You are here
NCSE Grand Canyon Raft Trip FAQ
July 15 — July 23, 2013
Welcome to the FAQ for the NCSE Grand Canyon 2013 raft trip! Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the Canyon; we offer more than the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good company.
We offer, in addition, a unique "two-model" raft trip, wherein we will provide both the creationist view of Grand Canyon, and the evolutionist view. It’s pretty easy to tell where the science is.
The standard scientific view of the history of the Canyon will be presented by NCSE’s Steve Newton, a trained geologist. The creationist view will be presented by NCSE Executive Director Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, who has never had a geology class in her life but who assures us that this will be no barrier to her presenting the creationist perspective on the Canyon.
Having run this trip eleven times in the past, we have discovered that potential participants generally have the same questions. Below is a list of our most commonly asked questions and answers to them. If you have any other questions about the trip or would like to sign up, call: (800)290-6006 and ask for either Steve or Genie. If you would like to see pictures from past Grand Canyon trips, go here.
Frequently asked questions about NCSE's Grand Canyon River Run
How much does it cost?
The 2013 Grand Canyon Raft Trip costs $2530. This includes a small surcharge to cover NCSE expenses so that we are able to break even. To reserve your place, send us a deposit of $500. The remaining $2030 is due by April 30, 2013.
What if I need to cancel?
If you have to cancel before April 30, 2013, you will forfeit your $500.00 deposit. If we can replace you, we will return your $500.00 deposit. In the past, we have been able to replace people from the waiting list, but we cannot promise to be able to do so. But so far, so good.
Who is the outfitter?
We contract with Moki Mac River Expeditions Inc. Moki Mac, founded in 1969 by one of the children of the first persons ever to run a commercial river trip in 1947, is one of the oldest and most highly respected outfitters running the river. They are also one of the smallest, offering a personalized level of service unmatched by other outfitters. We have taken all of our excursions with them and find them to be an exceptional company. With Moki Mac, we can all but guarantee a safe and enjoyable experience for all. The boatmen are skillful and knowledgeable, and the food is wonderful. Hard to beat.
How long does the trip last?
The trip lasts a total of 9 days, from the evening of July 15 to around noon on July 23 (8 days on the river).
When and where do we meet?
Everyone will meet at the Marble Canyon Lodge in Marble Canyon, AZ, before 5:30 on July 15, the day before launch day, for orientation. Transportation to Marble Canyon from Las Vegas, NV, is included in the fee, so most people will meet at the Las Vegas airport on July 15. From McCarran Airport, Moki Mac provides transportation by van to the hotel at Marble Canyon; this is at least a four hour ride. Because this pickup time will be near noon, and any morning flight delays will pose a problem for this pickup, we advise that you plan to fly into Las Vegas the day before, July 14, and enjoy a night in one of the numerous inexpensive Vegas hotels. If you wish to travel directly to Marble Canyon, you will need to hire someone to shuttle your car to Peach Springs, located on Hwy 66 west of Seligman and east of Kingman, Arizona. There are companies that do this. We have had good results with River Runners Shuttle Service, which has provided reliable service for several years. You can find details of cost and how to arrange a shuttle at www.rrshuttleservice.com, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Carpooling obviously saves money here.
What happens after we get to Marble Canyon Lodge on July 15?
After we have all arrived at Marble Canyon, at about 6:00 PM, we will have an orientation meeting with Moki Mac. We will receive our 2 waterproof river bags and one smaller, carry-on waterproof bag into which we will repack our clothes and gear. (pictures of the bags and advice on packing are at www.mokimac.com/floatnotesGC8days.htm) Moki Mac has kindly offered to store duffels and suitcases for us while we are on the river. (Please use duffels! Much easier to store and pack!)
At your own expense, we will have dinner and spend the night at the Marble Canyon Lodge (or you may stay at a nearby campground, if you prefer), and the next morning, meet at 7:00 AM for breakfast and departure to the river. From July 16 until July 23, we will enjoy the beauty and natural history of Grand Canyon, and one another's company.
To make a reservation at the Marble Canyon Lodge, call 1-800-726-1789 or 928-355-2225. NCSE may be able to help coordinate roommates for solo travelers.
