Frequently Asked Questions
 
General PRO Information

Where is PRO?
Our warehouse is located on Route 66, just outside Flagstaff city limits to the West, and opposite Woody Mountain Road. From I-40: exit north at Flagstaff Ranch Road and turn east toward town on Route 66; our gray warehouse will be on the left in less than a mile. Click here for a printable page with directions to PRO.

What is PRO's address?
PRO's physical address is: 2800 W. Rt. 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001. The mailing address is: P.O Box 635, Flagstaff, AZ 86002


Is PRO the best in the business?
Yes. Ask our customers; they'll tell you. Ask Flagstaff locals. Check out the competition for yourself. Call us to arrange a tour if you like; come see our clean and organized warehouse, our happy staff, and our top-notch equipment. Peek in PRO's food packing room, and at the vehicles in the lot. Web pages and brochures can't touch PRO's excellence; when you get up close, you'll know. We don't do facebook, we don't twitter, we don't have bumper stickers...we just have the best designed and maintained equipment along with the best systems available - from boats and gear to the lift gates on our trucks.

Is PRO hiring?
Most of our hiring is word of mouth within the Grand Canyon community. We hire in the late winter/early spring for each season.. If you're interested in working at PRO, visit and introduce yourself!

 
Rafts

How many and what size rafts does a 16 person, 16 day Grand Canyon trip require?
PRO can usually get the basics on four of our 18-foot rafts, though if you like beer and other luxuries, we recommend five. When you use smaller rafts or dories, or big boats with lesser frames, the number of boats needed increases. Even for fewer than 16 people, the capacity required is still large, as the equipment required by the Park stays the same.

What kind of rafts does PRO have?
Our fleet was built from customer requests over the last 16 years. We have paddle rafts, row rigs, and inflatable kayaks. The brands are Sotar, Maravia, NRS, and Canyon Inflatables. Our row boats are 16 and 18 feet long. The Sotars (16' and 18'), Maravias (18'), IK's and NRS paddle rafts (14') are self-bailing. The rest have traditional bucket floors. We also have Catarafts.

What comes with a boat rental from PRO?
The PRO Rig includes an aluminum main frame with floorboard, rear frame, two drop bags, table, cooler, cooler cover, hatch or table cover, four oars, your choice of pins & clips, open oar locks or locks with rites, 34 straps rigged on the frames, bowline, low volume pump and repair kit. We throw in a couple bailing buckets (even for self-bailers).

What doesn't automatically come with a boat rental that I'm going to want?
Side boxes, a water jug, throwable cushion, throwbag, and high volume pump. All these items are available from PRO. Transport is NOT included in a boat rental.

How do I figure out how to rig the PRO Rig?
Check out out raft rigging primer. If you're picking up the boat, we'll give you a copy of the primer with your paperwork and answer any questions you have. If we're doing your put-in shuttle a driver will be there to help.

Where does the folding aluminum table go on a PRO Rig?Either the Main Frame or the Rear Frame will be recessed so that when you drop the table in legs down it forms a flat deck. You get one table per raft unless you have 3 or more rafts - you don't really need all those tables and there are advantages to having hatches also.

What's the carrying capacity of one of PRO's 18 footers?
Each of the two drop bags can hold up to six 20 mm rocket boxes, there's room on the floorboard for two aluminum side boxes or six more 20mm boxes, and the rower sits on a 178 quart cooler. Bruce designed the drop bags extra-sturdy to hold the heaviest items, keeping the boat's center of gravity low. You can also rig gear on top of the rear deck or table, preferably personal bags that are lighter and softer. The front hatch/table has a comfy cover for 2-3 people to sit on.

Which is better, self-bailing or "conventional" (bucket floor) rafts?
It depends on where you are going, and on your priorities. The majority of PRO's customers opt for self-bailing boats for Grand Canyon trips - most have bailed enough for one lifetime. Professional Grand Canyon boatmen prefer bucket boats because they are faster and track better, and they have customers on board to bail. We have just a few classic Zambezis left, and they are beloved for the smooth straight tracking that only a tub-floor boat can offer.

How many passengers can you put on a raft?
The Park Service has limits for each size raft; they say you can carry up to 6 people on an 18-foot raft. Four people per raft in comfortable.

What kind of rowing setups does PRO provide?
You have your choice for each boat, open oarlocks, oarlocks with oar rights, or pins & clips. Here's the NRS comparison of rights vs pins in case you're curious.

Rental Equipment

Can you call out of the canyon with a Satellite phone?
Yes, from most locations. You increase your odds of keeping a good connection by calling from a place with a wide swath of southern sky. It sounds like a regular phone, though sometimes there is a lag while the signal bounces out to space. If you have a real emergency, a sat phone is the fastest way to get help.

