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About Western River Expeditions
After 50 years guiding adventurous travelers through the most spectacular rivers and canyons in the West, Western River Expeditions has carefully crafted what we consider to be the best white water rafting vacations in the world. Journey through the breathtaking redrock canyons of the southwest in Grand Canyon and Utah, punctuated by some of the most legendary white water rapids in the world. Explore the forested mountains of the Northwest in Idaho or Oregon, each with their own unique story. Or, create unforgettable memories at a remote jungle lodge on the banks of Pacuare River in Costa Rica. Where will you go white water rafting?
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Western River Expeditions
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Laurie P wrote a review Apr 19
Ann Arbor, Michigan2 contributions
This trip was absolutely incredible! By far the best experience of my life! The guides were all amazing and could not have been nicer or more knowledgeable. Western River takes care of everything, all you have to worry about is packing and once you're on the trip you don't have to worry about anything. All the supplies/equipment they provided were great, and the three meals a day they provided were even better. I literally could not recommend this trip enough! If you are even considering it you should definitely do it! I am so glad I could make it work, it is 100% worth the expense. Within one week after returning I already signed up for another trip next year and I can't wait!
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Date of experience: April 2021
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U5481KIandrewr wrote a review Apr 16
7 contributions1 helpful vote
This review is for the Western River Expeditions seven-day rafting trip on the upper Grand Canyon sections of the Colorado river. Please note that if you are checking reviews in several places, you may see my exact same review as I feel this firm and most importantly, the people that operate it, deserve and have more than earned as much positive exposure that I can give. Summary: This is a seven-day, 188 mile, 80 white water rapid rafting trip that includes day hikes (which are optional or offer partial hikes if you have limitations or prefer.) You will be 100% off the grid the entire time which may be a concern for some but for all of us, it was a blessing. You will sleep under the brilliant sky and probably see the stars brighter and more numerous than you have ever seen them. Your guides (more on them later) are extremely proficient, capable and impressive – you are in good hands. The guides: The guides are first because, well, they are that good. And they need to be on a trip this remote and specialized. Our guides were Joe, Scott, Trent and Stephanie. Joe was the team leader. John Dillion (president of the consortium of rafting companies on the Colorado) was added as an “additional crew member”. All of the guides are incredibly capable in every capacity of their jobs as river guides. More than that, they are incredibly good and capable human beings on many levels yet carry themselves in a remarkably humble and kind manner. We were regularly told stories about: the geology and natural history of the canyon and river, Native American history in the area, the history of explorers in the Canyon, some of the wild rafters/guides over the years, etc. The guides are not regulated by the Coast Guard as they would be on other navigable waters but the consortium of companies have an MOU with the Dept of the Interior (or National Park Service?) that ensures all guides maintain all the same currency requirements. In other words, it is effectively the same as if they were regulated by the Coast Guard – so you can rest assured, we are talking about very capable boatsmen/women. Since they are also your food preparers and handlers, they are trained and maintain their currency in food prep and safety (more on food later – OMG, they aren’t just licensed, they are good). Our group was treated to after dinner camp site jam sessions as Scott has his degree in music and plays guitar, Joe the mandolin, John guitar and keyboard (melodica,) and Steph plays a little guitar. I was so proud of Steph as she is the least experienced but got up there one night and performed a few songs and sang. For fun, here are my best of categories: Biggest surprise: Stephanie. This thin yet in shape girl can handle a 37’ J rig boat, sling heavy equipment in each hand on the boat without showing any unease or lack of balance. I was super pleased to learn she is not just a “swamper” but also a team lead on other trips. Gender has nothing to do with it – Stephanie is one capable person. Best story teller: Trent. Trent tells stories about the geology or Native American and/or is able to describe a location of a landmark in a way that brings you eyes directly to what he is talking about – the later is no small feat when you at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The positive energy that he exudes in every moment is amplified in his story telling. Best poet: Joe. If you get Joe as the lead on your boat or as team lead, you will be treated to at least one or two poems per day that he has stored away in his brain. Did I say these folks are extremely capable on many levels? Best musician: Scott. I don’t think the music is an advertised part of these trips so don’t expect it. But I so very much enjoyed it. Scott is one talented dude on the guitar and vocals and composes much of his own music. Scott and Joe led us on a hike into a remote canyon and gave us a little concert in an acoustically amazing spot that ended in a very fun sing-a-long. Although John was an “additional crew member” he isn’t actually part of WRE. But he is a kind and super capable person and provided us with many great informative