Expedition Destinations

GCY offers programs on a wide variety of river sections and land-based destinations. Explore the following options and think about what might be best for your group! From day-trips to 9-day extended programs, the Southwest has a lot to offer!

Colorado River 


Diamond Down

Photo by Taylor Miller
  • Where: Diamond Creek to Pearce Ferry, Arizona
  • How Long: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Glen Canyon

Photo by Walt Carr
  • Where: Horseshoe Bend to Lees Ferry, Arizona
  • How Long: 2 or 3 days
  • Difficulty: Flatwater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

San Juan River


Upper San Juan

Photo by Pamela Mathues
  • Where: Sand Island to Mexican Hat, Utah
  • How Long: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Class II Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Lower San Juan

Photo by Walt Carr
  • Where: Mexican Hat to Clay Hills Crossing, Utah
  • How Long: 5 to 7 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Full San Juan

Photo by Pamela Mathues
  • Where: Sand Island to Clay Hills Crossing, Utah
  • How Long: 7 or 8 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Verde River

Photo by Doug Von Gausig
  • Where: Clarkdale, Arizona
  • How Long: 1 day
  • Difficulty: Under Class I Rapids
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Yampa or Green Rivers

Photo by Justin Gallen
  • Where: Road trip from Flagstaff, AZ to the Green or Yampa Rivers in northeast Utah
  • How Long: 8 or 9 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Land Based Destinations

Photo by Stephanie Jackson
  • Where: Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff Area National Monuments, Canyon de Chelly National Monuments, and more!
  • How Long: Customizable, 1 to 3 Days
  • Difficulty: Varied based on location
  • Learn More: Click Here

Every GCY Expedition is unique…

Each program has interpretive stops, hikes, camps, teachable moments and activities that complement our groups’ goals and objectives, but there are some common threads that make GCY programs special! Program Components included on all GCY Expeditions are:


  • Pre-Trip Requirements

    GCY Expeditions are not a vacation – they are intentional learning experiences focused on promoting personal growth. Youth are more invested in an experience, if they have worked for it and earned it themselves. To achieve this, participants are required to complete three Pre-Trip Requirements: Educational, Service, and Youth Earnings Components. Learning about their destination before participating helps students better connect to place; doing service projects to better home communities helps prepare youth to form a cohesive community in the wilderness; and earning a portion of the trip cost makes youth feel financially invested. We expect Trip Coordinators to coordinate at least one group fundraiser and service project in preparation for the expedition. GCY can provide guidance and resources to help you develop, complete, and succeed in all of these requirements.

  • Sense of Place

    GCY emphasizes the Place-Based Learning model. Guides will plan interpretive stops, talks, and hikes that emphasize the ecology, geology, ancient and modern history, and current events pertaining to a program’s specific location. We believe that if we provide experiences rooted in place, participants will have authentic learning experiences in these magical places.

  • Citizen Science

    Participating in real, ongoing Citizen Science initiatives is one of our favorite ways to engage youth in place! It gives participants a way to connect with research outside of a lab, observe parts of the ecosystem up close, and think about how people are working to study and protect the place that they’re exploring. Current projects that we help collect data for include an emergent insect monitoring project and an acoustic bat monitoring project. Agencies that we collect data for are United States Geological Survey – Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Depending on your destination and partner schedules, you may have a partner scientist on expedition with you, facilitating their research.

  • Camp Crews

    There is a lot to do on a wilderness expedition, and participants are full members of the team. Participants will be placed on 4-5 small crews for the duration of the program, and rotate through different camp chores and activities. These include cooking dinner, doing group dishes, running the Citizen Science project, and unpacking the camp bathroom system. Alternating through these crews, youth gain a sense of ownership over the success of the trip, and a good look at all that it takes to make these expeditions happen.

  • Art

    GCY guides love to offer opportunities to do art. Each expedition will have art supplies that youth can explore – watercolors, oil pastels, and colored pencils are incredible ways to capture memories. There is also the option to bring along supplies to make linoleum block prints. Follow in Everett Ruess’s footsteps and capture canyon walls in black and white!

  • Adventure

    And of course, every GCY Expedition allows a chance to adventure! Participants step outside of their comfort zones and into new discoveries. Hiking into side canyons, paddling boats through rapids, and camping underneath the stars all give youth chances to push their limits, disconnect from technology, and learn new things about themselves.

Want to take your group on a GCY Expedition?


