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Hey all,
I am in the extremely early stages of trying to figure out how to plan and execute a GC trip. Does anyone have any pointers? How much the trip will cost provided we did non-commercial and somehow got a permit.

Thanks


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Time of year and # of day will be a huge variable for cost estimate? Personal gear or rented from outfitter? Gourmet, middle ground or budget food?

Shuttles and NPS fees are about the only set figures. $100 per person NPS. Shuttles from Lees Ferry to takeout run from about $300 per vehicle (plus tribal fees) or $1300 for a 14-passenger van between points. Tribal fees change annually but add up fast if taking out at Diamond but that still my preferred route.

For our private, non-rental and shuttling 2-3 vehicles commercially costs us about $700-$1000 per person, as each trip was different lengths (18 to 28 days) and number of people (7-10).

Those number don't include alcohol, getting to meeting points (like flights and gas), investment in personal gear, etc.

Phillip
 

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I led a GC trip 3 years ago. It was a full 16 person trip that launched September 3rd for 21 days, takeout at Pearce Ferry. Cost was around 1200 dollars a person. This included all the park fees, rental of 4 rafts from Moe, lodging before and after the trip for one night, and cocktails for happy hour each day.

As for tips, if I had it to do over I would take a small white board with me and write on it the following things each morning (or maybe the night before).

Who's doing food today:
Likely stops for the day
Hikes we will do
Ideal campsites for the night.
Likely mileage completed today

I'd do this for two reasons. With my group I found most people were just happy to be on the River and didn't have much comment on what we did each day, so rather than soliciting information and trying to make a group decision, I'd just decide and let people come to me with suggestions/changes. Secondly, I go so tired of answering those questions 8 or 9 times each morning as invariably, someone would ask, and I'd answer, then someone else would ask the same thing 5 mins later.

Finally, we did the night float to Pearce. It was a highlight for our group. Super fun last night on the river and felt quite safe. Granted, I slept, but the people who stayed up said it was fine.
 

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"As for tips" - commercial or private, big group or small (although smaller ones are easier to gather...) - there's always that 5-10 minutes in the morning at breakfast or evening/dinner or after dinner buzz where YOU - the TL/permit holder - lay out the day's or next day's itinerary and possible game-changers (any scouts, which take longer than you plan, ALWAYS), and ask for input. Weather is BIG determinant, but in the Grand it's usually more a matter of getting everybody on the same page for where to stop for lunch (or not) and which hikes/pauses you want to hit. You'll either establish good communication between trip participants early, or not at all...
Rest of advice above seems reasonable. $1k per person is middle of the road as of 2014, you can hit below or above that depending on lots of factors - shuttles, alcohol consumption/sharing, foodie food are in descending order of impact...
Don't cheap out. For most, it's a once in a lifetime experience - for some, stuff happens between GC trips, but those are how you track your life.
 

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Sorry, should have capitalized: ASK FOR INPUT. Although if you're aware, as TL should be, you likely will know in advance, at least after the 3rd/4th night...
 

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Outfitting yourself or using outfitter?

Lot's of great advice here. If you are using your/participant boats and all assorted equipment and you are doing your own food buying you will reduce the cost - a lot. The $1000 dollar number is a good estimate - somewhat high IMO but not overly so. If not, you can go to most of the outfitter sites and get a sample invoice. For example, we take many extended expedition trips in Alaska and our food bill is usually around $10/person/day - and we eat well. A comparative menu from an outfitter will be about double that for the same eats. PRO in Flagstaff has an easy to follow sample invoice. Of note here is the outfitter will also do the cooler/ice/packing - that's a big deal - but it ain't free.

I've done three trips - Dec/Feb/Mar - the cost before beer/wine/whiskey and local hotels/meals was about $1500/person. But, we rented more boats than were really needed - we all like to row. The website will help you figure that out. In our situation, our pre-trip locations prevented us from bringing our own boats. While the outfitter cost more it proved to be so simple compared to doing our own logistics - especially on our first trip - that we all felt it was well worthwhile. As a side note. We worked through PRO in Flag on each trip. I spoke with them early in the process and learned about their discounts. By being a member of GCPBA, putting ten percent down and reserving at least 6 months in advance I saved 30% on everything except food - cool.