talks either formally or in casual conversation. The River: As mentioned, this trip is 188 miles on the Colorado in the upper GC. Because the water is fed and released from the bottom of the Glen Canyon dam, it’s pretty much a constant 49 degrees year-round. In other words, cold. Really cold. There will be times you welcome the cold water and times (i.e. bathing) in which you feel your privates trying to crawl back up into their pre-congenital homes. There are 80 rapids you will encounter of varying intensity. The character of these rapids change with water flow so I can’t predict what you will experience. But as a former surfer, body surfer and double diamond skier (all many moons ago) I ensured I was in the front of the boat for all major rapids. But know that the front of the boat on a major rapid can be an intense experience and may not be for you. If so, there are two other locations on the boat: middle in which you are sitting up high above the front occupants and the other just behind them on the “princess perch”. The princess perch is immediately aft of the middle, on the sides of the boat and sit lower than the middle “seats.” There are no assigned seats and you are expected to be cordial and share. In other words, if you find yourself stuck in a position for day(s) and want to get up to the middle (or back in my case,) talk to your mates. If that fails, talk to a crew member. Be a good mate and look out for each other and use the crew member as a last resort as they work their tails off from before sunrise until after sunset – LITERALLY. If you have the presence of mind at the time, watch how the crew pilots the boat in some of the major rapids, as they are truly impressive. The hikes: This was my biggest surprise of the trip. I knew there were hikes and planned on participating but WOW. They take you off the river and up some canyon and you suddenly find yourself at a waterfall and garden paradise. The crew is GREAT about describing technical and physical difficulty of the hikes and are always there to assist. Again, the crew seem to know everything and every place in the canyon, (although likely impossible) and are as great of hiking guides as they are river guides. I don’t want to list my favorites as I may forget names of locations and such and because you may not get the same experience. In any case, I am sure you will experience the same mind-blowing experience we did. The food: Honestly? I am a pretty smart dude but just don’t understand how in the heck they do it. ALL meals were fantastic to include COOKED desserts! What? Yeah. There are at least two fun surprises that I would love to share with you but that would spoil the surprise but I will just say, it once again comes down to crew whom I believe I have conveyed are AWESOME. The weather: Listen, we really lucked out. We went on an early April trip and the weather was perfect the entire time. But it may not play out that way for you. April can bring cold, even snow, in the Canyon. July and August will be hot. So, I suggest consulting directly with WRE HQ (who are also great and very responsive) to get a feel as to what the best time to go would be for you. Cost to value: I won’t share what we paid but for me, it was an expensive trip. To others, it may not be. But the important point here in this discussion is value. Per day the cost is similar to staying in a very nice hotel in a major city plus expenses. But remember what you are getting. All meals, 4-5 great, fun, experience, capable guides ensuring you are ok and having fun at all times, some of the most beautiful views and experiences you may ever see, some of the most fun water experiences, hikes, etc. that you will ever experience. And the sky. The stars. The value of this experience far exceeds the cost in my humble opinion. It truly is a very rare experience. Tipping: As mentioned, this was a high price point for me. So, when I learned that tipping was expected, I thought “What?” This was shear and literal ignorance on my part. We tipped about 11% which is a chunk of cash to me. But now that it is over, I feel we under tipped our crew. The value of the service they provide in difficult if not impossible to quantify. Now I feel our tip should have been at least 15%. Even that is low frankly but I’m speaking in terms of my income and ability to pay. These guys and gals are amazing and I strongly advise supporting them to the extent you can and commensurate to your level of happiness with their service (which I assure you will be high.) We brought cash which made me uncomfortable and locked us into an amount. What I suggest and learned after the fact is they accept checks. So, bring your check book or just a check and decide your tip amount at the end of your experience. Conclusion: Sincerely, words can not describe this experience but I have done my best. The GC, the Colorado River, the hikes, the waterfalls (which you can jump from or get showered on under,) the food, the night sky, the camaraderie among your mates and crew, THE CREW make this trip and experience of a lifetime. It is physical. It is emotional. It is mental. And very spiritual. If you can do this trip, I highly recommend it. Sincerely, Andrew B Robinson
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Date of experience: April 2021
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Peter Nunley wrote a review Apr 13
1 contribution1 helpful vote
I loved this trip and I went on the 7 day trip. I am mostly known as Uncle Pete around the camp and everyone was so nice and I had a grate time. There was a group of 9 and they were awesome. I got to fish with a new friend and I got some new contacts and we are still going to be chatting. I want to give a shout-out to Joe, Scott, Trent, and Steph, they were all great guides and supper supportive. I had a great time and my family had a great time to. And at 12 yrs old it was a trip of a lifetime.
