A river trip to the Grand Canyon can be a thrilling experience, especially when the weather is right. You get to take in breathtaking scenarios of the Canyon and navigate its many fun rapids. If planned properly, the entire trip can be exerting but fun.
No doubt, you already know that a good Grand Canyon trip requires proper planning and research. Still, one aspect many often ignore when preparing for a rafting trip is the Grand Canyon temperature. The weather in Arizona can sway erratically; sometimes temperature can get as high as 115°C. To make the best of your big whitewater rafting trip, you need a proper plan on the best way to manage hot weather conditions.
While you can go on white water rafting trips at any point in the year, you might want to avoid starting your trip during the hottest months. Rafting outfitters observe that the commercial rafting season and trips to the Grand Canyon National Park tend to peak during the summer months, around July and August, despite usually being the hottest period of the year. During these periods, it isn't strange for temperatures to average between 100 and 105°F.
On the contrary, if you wish to avoid the hottest weather, you should book your river trip from April to Early June and from mid-September to the end of October. That way, you get to take your trips during cooler temperatures and avoid the monsoon season that increases the river level.
What if you're unable to go rafting during milder weather and have to start the trip during the hot sunny days of summer, you're in danger of succumbing to the heat. Fortunately, you can beat the hot weather with some of the following tricks:
The Grand Canyon is known for its clear skies, which means you'll probably be under the sun for an extended period. Exposing your body to the sun for a very long time can lead to several negative consequences, such as freckles, solar elastosis, wrinkling, and discoloration. Although it could sound counterintuitive when you're feeling hot, covering your body during rafting trips could protect you from hot weather.
Avoid wearing fabrics that trap heat and make you hotter. Use breathable clothes with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) built in. Lightweight Polyester and Cotton fabrics have both factors and can protect your skin without making you feel too hot.
Cotton often gets much flake because it's highly absorbent and isn't quick-drying clothing, but it's one of the most breathable fabrics you can get. In hot weather, cotton's high-water retention can help you keep cool.
One of the benefits of water rafting trips is that water often flows around you. This way, you can quickly dip your shirt, hat, or scarf in water and put them on. Doing this could reduce the effect of heat on your skin.
Some tour guides often share a lightweight sarong that rafters would dip in water and wear around their neck. This will reduce body temperature and limit the onset of heat stroke, especially during long stretches on the river.
One of the consequences of exposing yourself to extreme heat is the tendency to get dehydrated quite easily. Dehydration could lead to several negative consequences, like dizziness, headaches, weakness, and dry mouth.
To combat these symptoms, you want to drink as much water as possible during your trip. Pace yourself to drink water at regular intervals. Drink water in the money before beginning your trip and have a water can strapped to you so you can have several drinks during your trip. Also, ensure you drink some water after every trip.
A benefit of drinking plenty of water is that it keeps blood concentration stable, but alcohol tends to do the opposite. During rafting trips, you should avoid alcohol; but if you drink alcohol, match each drink with water to keep your blood concentration stable. It could also make it harder when it's time to raft.
Polarized sunglasses shield your eyes by bouncing off sun rays from the water's surface. Ensure you buy one with a protective strap so you don't lose them when you encounter some Grand Canyon rapids.
Sunscreens work in two significant ways that protect the skin. The inorganic chemicals in them can scatter light away from the skin, while the organic chemicals absorb UV rays, so the skin doesn't have to. This way, they protect the skin from the effects of exposure to the sun.
If you're rafting, taking side hikes, and exposing your skin for long hours in hot weather, sunscreens are a must. Choose a waterproof brand and apply it generously at regular intervals. Remember to put them on in the morning before beginning the day's trip and during breaks. You might feel a bit greasy over time, but at least you won't be sunburnt.
In addition to covering your body and applying sunscreens, you also need accessories to reduce the impact of heat on the body. Wearing buffs, bandanas, light gloves, and Polarized glasses can help you fight the heat. Buffs and bandanas shield your sensitive neck from the sun's harsh rays, while light gloves can protect the back of your hand, which is particularly susceptible to skin cancer development.
Shaded spots tend to have some temperature difference from those exposed to the direct glare of sunlight. One way to beat the heat is to find spots covered by shades. While this may not be easy while rafting Grand Canyon, you can take advantage of breaks and side canyons to get out of direct sunlight.
If the trip route is bare and has no shady spots along the river, you can create shade by bringing along an umbrella which you can open up during meals and other breaks. Some tour guides even rig up umbrellas or improvised shades, which they let out during smooth stretches of the river. That way, you can be cooler for some parts of the journey.
You might find it difficult to kick back and fall asleep at the end of the day's trip. This could be because while the rigors of paddling and battling turbulent waves all day may have ended, the heat may not have. To get a good night's rest, you may need to wet your bed (metaphorically).
Experienced raft guides from the National Park Service have advised that one way you could get a good night's sleep is by wetting a towel or sarong and placing them on your camping bed before lying down. Research has proven that sleep comes better in lower temperatures, and a wet mattress reduces your body temperature, which makes sleep more likely to come.
Another alternative, if you're uncomfortable with the idea of bedwetting, is to try sleeping outside your tent. Heat can get trapped in tents, leading to discomfort for some people. Sleeping outside the tent lets you get as much air from the canyon as possible while giving you a good night's rest. Sleeping under the stars can be another magical way of immersing yourself in the outdoor experience.
At night, wind from the river may flow down to the land, and only those close to it will benefit from its cool gusts. A good way to stay cool would be to set up your tent as close to the river as possible.
Another reason many people fail to beat the hot weather is that they're doing what they weren't meant to. If you want to beat the hot weather, avoid the following:
Synthetic fabrics do not do well in hot weather because they aren't moisture-wicking and tend to trap heat and water. Fabrics such as Nylon and Wool will naturally not help you during hot weather.
Some beverages (such as beer) could mess with your blood concentration and make it hard for you as you go rafting and on side hikes. This could make your reaction to sun exposure worse.
Don't apply sunscreen while under the sun, as it can increase your chances of sunburn. Do that before the trip or when in the shade.
It's possible to go water rafting on the Colorado river at any time of the year. If your trip falls during the hottest period of the year, you can still beat the hot weather if you apply the hacks outlined in this article. Remember to avoid unbreathable fabrics and beverages that make it harder to raft on the Grand Canyon River. With caution, you can beat the hot weather and enjoy your rafting trip.