Whatever route you choose, good luck with your permit.
 

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I've done a half-dozen private trips (not rowed any yet) and have formed some opinions ...

1. Don't bring 16 people. It's too many. I think 10-12 is the ideal number. I can't say why exactly.

2. Don't do organized lunches, where you stop and set up a table and lay out some food. Have each person bring their own lunch, which will typically be something like backpackers eat: nuts, fruit, plus maybe some cold stuff like hummus. Pull over and eat it on the boats.

3. Don't all the non-rowers ride on the same boat every day. Mix it up some. Better way to get to know people. Some couples may demur.

4. Seems to me like an average cost, for a trip where an outfitter does the meals, is $1200 (per person) or so. But I'd recommend going with a plan where participants are divided into two-person teams, each responsible for about three camps' worth of meals (dinner and the next morning's breakfast). Ideally they're a couple or close friends and plan and shop for the meals together, and carry all the ingredients on their boat (or the boat of the boatman member of the pair, see #3). Although the outfitters provide great food, I've found that meal prep goes FAR smoother with the self-done plan. No searching around to three different boats trying to rustle up all the ingredients. No confusion about the cooking. Plus, it's much cheaper. I'd put the average cost of such a trip well under $1000.
 

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Well, yes, getting a permit is going to be pretty important. :) The suggestion to check out GCPBA and RRFW is a good one. You don't mention what your river experience level is, but another good idea is to have someone on you trip that has experience on the GC or multiday raft trips.

Our first trip (and 1st multiday trip ever) was a 21 day in '06 and we used PRO for gear and food pack. The gear was first rate and the food was good on most accounts. The TL/PH was vegetarian and requested the veggie/meat combo meal plan. Everyone should have reviewed the menu more carefully and requested changes. Which PRO is more than willing to do. All and all, with the exception of a couple of meals my wife and I were fine with the menu. Meal prep was labor intensive. I can't say if the other DIY outfitters are the same. It cost us $1200 ea for everything but beer and transportation to Flag. I should mention that on this trip there were 5 guys that had been down the GC many times before and it was a huge plus to learn the ropes from them.

On our own '09 16/18 day GC trip, we had our own catarafts by then and everyone we invited had their own gear. We rented a expedition water filter and a groover riser from PRO. We pre-prepared a lot of meals and met in Page and shopped for the balance of the food at Safeway, where they let us stick our pre frozen coolers in their walk-in. The cost of that trip was $650 for folks taking out at Diamond Creek and $600 for those of us taking out at Lake Mead. We ate very well. Everyone went all out on their menus.

Good luck. It's a hell of a great trip. We heading back in April and are also in the mists of prepping for it.
 

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I love lay over days. It allows people to relax and enjoy the Canyon. Too many people get caught up in the fact that they have to have certain camps or hikes. I have ran Grand Canyon 4 times and each trip we had 2 lay over days. We had Thanksgiving dinner on one of them and it was amazing.
I also would suggest mailing yourself something to Phantom Ranch. I recieved homemade cookies from my ol lady and it was awesome. She also mailed me a bottle of whiskey which can never be a bad thing to get it the mail. I hope this little bit of info helps and hope the trip planning goes smooth.
 

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Get the permit, call Pro, done. It's a year ahead so I wouldn't depress yourself planning too much until you get the permit! You'll have plenty of time to figure it out.

I always like big groups, trips are a lot of work, everyone has days where they don't feel great, many hands make light work. Make the most of living communally for a couple weeks.

We always do a morning meeting at the boats before we shove off. Plan for the day, camp issues, groover report, anything to mention.

We do this by family on normal trips but for the Grand we did a bandanna draw the night before. Your color was your team for the trip. Cook crew, cleanup crew, groover, day off. Everybody always knows what they are doing. Rotation is always from dinner through lunch the next day.

Biggest thing should really just be figuring out the itinerary and what you want to stop and do and see with the time you have down there. Everything is a little trade off but it will all be good! Just awesome being down there.
 
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