What comes with a Complete Kitchen?
Two two-burner Partner stoves, 3 - 20 lb propane tanks, hoses & repair kit, 3 metal "chickie" pails for doing dishes, firepan with grill and firepan blanket, shovel, grill brush, pots, pans, a griddle, mixing bowls, Dutch ovens, channel locks, measuring cup, grater, cutting boards, knives, spoons, forks, steamer, can openers, dropper for bleach, utensils, cups, plates, bowls, coffee pots, pitcher for mixing juice, dish-drying-hammock, along with a ranger-satisfying strainer and ground tarps. We mean complete - everything you need to prepare, cook, consume, and clean up your meals.

What types of life jackets are accepted?
The Park accepts type III or V Personal Floatation Devices. They must be Coast Guard approved (with readable sewn-in panel), undamaged and unmodified. It's wise to bring extra lifejackets (beyond the required spares) because the ranger may disqualify a few. As of 2006 the requirement for spares is one per ten people, instead of one per boat.

How many toilet fill cans will we need?
The Park Service says you can get 50-70 poops in a 20mm box. By using PRO's riser you elevate the toilet seat above the top of the box, and you can fill them to the top without fear. To calculate how many fill cans you need, use this formula and round down:

# of People X # of Days = # Fill Cans

50

What's in a PRO handwash system?
The handwash system consists of a plastic hose - one end of which is placed in a bucket of clean river water the other end is connected to metal tubing, which acts as a spigot, attached to a second fill bucket. The water is pumped from the clean water bucket out the spigot into the fill bucket with a foot-pump. People wash their hands more with this system, and handwashing prevents much intestinal strife. Cool weather tip: Put some hot water in the handwash supply water, and people will gladly wash their hands, because the warm water feels good.

How does the water filter work?
The Katadyn Expedition water filter is a barrel pump with a metal foot. Prop the unit on a bucket full of water, and pump. One hose takes river water from a bucket while you pump the handle, and the output hose squirts drinkable water into your jug. Use the clearest you can - let water settle in buckets and decant the clean water for filtering. When the water is brown you will need to clean the ceramic Katadyne filter core a lot more often.

The Aqua Partner is a battery operated water filter. Connect the battery leads, place the pre-filter in the clearest source water available - using settled and decanted water is key. Place the output hose in the water jug, press the button and open a beer. It's that simple.

What if the water is silty?
If the river water is brown you can let it settle overnight or use alum to settle. Alum is included in PRO foodpacks.

Custom Frames and Dry Boxes

Does PRO sell used equipment?
Periodically we will hold a sale in our warehouse to sell used equipment - old rafts, kitchen stuff, lifejackets, and whatever is no longer new-looking enough to be a nice rental. If you would like to be notified of our used gear sale, send us your name and e-mail address or phone number, and we'll let you know (when we know) when it will be. This sale is in person only, no telephone or internet sales.

How do I know what size frames to order?
Tell us exactly what kind and size of raft you have. Send us the manufacturer's stats, but don't believe them. Blow up the boat and measure it yourself. Think about what you want to carry on the boat. Fax us your frame design ideas, and we'll work from there.

Can I get sand stakes and oar holders in unusual lengths?
Of course.  A standard holder is 9", and a standard sand stake is 21". Let us know if you want something different.

Do you sell oar locks?
No. You can buy them online from NRS, and lots of other places.

How do I get my order started?
After you have received your quote from our fabrication department for the frame or box setup that you want, place a 50% deposit and we'll build it. The final payment is due on pickup or before shipping. We ship by DATS trucking if needed: you cover shipping.

Food Pack

How do I get a copy of the Menu options and instructions?
Right here.
Check out the Menu Planning Forms, all of our sample menus and the PRO Menu. You can use one of our sample menus as is, modify one, or build your own.

What if we have a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters on the trip?
Try the Meat/Veggie Combo Sample Menu. The meals in this menu are basically vegetarian, with meats that can be cooked on the side. For example, on spaghetti night, the Italian sausage is in a pan instead of in the sauce. We set you up with a stash of beef jerky to satisfy the guy who hates hummus, and vice versa. If you want to select your own menu, choose the Build Your Own Menu from the Menu Details Form and choose a menu from our meal offerings.

How long can you keep fresh food in coolers?
It depends on the types of food, how often you open and drain the cooler, the quality of the ice and the temperatures outside. Even when it's hot, it is possible to have ice on day 16. During cooler times of year you may have ice for the entire trip. How your ice lasts is directly related to how you treat your coolers.

What if some produce is going to spoil before the Menu says to eat it? 
Eat it today!  You can change your menu, you have control.  Don't feel trapped by a piece of paper...be resourceful, ingenious, and make it work.

Does PRO use dry ice?
Not usually - PRO ice is the longest lasting ice in Grand Canyon - there is usually no need for dry ice.

