up may be necessary. We offer three different satellite phone carriers, and have had success calling out with each of them, even in the inner gorge.

    • If an evacuation is necessary, how do I handle it and how much will it cost?

      Emergency situations in the Grand Canyon are something no one wants to think about or deal with. Evacuations are emotional, stressful and expensive. Knowing the limitations of your insurance policy can save you many headaches. Often times the terminology used can mean the difference between being covered, (air ambulance vs. air evacuation, for example). Travel insurance is available through many different underwriters. A little research and preparation ahead of time can save you thousands of dollars.

    • What do we do with our garbage?

      If you are using our pack-by-camp system, you get one ammo can per camp. Once you take the food out, you can use that can for garbage. Fill it up, packing it down well to save space, strap it back in a boat, and you don’t have to open it again. At the end of your trip, Canyon REO dumps your trash and cleans and sterilizes the boxes. We ask that you do NOT put trash in our coolers.

    • How do I calculate the number of toilets my group will need?

      We estimate our toilets at approx. 60 uses per can. We average number of uses per day at one per person. We take that and multiply by the number of days. Take that number and divide by 60, and you got your can number…ALWAYS ROUND UP!

    • How can I prevent foot rot?

      Being in boats, you will often have wet feet (and hands, for that matter) which can make keeping your skin healthy a challenge. Some folks wear socks under their river sandals to prevent chafing. The best way to keep your feet healthy is to keep them dry and protected as much as possible. Change into clean, dry socks once you're off the water. Treat your feet with salve or lotion at night, and make sure you attend to any sores as soon as you notice them.

    • What's the best way to keep everyone on our trip healthy?

      Wash your hands. Seriously, this could be the single most important thing that everyone on your trip can do to prevent illness while you're on the River.

  • Personal Gear

    • Is there anything that Canyon REO doesn't provide in their packages?

      When you purchase an outfitting package from Canyon REO, expect that "group gear" will be included. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, personal dry bag, sleeping pad, clothing and toiletries. Alcoholic beverages are also not included in our packages. If you have a question about what's included, please contact us.

    • How do I know what to bring with me?

      Our Trip Leader's Handbook, provided to your trip leader when you book a trip with us, details packing lists for personal items you might want or need on your trip through Grand Canyon.

    • What if I don't have an item that's on my pack list?

      If you need to purchase items for your trip, you may want to consider a group order to take advantage of discounts available through Club REO. Call us with questions about Club REO.

  • First Time Down the Canyon

    • READ ME

      If this is your first time in the Canyon or on a multi-week river expedition, you’ve probably have tons of questions and we have answers.

      Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a magical adventure, but not to be taken lightly. Your first trip can seem overwhelming, but we want to encourage you to take advantage of our years of experience and expertise to make your Colorado experience the best that it can be.

      The enormity of the job of a Trip Leader/Permit Holder is often underestimated. The Trip Leader and designated helpers typically invest around 300 hours of his/her/their collective time to fully plan and coordinate a trip. Making sure that all the pieces are in place and everything is coordinated can be very stressful. Since your river trip is a time for vacation, relaxation, and excitement, it really helps to know that someone with years of experience is taking care of all the details. By using Canyon R.E.O.’s Outfitting Services/Packages you don’t need to worry about anything but getting yourself and your personal items to the put-in location. We will help figure out what you need, and steer you towards a package that will best fit your group. Please visit our packages pages to learn more about how Canyon REO can outfit your trip.

      Below are some of the most frequent questions we get from Trip Leaders and Permit Holders going down the “Big Ditch”. You are welcome to give us a call with ANY questions you may have. We love to talk RIVER and our customer service is what we pride ourselves on. We enjoy sharing our love for the Canyon with you.

    • How many people should I take on the river trip?

      The usual number of people is 8 to 16 depending on your permit limitations, but smaller and solo trips aren't unheard of. In general, choose friends and family who have similar interests and abilities. Make sure everyone is in good health and can withstand the rigors of Canyon River life.

    • How do I know people are committed to going on my trip?

      This question comes up frequently and is very important when it comes to planning your trip. 90 days prior to your launch, the Park Service will collect your trip roster and application, along with $100 per member of your trip. This is often the time that we see groups struggling due to people who had previously said they are going, but are no longer able to commit. It goes back to the old saying that “money talks”. The best way to know of someone’s commitment and retain participants is to collect money from the very beginning. We recommend collecting a sizeable deposit ($200 to $400) from trip members when they agree to be part of your trip.