If you have reviewed the Program Components and Destinations tabs, and think that a GCY Expedition might be an amazing way for you to bring connection to place, environmental awareness, citizen science, and adventure to your group, then we are excited to start working with you!

Please fill out the following form and a GCY Program Director will contact you promptly. We are currently scheduling expeditions for spring, summer, and fall of 2019:

2019 GCY Program Interest Form

Or Contact US via email!

2019 Expedition Schedule


ExpeditionLocationDate
Alpine Institute- Outdoor Discovery ClassVerde River4/20
Alpine Institute- Outdoor Discovery ClassVerde River4/21
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Green TripGlen Canyon5/16-17
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Orange TripGlen Canyon5/14-15
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Red TripGlen Canyon5/13-14
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Yellow TripGlen Canyon5/15-16
Alpine Leadership Academy- 7th Grade Orange TripLower San Juan4/20-24
Alpine Leadership Academy- 7th Grade Red TripUpper San Juan4/17-20
Alpine Leadership Academy- 7th Grade Yellow TripUpper San Juan4/23-26
Alpine Leadership Academy- 8th Grade Orange TripDiamond Down5/1-4
Alpine Leadership Academy- 8th Grade Red TripZion4/30-5/3
Alpine Leadership Academy- 8th Grade Yellow TripDiamond Down5/6-9
Arizona Child & Adolescent Survivors Initiative – Healing Lands ExpeditionUpper San Juan6/14 – 17
Arizona Child & Adolescent Survivors Initiative – Healing Lands Winter ReunionLost Dutchman State Park1/25 - 27
Baboquivari High SchoolLower San Juan5/29 – 6/2
BASIS Flagstaff High School Project WeekFull San Juan5/22-28
BASIS Flagstaff Middle School Project WeekGlen Canyon5/20-22
Bosque High SchoolDiamond Down3/5 - 8
Child & Family Support ServicesUpper San Juan6/13-16
Flagstaff Bordertown (Kinlani) DormitoryDiamond Down4/12-15
Flagstaff Junior Academy - 6th Grade Trip 1Upper San Juan5/11-14
Flagstaff Junior Academy - 6th Grade Trip 2Lower San Juan5/14-18
Girl Scouts Troop 212Verde River4/14
Global Travel AllianceGlen Canyon4/3 – 4
Grand Canyon Middle SchoolUpper San Juan5/2 – 5
Grand Classroom – Brownell Talbot School Upper San Juan6/5 – 7
Grand Classroom – Crespi Carmelite High SchoolDiamond Down4/17 – 20
Grand Classroom – Randolph SchoolDiamond Down3/11 – 14
Kanab High SchoolLower San Juan5/28 – 6/1
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Blue TripVerde River5/7
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Green TripVerde River5/2
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Pink TripVerde River4/30
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Purple TripVerde River5/1
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Yellow TripVerde River5/6
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 1Verde River5/20
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 2Verde River5/21
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 3Verde River5/22
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 4Verde River5/23
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 5Verde River5/24
Middle School Institute of Technology & Engineering (MIT-e)- Trip 1Upper San Juan5/4-7
Middle School Institute of Technology & Engineering (MIT-e)- Trip 2Lower San Juan5/7-10
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Project – Trip 1Dirty Devil River3/27 – 4/1
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Project – Trip 2Glen Canyon4/10 – 13
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Project – Trip 3Lower San Juan7/21 - 27
Nevin Platt & Southern Hills Middle Schools – Boulder Expedition ProgramDiamond Down4/7 – 10
No Barriers Youth – AFAR Foster YouthUpper San Juan, Canyon de Chelly7/4 – 12
No Barriers Youth – Children of Fallen HeroesLower San Juan7/22 – 29
No Barriers Youth – DCS MontessoriLower San Juan, Canyon de Chelly5/4 – 12
No Barriers Youth – Leading the WayFull Grand Canyon, South Rim7/13 – 24
No Barriers Youth – Lesher Middle SchoolUpper San Juan, Canyon de Chelly6/3 – 11
No Barriers Youth – Power 2 ChangeUpper San Juan, Canyon de Chelly6/24 – 7/2
Northern Arizona University- Upward Bound Math & ScienceLower San Juan6/6-10
Northland Preparatory Academy- 6th GradeGlen Canyon4/12-14
Northland Preparatory Academy- 7th & 8th GradeUpper San Juan4/5-8
Northland Preparatory Academy- Honors EnglishDiamond Down4/24-27
Northland Preparatory Academy- Outdoor Club Lower San Juan4/26-30
Ponderosa High School- TerraBIRDSUpper San Juan6/25-28
Summit High SchoolVerde River3/28
Telluride Academy – Expedition Grand CanyonGlen Canyon6/30 – 7/2
Telluride Academy – Outdoor Leadership ChallengeUpper San Juan7/13 – 17
The Bush SchoolDiamond Down5/20 – 23
Webber Middle SchoolDiamond Down, South Rim6/3 – 9

Frequently Asked Questions


What are we going to do out there?

