River Trip Details
On The River







After making your reservation, you will receive a personalized link to access our on-line reservation portal. The portal contains the Registration Form, the Visitor Acknowledgement of Risk, and detailed information pertaining to your Grand Canyon river trip. Our Float Notes booklet contains important information including a basic itinerary, suggested modes of transportation for getting to Flagstaff, hotel information, a packing list, and general weather information for the season you will be traveling in. Additional documents include our Canyon Wren Retail Catalog, which offers river related gear and clothing at wholesale prices.

As your trip approaches you will receive additional emails from us with information regarding hotel reservations, and beverage orders. Even though much of our communication occurs electronically we strongly encourage you to make a phone call if you have any question about the booking process, your reservation, or your trip.

Pre-trip Preparation for all trip types  

  • Look over the packing list and make any necessary purchase. The packing list can be found in the Float Notes.
  • Break in your footwear well in advance of your trip.
  • Make your flight arrangements.
  • Make your hotel reservations with the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Flagstaff. (If you are on a Lower Canyon trip you will also need to make a reservation at one of the South Rim hotels/lodges. Information about making this reservation will be included in your initial booking email and should be done as soon as possible as these hotels/lodges often fully book.)

Daily Itinerary

Each morning you will be awakened by a conch shell blast. This signifies that coffee is ready and it is time to start your day. The time between the coffee conch and a second conch blast, which signifies breakfast is ready, is a great time to pack up your sleep kit and clothing dry bag and to reorganize your day gear and day pack for the day’s hike(s).

After breakfast, the process of packing up camp begins. The guides will make an announcement before important items are packed away such as the water or our trash receptacle. You will likely hear a call such as, “last call water” or “last call trash” before these items are loaded onto the boats to go down stream. Once the boats have been reloaded with everyone’s help you will be able to choose what boat you would like to ride on or paddle for the day.

Generally, you will spend about half of the day on the river each day while making several stops for lunch, side canyon hikes, interpretive talks, and bathroom breaks.

Hiking is a major focus on all of our trips. Being on the river gives us a unique opportunity to access places that would be very difficult or impossible to get to from the rim. Where you hike will vary from trip to trip and day to day. Some days you may spend the majority of the day hiking and then spend more time on the river the following day. You might do one long hike or several shorter hikes over the course of a day. At the beginning of each hike there is time to fill your water and change your shoes if you need to.

Your guides will talk about the Canyon’s natural and cultural features in a variety of settings including while hiking, when stopping at an attraction site, while in camp, and while on the boat as you pass significant features.

Dine by the river at a new campsite each night. Your Trip Leader provides a nightly talk covering the next day’s logistics. Camp under the stars.


Side canyon hiking is a major focus of our trips. This is how you will get to really see and explore Grand Canyon. We hike most every day for 1- 5 hours.

There is no pre-set itinerary for your trip. There are so many hikes to do and so many side canyons to explore that we would not be able to do all of them even on a 30 day trip! Likewise, there are many campsites to choose from so we do not have to deal with pre-assigned campsites. This adds to the flexibility we enjoy, and each trip ends up with its own unique schedule.

How much hiking we do overall and which hikes we do is something your crew will decide during your trip. The itinerary/activity decisions are based on several factors including: input from you, the abilities and interests of other participants, the activities of other trip groups, and weather and water levels. On occasion, we may even spend most or all of the day hiking. In this event, we’d spend more time on-river some other day to make up the lost on-water time.

While each side canyon hike is optional, to have the most fun on your trip, you will want to be in the best possible condition prior to coming on the river. Each side canyon is a unique ecosystem that you will not want to miss exploring at least a little of. One day may see us winding through the desert to ancient Indian ruins and the next day’s hike may take us through rock narrows to swimming holes and waterfalls. Some hikes are hot and dry, while others are cool and shady. Many hikes are not on trails, some are up creek beds, and others meander over the desert floor with the towering canyon walls as their only bounds.

The hikes will vary in length and level of difficulty with some fast and easy and some longer and more strenuous. All hikes go steeply uphill from the river corridor and then steeply back down again. Hikes that are not on trails may cover uneven and/or difficult terrain. Almost all of the hikes include some scrambling and moves that will require the assistance of our guides with spotting, hand and foothold advice, and verbal encouragement.

Shifting the focus from the destination to the journey: The hikes will be set at a pace to challenge people who are in good condition. Your guides will spread out on the hike: one in the lead, one with the slowest hikers in the group, the others spread throughout, walking with different paced groups. On some side canyon stops, we’ll have a limited amount of time set aside to explore it, and there may not be adequate time for slower hikers to get to the end of every hike. It is well worth going up each canyon at least part way; the unique beauty of each canyon can be experienced within a short distance and is better appreciated when not rushing! You may stop along the way to enjoy your book, a snack, or the view while the rest of the group continues on. You may also choose to skip any day hike entirely, to read, journal, fish, or catnap by the river.


Campsites in Grand Canyon are most often large sandy beaches broken by natural landscape elements including vegetation, large boulders, sand dunes, etc. Each camp is a beautiful, unique home-away-from-home. The kitchen will be established in a central area; a table with drink mixes, teas, and appetizers will be nearby. The kitchen is often a fun place to hang out as the cook crew prepares dinner. The boats are another comfortable gathering spot for the group.

Most camps offer plenty of space for privacy and usually there is a lot of distance between the areas each might find to call home with her/his sleeping bag, tent and personal gear. Many camps feature some private “honeymoon” camp sites for those willing to hike a little farther away from the kitchen area and the rest of the group.

