Partners In Science

Experience Grand Canyon like few people get to! These expeditions bring together youth from across the world to travel the Colorado River, raft legendary whitewater, and explore the hidden world beneath the rim. Off the river, you will hike to ancient Puebloan archaeological sites, trek up incredible side canyons, discover hidden springs and waterfalls, and sleep under the stars. Partners in Science expeditions are some of the only dedicated educational youth access to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

This expedition is run in partnership with the Grand Canyon Monitoring & Research Center – a branch of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) – and has a strong science component. Assist scientists collect data for active research projects, while learning about the ecology, human impacts, and management of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

Choose between either the Upper or Lower section of Grand Canyon. Both expeditions are truly one of a kind, and offer special ways to learn about and understand this special place! Check out both options below.

Upper Grand Canyon

Photo by Angela Keith

Lower Grand Canyon

Photo by David Herasimtschuk

Canyon Discovery

Explore the majestic landscape of Utah while rafting one of the legendary sections of whitewater on the Colorado River: Cataract Canyon! This program is geared towards alumni of our Partners in Science programs, and focuses on the Colorado River Basin as a whole, challenging participants to think bigger about the rivers and canyons we love to explore. Extend lessons learned from Grand Canyon as you compare and contrast the ecosystem above and below Glen Canyon Dam. Before the trip, you will read and respond to a series of prompts to prepare. On program, create your own expedition journal and participate in discussion circles as you learn from the place, the guides, and each other. Come prepared to learn about your role as an outdoor enthusiasts and what it means to become a steward of public lands.

Cataract Canyon

Photo by Jak Kearsley
  • Where: Potash Boat Ramp to Hite Marina
  • How Long: 8 days
  • Who: Ages 17 to 19
  • Difficulty: Class III – V Whitewater
  • Price: $1,250
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

Middle School Adventure

Experience the beauty of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah! Middle school students from all over the country will come together for 6 fun-filled days of rafting, hiking, and much more. You will learn about the ecology, geology, and history of the San Juan Canyon. Our goals are to spark your curiosity, encourage everyone to ask good questions, and explore what interests you most while on program. On expedition you will work as a team to overcome challenges and form a strong river-community, becoming a wilderness leader as you learn to take care of yourself and your new friends in the outdoors.

Upper San Juan

Photo by Walt Carr
  • Where: Sand Island to Mexican Hat
  • How Long: 5 days
  • Who: Ages 11 to 14
  • Difficulty: Class II Whitewater
  • Price: $750
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

Lower San Juan

Photo by Jordan Robinson
  • Where: Mexican Hat to Clay Hills Crossing
  • How Long: 6 days
  • Who: Ages 11 to 14
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Price: $850
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

Verde Valley Explorer

This expedition is a great introduction to outdoor adventure, kayaking, and Grand Canyon Youth. Participants sign up independently from all over and will come together to join in this shared experience. Some may already have outdoor experience, while for others it may be their first time exploring the outdoors. Everyone is welcome to participate; you will work together to develop teamwork skills and build a community. We will all learn and play together!

Verde River

Photo by Doug Von Gausig
  • Where: Lower TAPCO to Tuzigoot
  • How Long: 1 day
  • Who: Ages 11 to 14
  • Difficulty: Class I Whitewater
  • Price: $100
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

GCY Pre-Trip Requirements


We believe participants have a more fulfilling experience if they earn their program. By working towards this trip, we hope you will be actively engaged and invested in the success of the program. To achieve this, we ask you to carry out three Pre-Trip Requirements: Educational, Service, and Youth Earnings. We recommend starting this process early! You’ll have a sense of accomplishment once you are finished.

  • Educational Component

    Each GCY Summer Expedition has an educational component. You are traveling to an incredible landscape, and learning about the ecology, geology, and history of that place is a huge part of your experience. Each expedition is unique, but expect to engage with a series of weekly emails throughout the spring before your program. These emails may ask you to read articles, respond to discussion questions, watch short videos or interact with other resources. We expect you to participate and be timely with your responses.

  • Service Component

    Engaging with your home communities prepares you to be an active member of the GCY river community. You are expected to complete 2 hours of service per day you’ll be on expedition with us. For example, if your program is 8 days long, you would need to complete 16 hours of service. You can count any service you have done since the beginning of the year. Think creatively! Is there an outdoor space at your school that needs cleaning up? Could you organize a coat-drive for a local homeless shelter, or recruit friends to help walk and bathe animals at a local animal shelter?

  • Youth Earnings Component

    Have you ever noticed that when you work for something, it means more to you? That is the concept behind the Youth Earnings requirement. You are expected to find a way to raise or earn a portion of the trip fee. You have the opportunity to be as creative as you like: save money from your job, do chores for family and friends, sell art you make, sell old sports equipment or video games you no longer use, etc.

  • Pre-Trip Requirement Documentation

    We also ask that you document your completion of these Pre-Trip Requirements for us. When you turn in your Youth Application and are officially registered for the program, you will receive a welcome email containing a link to the Pre-Trip Requirements Documentation Form. This form asks for specific numbers, questions about how you fulfilled your Pre-Trip Requirements. It is a good idea to look at these questions before you begin working on your Pre-Trip Requirements. Your responses on this form will be due no later than 2 weeks prior to your program start. (If you do not have reliable internet access, call to request paper copies of these forms.)

Partners in Science Expeditions


June 10 - 18, 2020

Upper Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $950
Apply Now!

June 17 - 26, 2020

Lower Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $1,050
Apply Now!

July 8 - 16, 2020

Upper Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $950
Apply Now!

July 15 - 24, 2020

Lower Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $1,050
Apply Now!

Canyon Discovery


July 26 – August 2, 2020

Cataract Canyon
Ages: 17 to 19
Price: $1,250
Apply Now!

Middle School Adventure


June 21 - 25, 2020

Upper San Juan
Ages: 11 to 14
Price: $750
Apply Now!

June 24 – 29, 2020

Lower San Juan
Ages: 11 to 14
Price: $850
Apply Now!

Verde Valley Explorer


June 5, 2020

Upper San Juan
Ages: 11 to 14
Price: $100
Apply Now!

For Youth


What are we going to do out there?

Being in wilderness means taking a break from the hustle of everyday life. You will travel downstream, spending your days sharing meals, playing games, hiking to incredible vistas or cultural sites, learning about the place you’re in, and having a lot of fun! Everyone works together: setting up camp, doing science projects, cooking dinner, and washing dishes. You are a full participant in all aspects of river life! Each day you will move downstream, and each night you will camp in a new place.