What happens after the trip is over?
We will camp as usual on the night of July 22, and on the morning of July 23, we will travel the rest of the way to Diamond Creek, river mile 226 on the river. From Diamond Creek, Moki Mac will arrange for a bus to take us to Peach Springs, a little town on the Hualapai Indian reservations. From Peach Springs, Moki Mac will arrange for transportation to McCarran airport (for those who flew). Moki Mac estimates arrival at McCarran by 4 pm; flights should therefore be booked after 5 pm on July 23th. If you drove your own car to Marble Canyon, the shuttle service will have left your car at Peach Springs for your pickup.
What does the cost cover, then?
The price you pay for the trip, $2530, covers transportation from the Las Vegas (McCarran) airport, the river trip beginning at Lee's Ferry on July 17 to take-out on July 23, and a shuttle back to McCarran airport.
You additionally will pay for lodging July 15 at Marble Canyon Lodge (or campground, on space available basis).
What about the boats? How large are they? Do we need to row? Are the boats powered, and if so, how noisy are they?
The boats are 35 feet long and hold 12 passengers plus 2 crew. They basically look like giant Zodiacs. You can sit up front if you want to get wet, or sit in the back if you want to stay (relatively) dry. There is plenty of room overall and they are quite comfortable.
The pontoon rafts are extremely stable and very unlikely to flip in rapids. This is about as safe as you can get and still have fun running the river.
The boats are powered and thus you do not need to help row. The motors are not particularly noisy and you will find that you barely notice them during the trip. The boatmen also frequently shut down the motors during long calm stretches and just float on the current. The motor exists primarily for steering, especially in rapids.
How safe is it? What about medical attention?
Your safety is the outfitter's first concern. Moki Mac's boatmen are well trained and highly qualified. Generally the trip is extremely safe with minor cuts and bruises or a twisted ankle the only injuries — when injuries occur at all. The boatmen carry a good first aid kit with bandages and similar items; bringing your own supplies also never hurts. In addition to providing water and lemonade at all times, boatmen also carry ion balancing drink mixes to help with dehydration (don't make them have to use it!) In the case of more serious medical emergencies, the boatmen are hold WFR (Wilderness First Responder) certifications, and some are EMTs. They also carry a satellite phone for emergency evacuations. (This is only used in extreme emergencies, given the difficulties of getting a helicopter into the canyon to get someone out.) Be safe and be careful is the best advice.
We also need to know any special medical needs you may have in order to let Moki Mac prepare for them. Let us know if you are diabetic, have a heart condition, have any mobility problems, require any special medications that you need to take regularly, or have any other special needs that we need to take into account in order for you to enjoy your trip. This is for the safety of everyone else on the trip as well as yours.
What about insurance?
Moki Mac recommends that you contact your insurance company about trip cancellation policies as well as travel insurance. (See http://www.insuremytrip.com for comparative quotes). You should also contact your health services provider to ask about coverage while traveling. NCSE cannot provide insurance for participants; whether or not to obtain extra insurance is an individual decision.
What is a typical day on the river?
A typical day will consist of arising at around 6:00 AM or so (you will find you quickly adapt to a sunrise/sunset schedule), eating a leisurely breakfast, breaking camp, motoring down river for a couple of hours, and stopping for a mid-morning hike up a side canyon. We might see a natural formation, hike to a waterfall, take a dip in a stream, examine petroglyphs — there are lots of things to see in the Canyon. The side canyons have a different ecology than the river proper, so there are always interesting things to see. Then we'll reboard the boats, motor for a few more hours, and stop for lunch. After lunch, more motoring downstream, and likely another stop for a side canyon hike or other feature. In late afternoon, we make camp. Along the way, we will encounter rapids and probably get wet, which is pretty nice when it is hot. Dinners are ample, well balanced, well prepared, and delicious. Provisions are made for vegetarians or others with special dietary needs.
How much physical activity should I expect?
A fair amount of hiking is generally part of the trip. The vast majority of the excursions on foot are relatively easy hikes. Some hikes are more strenuous. The guides know the Canyon well, and can advise us on the amount of exertion likely on a given hike. You don't have to take the Death March up Coal Canyon if you don't want to! But opportunity exists for some real exercise if you want it.