Should I bring extra food?
There will be plenty of food in any PRO foodpack. However if you're picky, or dependent on a certain type of comfort food, it's not a bad idea to take care of yourself.

What kinds of food come in a PRO foodpack?
All kinds. Pick one of our Sample Menus for a balanced plan for your trip, or pick your meals yourself. Either way you get to adjust your supplies to suit your trip. We provide an abundance of fresh foods for the first week or so on the river, then transition to durable and non-perishable foods for the rest of the expedition.

What size coolers are best?
Larger coolers (120 quart or larger) are necessary for Grand Canyon foodpacks because they stay cold longer. It's physics; more cold mass in relation to surface area means it will warm more slowly.

Can PRO freeze solid ice into my cooler?
Yes, if your cooler is being used for a PRO foodpack. We call it PRO Ice. It costs $60 per cooler (123 or 178 quart size) and takes about 2 weeks to freeze. We freeze it in layers so the top is flat, and the final temperature is minus 18 degrees Centigrade. It lasts up to a week longer than block ice because there are no air pockets.

Booze

Where can I put my wine & booze?
Please don't bring glass bottles, unless you have a safe container specifically for them. Boxed wine packs nicely into rocket boxes, keeps after it is opened, and is better than folks expect. We can rent you extra rocket boxes (20mm size) for your stash.

Where do we put canned beer and soda?
In the drop bags, hopefully. In PRO's 18' boats there is room for a layer of cans underneath the crates that carry fruit and/or canned food, and then more cans squeezed around the edges. If you have substantial beer requirements, consider packing some in dryboxes or crates, or bagging the cases together in riggable "cubes". Serious beerdrinkers: add another boat.

How much beer does an average group bring?
Well, there's nothing average about the beer drinkers around here. Though some trips take no beer at all, some have been seen at Lee's Ferry with 200 cases. Granted, you need a motor rig to carry that much beer. To figure out how much beer to take, find out how many cases each of your boats can carry, find out how much beer each person would like to drink, and see if the two can meet in the middle. What doesn't fit on the boats you'll have to drink at the put-in.

Does PRO provide a beer cooler?
No. Unless you have an overabundance of cooler space your ice will be best used for preserving perishable foods. People cool their beer in the river (47 degrees F at the dam), hanging from the boat in a drag bag, or by putting the beer in a fresh bucket of river water in camp. Some folks will bring a pump and plastic tubing to divert drained cooler water into buckets for ice-cold treats.

Costs

How much does it cost?
You can get a specific estimate by calling PRO at (800) 648-3236. We are happy to work though several versions to help you decide exactly what you need. Check out our rental equipment, food pack and shuttle prices. A full Painless Private ® with PRO supplying boats, kitchen & other group gear, food and shuttle, including Hualapai fees and taxes, is just under a thousand dollars per person.

Do you offer package deals?
PRO offers only one "package", the Painless Private®, and its contents are flexible. You pay for what you get. The Painless includes extra services and equipment, and works best for people who are coming from far away and want to show up and have it all ready to go. To qualify for the Painless Private ® you need to rent at least one boat, and get a PRO foodpack and shuttle.

Does PRO take credit cards?
Yes, we take Discover, Visa, and Mastercard. We take personal checks and cash, too.

How can I get a discount?
PRO offers three different discounts on rental gear. Launch between November 1 and March 31 and you get the 10% Off-Season discount. Book your trip six or more months prior to your trip, and you get a 10% Early Booking discount. Book your trip a year or more before your trip, and get the previous season price hold: we seal your prices in the previous year, plus you get the Early Booking discount. Members of Grand Canyon River Guides and Grand Canyon Private Boater’s Association get a 10% discount. Some discounts are cumulative, others are not. Call us early and we can advise you on the best deal.

How can I trim my costs in other ways?
Every time you trim a PRO service, it means more labor for your group. If you have time on your hands, here are ways in which you can hold onto your dollars. Supply all the gear you can, and PRO will deduct the rental cost of equipment items that you don’t have to rent.Use the PRO pack. Fill your trip to 16 people. Choose the simplest shuttle. Ask for tips along the way; we can help you minimize your costs.

How much to reserve what I need?
A 10% deposit reserves equipment rentals and services; the remainder is due one month before your launch. After your trip we'll check & clean the gear, then bill you if anything is missing or damaged.

Does PRO require a damage deposit?
Yes, in the form of a personal check that we hold, cash, or a credit card. The bond for boats is $250 per boat.

What if I have to cancel my trip unexpectedly?
Plans can change suddenly. PRO will refund your money except what is spent on perishable food or substantial labor, or unless we've had to turn away business to hold your reservation. Let us know early, and you're in good shape.