Being out in wilderness is taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. GCY groups spend the days sharing meals, playing games, hiking to incredible vistas or cultural sites, learning about the place they’re in, and having a lot of fun! Everyone works together: helping set up camp, do science projects, cook dinner, and wash dishes. Every youth is a full participant in all aspects of the expedition. GCY will help Trip Coordinators develop activities, discussions, and other structures for participants to engage with to meet educational goals.

What are the Pre-Trip Requirements?

Youth are more invested in an experience, if they have worked for it and earned it themselves. To achieve this, participants are required to complete three Pre-Trip Requirements: Educational, Service, and Youth Earnings Components. Learning about their destination before participating helps students better connect to place; doing service projects to better home communities helps prepare youth to form a cohesive community in the wilderness; and earning a portion of the trip cost makes youth feel financially invested. GCY can provide guidance and resources to help Trip Coordinators develop, complete, and succeed in all of these requirements.

Can I take my group down the Grand Canyon through the National Park section?

Permitting and access to the ‘main stem’ of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon (Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek) is highly limited. Grand Canyon Youth is not a permit holder for that section, and is not able to offer river programs there to schools and groups. For a Grand Canyon experience, check out our Diamond Down destination! This section of the Colorado River runs just below the main stem (Diamond Creek to Pearce Ferry), and contains the last rapids and side canyons of Grand Canyon as it flows into Lake Mead.

How much do expeditions cost?

Cost of GCY programs varies greatly with program destination, group size, and logistical support needed. We do our very best to ensure that price is not a barrier to participation. Through yearly grant-writing and fundraising efforts, GCY is able to subsidize about 50% of all expedition costs. Because of this, we are able to keep our programs at about 1/3 to 1/2 of the price of similar commercial, for-profit programs. Longer programs, small group sizes, and added transportation or camping support will all impact the overall cost of the expedition.

What if there is an emergency?

Most wilderness emergencies can be prevented by taking care of yourself and listening to safety guidelines. GCY guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, and a satellite phone and extensive first-aid materials are on each trip. If there is an incident, the GCY office will work with guides to organize emergency support and contact parents. If you are nervous about any aspect of the program, please contact us for more information.

How many adult chaperones should we bring?

We want you to bring enough adult chaperones to feel comfortable managing your group. Typically groups bring 2 to 4 adults, depending on the size of the group. GCY subsidizes the cost of 2 adults (Trip Coordinators) on an expedition, so they may participate free of cost. We understand that this is not a vacation and you will be working hard! Any additional adults will be charged the participant price. When thinking about the number of adults on a program, keep in mind that you will have 3 to 5 GCY river guides along as well. Expeditions with too many adults can have negative impacts on a group’s experiences!

Can parents come along?

We recommend that parents do not come on expeditions with their children. Youth have drastically different experiences when they are away from their parents – they push comfort zones, create deeper bonds with peers, develop independence, and learn more about themselves. If a group needs to send parent volunteers with their expedition, we recommend that parents and children go in separate groups if possible.

Does GCY have a set curriculum?

GCY does not have a set curriculum, or set of activities that happen of every expedition. Each group determines their own goals, and works collaboratively with GCY to develop a program that will help them reach those goals. Trip Coordinators are expected to bring 1-3 activities that they would like to lead. GCY guides will choose to lead teambuilding activities, games, interpretive talks, art projects, hikes, and other activities that supplement Trip Coordinator activities and help reach a group’s goals.

What if I do not have all the items on the Packing List?

GCY has many items available to borrow in our Gear Room, from river shoes to rain jackets, we have 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.

The Gear Room is open Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm, if you cannot make it here during those hours, please feel free to contact us to set up a time to come by!

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

Packing


Having the right equipment 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 do not have any items on the PakcingList, 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.

2-3 Day Packing List

4-5 Day Packing List

7-11 Day Packing List

Verde River Packing List

Glen Canyon Overnight 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 assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
  • 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.

Destinations

Expedition Destinations

GCY offers programs on a wide variety of river sections and land-based destinations. Explore the following options and think about what might be best for your group! From day-trips to 9-day extended programs, the Southwest has a lot to offer!

