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10 Tips for Grand Canyon Rafting Trips

Know the Regulations for Noncommercial Trips

If you're lucky enough to be picked in the lottery for a noncommercial private trip from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek, you should already be familiar with all of the regulations required by the NPS. Each trip can consist of a maximum of 16 people. Although there's no age restriction for trip participants, each group must have a trip leader who is at least 18 years old. Each person over the age of 15 must carry photo identification. The NPS requires that the leader must be familiar with whitewater navigation and safety, as well as first aid and equipment repair.

The trip leader is not a paid guide, however. In fact, members of your group must share responsibility for all of the costs, preparation and conduct. If the NPS discovers the trip is being used for profit, it will revoke the permit. The NPS doesn't take such requirements lightly, as rangers are known to travel the river and check for permits and passenger lists, which a leader must always carry.

You may wonder what happens if your best friend schedules his wedding on the launch date you just won through the lottery. Unfortunately, launch dates are final, fees are nonrefundable, and you can't defer or swap the date. You can, however, pass the reins to a potential alternative trip leader (PATL) listed on your lottery application. If you didn't list a PATL, you will be forced to cancel and the date will be rereleased in a follow-up lottery.

If you can make the launch date, you can arrive at Lees Ferry up to one day before your launch. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can use the day to rig your boats and prepare for an early start on your actual launch date.