What happens off the river can be as spectacular as the rapids! Come ready to explore side canyons – you may hike to historical sites or hidden waterfalls. Every GCY expedition includes a Citizen Science element, where you will assist in collecting data for ongoing research projects, and most Individual Expeditions will include scientist representatives from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) or National Park Service. GCY guides will also lead art projects, games, and leadership activities. Come ready to work & learn!

Who is coming with me?

Your group will include youth from across the country – sometimes from across the world! Each expedition has a Trip Coordinator, an adult leader in charge of helping you prepare and making your expedition successful! Your Trip Coordinator will communicate with you prior to the expedition and be your main group leader throughout the expedition. At the river you will meet your guide crew. Our guides have a passion for working with youth. Many GCY guides are alumni of our expeditions! You will also likely have one or more scientists from the USGS or National Park Service facilitating Citizen Science research projects.

How difficult will the trip be?

For Middle School Expeditions

It is helpful to be in decent physical condition for your adventure. You will be outside, active, and in the hot sun every day. This is part of the fun, but can be challenging. Having broken-in footwear and knowing how to stay hydrated are great places to start. Besides rafting and hiking, plan on being involved in loading and unloading boats, packing and unpacking gear, and setting up and taking down camp. Even if you’re not ‘outdoorsy’, do not know how to swim, or have never camped before, everyone can participate and succeed!

For High School Expeditions

It is important to be in good physical condition for this adventure. Building up endurance prior to your expedition is a good idea. You will be outside, active, and in the hot sun every day. This is part of the fun, but can be challenging. Besides rafting and hiking, plan on being involved in loading and unloading boats, packing and unpacking gear, and setting up and taking down camp.

Hiking in the desert Southwest is different from hiking anywhere else. Many hikes contain uphill sections over uneven terrain, near vertical drop-offs. It can be very hot and dry, or wet and cold. Some hikes include rock scrambling and require guide assistance. Hiking is an important aspect of the expedition; expect to hike a couple hours a day.

Youth on the Partners in Science expeditions will need to prepare to hike in or out of Grand Canyon via the well-maintained Bright Angel Trail, carrying a heavy pack. There are several places to stop, rest, and refill water bottles along the way and you are encouraged to go at your own pace. You will be responsible for carrying all of your personal items. The hike is steep, strenuous, and at high elevation. Think about it like climbing stairs for more than four hours with 20lbs on your back! We highly recommend you practice hiking in the summer heat, carrying a pack, before your expedition.

What are the Pre-Trip Requirements?

You are more invested in an experience when you work to earn it yourself! To achieve this, you are required to complete three Pre-Trip Requirements:

  • Educational Component: Learning about your destination before participating helps you connect with the place you will visit.
  • Service Component: Doing service projects in your community helps prepare you to form a cohesive community in the wilderness.
  • Youth Earnings Component: Earning a portion of the trip price helps you feel financially invested.

Each GCY Individual Expedition has a slightly different variation of these components; you will receive specific information when you apply. To learn more about these requirements, visit the Pre-Trip Requirement Tab.

I have a medical condition or limited mobility. Can I still participate?

GCY has served youth with a variety of medical needs and physical abilities. This includes youth with diabetes, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, visual impairments and blindness, deaf youth, amputees, youth who use wheelchairs, and more. Our expeditions are for every youth, and we will work to support you the best we can. However, if your condition is new or you are still learning to manage it, it might not be the right time now. If you have questions as to whether a GCY expedition is the right choice for you, first review our Essential Eligibility Requirements and reach out to GCY.

I have food allergies that restrict what I can eat. Can I still participate?

Yes. GCY has a lot of experience serving youth with a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions. We are able to accommodate most dietary needs. In certain cases, we may ask you to bring along some supplemental snacks or your favorite allergy-friendly foods (e.g. your favorite gluten-free bread). Please fill out the GCY application in a thorough and detailed manner to help us understand and support your dietary needs in the best way possible.

Do I need to know how to swim?

Knowing how to swim is not a prerequisite for participating in a GCY expedition. We have served youth with a variety of abilities – from first-time swimmers to youth in wheelchairs. Whenever you are in the water, you will be wearing a personal floatation device (PFD).

How do I pack? What if I don’t have all the items on the Packing List?

How and what you pack depends on your expedition. Check out your Packing List to see what items you need and how you should pack.

If you don’t have any items on the packing list, GCY has many items available to borrow in our Gear Room. From river shoes to rain jackets, we have nearly everything on your packing list! Please check with us before purchasing any items. We understand that kids grow quickly, and purchasing outdoor gear can be a burden. Work with your Trip Coordinator to request certain items, or stop by Grand Canyon Youth and try things on for yourself.

The Gear Room is open Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm. If you cannot make it during those hours, or live out of town, don’t worry! All Individual Expedition begin at GCY; plan on arriving 30 minutes to 1 hour early to borrow any gear that you need.

Is there anything I shouldn’t bring?

Yes. If you do not see an item on your Packing List, it is because we have intentionally left it off. Avoid bringing heavy clothing, towels, jeans, nice shoes, or leather boots. GCY expeditions are intentionally technology free, so please do not bring any electronics (cell phones, mp3 players, gaming devices).

Remember anything you bring may get lost or ruined! Leave behind all money, wallets, and other valuables (watches, jewelry, favorite clothes, etc.). If you need these items for traveling, GCY will collect and store them at our offices while you are on expedition. GCY will provide plenty of snacks, so leave all food and drinks at home as well.

Are there Financial Aid scholarships available? How do I qualify for Financial Aid?

Yes. GCY has Financial Aid funds available for every Individual Enrollment Expedition. We acknowledge that extended wilderness river trips are expensive endeavors, and some families and youth may need support. GCY, along with our donors, are proud to offer Financial Aid to participants who demonstrate financial need. There are no limits or cutoffs for requesting Financial Aid – we encourage anyone who needs help to apply. Everyone is qualified to apply for Financial Aid. The vast majority of applicants are awarded a portion of their request. Because funds are limited, please ask only for what you need. The Financial Aid Request form is available at the end of your online Youth Application, and includes fields and short answers for parents / guardians and youth to complete together and independently.

How do I pay for my expedition?

You will be asked to make a deposit payment after you complete your online application. For final payments, double check the amount you owe with your Trip Coordinator, and go to our Expeditions Payment page to make an online payment.