Colorado River 


Diamond Down

Photo by Taylor Miller
  • Where: Diamond Creek to Pearce Ferry, Arizona
  • How Long: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Glen Canyon

Photo by Walt Carr
  • Where: Horseshoe Bend to Lees Ferry, Arizona
  • How Long: 2 or 3 days
  • Difficulty: Flatwater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

San Juan River


Upper San Juan

Photo by Pamela Mathues
  • Where: Sand Island to Mexican Hat, Utah
  • How Long: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Class II Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Lower San Juan

Photo by Walt Carr
  • Where: Mexican Hat to Clay Hills Crossing, Utah
  • How Long: 5 to 7 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Full San Juan

Photo by Pamela Mathues
  • Where: Sand Island to Clay Hills Crossing, Utah
  • How Long: 7 or 8 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Verde River

Photo by Doug Von Gausig
  • Where: Clarkdale, Arizona
  • How Long: 1 day
  • Difficulty: Under Class I Rapids
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Yampa or Green Rivers

Photo by Justin Gallen
  • Where: Road trip from Flagstaff, AZ to the Green or Yampa Rivers in northeast Utah
  • How Long: 8 or 9 days
  • Difficulty: Class III Whitewater
  • Sights to See: Click Here

Land Based Destinations

Photo by Stephanie Jackson
  • Where: Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff Area National Monuments, Canyon de Chelly National Monuments, and more!
  • How Long: Customizable, 1 to 3 Days
  • Difficulty: Varied based on location
  • Learn More: Click Here

Expedition Components

Every GCY Expedition is unique…

Each program has interpretive stops, hikes, camps, teachable moments and activities that complement our groups’ goals and objectives, but there are some common threads that make GCY programs special! Program Components included on all GCY Expeditions are:


  • Pre-Trip Requirements

    GCY Expeditions are not a vacation – they are intentional learning experiences focused on promoting personal growth. Youth are more invested in an experience, if they have worked for it and earned it themselves. To achieve this, participants are required to complete three Pre-Trip Requirements: Educational, Service, and Youth Earnings Components. Learning about their destination before participating helps students better connect to place; doing service projects to better home communities helps prepare youth to form a cohesive community in the wilderness; and earning a portion of the trip cost makes youth feel financially invested. We expect Trip Coordinators to coordinate at least one group fundraiser and service project in preparation for the expedition. GCY can provide guidance and resources to help you develop, complete, and succeed in all of these requirements.

  • Sense of Place

    GCY emphasizes the Place-Based Learning model. Guides will plan interpretive stops, talks, and hikes that emphasize the ecology, geology, ancient and modern history, and current events pertaining to a program’s specific location. We believe that if we provide experiences rooted in place, participants will have authentic learning experiences in these magical places.

  • Citizen Science

    Participating in real, ongoing Citizen Science initiatives is one of our favorite ways to engage youth in place! It gives participants a way to connect with research outside of a lab, observe parts of the ecosystem up close, and think about how people are working to study and protect the place that they’re exploring. Current projects that we help collect data for include an emergent insect monitoring project and an acoustic bat monitoring project. Agencies that we collect data for are United States Geological Survey – Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Depending on your destination and partner schedules, you may have a partner scientist on expedition with you, facilitating their research.

  • Camp Crews

    There is a lot to do on a wilderness expedition, and participants are full members of the team. Participants will be placed on 4-5 small crews for the duration of the program, and rotate through different camp chores and activities. These include cooking dinner, doing group dishes, running the Citizen Science project, and unpacking the camp bathroom system. Alternating through these crews, youth gain a sense of ownership over the success of the trip, and a good look at all that it takes to make these expeditions happen.

  • Art

    GCY guides love to offer opportunities to do art. Each expedition will have art supplies that youth can explore – watercolors, oil pastels, and colored pencils are incredible ways to capture memories. There is also the option to bring along supplies to make linoleum block prints. Follow in Everett Ruess’s footsteps and capture canyon walls in black and white!

  • Adventure

    And of course, every GCY Expedition allows a chance to adventure! Participants step outside of their comfort zones and into new discoveries. Hiking into side canyons, paddling boats through rapids, and camping underneath the stars all give youth chances to push their limits, disconnect from technology, and learn new things about themselves.

Inquire

Want to take your group on a GCY Expedition?


If you have reviewed the Program Components and Destinations tabs, and think that a GCY Expedition might be an amazing way for you to bring connection to place, environmental awareness, citizen science, and adventure to your group, then we are excited to start working with you!

