Rafting in the Grand Canyon with Hatch is an active vacation where your participation is an integral part of a smooth and successful trip. We’ll cook your meals, but you’ll still need to set up your own tent; we’ll drive the boats, but you’ll help load and unload them. We’ll lead (optional) hikes to incredible places that are hard to get to any other way than starting from the river, and (if you choose to join in) you’ll keep pace with the group.

If you’re joining us on a trip, here is some of the physical activity you should be prepared for:

  • hiking up the sides of the canyon; along narrow ledges; over and around boulders, trees, and cacti; and through running creek beds*
  • balancing as you walk across the bobbing surface of the raft which may be hot or wet and slippery
  • climbing onto and off of the raft, sometimes onto a sandy beach, sometimes onto a rocky surface, and sometimes into shallow water
  • being bounced and jostled through whitewater rapids, and keeping your body safely and securely aboard by holding onto rope handholds
  • walking up sandy or rocky slopes and across uneven ground in camps
  • helping unload gear from boats in fire-line style and carrying your own camping gear (up to 25 lbs worth) to your campsite


*Guests participating in hiking focused trips and upper/lower canyon trips should prepare for more intensive hikes that may be several miles and take multiple hours.

These activities take place whether it is hot or cold, raining or dry, windy or calm, so it’s important that you prepare accordingly for your trip. Although one long-time Hatch guest used to joke that the best way to prepare for a trip was to sleep outside your house in a sleeping bag filled with sand, we have a few more practical ideas for you!

We all have busy lives, so it can sometimes be difficult to imagine fitting additional activities into them. The way we see it, there are 3 main approaches you can take:

  • Modify things you already do so that they are more active
  • Dedicate time specifically to exercise or physical activity
  • Participate in hobbies or social activities that require more movement


Modifying Things You Already Do

If you’re already going to be running an errand or going to work, try changing your routine around it just a little so that it requires you to do a bit more moving. Examples include:

  • parking at the back of a parking lot and walking farther when you go to work, the grocery store, or a restaurant
  • carrying your groceries from the store to your car instead of using a cart (if you don’t have too many!)
  • increasing the frequency or length of your dog walks
  • walking or biking instead of driving to run errands close to your home
  • using stairs instead of elevators in buildings
  • choosing a steep path over a more gradual one when given the option
  • running downhills or flat stretches when out for a walk
  • if it’s a manageable distance, try biking to work


Dedicating Time Specifically to Exercise

  • start using a treadmill at home or at the gym to get in the habit of walking
  • set aside specific time in your schedule (maybe 30 minutes in the morning or after work a few days a week) to go for a walk or run
  • use a stair climbing machine at the gym to simulate stepping up steep Grand Canyon trails
  • use exercise bikes, treadmills, or other gym equipment for cardio workouts
  • go for a swim at your local pool or beach
  • go for a bike ride around your neighborhood
  • lift small weights as part of your exercise routine (to get used to lifting and carrying gear)


Participating in Hobbies or Social Activities that Require Movement

  • when socializing with friends, go for a walk instead of a drink or a meal
  • go out dancing
  • play tag with your kids or grandkids
  • spend a weekend day going on a family hike
  • participate in a pick up sports game in your neighborhood
  • lift and carry young kids or grandkids when you’re playing with them
  • start a new hobby that requires you to move your body such as gardening or yoga


As your trip gets closer, step up your activity levels even more. Try increasing the intensity, frequency, or duration of your activities:

  • go for longer walks, runs, hikes, or bike rides
  • find trails in your area with more difficult terrain or changing elevation
  • increase the difficulty of the routines you’re doing on your gym equipment (steeper, faster, or more elevation changes)
  • spend more time being active (if you normally exercise for 15 minutes, increase it to 30; if you normally exercise twice a week, increase it to 3 times)


For most participants on full canyon trips, increasing physical activity in these small ways will be enough to make a huge difference. If you’re on a hiking focused trip or an upper/lower canyon trip, you may need to do a bit more. For these trips, focus specifically on finding hiking trails in your area that feature rough terrain and elevation changes. Work on successfully completing longer hikes until you can comfortably do 6-8 miles in a day.

Other Ways to Prepare

Your body isn’t the only thing that needs conditioning.

  • GEAR: Purchase and break in any gear you’ll be wearing (ESPECIALLY SHOES!) prior to joining us for your trip.
  • MIND: Get used to paying attention to your needs. Drink when you are thirsty, eat salt when you are craving it, rest and stretch when your muscles are straining. This kind of self-awareness is critical to taking care of yourself on the river.
  • ATTITUDE: Adopt a “go with the flow” mentality. At Hatch we call this “adventure attitude.” What you expect to happen in life and what actually takes place are never quite the same thing. This is doubly true when you’re on the river, so be ready to adjust to changes in the plan as necessary.



If you’ve taken our suggestions above to heart and really put some time and energy into getting ready before your trip, we are confident that your vacation with Hatch River Expeditions truly will be the trip of a lifetime!

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