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Old 03-13-2011   #1
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1896
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 94
General questions on the Grand

My new (used) 14' Vanguard has not yet been in the water but my urchins have already developed a waiting list on boat usage for themselves and their friends for the Grand, some years hence. Since rule #1 on boat usage is I have first rights on any trips, it would seem to be on my list as well.

The Grand seems a regular topic here 'bouts. Assuming one was going to plan such a trip, where would one start? I know about the permit system, but will leave that problem to my children and simply provide logistics (and probably all financial) support pre-trip. I've done +week long canoe trips so groovers, water, stoves, etc. are all somewhat available and understood, though the scale is obviously different between Deso-Gray and the Grand.

Knowing what you know now, where would you start?

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Old 03-13-2011   #2
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Rafting Grand Canyon

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Old 03-13-2011   #3
The Mogur's Avatar
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 457
Read, Read, Read. Must-have books: Guide to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon (Tom Martin & Duwain Whitis) Colorado River Briefs for a Trip Through the Grand Canyon (Lindermann & Lindermann) and Day Hikes from the River (Tom Martin).

Search the internet for Grand Canyon trip reports. There are many. Try to determine from them what you must see and must do. Make a secondary list of things you would like to do if there's time.

Expect to flip a 14' raft somewhere along the way. If you don't, you can be pleasantly surprised. But it doesn't take much of a slip-up to flip a small raft in The Canyon.

Learn why you need to use downstream ferry angles to cross the lateral waves, and make sure you know how to actually do it.

Study up on ice conservation techniques, and know before you go how long your ice will last. If your trip is going to last longer than your ice, plan menus around foods that don't need refrigeration.

It's the greatest raft trip you'll ever take. Don't botch it by being less than totally prepared. And you're going to need a lot more than one 14' raft to accommodate yourself, your spouse, your urchins, and all of their friends!
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Old 03-13-2011   #4
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1896
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 94
Uh, wow on the wiki link.

The eldest knows many people, many of whom do the Grand and have boats. I think mine is something like an opening ante to get in the game. I will have done some rafting/guide training with someone like Dvorak well before hand. We also have many kayaks, so I am assuming that any trip will be some form of raft assisted. My son is sure his roll is bomb-proof, if not, well, I put him on the swim team at five.
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Old 03-14-2011   #5
Beaverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 569
I'd add that you'll generally want about one big boat for every two people to get the right level of support for gear and food. With the 14', I'd regard it as a single person boat.
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Old 03-22-2011   #6
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 14
The best trip ever, but only if your prepped. Take someone who has been there. If your not totally decked out, call Canyon REO. They put together great private trips including groovers, food, shuttles, etc. They will do a complete package or fill in whatever you need. Check out their web-site, give them a call, we have always had great experiences with them, super helpful, very nice!
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Old 03-22-2011   #7
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DURANGO, 81301
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 144
If you could choose between a 16' cat with 25" tubes or Aire's 156 D raft with 22" tubes which do you think would handle the big water of the Grand better?
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Old 03-22-2011   #8
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 14
The cats are great in the grand, they roll right through the big holes and track really well. (I row an 18' aire with 5 bay frame system and can carry over 2000# plus a couple passengers no problem) Great cargo carriers but not as good for passengers. If you think your going to mostly be a support boat, definately go with the cat!
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Old 03-22-2011   #9
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DURANGO, 81301
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 144
Just me and my good buddy weiser....
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Old 03-23-2011   #10
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
The rrfw wiki is a great resource as are the above mentioned books. Also the Yahoo message boards for rafting grand canyon and gcpba are searchable and contain tons of information for you to sift through (mountain buzz is also searchable and has a lot of info).

I ran my 14' raft with a passenger no problems, we were loaded down (a plus in big water for me) and had three 18' rafts and three kayaks for 13 people total.

All of the main rental/outfitting companies get good reviews (PRO, Canyon REO and Moenkopi). We used Brady at Moenkopi and were thrilled with his service, which happened to be the least expensive for us. If you use an outfitter the logistics of your trip are hugely simplified - they will plan shuttles, meals, food packing, ice, and can also provide you with campsite and itinerary recommendations. You do pay a premium for their services, some people can self outfit a grand trip for as little as $400-600 per person, most are closer to the $800-900 range for doing everything themselves (but usually contract for the shuttle), paying for an outfitter usually runs from $850-$1200 per person - depending on what you rent and how many services they provide. On my trip I think we paid about $900 each to Moenkopi (including the $100 permit fee and tribal fees for the takeout at Diamond). The provided us with round trip transport from flagstaff, three decked out 18' rafts, all the food and group gear (groovers, water filters, kitchen, etc.). At the end they met us, rolled the boats and drove us to Flagstaff. We didn't have to do anything else as they (just like REO and PRO) deal with all the gear, trash, poop, etc.

For the fee of a couple beers I am available to answer any questions you have in person.

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