All participants who are able are expected to help to load and unload the raft each day.
I am not that physically able; can I still participate?
Yes! We have had people with many different degrees of mobility come on this trip in the past, and the outfitter has been very accommodating. People who are not able to participate in some or all of the hikes wait at the river in the shade and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the river if they can't negotiate a particular hike. And, even people in wheelchairs have been accommodated by Moki Mac.
How hot will it get?
Expect temperatures to climb into the 90s and possibly over 100 during the days, with cooling in the evening. You get used to it surprisingly quickly. The river is always cool and refreshing, if often a bit muddy, and you get splashed a lot during the trip. It's a dry heat, so dehydration is always an issue, and we remind you to stay well hydrated.
What does the outfitter provide?
How about bathrooms?
For sanitation, the outfitters bring porta pottys for solid waste. (Here is a photo of a porta potty site; these have to be the most beautiful views from any toilet facility one can imagine). Usually two porta potties are set up on opposite ends of the camp, some distance removed from tents and the kitchen. The spots are quite private, and Moki Mac uses a clear system to let you know if the porta potty is occupied. Moki Mac also provides good hand-washing stations near each porta potty. During the day, urine goes right into the river (an additional warning to the women — avoid tight shorts/pants....) If you decide to go on this trip, we will have a number of useful hints to pass on to improve your comfort on the river.
What do I need to bring?
You need to bring or rent a tent, sleeping bag or sheet, and sleeping pad. You will also need water bottles and clothes. You do not need cups, utensils, cooking equipment, etc.
A detailed list of suggested gear will be sent to all participants. We and Moki Mac both provide a trip t-shirt, and we also provide you a waterproof guidebook (Belknap's Grand Canyon River Guide).
Clothes should be lightweight, light-colored, and quick drying. Jeans are not practical: they are hot, and if they get wet, they take a long time to dry. Boots are not necessary (unless you have bad ankles or some other reason to go for heavy gear); a good pair of sneakers is probably all you need for the hikes. A pair of waterproof Teva-like sandals or boat shoes will be the best on the boat. People have not had good luck with Crocs.
Of particular importance is rain gear for occasional downpours and, more importantly, for rapids. The river water is cold and you get absolutely soaked in some of the larger rapids, making rain gear a must. Raingear is not so much for keeping you dry as keeping you warm after you are smacked with ice cold water in a rapid. It is difficult to believe, but you can suffer hypothermia — even in 90 degree heat!
If you wear glasses, be sure to have a lanyard for them so you don't lose them in the river. Hats should also have some sort of cord to secure them to you.
The sun is bright and brutal; make sure you have a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and (above all) rub-proof, sweat-proof, waterproof sun block.
What if I don't own a tent or a sleeping bag?
If you do not own a tent or sleeping bag, these can be rented from the outfitter for a modest fee. The Moki Mac tents, bags, and sleeping pads are of decent quality and relatively easy to set up. Information regarding this will be distributed to participants.
How much should I pack?
Space is limited, and conditions are primitive; travel light. You'll be surprised at how few clothes you need. The outfitter will provide you with two river bags (about 3 cubic feet of space each) in which you will pack your clothes, sleeping bag and mat. These will be stowed during the day and you will not have access to them. In general, your sleeping bag, mat, and some clothes go in one and most of your clothes go in the other. You will be also be given a smaller waterproof day bag that goes on the boat with you; in it, you will generally put your camera, rain gear, and anything else you want to stay dry and accessible to you during the day.
Do I need to sign a release?
Yes. A release will be sent to you in May 2013. You will need to sign it and return it to us prior to going on the trip. No release, no participation, no refund.
What about tipping?
It is customary to tip the crew 5%-10% of the cost of the trip, depending on your satisfaction with the trip. At the end of the trip, Genie collects the anonymous donations in an envelope which then is given to the senior boatman, who divides it among the crew. Cash is preferred, as it is easier to divide up, but checks written to each crewperson can be written. There are four crew. Some people have brought four blank checks and filled them out with names and amounts at the end of the trip. Otherwise, there is no reason to bring money on the trip — there is nowhere to spend it!