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Home » Our Programs » On the River

Each day on the water provides an opportunity to experience something new.

What’s a day on the river like? Wake up to the rising sun after sleeping under a blanket of stars, enjoy a healthy breakfast, and you’re ready for adventure. Every bend in the river provides new sights; you may float through calm stretches of water or be exhilarated by exciting whitewater. Rewarding hikes take you to special places that are only accessible from the river. There are always opportunities in the day for quiet time or a good game of Frisbee. Service or educational projects let you learn from others about the place you’re traveling.

There’s nothing else quite like it!

Who is on my trip?

Your trip size will vary between 10 and 23 young people. Each trip also has a couple of Trip Coordinators, or adult chaperones, who help facilitate and stay with you the entire time. On the water, professional river guides join the group (one for every five people on the trip). They captain the boats, lead hikes, and help prepare food. On some trips, a Science Educator also joins the trip. Their role is to lead the on-river service project and other experiential education activities.

How do we get downstream?

We use three types of inflatable watercraft on the river: an oar boat, which is powered by a guide; a paddleboat, which is powered by a group; and an inflatable kayak (or “ducky”), which is powered by one or two participants. Which will you be in? It depends on the river and current water level.

What do we eat on a GCY trip?

Don’t worry; we eat well on the river! In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are plenty of snacks to take on the boats or on a hike during the day. You’ll be assigned to a rotating cook group with a guide leader so you can practice your outdoor cooking skills.

What if I am a vegetarian or have dietary restrictions?

No problem. We can accommodate most special diets or restrictions; just make a note of these on your medical form included in the application.

Where do we sleep?

Plan to sleep under the stars. You’ll get a GCY sleep kit in a waterproof bag that includes a sleeping bag, tarp, and pad. We also bring tents but only set them up when it looks like rain or it’s cold. You usually move to a different campsite each night.

What will the weather be like?

It depends, so it is best to be prepared for hot and cold weather. The Grand Canyon is hot in the summer months — temperatures range from the upper 90s to the 100s, with seasonal monsoons during the month of August. The water is cold (around 50 degrees), but it helps to keep the heat of the summer at bay. San Juan trips are also hot in the summer. However, it’s impossible to predict, so we prepare by taking rain gear and fleece. Spring trips on the Colorado River and San Juan are cooler than the summer.

Grand Canyon river trips San Juan River river trips Gates of Lodore river trips Custom Trips