Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
Looking for a vacation with a little punch? What could be better than a trip down the Colorado River at the foot of the Grand Canyon?
Arizona Raft Adventures (AzRA) is a group that specializes in tours for those with disabilities. Since 1991, they have been planning trips that successfully enable those with disabilities to enjoy the Grand Canyon.
They offer rafting trips tailored for many levels of ability. There are opportunities for individuals with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and intellectual disabilities. Trips have been chartered with disabled U.S. veterans, including amputees and those suffering with mental illness. Some vacations are coordinated with groups like Leading the Way, a program for adults with visual impairments.
AzRA requires medical screenings and detailed information about what each passenger anticipates for their trip and what they each require. Discussions include the physical challenges and risks associated with the trip. Be honest about your needs. Will you require any medical equipment? Do you use a wheelchair, crutches, braces, or cane? Will you be traveling with a caregiver?
The Grand Canyon is rough country. There are no comfortable amenities or medical facilities nearby. Each person must understand the physical challenges associated with a trip of this kind. There are mobility issues due to the environment and variable weather conditions and potential problems with long periods of sitting. Safety is the number one concern on all trips.
You can choose from paddle trips, motor trips and hybrid paddle/motor trips. Length of trips range from 1-2 weeks. There are specialty trips that focus on particular themes. Group trips can be booked or you can just join another group and make new friends.
Financial assistance is available through the Grand Canyon Conservation Fund. Donations are made by river trip passengers throughout the year. All donations are used to conserve the environment and to provide the means for those who are not able to take the trip without financial assistance. Scholarships, free trips for caregivers and funds to supplement the cost are available.
The river trips require planning eight months to two years in advance due to their popularity. The park service only allows one trip per person per year. But what a trip! Look forward to riding the rapids, learning about the history of the park, exploring hidden caves and just enjoying the ancient beauty of the canyon. Meals, drink and sleeping arrangements are provided. Contact your trip outfitter for details on what to bring, cost and tour details.