Please fill out the following form and a GCY Program Director will contact you promptly. We are currently scheduling expeditions for spring, summer, and fall of 2019:

2019 GCY Program Interest Form

Or Contact US via email!

Schedule

2019 Expedition Schedule


ExpeditionLocationDate
Alpine Institute- Outdoor Discovery ClassVerde River4/20
Alpine Institute- Outdoor Discovery ClassVerde River4/21
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Green TripGlen Canyon5/16-17
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Orange TripGlen Canyon5/14-15
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Red TripGlen Canyon5/13-14
Alpine Leadership Academy- 6th Grade Yellow TripGlen Canyon5/15-16
Alpine Leadership Academy- 7th Grade Orange TripLower San Juan4/20-24
Alpine Leadership Academy- 7th Grade Red TripUpper San Juan4/17-20
Alpine Leadership Academy- 7th Grade Yellow TripUpper San Juan4/23-26
Alpine Leadership Academy- 8th Grade Orange TripDiamond Down5/1-4
Alpine Leadership Academy- 8th Grade Red TripZion4/30-5/3
Alpine Leadership Academy- 8th Grade Yellow TripDiamond Down5/6-9
Arizona Child & Adolescent Survivors Initiative – Healing Lands ExpeditionUpper San Juan6/14 – 17
Arizona Child & Adolescent Survivors Initiative – Healing Lands Winter ReunionLost Dutchman State Park1/25 - 27
Baboquivari High SchoolLower San Juan5/29 – 6/2
BASIS Flagstaff High School Project WeekFull San Juan5/22-28
BASIS Flagstaff Middle School Project WeekGlen Canyon5/20-22
Bosque High SchoolDiamond Down3/5 - 8
Child & Family Support ServicesUpper San Juan6/13-16
Flagstaff Bordertown (Kinlani) DormitoryDiamond Down4/12-15
Flagstaff Junior Academy - 6th Grade Trip 1Upper San Juan5/11-14
Flagstaff Junior Academy - 6th Grade Trip 2Lower San Juan5/14-18
Girl Scouts Troop 212Verde River4/14
Global Travel AllianceGlen Canyon4/3 – 4
Grand Canyon Middle SchoolUpper San Juan5/2 – 5
Grand Classroom – Brownell Talbot School Upper San Juan6/5 – 7
Grand Classroom – Crespi Carmelite High SchoolDiamond Down4/17 – 20
Grand Classroom – Randolph SchoolDiamond Down3/11 – 14
Kanab High SchoolLower San Juan5/28 – 6/1
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Blue TripVerde River5/7
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Green TripVerde River5/2
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Pink TripVerde River4/30
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Purple TripVerde River5/1
Kinsey Inquiry & Discovery School- 5th Grade Yellow TripVerde River5/6
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 1Verde River5/20
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 2Verde River5/21
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 3Verde River5/22
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 4Verde River5/23
Marshall Elementary Magnet School- 5th Grade Trip 5Verde River5/24
Middle School Institute of Technology & Engineering (MIT-e)- Trip 1Upper San Juan5/4-7
Middle School Institute of Technology & Engineering (MIT-e)- Trip 2Lower San Juan5/7-10
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Project – Trip 1Dirty Devil River3/27 – 4/1
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Project – Trip 2Glen Canyon4/10 – 13
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Project – Trip 3Lower San Juan7/21 - 27
Nevin Platt & Southern Hills Middle Schools – Boulder Expedition ProgramDiamond Down4/7 – 10
No Barriers Youth – AFAR Foster YouthUpper San Juan, Canyon de Chelly7/4 – 12
No Barriers Youth – Children of Fallen HeroesLower San Juan7/22 – 29
No Barriers Youth – DCS MontessoriLower San Juan, Canyon de Chelly5/4 – 12
No Barriers Youth – Leading the WayFull Grand Canyon, South Rim7/13 – 24
No Barriers Youth – Lesher Middle SchoolUpper San Juan, Canyon de Chelly6/3 – 11
No Barriers Youth – Power 2 ChangeUpper San Juan, Canyon de Chelly6/24 – 7/2
Northern Arizona University- Upward Bound Math & ScienceLower San Juan6/6-10
Northland Preparatory Academy- 6th GradeGlen Canyon4/12-14
Northland Preparatory Academy- 7th & 8th GradeUpper San Juan4/5-8
Northland Preparatory Academy- Honors EnglishDiamond Down4/24-27
Northland Preparatory Academy- Outdoor Club Lower San Juan4/26-30
Ponderosa High School- TerraBIRDSUpper San Juan6/25-28
Summit High SchoolVerde River3/28
Telluride Academy – Expedition Grand CanyonGlen Canyon6/30 – 7/2
Telluride Academy – Outdoor Leadership ChallengeUpper San Juan7/13 – 17
The Bush SchoolDiamond Down5/20 – 23
Webber Middle SchoolDiamond Down, South Rim6/3 – 9
FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


What are we going to do out there?

