This weekend and into next week, Grand Canyon is staring down temperatures well over 100 degrees, so we thought now would be a good time to give you some tips for keeping cool in the desert.

First, and foremost—WATER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND!

Luckily, you’ll be spending your days traveling down the Colorado River and your nights camped out beside it, so you’ll have lots of access to water. Here are a couple of ways to use water to your advantage:

  1. Drink it! And lots of it! There’s a common saying in the desert that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Keep your water bottle within easy access and drink from it throughout the day. In addition to water, you’ll want to drink plenty of Gatorade or Lemonade to replenish the electrolytes you lose when you sweat.
  2. Cool off in it. Take advantage of the swimming stops and the rapids. Get your body wet and you’ll feel worlds cooler.
  3. Soak your clothes and hats in it. Bring a bandana, soak it in the river, and tie it around your neck. Cooling the arteries in your neck will help cool your entire body. Soak your shirt and hat and they’ll help keep your body temperature down as well.
    Bonus: Before bed, drape a wet t-shirt over you to help stay cool while you sleep.
  1. Speaking of sleeping—set up your bed close to the water. The cliffs will radiate the heat they stored throughout the day, but the air closer to the water will be cooler, especially if there’s a breeze.
  2. Keep drinking it! Seriously, we can’t stress enough how important hydration is on the river.


Seems obvious, but it’s worth remembering that you’ll be hotter in the sun. Here are some ways you can alleviate its intensity:

  1. Wear long sleeves. It might seem counterintuitive, but you’ll actually be cooler in long-sleeves. Keep a lightweight, light-colored, long-sleeved shirt on through the sunny stretches, and not only will you avoid sunburn, but you’ll also stay cooler. If you can also cover your legs with a lightweight sarong, all the better.
  2. Wear a sun hat and sunglasses. The same principle applies with a hat and sunglasses—create your own shade, and you’ll be cooler while protecting your skin and eyes from harsh rays. (And while we’re on the topic of protecting your skin, wear lots of sunscreen!)
  3. Take advantage of the shade when you find it. When you’re hiking, if you need to take a rest break, try to find a spot in the shade where you can take a second and "chill."

Finally, listen to your guides. They are your first and best resource for everything in the canyon—after all, many spend nearly half of their lives there. They’re sure to have their own sets of tips, and will know what to do if you or one of the other passengers gets dehydrated or starts to overheat.

If you’re worried your trip will be ruined by the heat, don’t be. Even your longest, hottest stretches, will be punctuated by waterfalls, natural springs, and splashes through the rapids—and just think how much more refreshing they’ll be in the warmer weather!

What If There Are Record High Temperatures on My River Trip? was last modified: June 16th, 2016 by Jessica Clark

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