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When you book your river expedition, Western River Expeditions will mail you a confirmation and detailed checklist of things to take on your river trip, times and places to meet, and other information you'll want to know. Our best advice to ensure an enjoyable trip is: Read All the Instructions! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers.

Q. How do I decide which trip to take?

Each trip has been chosen for its scenic wilderness and adventure features, so you're in for a fabulous experience no matter which trip you select. If you've never taken a river trip, you might want to begin with a trip on the 3-day Grand Canyon trip. The rapids on these trips  are not as difficult as the others but the scenery is just as beautiful.

Q. When is the best time to go?

All times are exciting. In the spring and early summer the water is generally higher and faster and you'll see wonderful wildflowers. The weather can be definitely cooler. In summer, the days are warmer and weather more predictable. Waters are often calmer.  In late summer/early fall, there is a good chance of seeing wildlife and autumn color.

Q. Do you have to be young and fit to take a river trip?

River trips can be strenuous, and have some risk associated with them, so good health is essential.

Q. What about water levels?

Rivers run higher during the spring run-off and settle down toward the end of the summer (except for the Colorado through the Grand Canyon where its flow is regulated by Glen Canyon Dam). Western River Expeditions matches rafts to water levels to maximize excitement and safety.

Q. What can we expect in weather?

Everything. For comfort on the river, you'll want to be prepared for all kinds of weather. In the river ecosystems, weather is wide-ranging from lows in the 40s to highs around 105 degrees. Spring and fall daytime temperatures usually range between 70 and 85 degrees, with June through  August hitting peak hot weather. Wind and rain are common, but generally storms pass quickly. Storms can appear and disappear in no time, so even in summer, a rain suit is essential on the river.

Q. What about camping?

In keeping with Western's reputation for providing the most deluxe trips on the river, topflight camping gear is provided on all trips. High quality equipment includes sleeping bag, comfortable folding cot, ground cloth, tent, eating utensils, dry bag and ammo can. Getting back to nature is part of  the attraction of river trips. We are guided by the motto: Take only pictures, leave only footprints, so we make every effort to keep the land pristine. Our camps are set on sandy beaches along the rivers where guests roll out their sleeping bags on cots, pitch tents if they wish, or sleep under the stars.

Q. Now, what about toilet facilities?

A. There is always plenty of cold water for washing and brushing teeth, but hot water only for cleaning dishes. As soon as camp is reached, Western's guides set up portable toilet facilities (porta potty type) complete with a handwashing station..

Q. Are there bugs and snakes?

Insects are of little concern on the river, but a little bug repellent is a good idea. We seldom see snakes on our trips because they generally stay away from campsites... they don't like us any better than we like them.

Q. Does Western provide beverages?

Water and lemonade are available in unlimited supply at all times, and juice, coffee and tea are served with breakfast.

Q. Should I bring my camera?

Absolutely. Everywhere you shoot, you'll find something unusual and worth photographing. But remember, river trips are wet, so there is a distinct possibility you'll get splashed just as you're ready to focus. Ziplock bags for cameras keep sand and water from being a problem, and you can store your camera away in an ammo can when you want. Don't forget film and batteries, because there aren't any photo stores on the river. You also might want to tuck in a polarizing filter for your 35 mm camera. Video cameras are harder to protect and transport. Just figure out some way of protecting your equipment from the inevitable water surprise.

Q. What should I bring?

If you stick to our suggested list, you'll be able to get your duffle inside our waterproof bag, along with camping gear. The duffle in our catalog is 11x11x21 inches, and when fully packed, fits comfortably in our waterproof bag. Your duffle should weigh no more than 15 pounds.


Camping equipment is provided on all Western River Expeditions.  High quality camping equipment is provided for everyone on every trip. When you reach the river, guides will provide you with a waterproof bag, sleeping bag, ground cloth, and eating utensils. During the day, all bags are bundled together and covered with tarps so they are inaccessible until camp is reached. Your personal items, like camera, rain suit and sunblock, can be stored in your 11x7x6 inch ammo can for daytime convenience.  Tents and cots are kept separately and are available to guests each night. Tents are easy to put up, and guides are always available for extra help.

Your packing list should include:

2 pair of shorts
2 swimsuits
1 pair quick drying long pants
tee shirts - at least one long sleeve for sun protection
1 wool shirt for spring and fall trips
sweats or warm-ups for camp
socks and some underwear
Tevas or other strapped sandals
light jacket or wind breaker
2 piece rain suit
sun hat with string tie
plenty of suntan and sunblock lotions (a must)
sunscreen lip balm
body lotion such as Vaseline Intensive Care
biodegradable soap such as Ivory
sport water bottle for hikes
small towel and washcloth
disposable moist towelettes
toothbrush and toothpaste
small packs of Kleenex
insect repellent
sunglasses with safety strap
camera and plenty of film
optional small pillow
money (lodge and ranch stops on several trips, and gratuities at end of the trip)
Ziplock bags for camera and wet things

Packing for your river trip is not like packing for another vacation.  Happiness is less, not more. Your duffle bag and its contents should be kept to a reasonable size and not more than 15 pounds of personal gear.

With your confirmation, you'll receive a checklist which suggests items to consider. Bring what makes you comfortable. Everything you bring must fit in our waterproof gear bag, along with your sleeping bag and ground cloth. The overall size of the waterproof bag is 16x16x24 inches and won't hold a large rigid suit case.

Pack all your personal gear in a soft bag which can go inside the waterproof bag when  you get to the river. You don't need anything fancy to wear on your river trip. Just pack practical, quick-drying things. What doesn't get wet will get sandy or dirty, so be basic.

A couple pair of quick drying shorts and tee shirts, a swimming suit or two, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt for sun protection and a pair of long pants are the basic wardrobe. A fleece or poly-pro pullover is worthwhile insurance for bad weather and cold mornings on all trips. Sweats are also comfy while on shore.

As for your feet, forget soggy, foot-rotting tennis shoes; you'll want rubber sandals with straps or beach shoes. Teva sandals were invented by a river runner and are perfect foot protection while on the boats, hiking and in camp. Add a pair of fast-dry socks for sun protection and hiking and you'll have happy feet.

An essential item on the river is a 2 piece rain suit pants and jacket with a hood. This makes river running more comfortable, especially on the 6-day Grand Canyon trip which has the wettest rapids. You might look like a crosswalk guard, but you'll be glad for the suit's protection against spray and waves.

Select a moderately good quality suit because the cheap ones tend to rip apart. A lightweight suit will store in your ammo can when things are looking dry.

You'll find the vacation more enjoyable if you know the geology, history, people and geography of the river. Waterproof guidebooks with mile-by-mile descriptions will fit in your ammo can for easy reference, and are ideal for recording your trip.


All rates and amenities subject to change.

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