    • No one in my group has been down the Canyon. Is this a problem?

      As long as there are trip members who have "big water" experience and are confident with reading water and running large rapids, you should be fine. The National Park Service recommends at least one member have qualifying big water experience. Seeing the Canyon as Powell and his expedition did can add a different level of adventure and magic to the trip.

    • What size and how many rafts should we take?

      You have to consider how many people per boat and how much food will be needed for your itinerary. Generally 16 to 18 foot oar boats are a good all-around size for the Canyon and for carrying your gear.

      Consider these factors and general guidelines, then call us if you still have questions.

      - How many boatmen are on the trip? You cannot take a boat if there is no one to row it! - How experienced are your boatmen? Larger boats are more stable.
      - How much fresh food does your menu call for? Fresh food takes the most space.
      - How much gear are you bringing? Winter trips and luxury gear packs require more space.
      - How many people are riding in the rafts?
      14’ = 1 passenger and a boatman
      16’ = 2 passengers and a boatman
      18’ = 3 passengers and a boatman

      A 16 person, 16-18 day trip typically has five boats.

    • What Class rapids will there be in the Canyon?

      Most of the Colorado through Grand Canyon is meandering flat water with large eddies and a rapid every 10 miles on average. Because the Colorado is a high volume river, waves and features are larger than a low volume river but rapids themselves are less technical.

      Rapids on the Colorado River are rated on a scale from 1-10. Rapids at level 1-5 tend to have one hole or feature to be avoided. They have a clear entrance and wave train that move you clear of danger. Rapids 6-10 tend to be more difficult with additional obstacles and maneuvers to avoid them.

      Some things to remember. As a high volume river, the river is wide and rapids have several navigable paths. As a rule of thumb, there are three routes through every rapids, the sneak, down the tongue, and the hero run. Also, rapids are different at every flow. Rapids like Twenty-four and A-Half and Horn Creek Rapid are much more difficult at low water while Hance and Granite get meaner at higher flows. Take all ratings with a grain of salt and give us a call if you have questions about specific rapids. Finally and most importantly, put your pride aside. There is a saying Grand Canyon boaters live by. “It’s not if you flip, it’s when.” So rig to flip and do good deeds to build your river karma.

    • Where should I have my trip take-out?

      The decision is yours and there are lots of good reasons to pick one or the other.

      Here are the facts:

      - Diamond Creek is at river mile 226 while Pearce Ferry is at mile 280.
      - It takes about two extra days to reach Pearce Ferry.
      - The Diamond Creek Road is hard on vehicles and prone to flash flooding during monsoon season and ice and snow during winter.
      - Pearce Ferry Road is in better condition (only 5 miles of dirt road) but is 60 miles further by road.
      - Shuttles from Diamond Creek return to Flagstaff between 3:30-4:30.
      - Shuttles from Pearce Ferry return to Flagstaff between 5:30-6:30.
      - Shuttles to Diamond Creek incur Hualapai fees of $65.00 per person, per driver, and per vehicle.

    • What are Hualapai fees and why do I need to pay them?

      The Hualapai Tribe owns Diamond Creek Road and charges these land-crossing fees to pay for road maintenance and repair. Each time a person or vehicle uses Diamond Creek Road, whether for takeouts, or re-supplies, a fee is assessed. As of the start of 2015, the pre-paid fees are $55 plus the 8.5% tribal tax ($59.68). For a 16 person trip with a Group REO Shuttle, there will be 20 Hualapai fees: 16 people, 2 drivers, 2 vehicles.

    • What are the best times of the year to be down in the Canyon?

      Anytime you are lucky enough to be in the Canyon is the best time to go. The most popular months are March through October. A winter trip will be different, but just as magical.

    • Which Colorado River books and maps do you recommend?

      Rivermap, Guide to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon - Duane Whittis and Tom Martin The Colorado River in Grand Canyon -Larry Stevens Belknap’s Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide – Westwater Books Day Hikes from the River - Tom Martin Canyon REO stocks and sells all these titles.

Still have more questions? Give us a call – 1-800-637-4604

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info@canyonreo.com
1-800-637-4604

Canyon REO
P.O. Box 3493
Flagstaff, AZ 86003

Shipping Address
Canyon REO
1619 N. East Street
Flagstaff, AZ
86004

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