Covid-19 Rafting Information
As the pandemic brought the world to a halt, we, like everyone else, stopped and rebooted operations to address the coming challenges. Our industry in Grand Canyon, while competitive, in tough times has also proven to be collaborative. All of the outfitters were generous enough to share their plans and ideas for reopening and safe operation through virtual meetings with our trade association and added significant input to what would become National Park Service COVID-19 guidelines for river operations across the Service. During the shortened 2020 season 8,687 people took a Grand Canyon river trip with a commercial outfitter and zero COVID-19 cases were attributed to a river trip with any outfitter.
On the spectrum of places to be during an airborne pandemic, the outdoors has proven to be one of the best. In our backcountry setting hygiene and sanitation have always been paramount to operating a safe trip. Many of the changes we have made are simply redundancies or small operational tweaks to our already robust systems. Now with the 2020 season under our belts we have even more confidence that, save a few small adjustments with the changing landscape of the pandemic, our precautions and mitigation efforts are very effective.
Frequently Asked Topics
Our crewmembers will be encouraged, but not required, to receive a vaccine. Outdoors Unlimited has requested doses from the state of Arizona for our employees and are currently awaiting approval. While we understand that vaccination is a personal choice, we highly encourage anyone who can receive a Covid-19 vaccine to get one. Each state is rolling out their vaccine distribution slightly differently. Connect with your local health department to determine which category of distribution you fall into. Please remember that our currently approved Covid-19 vaccines require two doses between 21 and 28 days apart. You must ensure that you will be available to receive your second vaccine within the proper timeframe.
Pre-trip / pre-travel testing is highly encouraged and will be required of our crew where possible. As faster turn around and travel specific testing evolves in the coming months, we will do our best to keep you updated with any new testing options that may exist. If you have not been tested during the pandemic, we urge you to seek out testing information in your area. Many communities offer testing at community collection sites while other areas rely more on private drug stores and primary care providers.
Approximately one week before your trip launches you will be receiving a Covid-19 self screening form. This form will ask additional questions of your recent health history.
As per our requirements with the National Park Service, suspected cases will be communicated to their Public Health Official who will determine the most appropriate way forward. As with the entirety of this pandemic, complete contact tracing is unlikely; however, communication will be provided to all river participants by Outdoors Unlimited should a positive, or presumptive positive, case arise from your river trip.
Operating in an outdoor setting provides a lot of opportunity to socially distance. While we cannot guarantee that you will not be within six feet from others outside of your immediate group, we will do our best to arrange boat loads with the same people each day to minimize close contact with a larger number of people. Campsites will not be shared with other groups. Chairs are arranged to provide ample space between individuals and sleeping areas are never closer than 20 feet to others.
As with any river trip with Outdoors Unlimited, scrupulous hand hygiene is required! The hand wash system will be the first piece of equipment set up when arriving in camp. Soap and/or hand sanitizer will be available on every boat and at any point during the day. Hand washing will occur upon arrival in camp, before initiating the baggage line, after finishing the baggage line, after using the toilet, and before eating. Hand washing will be a recurrent theme by our crewmembers!
Face masks or coverings will be required during certain times on a river trip. These times will be determined by your crew but at a minimum will include during meal service. Other occasions may include side-hikes when you must pass another group along the trail. Face masks will not be required while on boats unless there is a suspected positive person in which case that person will be isolated and must wear a mask until symptoms resolve or evacuation can occur.
Outdoors Unlimited will continue to seek out up to date information on the pandemic and implement best practices where possible. As such any of the above are subject to change without notice as both guidance and circumstances continue to evolve. For further information or specific questions please email our reservations office.