Camping in the Grand Canyon while on a rafting trip is not your average camping experience. You’ll be happy to know that you’ll be sleeping on a sandy beach, with very few insects compared to a usual campsite in a wooded area that’s flooded by mosquitoes and wet, muddy terrain.
After your day of rafting down the Colorado river, you will reach a new campsite each day where you will call home for that evening. There are no pre-designated camping locations and each site varies from one to another. Some may have one large sandy area to pitch your tent, while others may have spaces scattered within the natural landscape.
As the rafts pull up to your campsite, a duffel line is formed to assist in removing items from the rafts. Dry bags are among the first items removed. In these dry bags will be your sleeping gear (sleeping bags/sheets/tarp) as well as your clothing/hygiene items in the second dry bag, and finally a third smaller dry bag which is near you all day and carries items such as sandals, sunscreen etc.
Once the majority of the items have been removed from the rafts, you will find your designated sleeping area for the night. Tent & pads/cots are stored separately from your sleeping gear, in larger sized dry bags.
Please note that non-motor rafts have limited storage space which is why sleeping pads are provided when compared to most motor raft trips where cots are provided. Many people choose to sleep under the stars rather than in a tent, granted the skies are clear. There are few insects, and with a cool breeze, sleeping outdoors while watching the moon make it’s way across the river is an experience everyone should try once!
While you are setting up camp, the guides are setting up the kitchen and toilet facility.
Food is prepared and on a prep table and cooked via propane on a cook-top/burners or with on a grill with charcoal.
There is a 3 bucket system for washing dishes which will also be set up. Drinking water is available at all times and is specially filtered in addition to chlorine bleach drops killing any remaining virus per the national park service regulation.
Often called the Groover, this system is set up once arriving at camp, and last to be broken down in the morning prior to getting back on the rafts.
These groovers are carefully and strategically placed at specific locations for many reasons – proximity to kitchen (downwind and not too close), the river (for peeing) and most importantly in a remote and private area often with an incredible view!
There is a toilet seat connected to either a metal or welded plastic container which you will sit on for pooping, and either another bucket adjacent for peeing, or this must be done in the river.
Under no circumstances is it ok to pee in the groover.
How do you know someone is using the groover?
There is a “key” system located at the hand washing station prior to the trail that leads to the groover. If the key is missing, the groover is occupied! Hand washing after using the groover is probably the single most important thing to remember as this health safety hazard can have catastrophic repercussions to the entire group if not done so. Very Important!!
Hand Washing Stations
A hand washing station is located in the kitchen, as well as one at each toilet facility entrance. Soap is provided for you at each station and with the help of a foot pump, fresh water is forced upwards and through a spigot making it easy to wash your hands.
Walking at Camp
This may seem like a no brainer, but most accidents tend to happen at camp with people not using flashlights at night or walking barefoot which is a hazard. Always wear sandals to protect your toes/feet from hidden rocks, as well as for traction when peeing in the river.
In the morning, after having your cup of coffee and prior to breakfast, it is recommended to breakdown camp and pack your items back into your dry-bags. Breakfast is served, and while the kitchen is being packet, you can finish your own packing before joining the duffel line to assist in loading the rafts once again.