If you would prefer to pay via cash or check, you can stop by the GCY office or mail checks to Grand Canyon Youth (2131 N First Street, Flagstaff, AZ, 86004). Please include your name and expedition name in your letter.

What if I have to cancel? Will I get a refund?

Participants who cancel more than 60 days before their departure date are entitled to a full refund, less a $50 application fee. Participants who cancel 60 days or less from their departure date are ineligible for a refund.

What is the best way to travel to and from Flagstaff, Arizona?

All Individual Expeditions begin and end at Grand Canyon Youth Headquarters in Flagstaff, Arizona. You are responsible for your travel to and from Flagstaff. If you are travelling from outside of Flagstaff, please use the Travel & Packing page to help you plan.

There are a variety of travel options into Flagstaff. If flying or taking ground transportation, GCY can have a staff member pick you up or drop you off at the Flagstaff airport or shuttle, bus, or train stop. Please check in with the GCY office before booking your travel to double check that dates and times are correct and to coordinate any support you need from GCY.

What is the weather going to be like?

The weather in the Southwest is as unpredictable as the place itself. Prepare for all kinds of weather, and being outside all day every day. Your expedition could be sunny and hot, cold and drizzly, or a combination of both! Pack layers to help you adjust to the range of temperatures and conditions. We recommend checking the weather conditions prior to your expedition by searching the forecast for where you will be traveling.

What if there is an emergency?

Most emergencies can be prevented and we will give safety orientations once youth reach the destination. Everyone is encouraged to take extra care in looking out for themselves and adhering to safety guidelines. GCY guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, and travel with a satellite phone and first-aid materials. Guides and Trip Coordinators will reinforce safety guidelines throughout the trip. If there is an incident, GCY office staff will work with guides to organize any needed support. If you are nervous about any aspect of the expedition, please contact us for more information.

For Parents & Legal Guardians


Who will be on the expedition with my child?

Your child’s group is made up of their peers and Trip Coordinators (teachers/adult leaders). They will meet their guide crew once they reach their expedition destination. Many GCY guides are alumni of our programs! They may also have scientists or community members along for the expedition.

My child has a medical condition or limited mobility. Can they still participate?

GCY has served a youth with a variety of medical needs and physical abilities. This includes youth with diabetes, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, visual impairments and blindness, deaf youth, amputees, youth who use wheelchairs, and more. Our expeditions are for every youth, and we will work to support your child the best we can. However, if their condition is new or they are still learning to manage it, it might not be the right time now. If you have questions as to whether a GCY expedition is the right choice for your child, first review our Essential Eligibility Requirements and reach out to GCY.

My child has food allergies that restrict what they can eat. Can they still participate?

Yes. GCY has a lot of experience serving youth with a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions. We are able to accommodate most dietary needs. In certain cases, we may ask you send along some supplemental snacks or your child’s favorite allergy-friendly foods (e.g. favorite gluten-free bread). Please fill out the GCY application in a thorough and detailed manner to help us understand and support your child’s dietary needs.

Does my child need to know how to swim?

Knowing how to swim is not a prerequisite for participating in a GCY expedition. We have served youth with a variety of abilities – from first-time swimmers to youth in wheelchairs. Whenever in water, participants will wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

How should my child pack? What if we don’t have all the items on the Packing List?

How and what your child needs to pack depends their expedition. Check out their Packing List to see what items they need and how they should pack.

If you don’t have any items on the packing list, GCY has many items available to borrow in our Gear Room. From river shoes to rain jackets, we have nearly everything on your packing list! We encourage you to check with us before purchasing any items. We understand that kids grow quickly, and purchasing outdoor gear can be a burden. Work with your Trip Coordinator to request certain items, or stop by Grand Canyon Youth and try things on for yourself!

The Gear Room is open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. If you cannot make it during those hours, or live out of town, don’t worry! All Individual Expeditions begin at GCY; plan on arriving 30 minutes to 1 hour early to borrow any gear that you need.

Is there anything my child shouldn’t bring?

Yes. If you do not see an item on your child’s Packing List, it is because we have intentionally left it off. Avoid packing heavy clothing, towels, jeans, nice shoes, or leather boots. GCY expeditions are intentionally technology free, so please do not send any electronics (cell phones, mp3 players, gaming devices).

Remember anything they bring may get lost or ruined! Have your child leave behind all money, wallets, and other valuables (watches, jewelry, favorite clothes, etc.). If they need these items for traveling, GCY will collect and store them at our office while your child is on expedition. GCY will provide plenty of snacks, so leave all food and drinks at home as well.

How do I pay for my child’s expedition?

You will be asked to make a deposit payment after you complete your online application. For final payments, double check the amount you owe with your Trip Coordinator, and go to our Expeditions Payment page to make an online payment.

If you would prefer to pay via cash or check, you can stop by the GCY office or mail checks to Grand Canyon Youth (2131 N First Street, Flagstaff, AZ, 86004). Please include your name and expedition name in your letter.

What if my child has to cancel? Will we get a refund?

Participants who cancel more than 60 days before their departure date are entitled to a full refund, less a $50 application fee. Participants who cancel 60 days or less from their departure date are ineligible for a refund.

Will I get updates about my child’s expedition while they’re adventuring?

GCY operates using the “no news is good news” model. Your child will have many great stories to share with you upon their return. Many of our travel destinations have no cell phone service, and the only method of reaching the outside world is via satellite phone. Guides will only call out of the expedition if there is an emergency.

Are there Financial Aid scholarships available? How does my family qualify for Financial Aid?

Yes. GCY has Financial Aid funds available for every Individual Enrollment Expedition. We acknowledge that extended wilderness river trips are expensive endeavors, and some families and youth may need support. GCY, along with our donors, are proud to offer Financial Aid to participants who demonstrate financial or compelling need. There are no limits or cutoffs for requesting Financial Aid – we encourage anyone who needs help to apply. Everyone is qualified to apply for Financial Aid. The vast majority of applicants are awarded a portion of their request. Because funds are limited, please ask only for what you need. The Financial Aid Request form is available at the end of your online Youth Application, and includes fields and short answers for parents / guardians and youth to complete together and independently.

What if there is an emergency?

Most emergencies can be prevented and we will give safety orientations once youth reach the destination.  Everyone is encouraged to take extra care in looking out for themselves and adhering to safety guidelines. GCY guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, and travel with a satellite phone and first-aid materials. Guides and Trip Coordinators will reinforce safety guidelines throughout the trip. If there is an incident, GCY office staff will work with guides to organize any needed support. If your child is involved in an incident you will be contacted by the GCY office staff. If you are nervous about any aspect of the expedition, please contact us for more information.