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Date of experience: April 2021
1 Helpful vote
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maddielieu wrote a review Oct 2020
Mobile, Alabama8 contributions
5 stars are definitely not enough for this exceptional experience !!!! From beginning to end Western River Expeditions more than delivered, from my pre-trip trying to make a decision discussion with Sandy to spending 6 days with Shad & Skinny the most amazing, conscientious, thoughtful, informative, attentive, always looking one step ahead & out for you guides in the universe !!!! Not to mention coffee brewers & chef extraordinaires !! As someone who had never been rafting or camping not to mention no spring chicken and more than a little bit hesitant I am way more than grateful that I went on this adventure !! There are really no words to describe the wonder & beauty that is the Grand Canyon nor spending this time in it !!! Waking up to the sound of the Colorado river rushing by, sleeping under the millions of stars I never knew existed, being on the raft & oh the rapids (my MOST favorite part by the way), exploring caves, slot canyons & waterfalls, laughing & spending time with 18 new found friends (yes a day was all it took, we all got along & looked after each other especially me so well) ......and the awesomeness of just being completely disconnected from everything !! I have definitely come away with a new respect for how fragile the environment & this place called earth really is. PLEASE just do it, take this trip I know you will have zero regrets just like me !!!!
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Date of experience: August 2020
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Response from SandyHarmer, Manager at Western River Expeditions
Responded Oct 12, 2020
Thank you for your amazing and complete review of your Grand Canyo 6-day trip on TripAdvisor. Your descriptions of the guides, the food, the rapids, the hikes to slot canyons and waterfalls within the canyon and your change to meet new friends were perfect. We're so glad you took the opportunity to see the wonder and beauty of the Grand Canyon with Western River. It does give the chance to be disconnected from our digital world and to appreciate nature and our fragile environment. Thanks for recommending the trip to your friends and family and for traveling with us. Sandy Harmer Grand Canyon Reservations Mgr.
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csuewrun wrote a review Sep 2020
The Villages, Florida3 contributions2 helpful votes
Favorite memory of the trip...........sleeping in sleeping bags under a blanket of stars!!!! Every morning all of us would start sharing what stars we saw and being amazed at seeing the Constellation and Milky Way. My boyfriend and I are 77 years old and we had the experience of a lifetime. Were we too old? NO! We had as much fun as the younger couples and found it was exciting and exhilarating. We felt like young kids. Some of the hikes were a bit too challenging but our guides made sure those who chose not to hike were experiencing other fascinating adventures. We loved our two raft guides, Ronnie and Hiram who were unbelievably experienced yet seemed like just one of us rafting down the Colorado River. The meals were INCREDIBLE. Like four star dining. They wore covid masks while preparing foods and took all precautions needed. We all felt comfortable and covid safe the whole trip. My recommendation? Do it!!! I want my children who are in their 50's to do it NOW! Everyone should see the beautiful Grand Canyon from the river!! Not from a rim! It is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and one can see why when you raft down the river with Western Rivers Expeditions. They make it a wonder!!!
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Date of experience: August 2020
1 Helpful vote
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Response from Bonnie C, River Trip Manger at Western River Expeditions
Responded Oct 5, 2020
Thank you for sharing! Sleeping under a canvas of stars is certainly one of the highlights of the trip, it is truly breathtaking to see the Milky Way and constellations through the magnificent pillars of the Canyon walls. We find that the degree in which guests are able to participate is very individual and knowing your limits allows you to immerse yourself in the experiences best suited for you. Seeing that you felt like young kids you chose wisely which hikes to take. We are thrilled that you enjoyed your time with Ronnie and Hyrum! Their love for the Canyon and people truly shows in their many years of combined experience. We are very appreciative of the beautiful way in which you shared your experience, the details provided and your recommendation of our company. We would love to have you back with us on any one of our trips!
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