Being out in wilderness is taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. GCY groups spend the days sharing meals, playing games, hiking to incredible vistas or cultural sites, learning about the place they’re in, and having a lot of fun! Everyone works together: helping set up camp, do science projects, cook dinner, and wash dishes. Every youth is a full participant in all aspects of the expedition. GCY will help Trip Coordinators develop activities, discussions, and other structures for participants to engage with to meet educational goals.

What are the Pre-Trip Requirements?

Youth are more invested in an experience, if they have worked for it and earned it themselves. To achieve this, participants are required to complete three Pre-Trip Requirements: Educational, Service, and Youth Earnings Components. Learning about their destination before participating helps students better connect to place; doing service projects to better home communities helps prepare youth to form a cohesive community in the wilderness; and earning a portion of the trip cost makes youth feel financially invested. GCY can provide guidance and resources to help Trip Coordinators develop, complete, and succeed in all of these requirements.

Can I take my group down the Grand Canyon through the National Park section?

Permitting and access to the ‘main stem’ of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon (Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek) is highly limited. Grand Canyon Youth is not a permit holder for that section, and is not able to offer river programs there to schools and groups. For a Grand Canyon experience, check out our Diamond Down destination! This section of the Colorado River runs just below the main stem (Diamond Creek to Pearce Ferry), and contains the last rapids and side canyons of Grand Canyon as it flows into Lake Mead.

How much do expeditions cost?

Cost of GCY programs varies greatly with program destination, group size, and logistical support needed. We do our very best to ensure that price is not a barrier to participation. Through yearly grant-writing and fundraising efforts, GCY is able to subsidize about 50% of all expedition costs. Because of this, we are able to keep our programs at about 1/3 to 1/2 of the price of similar commercial, for-profit programs. Longer programs, small group sizes, and added transportation or camping support will all impact the overall cost of the expedition.

What if there is an emergency?

Most wilderness emergencies can be prevented by taking care of yourself and listening to safety guidelines. GCY guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, and a satellite phone and extensive first-aid materials are on each trip. If there is an incident, the GCY office will work with guides to organize emergency support and contact parents. If you are nervous about any aspect of the program, please contact us for more information.

How many adult chaperones should we bring?

We want you to bring enough adult chaperones to feel comfortable managing your group. Typically groups bring 2 to 4 adults, depending on the size of the group. GCY subsidizes the cost of 2 adults (Trip Coordinators) on an expedition, so they may participate free of cost. We understand that this is not a vacation and you will be working hard! Any additional adults will be charged the participant price. When thinking about the number of adults on a program, keep in mind that you will have 3 to 5 GCY river guides along as well. Expeditions with too many adults can have negative impacts on a group’s experiences!

Can parents come along?

We recommend that parents do not come on expeditions with their children. Youth have drastically different experiences when they are away from their parents – they push comfort zones, create deeper bonds with peers, develop independence, and learn more about themselves. If a group needs to send parent volunteers with their expedition, we recommend that parents and children go in separate groups if possible.

Does GCY have a set curriculum?

GCY does not have a set curriculum, or set of activities that happen of every expedition. Each group determines their own goals, and works collaboratively with GCY to develop a program that will help them reach those goals. Trip Coordinators are expected to bring 1-3 activities that they would like to lead. GCY guides will choose to lead teambuilding activities, games, interpretive talks, art projects, hikes, and other activities that supplement Trip Coordinator activities and help reach a group’s goals.

What if I do not have all the items on the Packing List?

GCY has many items available to borrow in our Gear Room, from river shoes to rain jackets, we have 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.

The Gear Room is open Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm, if you cannot make it here during those hours, please feel free to contact us to set up a time to come by!

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

Packing

Packing


Having the right equipment 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 do not have any items on the PakcingList, 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.

2-3 Day Packing List

4-5 Day Packing List

7-11 Day Packing List

Verde River Packing List

Glen Canyon Overnight 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 assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
  • 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.