If you have more questions not answered here, please contact us.


You are responsible for your travel to and from Flagstaff


 

Travel Planning


All expeditions begin in Flagstaff at the Grand Canyon Youth office (2131 N First Street). If you are travelling from outside of Flagstaff on your own, please use this information to help you assist with planning your travel logistics.

Travel By Air

Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) is the closest, large airport in the area, and services most major airlines. If you choose to fly into PHX, please leave enough time to travel from Phoenix to Flagstaff and still arrive on-time for your expedition. If you need a shuttle from PHX to Flagstaff, we recommend using Groome Transportation (more information below). Be sure to look at shuttle times and double check that you will get into Flagstaff on time for your program before booking your flights.

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is a small, regional airport and currently only services flights from American Airlines, connecting to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Denver.

Travel By Land

If you are traveling from within the Southwest region, there are some overland travel options as well!

Groome Transportation is our recommended van shuttle service for traveling around Arizona. They have a wide variety of shuttle times and stops, and are very dependable. If you are flying into or out of Phoenix Sky Harbor, consider using Groome Transportation for the last leg of your journey to Flagstaff. If you are traveling to Flagstaff from elsewhere in Arizona, this is also a great option.

Amtrak Passenger Trains arrive and depart Flagstaff on a regular basis. If traveling from New Mexico or southern California, this could be a good option for you! Amtrak Passenger Trains are typically at least an hour late, and may arrive or depart very early or late at night. Please plan plenty of buffer time to accommodate delays in train travel.

Greyhound Bus is another option for traveling overland to Flagstaff. Youth traveling on their own via Greyhound should be experienced travelers and ready to navigate any bus changes on their route.

GCY Support

Please Call GCY before booking flights, shuttles, or other transportation! While we are not travel agents, we can absolutely give advice and help double check dates and times with you.

Flagstaff Pick up & Drop off: Grand Canyon Youth will have support staff available on days that expeditions launch and finish to help pick up and drop off participants. If you are arriving or departing from a Flagstaff location, like the Amtrak station or FLG airport, we can pick you up or drop you off from the GCY office.

GCY Office Overnight: We highly recommend that you arrive or depart on the day your expedition begins or ends; however, we know that travel arrangements can get complicated! In the event that you need to arrive the day before your expedition begins or depart the day after your expedition ends we can host you overnight at the GCY office. You will be supervised by a GCY staff member during this time, and likely assist in picking up and dropping off other participants. Please bring enough money for 2-3 meals, and have a cell phone to communicate with GCY staff while you’re traveling. You will be expected to adhere to the same behavioral expectations in town as you are on expedition.

Other Considerations

Unaccompanied Minors: Airlines have specific regulations regarding youth traveling on their own. Most companies will allow youth of 15 years and older to travel on their own without special supervision requirements, but please research what restrictions might exist when booking flights.

Travel Insurance can be helpful in the event of a missed or delayed flight, medical evacuation, or lost baggage.

After Expeditions groups may want to coordinate a last lunch or dinner in Flagstaff. That’s great! Please do not congregate at the GCY office after your Expedition has officially ended, and understand that any participants staying overnight at GCY after the program must remain with GCY staff until their departure.

Packing


Having the right gear and packing correctly is invaluable to your success and happiness on your expedition! Please refer to the following documents to help you prepare and pack. Read carefully! If you are missing items on the Packing List, GCY has a stock of extra gear that you can borrow from. On all expeditions, we recommend that you pack as lightly as possible. If you have any questions about which Packing List applies to your expedition, please call our office.

 

Partners in Science Packing List

Canyon Discovery Packing List

Middle School Adventure Packing List

Essential Eligibility Requirements


The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria to participate on a Grand Canyon Youth river program:

  • Be a minimum 10 years of age for the San Juan, Verde, Lees Ferry, Diamond Down and land-based programs, and 15 years of age for Grand Canyon and Cataract Canyon programs.
  • Be able to manage all personal care and mobility independently, or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
  • Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and objects into a seated position.
  • Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
  • Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
  • Ability to independently maneuver in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) hold your breath while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions i.e. turn face away from waves, breathe between waves; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
  • Ability to maneuver 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
  • Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
  • Ability to comprehend and follow instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other participants.
  • Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats, independently, or with assistance.
  • If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of an adult.
  • Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
  • Not have a psychiatric condition which has the potential to render yourself or others unsafe.
  • Ability to sleep outdoors without artificial light.
  • Not have an orthopedic injury that is less than six weeks past full healing, and/or which cannot be weight bearing.
  • For some Grand Canyon programs, the ability to hike for at least 7 miles while carrying a backpack with a weight of at least 25 lbs.

The above criteria, if not met, can disqualify a person from participating in a GCY program. This safety criteria exist for all participants. The criteria is not meant to discriminate against any physical or mental disability; it is applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, regardless of the presence or absence of a disability. There may be additional issues not listed here which may preclude participation in a GCY trip, including menu restrictions that GCY cannot safely accommodate. GCY is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip. These criteria can be expanded as deemed necessary by staff or the medical or legal professionals assisting GCY. GCY reserves the right to exercise final authority over which individuals can or cannot join a trip.

The following paragraphs further inform all potential participants of the expectations to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically “essential eligibility criteria”, they are explained here to help participants understand the reality of being on a wilderness expedition. Our primary goal is to minimize risks associated with adventure trips in wilderness. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating a wide range of physical abilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals with physical/mental limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on wilderness river expeditions can endanger themselves, other participants, and the guides. GCY advises you to consult a doctor regarding medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.

It is important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. All participants will encounter unfamiliar and dynamic wilderness conditions. It is critical to pay attention at all times, be aware of surroundings, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming or hiking alone is not allowed. Using common sense, and following the explicit instruction of your guides is essential.

River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. The risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure. It is important to stay calm as a non-voluntary swimmer. The odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. A swim in whitewater is more difficult and physically challenging than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. Swimming in cold water quickly saps energy and decreases muscle function. While guides are highly trained and will do their best in a rescue situation, a successful rescue is greatly improved by a swimmer who actively participates and follows directions under stress.