One of the first things to come off the boats after arriving at camp will be your personal waterproof bags. One bag holds the majority of your clothing and the other your sleeping kit. The sleeping kit consists of a tarp, a Thermarest sleeping pad, a sleeping bag, and a sheet. The tents are stored all together in a larger dry bag. You’ll grab a tent and your personal gear and head off to find a sleeping spot.

Your guides will demonstrate how to set up the tents on the first night to make your first time use easier. As long as the sky is clear, sleeping under the stars (instead of in the tent) is always an excellent choice, allowing you to feel the night air on your face and to witness shooting star trails in a sky filled with millions of sparkling lights. Either in or out of your tent, the camping is world-class.

Our river kitchens include a “prep table” used to chop vegetables, make salads and combine ingredients for dutch ovens. Our six burner propane stove sits on a separate table and makes cooking a cinch. A third table to serve from buffet style completes the kitchen. Several dry-boxes situated near the stove and prep tables contain all the pots, the hot mitts, the stirring spoons and spatulas, the tinfoil etc. Plates, bowls and silverware are stored in a smaller box as are the drink mixes and teas; these items are all put out on to the appetizer table or at the “starting end” of the serving table. A separate box containing the dutch oven comes off the boats when needed. (Lasagne or enchilada pie, brownies or cakes, etc.).

You are always welcome in the kitchen and for those who like to cook or just to help out, we’re happy to share our secrets of river-cooking.

Food / Menu

We have crafted our river menu to allow trip participants to create a balanced and nutritious plate. Daily options include fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, rice, pasta, or bread, high quality fish and/or meats, and salads right up to the last day!

Breakfasts begin with fresh coffee from Macy’s European Coffee House in Flagstaff. Meals like pancakes, eggs to order, french toast or hot cereal also include bacon or sausage, along with fruit, granola, and dry cereal.

Lunches include deli style sandwiches, smoked brisket salad, taco salad, and many more. Fresh fruit, salty snacks, cookies, and PB&J are standard.

Nightly appetizers precede dinner from the dutch oven, grill or skillet. After a day on the water filled with hard exercise and fun, everything is especially tasty. You’ll have to work not to gain weight! Fair warning, this sample river menu may make you wish you were on-river right now.

Vegetarian? Dairy or gluten free?

Vegetarian options are provided at each meal upon pre-trip request. Options include substitutes such as, veggie/garden burgers and tofu and vegetarian versions of meals like curry, fajitas, posole. Vegetarians may also make their selections from the rice/pasta dish, the fresh vegetable/salad dish and dessert. Please note that all breakfasts and lunches allow for non-meat selections (e.g. eggs only or granola and yogurt at breakfast and a cheese sandwich with fruit and cookies at lunch). Gluten free substitutes include crackers, pancake mix, pasta, bagels. Please do not expect a substitute for every menu item. (Lunch breads don’t keep.) Dairy free accommodations are possible.

Please expect to eat differently than at home.

Food Allergies?

We are not able to cater to food allergies or personal dietary likes and dislikes. Guests with allergies will need to expect to eat around items such as onions, peppers, etc. In our river kitchen cross contamination is possible, and we cannot guarantee accurate knowledge of individual ingredient lists. Our menu does provide healthy, varied and balanced meals that include a variety of choices. Please review the sample river menu to evaluate whether this trip would be a good fit for you.

Interpretive Talks

Discussing the incredible natural world that surrounds us in Grand Canyon is our passion. On any given day during your trip, you will receive information in a variety of formats:

Group interpretive talks – a presentation for the whole group, sometimes in the morning after the boats are loaded but before breaking camp and sometimes on-site at an attraction site. Interpretive topics include geology and climate, botany, human history, birds and other wildlife, water and resource management issues, etc.

On-river – during the day while you are riding on-river, your guide will be covering a variety of information including animal life, geology, hydrology, archaeology, etc.

On side canyon explorations – Our hikes take us through geological formations, climatic and vegetation zones of interest, or to archaeological sites. These are great opportunities to learn from your guides about what you are seeing.

Night time is a good time for stories of human interest such as early river runners and settlers, myths and legends of pre-historic peoples and modern day Native Americans, star talks, and points of interests along the river that we saw that day or will see the next day.

Resource Protection

CanX guides educate trip participants in resource protection practices and methods designed to minimize impacts to the resource that can occur during a river trip. These practices are consistent with National Park Service regulations and with Leave No Trace camping ethics.

We are careful to leave beaches, camping sites, and other places we visit cleaner than we found them. Camping, cooking, and eating practices minimize the amount of food scraps or liquid food waste that enters the sandy beach system (e.g., we place tarps under the food prep table and under the “can smasher” and recycling bags). We survey our campsites and cook areas carefully for microtrash and foodscraps. Guides and participants do not set up sleeping areas in the fragile desert zones. All trash is carried out of the Canyon. Dutch ovens and fire pans are elevated off the ground so as not to scorch the beach sand. A fire mat is placed beneath the grill to catch fine charcoal ash.

Our experienced guides lead all group hikes to avoid any multiple trailing. Side stream habitats are protected, and backcountry rules are followed on all hikes. No soap is allowed in, or near the confluence of, side streams.

Guides also educate clients about archaeological site etiquette and the federal laws and regulations prohibiting disturbance or removal of archaeological remains on federal lands.

A river has a tremendous force. It has an appeal about it that I can’t describe, but when you have people in a boat to sense the kind of life a river has, it’s mind expanding for sure.

 -Martin Litton

Explore Grand Canyon With Us