How to Raft the Grand Canyon

A rafting trip can offer you the rare opportunity to explore the heart of the Grand Canyon, whether you’re a whitewater veteran or a first-time adventurer. Before you book a guided trip with an area rafting company or apply for a solo permit, it’s important to consider a few factors, such as the length of your outing and time of year you’ll be setting out. You’ll also need to pack appropriately to prepare yourself for the unpredictable conditions of the Colorado River and surrounding desert and ensure that your experience is a safe and comfortable one.

EditPlanning a Rafting Trip
Decide on a time of year to go. The Grand Canyon sees most of its tourism in the summer between May and September. This is when the chilly water of the Colorado River will be most hospitable. However, you might also consider planning your trip for one of the bookend months of April or October, when the river and other nearby natural areas tend to be less crowded.[1]
One neat thing about the water in the Grand Canyon is that it originates from a man-made reservoir, so it never gets much colder than about . This means that water temperature won’t be as much of a concern if you schedule your trip later in the year.[2]

Consider how long you have to spend on your adventure. The majority of guided trips led by commercial rafting companies can be completed in a single afternoon. Self-guided outings, however, can take quite a bit longer, as they tend to be less tightly regimented. Don’t forget to factor in travel time to and from your launch site when determining a time frame that works for you.[3]
Most rafting companies organize outings by length. For example, you might sign up for a half-day, 2-day, 5-day, 7-day, 10-day, or 15-day trip, depending on who you book with.

All-in-all, it takes an average of about 15 days to raft the entire length of the Grand Canyon’s waterways. The various sections of the river can be traversed in hours or days.

Select the type of raft you want to take. Unlike some other notable whitewater destinations, you have a few different means of conveyance to choose from when rafting the Grand Canyon. Many shorter trips take place in motorized rafts, which offer a more leisurely sightseeing experience. You also have the option of paddling an oar-powered raft or old-fashioned wooden dory if you want to test your skills and get a little exercise.[4]
Be sure to specify the type of raft you want to reserve when you book your trip. Your choice of vessel may determine the specific route you end up taking.

You can even kayak sections of the Colorado River with a special permit. Kayaking can be an exciting alternative to group rafting for advanced solo paddlers craving a challenge.[5]

Schedule a guided trip with an area rafting company. Get in touch with one of the many commercial outfitters operating in the Grand Canyon to set up a reservation. Guided trips won’t typically need to be booked more than about a day ahead of time. They can fill up quickly, though, so the earlier you reserve your slot, the better.[6]
One of the biggest perks of going through a rafting company is that they’ll take care of all the important planning, including travel routes, departure times, and meal breaks.[7]
Commercial outfitters provide rafts, oars, life vests, helmets, and all other necessary equipment to their guests. If you plan on making a self-guided trip, you’ll need to bring these things yourself.

Apply for a permit for self-guided trips at least one year in advance. If you’re a veteran rafter determined to brave the river on your own, your first step will be to fill out a Diamond Creek to Lake Mead Permit Application. You must submit your completed application to the United States National Park Service no earlier than one year prior to your intended launch date. Be aware that permits are granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive one.[8]
It doesn’t cost anything to submit an application. However, the Hualapai tribe who owns the surrounding land does charge a small access fee to adventurers crossing through their territory. You’ll need to make arrangements with the tribe on your own by calling 928-769-2210.[9]
The National Park Service only authorizes two non-commercial trips to set out from the Diamond Creek launch site per day. Each outing is restricted to a total of 16 participants.

Be prepared to hike the Bright Angel Trail to reach your launch site. Both Upper and Lower Canyon routes start with a long foot trek through Bright Angel Trail. The trail, which spans and climbs around in elevation, as been rated “strenuous” by the National Park Service. Due to its difficulty, the hike is only recommended to adventurers who are in good physical condition.[10]
If you don’t think you’re up to the challenge, you also have the option of scheduling a 3-5-day Western Canyon trip or 6-18-day Full Canyon trip, both of which end with a helicopter or car ride out of the Canyon.

The craggy, sun-baked trail is well-maintained, but offers little shade, so make sure you bring plenty of water.[11]

Watch the weather closely in the days leading up to your trip. A sudden change in the weather has the potential to severely complicate a routine pleasure trip. Guided outings may even be cancelled if river conditions become too tumultuous. If the forecast doesn’t look promising, it may be safest to put your trip on hold until you see clearer skies.[12]
Monitoring the weather will also give you a better idea of what types of items you’ll need to bring with you.[13]
If you obtained a permit for a solo venture, it can’t be cancelled due to dangerous weather. Keep in mind that if you decide to go ahead with your trip, you’ll be doing so at your own risk.

EditPacking for Your Adventure
Provide your own equipment for non-commercial trips. As a solo adventurer, you’ll be expected to show up with all your own gear. This means a raft, main and spare oars, life vest, helmet, and cargo net or platform at the bare minimum. It’s also a good idea to keep a life preserver or rope bag onboard your raft, plus a first aid kit containing pain relievers and supplies for treating minor wounds.[14]
It may be possible to rent some or all of your rafting equipment on-site once you arrive at the Grand Canyon.