Expeditions

Partners In Science

Experience Grand Canyon like few people get to! These expeditions bring together youth from across the world to travel the Colorado River, raft legendary whitewater, and explore the hidden world beneath the rim. Off the river, you will hike to ancient Puebloan archaeological sites, trek up incredible side canyons, discover hidden springs and waterfalls, and sleep under the stars. Partners in Science expeditions are some of the only dedicated educational youth access to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

This expedition is run in partnership with the Grand Canyon Monitoring & Research Center – a branch of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) – and has a strong science component. Assist scientists collect data for active research projects, while learning about the ecology, human impacts, and management of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

Choose between either the Upper or Lower section of Grand Canyon. Both expeditions are truly one of a kind, and offer special ways to learn about and understand this special place! Check out both options below.

Upper Grand Canyon

Photo by Angela Keith

Lower Grand Canyon

Photo by David Herasimtschuk

Canyon Discovery

Explore the majestic landscape of Utah while rafting one of the legendary sections of whitewater on the Colorado River: Cataract Canyon! This program is geared towards alumni of our Partners in Science programs, and focuses on the Colorado River Basin as a whole, challenging participants to think bigger about the rivers and canyons we love to explore. Extend lessons learned from Grand Canyon as you compare and contrast the ecosystem above and below Glen Canyon Dam. Before the trip, you will read and respond to a series of prompts to prepare. On program, create your own expedition journal and participate in discussion circles as you learn from the place, the guides, and each other. Come prepared to learn about your role as an outdoor enthusiasts and what it means to become a steward of public lands.

Cataract Canyon

Photo by Jak Kearsley
  • Where: Potash Boat Ramp to Hite Marina
  • How Long: 8 days
  • Who: Ages 17 to 19
  • Difficulty: Class III – V Whitewater
  • Price: $1,250
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

Middle School Adventure

Experience the beauty of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah! Middle school students from all over the country will come together for 6 fun-filled days of rafting, hiking, and much more. You will learn about the ecology, geology, and history of the San Juan Canyon. Our goals are to spark your curiosity, encourage everyone to ask good questions, and explore what interests you most while on program. On expedition you will work as a team to overcome challenges and form a strong river-community, becoming a wilderness leader as you learn to take care of yourself and your new friends in the outdoors.

Upper San Juan

Photo by Walt Carr
  • Where: Sand Island to Mexican Hat
  • How Long: 5 days
  • Who: Ages 11 to 14
  • Difficulty: Class II Whitewater
  • Price: $750
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

Lower San Juan

Photo by Jordan Robinson
  • Where: Mexican Hat to Clay Hills Crossing
  • How Long: 6 days
  • Who: Ages 11 to 14
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Price: $850
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here

Verde Valley Explorer

This expedition is a great introduction to outdoor adventure, kayaking, and Grand Canyon Youth. Participants sign up independently from all over and will come together to join in this shared experience. Some may already have outdoor experience, while for others it may be their first time exploring the outdoors. Everyone is welcome to participate; you will work together to develop teamwork skills and build a community. We will all learn and play together!

Verde River

Photo by Doug Von Gausig
  • Where: Lower TAPCO to Tuzigoot
  • How Long: 1 day
  • Who: Ages 11 to 14
  • Difficulty: Class I Whitewater
  • Price: $100
  • Highlights: Click Here

  • Apply: Click Here
Pre-Trip Requirements

GCY Pre-Trip Requirements


We believe participants have a more fulfilling experience if they earn their program. By working towards this trip, we hope you will be actively engaged and invested in the success of the program. To achieve this, we ask you to carry out three Pre-Trip Requirements: Educational, Service, and Youth Earnings. We recommend starting this process early! You’ll have a sense of accomplishment once you are finished.

  • Educational Component

    Each GCY Summer Expedition has an educational component. You are traveling to an incredible landscape, and learning about the ecology, geology, and history of that place is a huge part of your experience. Each expedition is unique, but expect to engage with a series of weekly emails throughout the spring before your program. These emails may ask you to read articles, respond to discussion questions, watch short videos or interact with other resources. We expect you to participate and be timely with your responses.

  • Service Component

    Engaging with your home communities prepares you to be an active member of the GCY river community. You are expected to complete 2 hours of service per day you’ll be on expedition with us. For example, if your program is 8 days long, you would need to complete 16 hours of service. You can count any service you have done since the beginning of the year. Think creatively! Is there an outdoor space at your school that needs cleaning up? Could you organize a coat-drive for a local homeless shelter, or recruit friends to help walk and bathe animals at a local animal shelter?

  • Youth Earnings Component

    Have you ever noticed that when you work for something, it means more to you? That is the concept behind the Youth Earnings requirement. You are expected to find a way to raise or earn a portion of the trip fee. You have the opportunity to be as creative as you like: save money from your job, do chores for family and friends, sell art you make, sell old sports equipment or video games you no longer use, etc.

  • Pre-Trip Requirement Documentation

    We also ask that you document your completion of these Pre-Trip Requirements for us. When you turn in your Youth Application and are officially registered for the program, you will receive a welcome email containing a link to the Pre-Trip Requirements Documentation Form. This form asks for specific numbers, questions about how you fulfilled your Pre-Trip Requirements. It is a good idea to look at these questions before you begin working on your Pre-Trip Requirements. Your responses on this form will be due no later than 2 weeks prior to your program start. (If you do not have reliable internet access, call to request paper copies of these forms.)

Apply

Partners in Science Expeditions


June 10 - 18, 2020

Upper Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $950
Apply Now!

June 17 - 26, 2020

Lower Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $1,050
Apply Now!

July 8 - 16, 2020

Upper Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $950
Apply Now!

July 15 - 24, 2020

Lower Grand Canyon
Ages: 15 to 19
Price: $1,050
Apply Now!

Canyon Discovery


July 26 – August 2, 2020

Cataract Canyon
Ages: 17 to 19
Price: $1,250
Apply Now!

Middle School Adventure


June 21 - 25, 2020

Upper San Juan
Ages: 11 to 14
Price: $750
Apply Now!

June 24 – 29, 2020

Lower San Juan
Ages: 11 to 14
Price: $850
Apply Now!

Verde Valley Explorer


June 5, 2020

Upper San Juan
Ages: 11 to 14
Price: $100
Apply Now!
FAQs

For Youth


What are we going to do out there?

Being in wilderness means taking a break from the hustle of everyday life. You will travel downstream, spending your days sharing meals, playing games, hiking to incredible vistas or cultural sites, learning about the place you’re in, and having a lot of fun! Everyone works together: setting up camp, doing science projects, cooking dinner, and washing dishes. You are a full participant in all aspects of river life! Each day you will move downstream, and each night you will camp in a new place.

