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My private trip permit for the Grand Canyon (16 day trip) is finally here for the summer of 2009 :D. Any recommendations for which complete outfitter I should use or avoid (and reasons why)? Thanks in advance for the advice. We are a small group and will be using several rafts (from the outfitter) in addition to our own kayaks.
 

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We just got back about 3 weeks ago. Used Moenkopi this time, had used PRO 3 times previous. Saved quite a bit of money, to be sure, and everything went fine. Brady is awesome, and if your group isn't huge, be sure to check in to using his "River House" thrown into the deal in Flagstaff. Nice place to shower up, regroup, and sleep the night of the day you get off. Highly recommend using as many of the pre-prepared 'Poor Boy' frozen and bagged meals, saves time and hassle. If you have big eaters in your group, it's worth increasing the amounts of the main item for dinners by at least one pound: we did and still ate every bit.
Seems like nothing is ever 100% perfect, no matter who you use, and it was the same with Moenkopi and with PRO. Minor stuff, tho, and nothing that would dissuade me from using either of them again.
We got a real competitive bid from Canyon REO, too, and had heard a lot of good things about them. In the end, it was the amount of time Brady spent on the phone with us before committing to him: he tried to cover every possible detail and option. That, and he threw in a 5th 18' Maravia fully outfitted for free. Hope this helps.
 

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Brady and Moenkoepi get my vote. I recently led a trip outfitted by his company and they did a very good job. The River House at the end of the trip was great - made the whole de-rig and end of trip process go very smoothly. Brady will do whatever it takes to make your trip work.
 

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Ceba? Cieba? was real good to us this last March. They even had a "gluten" free food box! Scotr was the onwers name. Have a great ol' time! How could you not!!!???
 

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MOENKOPI!

For river runners by river runners. Brady and Craig are honest and the hardest workers you'll ever meet. Ask for the Cajun Boil at Lee's Ferry. That's Moenkopi Riverworks, call now, operators are standing by.
 

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MOE was rad. Awsome gear and food. The pre-cooked meats were great, I was suprised with how good the pot roast was. Ask about the "beer locker", we had icey cold beer day 15 (priority). Ration extra beers for Brady at the put in.
 

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If you have 16 people, you might seriously consider buying meals for 12-14. All of these companies over pack I'm told. For our first week we were leapfrogging with a private trip outfitted by Canyon REO. Anytime we camped near them we would vulture their leftovers. Our group of 8 would fill up and take leftovers every meal, and that was after 16 adults ate....

We had a Canyon REO boat rental with our trip and it was nice, but the Sawyer counterbalanced oars are notorious for snapping the blades off. My friend works with REO and says that every trip breaks at least one. The 16' NRS with diamond plate everything was nice though.
 

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If you have 16 people, you might seriously consider buying meals for 12-14.
That can really depend on the group I think. Several years ago, we went on a PRO outfitted trip and had WAY too much food. Some other friends went with PRO later and had the same menu and found the food to be really short. The main difference was the guy / girl ratio on the trip as well as the number of kayakers. Guys tend to eat more than girls, kayakers and oarsmen will eat ALOT more than people who are sitting on the boats all day. Also people will eat more when it is colder.

This spring, with MOE the food was just right for the most part. We had an even guy/girl ratio, 5 rafts and a sole kayaker.
 

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PRO Recommendation

Moenkopi seems to have quite a cheerleading section around here, maybe because they're the new kids on the block but I can't imagine things being much better with them than with PRO.

Don't get me wrong - I've heard great things about Moenkopi and talked to Brady about a rental awhile back - he was prompt & professional with a quote and reasonably priced. In the spirit of competition, I'm going to recommend him for consideration on a trip I've been invited on next year. That said...

The group I went with in March got the "Painless Private" package from PRO. Total turnkey operation. Everything was very well-organized with a binder of menus that included schematic layouts of each boat and shopping lists for each meal telling what food was on which boat and in which box/cooler. The 18' boats they provided were in good condition, oar setups for each rower's choice and extra oarrights in case someone else took over and wanted to row. The gear was good, the food they provided was of good quality, pre-packed and easily prepared. We had plenty of groover capacity, & the tables, stoves, etc. were in good condition. Put-in and takeout service included a lift-gate truck with two guys to help/direct rigging/loading as needed. The Lee's crew included a former GC guide (since 1968 ) who stayed overnight and gave us Pro's own orientation, then took back any items we decided to jettison at the last minute. He saw us through our first meal with their kitchen setup, turned us over to Ranger Dave and headed back to Flagstaff with a generous tip.

Complaints - the Coleman propane lanterns they provided were a hassle to set up/take down but had plenty of spare mantles. Oh yeah, we could've used a couple more rolls of paper towels - you can decide if this stuff was significant....

We had a very experienced core group of boaters on the trip which definitely helped things run more smoothly. Everyone with multi-day TL/planning/food prep experience was really impressed with the job they did. I'd easily recommend PRO but would also like to see how they compare against Moenkopi or REO. Compared with the brain damage associated with organizing a GC trip completely DIY, having someone else provide the gear & food like that is a reasonable deal unless you've got folks to run the show with LOTS of GC experience.

Also, regarding the food overpacking, this could be a good thing if you flip a boat and lose something like your meat cooler (which we did at Bedrock). It was good to have plenty of other food to fill in the gaps. I've seen folks use the "kayaker multiplier" which is counting every kayaker as 1.5x crew.

For food there's also Cocina del Rio: Cocina Del Rio: Food Services for the Colorado & Green Rivers I've heard great things about Karen House's food pack/prep on the Grand.

Have a good trip!

-AH
 

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I will have a more informed opinion in a month, but I shopped around and selected Moenkopi for my July trip. We are a small group that is bringing some boats and gear and renting the rest. The fixed costs for Pro and Canyon REO divided by eight instead of sixteen got out of hand.
 

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Moenkopi seems to have quite a cheerleading section around here, maybe because they're the new kids on the block but I can't imagine things being much better with them than with PRO.
I think a lot of people that meet Brady, can relate to him. Just a boating bum trying to have fun and make it on the grand, still new and small and not too "business" (read hands off) oriented. I don't think you'd hit Lake Mead and find PRO or REO boogie boarding behind a jet ski, having fun while they wait to help you de-rig and shuttle. I could be wrong, but there was something magical about that experience for me.
 

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I think a lot of people that meet Brady, can relate to him. Just a boating bum trying to have fun and make it on the grand, still new and small and not too "business" (read hands off) oriented. I don't think you'd hit Lake Mead and find PRO or REO boogie boarding behind a jet ski, having fun while they wait to help you de-rig and shuttle. I could be wrong, but there was something magical about that experience for me.
I agree. Brady is a great guy. Fun to have around at the put in and take out and he really adds to experience of your trip. However, The real kicker for me is his level of service and the commitment to do whatever it takes to make your trip go smoothly.

On our trip, we had a small problem with the solar water filter he rented us (which is kickass by the way). We gave him a call on the sat phone and he arranged replacement parts to be delivered to us at phantom ranch.

One of my friends, on a trip outfitted by him, had a medical evac. Brady met the patient at the hospital, arranged a hotel room for her in Flag, and took her to meet the group at the take out. What did he charge for this? nothing.

I heard a story of another group that realized they were short on eggs at Lees Ferry. Brady met them at Phantom with a backpack full of eggs.

You don't get that kind of service from PRO. If you were able to talk them into it, I'm sure they would charge you a pretty penny for it.
 
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