Self-guided rafters are advised to pack a signal mirror and 2 international orange-colored panels to flag down help in the event of an emergency.[15]

Bring along enough clothing to dress in layers. The weather in the Grand Canyon can fluctuate between hot and cold in the course of a single day. Wearing multiple layers will allow you to shed or pull on additional items as needed as the temperature changes. Ideally, most of your clothing should be made from quick-drying materials like nylon, neoprene, polyester, or wool.[16]
Items like a waterproof jacket, insulated paddling gloves, and a hat with a bill or visor and strap are a must.[17]
Don’t forget to pack a few spare dry garments for the journey back. Kicking around in soggy clothes isn’t very comfortable.

Select appropriate footwear for both wet and dry activities. Plan on wearing either sandals or amphibious water shoes while you’re on the river. If you’ll be hiking the Bright Angel Trail on your way in or out, be sure to pack a pair of hiking boots or sneakers sturdy enough to hold up to miles of rocky terrain. All of the footwear you bring should lace on or strap-on securely.[18]
Consider picking up a pair of neoprene socks if you’re prone to cold feet or pruney toes.

Stock up on food and water to last you the duration of your trip. When heading down the river on your own, you’ll be left to your own devices as far as sustenance goes. Your best bet is to prioritize nutritious, calorie-rich offerings that take up as little space as possible. Protein bars, nuts, and MREs are all easy, cost-effective choices that will help keep your belly full for a few days.
If you prefer a hot meal, throw a small pan or skillet in with your gear. You may have the opportunity to cook over an open fire at one of the many campsites along the way.

Meals are often included in the cost of booking a multi-day outing with a commercial rafting company.[19]

Bring a camera to capture the beauty of your surroundings. You’ll be treated to some truly sublime sights during your time in the Grand Canyon. Along with the rushing whitewater and towering desert cliffs, the National Park grounds are home to a diversity of wildlife, included hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, and large mammals like bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain lion. You’ll no doubt want to record these moments to commemorate your adventure.[20]
A waterproof case for your phone or digital camera can make a wise investment.

EditEnjoying Other Activities During Your Trip
Set up camp along the river if you’re embarking on a multi-day trip. Unless you’re only completing a short route, it will be necessary for you to stop and camp overnight. You’re in for a treat, as the atmosphere of the Grand Canyon National Park makes for some of the best camping in the U.S. You’ll fall asleep beneath the open sky with rushing waters at your side and wake up to the spectacular sight of the sunrise glowing on the red rocks of the looming canyon walls.[21]
There’s only one established campsite at the bottom of the Grand Canyon: Bright Angel Campground. Fire pits, clean drinking water, and maintained bathroom facilities are among the amenities that you’ll find there.

Backcountry camping is also allowed anywhere within the canyon itself, as long as you’ve obtained a backcountry permit ahead of time. Contact the National Park Service for more information on how to apply for a permit.[22]

Pause periodically for a relaxing swim. Chances are, you’ll be pretty worn out after a few hours of intense paddling. When you feel like you need a break, find a safe place to ground your raft and take a dip. The cool, calm waters will soothe your tired muscles and leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the next leg of your journey.[23]
Stick close to your raft and the rest of your group, and avoid entering any part of the river where the current picks up.

Watch your step in shallow areas. The banks of the Colorado River are populated by numerous animals, including a few dangerous ones like rattlesnakes, massasaugas, and scorpions.[24]

Go cliff jumping at one of the nearby falls. On your way down the Colorado, you’ll pass several waterfalls marking the river’s descent. Satisfy the thrillseeker in you by hiking up one of the adjacent outcroppings and showing off your best cannonball. Just make sure you pick out a spot that’s deep and free of obstructions before you take the plunge. In some stretches, the depth of the river can vary widely in just a few feet.[25]
Havasupai, Mooney, and Beaver Falls are all popular cliff jumping spots within the Grand Canyon. But be warned—some of these cliffs are as high as , so they’re definitely not for the faint of heart![26]
Don’t take off from anywhere you see a “No Jumping” sign posted, no matter how tempted you might be. These areas have been deemed unsafe by park authorities.

Your local outdoor center or sporting goods store can be a good place to find high-quality waterproof clothing and accessories.

For more information on the Grand Canyon or Colorado River area, pick up some travel literature or read through the website of the Grand Canyon National Park.[27]
Rafting can be a dangerous form of recreation, even for experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Always take the proper safety precautions and keep your wits about you while you’re on the water.

Removing, vandalizing, or causing damage to any natural features inside a national park is a federal crime.