What happens off the river can be as spectacular as the rapids! Come ready to explore side canyons – you may hike to historical sites or hidden waterfalls. Every GCY expedition includes a Citizen Science element, where you will assist in collecting data for ongoing research projects, and most Individual Expeditions will include scientist representatives from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) or National Park Service. GCY guides will also lead art projects, games, and leadership activities. Come ready to work & learn!

Who is coming with me?

Your group will include youth from across the country – sometimes from across the world! Each expedition has a Trip Coordinator, an adult leader in charge of helping you prepare and making your expedition successful! Your Trip Coordinator will communicate with you prior to the expedition and be your main group leader throughout the expedition. At the river you will meet your guide crew. Our guides have a passion for working with youth. Many GCY guides are alumni of our expeditions! You will also likely have one or more scientists from the USGS or National Park Service facilitating Citizen Science research projects.

How difficult will the trip be?

For Middle School Expeditions

It is helpful to be in decent physical condition for your adventure. You will be outside, active, and in the hot sun every day. This is part of the fun, but can be challenging. Having broken-in footwear and knowing how to stay hydrated are great places to start. Besides rafting and hiking, plan on being involved in loading and unloading boats, packing and unpacking gear, and setting up and taking down camp. Even if you’re not ‘outdoorsy’, do not know how to swim, or have never camped before, everyone can participate and succeed!

For High School Expeditions

It is important to be in good physical condition for this adventure. Building up endurance prior to your expedition is a good idea. You will be outside, active, and in the hot sun every day. This is part of the fun, but can be challenging. Besides rafting and hiking, plan on being involved in loading and unloading boats, packing and unpacking gear, and setting up and taking down camp.

Hiking in the desert Southwest is different from hiking anywhere else. Many hikes contain uphill sections over uneven terrain, near vertical drop-offs. It can be very hot and dry, or wet and cold. Some hikes include rock scrambling and require guide assistance. Hiking is an important aspect of the expedition; expect to hike a couple hours a day.

Youth on the Partners in Science expeditions will need to prepare to hike in or out of Grand Canyon via the well-maintained Bright Angel Trail, carrying a heavy pack. There are several places to stop, rest, and refill water bottles along the way and you are encouraged to go at your own pace. You will be responsible for carrying all of your personal items. The hike is steep, strenuous, and at high elevation. Think about it like climbing stairs for more than four hours with 20lbs on your back! We highly recommend you practice hiking in the summer heat, carrying a pack, before your expedition.

What are the Pre-Trip Requirements?

You are more invested in an experience when you work to earn it yourself! To achieve this, you are required to complete three Pre-Trip Requirements:

  • Educational Component: Learning about your destination before participating helps you connect with the place you will visit.
  • Service Component: Doing service projects in your community helps prepare you to form a cohesive community in the wilderness.
  • Youth Earnings Component: Earning a portion of the trip price helps you feel financially invested.

Each GCY Individual Expedition has a slightly different variation of these components; you will receive specific information when you apply. To learn more about these requirements, visit the Pre-Trip Requirement Tab.

I have a medical condition or limited mobility. Can I still participate?

GCY has served youth with a variety of medical needs and physical abilities. This includes youth with diabetes, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, visual impairments and blindness, deaf youth, amputees, youth who use wheelchairs, and more. Our expeditions are for every youth, and we will work to support you the best we can. However, if your condition is new or you are still learning to manage it, it might not be the right time now. If you have questions as to whether a GCY expedition is the right choice for you, first review our Essential Eligibility Requirements and reach out to GCY.

I have food allergies that restrict what I can eat. Can I still participate?

Yes. GCY has a lot of experience serving youth with a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions. We are able to accommodate most dietary needs. In certain cases, we may ask you to bring along some supplemental snacks or your favorite allergy-friendly foods (e.g. your favorite gluten-free bread). Please fill out the GCY application in a thorough and detailed manner to help us understand and support your dietary needs in the best way possible.

Do I need to know how to swim?

Knowing how to swim is not a prerequisite for participating in a GCY expedition. We have served youth with a variety of abilities – from first-time swimmers to youth in wheelchairs. Whenever you are in the water, you will be wearing a personal floatation device (PFD).

How do I pack? What if I don’t have all the items on the Packing List?

How and what you pack depends on your expedition. Check out your Packing List to see what items you need and how you should pack.

If you don’t have any items on the packing list, GCY has many items available to borrow in our Gear Room. From river shoes to rain jackets, we have nearly everything on your packing list! Please check with us before purchasing any items. We understand that kids grow quickly, and purchasing outdoor gear can be a burden. Work with your Trip Coordinator to request certain items, or stop by Grand Canyon Youth and try things on for yourself.

The Gear Room is open Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm. If you cannot make it during those hours, or live out of town, don’t worry! All Individual Expedition begin at GCY; plan on arriving 30 minutes to 1 hour early to borrow any gear that you need.

Is there anything I shouldn’t bring?

Yes. If you do not see an item on your Packing List, it is because we have intentionally left it off. Avoid bringing heavy clothing, towels, jeans, nice shoes, or leather boots. GCY expeditions are intentionally technology free, so please do not bring any electronics (cell phones, mp3 players, gaming devices).

Remember anything you bring may get lost or ruined! Leave behind all money, wallets, and other valuables (watches, jewelry, favorite clothes, etc.). If you need these items for traveling, GCY will collect and store them at our offices while you are on expedition. GCY will provide plenty of snacks, so leave all food and drinks at home as well.

Are there Financial Aid scholarships available? How do I qualify for Financial Aid?

Yes. GCY has Financial Aid funds available for every Individual Enrollment Expedition. We acknowledge that extended wilderness river trips are expensive endeavors, and some families and youth may need support. GCY, along with our donors, are proud to offer Financial Aid to participants who demonstrate financial need. There are no limits or cutoffs for requesting Financial Aid – we encourage anyone who needs help to apply. Everyone is qualified to apply for Financial Aid. The vast majority of applicants are awarded a portion of their request. Because funds are limited, please ask only for what you need. The Financial Aid Request form is available at the end of your online Youth Application, and includes fields and short answers for parents / guardians and youth to complete together and independently.

How do I pay for my expedition?

You will be asked to make a deposit payment after you complete your online application. For final payments, double check the amount you owe with your Trip Coordinator, and go to our Expeditions Payment page to make an online payment.

