While the effects of COVID-19 forced the National Park to suspend river trips for April and May, trips began launching June 13th, 2020. Despite a very challenging road navigated, the 2020 Grand Canyon rafting season ended up being another successful one. What do we mean by successful? Per National Park regulations, mitigation protocols that were set in place and executed by the 15 Grand Canyon Rafting Outfitters in order to reduce the possibility of viral transmission resulted in no reported infections. This was no small feat to accomplish, considering there were hundreds of launches worth thousands of individuals who partook in a river trip in 2020.
What mitigation protocols were in place?
Below is a list of general practices commonly exercised by the outfitters:
- 3-5 Days prior to launch, client risk assessment questionnaire sent/signed/returned by each participant confirming:
- No contact with an individual who is ill/flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days
- No flu-like symptoms
- Temperature is normal/No fever
- No cough that one cannot contribute to another health condition
- No sore throat, muscle aches, shortness of breath that cannot be contributed to another health condition
- No loss of taste or smell
- Temperature checks prior to entering orientation meeting/daily at camp
- Face coverings at orientation meeting or air/ground transport to and from the river, in food lines, at camp when 6 ft distance is not possible
- Grouping cohorts (travel unit/members part of your household) together on rafts and during air/ground transport
- Frequent & hygiene practices like increased handwashing stations/frequency and reducing or eliminating shared items
- No handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, or hugging with anyone outside your cohort
- Restricted group games that involve close contact and touching of a common object
- Additional boats often launched in order to minimize passenger counts per raft (Motor rafts are 15 feet wide and over 30 feet long)
- Sleeping bags, sleeping liners, life jackets professionally laundered to hospitality standards between every trip
- Utensils/plateware/fire pans/tables/coolers/food boxes power washed with 140+ degree water and disinfecting chemicals
In 2020, Outfitters made exceptions to their transfer/cancellation policies due to the Covid-19 epidemic, and among them were:
- 100% refund (for those who did not wish to transfer) for all trips which did not launch due to the National Park suspension between April and June 13
- 100% refund (for those who did not wish to transfer) for international passengers who were unable to arrive in the US due to border closures
- Whether the trip was suspended by the National Park or was scheduled as planned, outfitters offered the possibility to transfer to a trip later in the same season, 2021 season, and in some cases to a 2022 season, often honoring the 2020 rate paid with no additional fees being added to the trip fare
*One outfitter did not refund monies but offered a transfer to a different trip date in 2021 or 2022. This was the only exception to the above bullet points
Outlook for 2021
In the 2020 season, close to 35% of all passengers transferred to a trip later in that same season or to 2021. 25% cancelled and did not transfer and 40% successfully launched as scheduled. Because of the large number of transfers, availability and inventory for the 2021 season are more limited than in past seasons. All said, there are still available trips depending on group sizes, and of course, cancellations occur daily so do not be discouraged, we can still help you raft Grand Canyon in 2021!
We are anticipating the addendums to the outfitters' Refund/Transfer/Cancellation Covid-19 policies to remain the same for 2021 and can provide additional details, please do not hesitate to reach out.
As a reminder, we offer 1/2 And 1 Day, 3-5 Days, 6-9 Days, 12-18 Days trips. All-inclusive rafting trips are excellent options to not only get out of the house for those having cabin fever but to also enjoy the magnificent Grand Canyon in style. Guides are boatmen that do everything from loading and steering the raft to the preparation of first-class meals. We look forward to assisting you further!