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Today in History for 4th April 2019

Historical Events

1828 – Casparus van Wooden patents chocolate milk powder (Amsterdam)
1929 – 1st AAU Greco-Roman wrestling championships held
1958 – Eugene Ionesco’s “Tueur sans Gages” premieres in Darmstadt
1981 – Henry Cisneros becomes 1st Mexican-American mayor (San Antonio)
1988 – Largest crowd (55,438) at a season game at Riverfront (Reds Vs Cards)
1994 – 56th NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Arkansas Razorbacks beat Duke, 76-72

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1918 – George Jellicoe, Earl Jellicoe, British naval commander and member of the House of Lords (1939-2007), born in Hatfield (d. 2007)
1931 – Harold Volkmer, American politician, U.S. House of Representatives from Missouri, born in Jefferson City, Missouri (d. 2011)
1952 – Gregg Hansford, Australian motorcycle and touring car racer, born in Australia (d. 1995)
1962 – Sherrin Smyers, Australian LPGA golfer (1995 Youngstown-11th), born in Newcastle, Australia
1964 – Robbie Rist, American actor (Oliver-Brady Bunch) and musician, born in Los Angeles, California
1978 – Irene Skliva, Greek model (Miss World 1996), born in Athens, Greece

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1229 – Hugo van Pierrepont, bishop of Liege, dies
1617 – John Napier, Scottish mathematician and inventor (logarithms), dies from effects of gout at 67
1996 – Frederick Denison Maurice Hocking, pathologist, dies at 97
2007 – Terry Hall, English ventriloquist (b. 1927)
2011 – Juliano Mer-Khamis, Israeli actor, director, filmmaker and political activist (b. 1958)
2016 – Carlo Mastrangelo, Italian-American rocker (Dion and The Belmonts), dies of cancer at 78

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Choose Music for Studying

Not only can listening to music make studying less boring, but it can also potentially help you retain the information better. However, not all music will help you concentrate when you’re studying. The key is to find the right kind of music that will fade into the background and not distract you.

EditFinding the Best Study Songs
Choose music without lyrics for studying. While you might usually prefer to listen to songs with lyrics, it’s best to go with lyric-free songs when you’re studying. Lyrics can be distracting, especially when you know them and can sing along. By listening to songs that are lyric-free, you can focus more on your studies and less on the music.[1]
If you have a song that you really like to study to that has lyrics, try looking up the instrumental version of it.

Listen to monotonous, relaxing music. Fast-paced songs with lots of varying tones and pitches can be distracting when you’re trying to study. You want songs that fade into the background, not songs that grab your attention. Look for songs that are slow and relatively monotone — if a song makes you want to dance or hum along, it’s probably too upbeat for studying. [2]
Spa music is a great kind of relaxing music you can listen to while studying. Or, if you prefer something with a bit more substance, try smooth jazz.

Nature sounds, like birds chirping or rain falling, can also be good to have on in the background during a study session.

Try listening to classical music. Some studies show that listening to classical music while studying can actually help you retain the information better. Most classical music doesn’t have lyrics, so there’s less chance of it being a distraction. However, you should still avoid upbeat, fast-paced songs. Piano ballads and slow symphonies are good choices for studying.[3]
“Piano Concerto No. 23” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could be a good song to study to.

You could also try “Air on a G String” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Listen to low tempo electronic music if you don’t like classical. Similarly to classical music, low tempo electronic music can provide nice background noise for studying. Look for electronic music that doesn’t have lyrics or intense variations. You want monotonous songs that fade into the background while you’re studying.[4]

Try music from around the world if you want something new and unfamiliar. It can be easier to get distracted by songs that are familiar — whether it’s the lyrics, instruments, or beat — since you can sing and dance along. One way to avoid familiar music is to listen to music from a different part of the world that you normally don’t listen to. Music from other regions can include different instruments, languages, and structures that might be less distracting to you when you’re studying.
For example, you could search online for “Irish folk music,” “South African music,” or “Caribbean music.”

Save upbeat, motivational music for your breaks. Upbeat, fast-paced music can actually help motivate you when you’re on a break. After listening to a couple of your favorite songs, you’ll feel more ready to jump back into your studies. Just make sure you switch back to lyric-free, relaxing music once you start studying again.[5]
Avoid songs that are too catchy or you might find yourself singing them in your head when you get back to studying.

EditListening to Your Study Music
Make a playlist before you start studying. Making a playlist beforehand will prevent you from getting distracted during your study session. You’ll have a hard time focusing if you keep having to change songs and look for new music. Put together a playlist of your study songs on your phone or computer. Then, you just have to press play when you’re ready to start studying.[6]
If you don’t own songs to make a playlist with, you can make your own playlist on Spotify without owning the songs.

Play your music at medium to low volume. It should be playing in the background while you’re studying. If the music is too loud, it will be harder to concentrate. If you find yourself having a hard time reading or writing with the music playing, it could be a sign that it’s too loud.[7]

Avoid using headphones to listen to your music if possible. While headphones are convenient if you’re studying in a library, they make it easier to get distracted by the music you’re listening to. With headphones in, it’s harder for the music to fade into the background. If you have to use headphones, try to keep the volume down as low as possible.

Change the song if you feel yourself getting distracted. If you’re listening to a song and you notice that you’re humming along, tapping your fingers, or dancing in your chair, it’s a sign that you’re being distracted. If you’re focused enough on a song to be doing these things, you probably aren’t retaining the information you’re studying. Change the song to something less engaging.
Keep track of what songs distract you. Over time, you’ll learn what kind of music you study the best too.

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