If you would prefer to pay via cash or check, you can stop by the GCY office or mail checks to Grand Canyon Youth (2131 N First Street, Flagstaff, AZ, 86004). Please include your name and expedition name in your letter.

What if I have to cancel? Will I get a refund?

Participants who cancel more than 60 days before their departure date are entitled to a full refund, less a $50 application fee. Participants who cancel 60 days or less from their departure date are ineligible for a refund.

What is the best way to travel to and from Flagstaff, Arizona?

All Individual Expeditions begin and end at Grand Canyon Youth Headquarters in Flagstaff, Arizona. You are responsible for your travel to and from Flagstaff. If you are travelling from outside of Flagstaff, please use the Travel & Packing page to help you plan.

There are a variety of travel options into Flagstaff. If flying or taking ground transportation, GCY can have a staff member pick you up or drop you off at the Flagstaff airport or shuttle, bus, or train stop. Please check in with the GCY office before booking your travel to double check that dates and times are correct and to coordinate any support you need from GCY.

What is the weather going to be like?

The weather in the Southwest is as unpredictable as the place itself. Prepare for all kinds of weather, and being outside all day every day. Your expedition could be sunny and hot, cold and drizzly, or a combination of both! Pack layers to help you adjust to the range of temperatures and conditions. We recommend checking the weather conditions prior to your expedition by searching the forecast for where you will be traveling.

What if there is an emergency?

Most emergencies can be prevented and we will give safety orientations once youth reach the destination. Everyone is encouraged to take extra care in looking out for themselves and adhering to safety guidelines. GCY guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, and travel with a satellite phone and first-aid materials. Guides and Trip Coordinators will reinforce safety guidelines throughout the trip. If there is an incident, GCY office staff will work with guides to organize any needed support. If you are nervous about any aspect of the expedition, please contact us for more information.

For Parents & Legal Guardians


Who will be on the expedition with my child?

Your child’s group is made up of their peers and Trip Coordinators (teachers/adult leaders). They will meet their guide crew once they reach their expedition destination. Many GCY guides are alumni of our programs! They may also have scientists or community members along for the expedition.

My child has a medical condition or limited mobility. Can they still participate?

GCY has served a youth with a variety of medical needs and physical abilities. This includes youth with diabetes, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, visual impairments and blindness, deaf youth, amputees, youth who use wheelchairs, and more. Our expeditions are for every youth, and we will work to support your child the best we can. However, if their condition is new or they are still learning to manage it, it might not be the right time now. If you have questions as to whether a GCY expedition is the right choice for your child, first review our Essential Eligibility Requirements and reach out to GCY.

My child has food allergies that restrict what they can eat. Can they still participate?

Yes. GCY has a lot of experience serving youth with a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions. We are able to accommodate most dietary needs. In certain cases, we may ask you send along some supplemental snacks or your child’s favorite allergy-friendly foods (e.g. favorite gluten-free bread). Please fill out the GCY application in a thorough and detailed manner to help us understand and support your child’s dietary needs.

Does my child need to know how to swim?

Knowing how to swim is not a prerequisite for participating in a GCY expedition. We have served youth with a variety of abilities – from first-time swimmers to youth in wheelchairs. Whenever in water, participants will wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

How should my child pack? What if we don’t have all the items on the Packing List?

How and what your child needs to pack depends their expedition. Check out their Packing List to see what items they need and how they should pack.

If you don’t have any items on the packing list, GCY has many items available to borrow in our Gear Room. From river shoes to rain jackets, we have nearly everything on your packing list! We encourage you to check with us before purchasing any items. We understand that kids grow quickly, and purchasing outdoor gear can be a burden. Work with your Trip Coordinator to request certain items, or stop by Grand Canyon Youth and try things on for yourself!

The Gear Room is open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. If you cannot make it during those hours, or live out of town, don’t worry! All Individual Expeditions begin at GCY; plan on arriving 30 minutes to 1 hour early to borrow any gear that you need.

Is there anything my child shouldn’t bring?

Yes. If you do not see an item on your child’s Packing List, it is because we have intentionally left it off. Avoid packing heavy clothing, towels, jeans, nice shoes, or leather boots. GCY expeditions are intentionally technology free, so please do not send any electronics (cell phones, mp3 players, gaming devices).

Remember anything they bring may get lost or ruined! Have your child leave behind all money, wallets, and other valuables (watches, jewelry, favorite clothes, etc.). If they need these items for traveling, GCY will collect and store them at our office while your child is on expedition. GCY will provide plenty of snacks, so leave all food and drinks at home as well.

How do I pay for my child’s expedition?

You will be asked to make a deposit payment after you complete your online application. For final payments, double check the amount you owe with your Trip Coordinator, and go to our Expeditions Payment page to make an online payment.

If you would prefer to pay via cash or check, you can stop by the GCY office or mail checks to Grand Canyon Youth (2131 N First Street, Flagstaff, AZ, 86004). Please include your name and expedition name in your letter.

What if my child has to cancel? Will we get a refund?

Participants who cancel more than 60 days before their departure date are entitled to a full refund, less a $50 application fee. Participants who cancel 60 days or less from their departure date are ineligible for a refund.

Will I get updates about my child’s expedition while they’re adventuring?

GCY operates using the “no news is good news” model. Your child will have many great stories to share with you upon their return. Many of our travel destinations have no cell phone service, and the only method of reaching the outside world is via satellite phone. Guides will only call out of the expedition if there is an emergency.

Are there Financial Aid scholarships available? How does my family qualify for Financial Aid?

Yes. GCY has Financial Aid funds available for every Individual Enrollment Expedition. We acknowledge that extended wilderness river trips are expensive endeavors, and some families and youth may need support. GCY, along with our donors, are proud to offer Financial Aid to participants who demonstrate financial or compelling need. There are no limits or cutoffs for requesting Financial Aid – we encourage anyone who needs help to apply. Everyone is qualified to apply for Financial Aid. The vast majority of applicants are awarded a portion of their request. Because funds are limited, please ask only for what you need. The Financial Aid Request form is available at the end of your online Youth Application, and includes fields and short answers for parents / guardians and youth to complete together and independently.

What if there is an emergency?

Most emergencies can be prevented and we will give safety orientations once youth reach the destination.  Everyone is encouraged to take extra care in looking out for themselves and adhering to safety guidelines. GCY guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, and travel with a satellite phone and first-aid materials. Guides and Trip Coordinators will reinforce safety guidelines throughout the trip. If there is an incident, GCY office staff will work with guides to organize any needed support. If your child is involved in an incident you will be contacted by the GCY office staff. If you are nervous about any aspect of the expedition, please contact us for more information.

If you have more questions not answered here, please contact us.

Travel & Packing

You are responsible for your travel to and from Flagstaff


 

Travel Planning


All expeditions begin in Flagstaff at the Grand Canyon Youth office (2131 N First Street). If you are travelling from outside of Flagstaff on your own, please use this information to help you assist with planning your travel logistics.

Travel By Air

Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) is the closest, large airport in the area, and services most major airlines. If you choose to fly into PHX, please leave enough time to travel from Phoenix to Flagstaff and still arrive on-time for your expedition. If you need a shuttle from PHX to Flagstaff, we recommend using Groome Transportation (more information below). Be sure to look at shuttle times and double check that you will get into Flagstaff on time for your program before booking your flights.

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is a small, regional airport and currently only services flights from American Airlines, connecting to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Denver.

Travel By Land

If you are traveling from within the Southwest region, there are some overland travel options as well!

Groome Transportation is our recommended van shuttle service for traveling around Arizona. They have a wide variety of shuttle times and stops, and are very dependable. If you are flying into or out of Phoenix Sky Harbor, consider using Groome Transportation for the last leg of your journey to Flagstaff. If you are traveling to Flagstaff from elsewhere in Arizona, this is also a great option.

Amtrak Passenger Trains arrive and depart Flagstaff on a regular basis. If traveling from New Mexico or southern California, this could be a good option for you! Amtrak Passenger Trains are typically at least an hour late, and may arrive or depart very early or late at night. Please plan plenty of buffer time to accommodate delays in train travel.

Greyhound Bus is another option for traveling overland to Flagstaff. Youth traveling on their own via Greyhound should be experienced travelers and ready to navigate any bus changes on their route.

GCY Support

Please Call GCY before booking flights, shuttles, or other transportation! While we are not travel agents, we can absolutely give advice and help double check dates and times with you.

Flagstaff Pick up & Drop off: Grand Canyon Youth will have support staff available on days that expeditions launch and finish to help pick up and drop off participants. If you are arriving or departing from a Flagstaff location, like the Amtrak station or FLG airport, we can pick you up or drop you off from the GCY office.

GCY Office Overnight: We highly recommend that you arrive or depart on the day your expedition begins or ends; however, we know that travel arrangements can get complicated! In the event that you need to arrive the day before your expedition begins or depart the day after your expedition ends we can host you overnight at the GCY office. You will be supervised by a GCY staff member during this time, and likely assist in picking up and dropping off other participants. Please bring enough money for 2-3 meals, and have a cell phone to communicate with GCY staff while you’re traveling. You will be expected to adhere to the same behavioral expectations in town as you are on expedition.

Other Considerations

Unaccompanied Minors: Airlines have specific regulations regarding youth traveling on their own. Most companies will allow youth of 15 years and older to travel on their own without special supervision requirements, but please research what restrictions might exist when booking flights.

Travel Insurance can be helpful in the event of a missed or delayed flight, medical evacuation, or lost baggage.

After Expeditions groups may want to coordinate a last lunch or dinner in Flagstaff. That’s great! Please do not congregate at the GCY office after your Expedition has officially ended, and understand that any participants staying overnight at GCY after the program must remain with GCY staff until their departure.

Packing


Having the right gear and packing correctly is invaluable to your success and happiness on your expedition! Please refer to the following documents to help you prepare and pack. Read carefully! If you are missing items on the Packing List, GCY has a stock of extra gear that you can borrow from. On all expeditions, we recommend that you pack as lightly as possible. If you have any questions about which Packing List applies to your expedition, please call our office.

 

Partners in Science Packing List

Canyon Discovery Packing List

Middle School Adventure Packing List

Essential Eligibility

Essential Eligibility Requirements


The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria to participate on a Grand Canyon Youth river program:

  • Be a minimum 10 years of age for the San Juan, Verde, Lees Ferry, Diamond Down and land-based programs, and 15 years of age for Grand Canyon and Cataract Canyon programs.
  • Be able to manage all personal care and mobility independently, or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
  • Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and objects into a seated position.
  • Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
  • Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
  • Ability to independently maneuver in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) hold your breath while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions i.e. turn face away from waves, breathe between waves; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
  • Ability to maneuver 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
  • Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
  • Ability to comprehend and follow instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other participants.
  • Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats, independently, or with assistance.
  • If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of an adult.
  • Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
  • Not have a psychiatric condition which has the potential to render yourself or others unsafe.
  • Ability to sleep outdoors without artificial light.
  • Not have an orthopedic injury that is less than six weeks past full healing, and/or which cannot be weight bearing.
  • For some Grand Canyon programs, the ability to hike for at least 7 miles while carrying a backpack with a weight of at least 25 lbs.

The above criteria, if not met, can disqualify a person from participating in a GCY program. This safety criteria exist for all participants. The criteria is not meant to discriminate against any physical or mental disability; it is applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, regardless of the presence or absence of a disability. There may be additional issues not listed here which may preclude participation in a GCY trip, including menu restrictions that GCY cannot safely accommodate. GCY is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip. These criteria can be expanded as deemed necessary by staff or the medical or legal professionals assisting GCY. GCY reserves the right to exercise final authority over which individuals can or cannot join a trip.

The following paragraphs further inform all potential participants of the expectations to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically “essential eligibility criteria”, they are explained here to help participants understand the reality of being on a wilderness expedition. Our primary goal is to minimize risks associated with adventure trips in wilderness. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating a wide range of physical abilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals with physical/mental limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on wilderness river expeditions can endanger themselves, other participants, and the guides. GCY advises you to consult a doctor regarding medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.

It is important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. All participants will encounter unfamiliar and dynamic wilderness conditions. It is critical to pay attention at all times, be aware of surroundings, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming or hiking alone is not allowed. Using common sense, and following the explicit instruction of your guides is essential.

River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. The risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure. It is important to stay calm as a non-voluntary swimmer. The odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. A swim in whitewater is more difficult and physically challenging than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. Swimming in cold water quickly saps energy and decreases muscle function. While guides are highly trained and will do their best in a rescue situation, a successful rescue is greatly improved by a swimmer who actively participates and follows directions under stress.