Shuttles

What is the best shuttle?
It depends on a zillion variables. Where you are coming from? Are you driving or flying? Who is bringing the boats and food pack? You can meet your group in Flagstaff and have PRO run you to the put-in, pick you up at the takeout and bring you back to Flagstaff. Or you can meet at Lee's Ferry and we'll pick you and your gear up at Diamond Creek and return you to your cars. Or you can have your cars shuttled from the put-in to Peach Springs and have the Hualapai Tribe pick you up at the takeout and run you to your cars. Let's talk it over.

Is the PRO Truck big enough to handle our 6 rafts and 8 kayaks and 100 cases of beer?
Probably. If your trip will have more than 6 row rigs, please call us for "big load" authorization. Our trucks have lift gates to make loading and unloading easier on everyone's backs.

Where do I store my car?
You will either leave it at Lee's Ferry, where it can stay in long term parking, leave it in storage or at a motel in Flagstaff. In any of these places, the risk is yours--neither car storage businesses nor the Park insures your vehicle.  PRO or River Runners Shuttle Service (see next bullet) can make these arrangements for you.

How can we get some cars shuttled?
Call River Runner's Shuttle Service (Greg & Becky Montgomery) at 928-564-2194, or check out his web page at www.rrshuttleservice.com. Greg & Becky's service is the most reliable, resourceful and trustworthy in the region.  He also offers shuttles for South Cove and Las Vegas. If you are booking your trip through PRO, we can take care of your shuttle arrangements with Rivers Runners and add it on to your PRO invoice.

Where do groups meet the PRO shuttle in Flagstaff?
At your hotel, or sometimes in the parking area of a grocery store or shopping plaza. Leave your boats on the vehicle or trailer until the truck shows up. Pile drybags and cases of drinks where our vehicle can get to the pile.

What are the drive times involved in Grand Canyon shuttles?

  • Flagstaff to Lee's Ferry is 2.5 hours.
  • Diamond Creek to Flagstaff is 3 hours, and one of those hours is spent on the rough Diamond Creek Road.
  • Pearce Ferry or South Cove it's 4.5 hours back to Flagstaff.

These time estimates do not include loading/unloading or stops.

What about flash floods on the Diamond Creek road?
Read the Diamond Creek Information.

Permit and Trip Logistics

Does PRO provide boatmen?
No. We do not run river trips or guide anybody. You provide the expertise and permit; we provide gear, shuttles and food. Once you're on the river, you're on your own!

How do you get a permit to run a Private (Noncommercial) Trip in Grand Canyon?
It's a long process. See our section on Permits for River Runners for the full scoop.

Where can I get help filling out my permit application? 
Call us here at PRO--we can help with details about boats, life jackets, helicopter signal panels, etc.

How do you find out where to camp and hike?
That's where having experienced folks on your trip really pays off. The Park has some requirements--read the rules about sacred sites and other off limits areas. There are maps and books that can help. Some parts of the river flow faster than others, some camps offer sun in the morning, and some have great hikes. PRO can send you our sample itineraries, but when you're on the river, necessity will cause changes in any plan. Commercial boatmen know what's around the bend; politely pick their brains when you can. Remember - you are not part of their job description.

When can I get to a telephone?
There is a payphone at the restroom building at Lee's Ferry (unfortunately it is notoriously broken at times), and another payphone at Phantom Ranch. If you rent a Satellite Telephone you can call like a normal phone from most places in the canyon. There is also limited cell phone service at Lees Ferry.

What about drinking water?
There is a spigot beside the restroom at Lee's Ferry where you can top off every water bottle and jug that you have. There's another park water supply at Phantom Ranch. After that all your drinking water will be filtered or treated from the river. Conserve drinking water by making coffee and boiling noodles with river water-boiling kills the infectious critters.

Do we have to put a tarp under the kitchen?
Yes, it's required. At popular camps red ant populations are increasing because campers inadvertently feed them. It's worth your while to avoid leaving crumbs that attract pests. Ant bites are painful.

What do we do with garbage?
Until you launch, can use the dumpster at the Lee's Ferry launch ramp. Eliminate packaging and take as little trash with you as possible. Once you're headed downstream, every snippet of trash will be carried downstream with you to the end. Compact trash as small as possible, and contain it in the designated cans or bags. Burn what you can, when you have the firepan out. Cut the tops and bottoms out of rinsed steel cans and smash them flat with the ends tucked inside. For stinky trash, add a little bleach. PRO will recycle aluminum cans kept separate. Keep glass in a rigid container to keep it from slicing anything. Please don't put trash in coolers; it ruins them. If you are doing a Painless Private, PRO will take care of the trash and recycling after your takeout.

How long does it take to get to Phantom Ranch (mile 89)?
You can get there in 4 or 5 days, but usually people take 6 or 7 days.

Launch Logistics

Why do we go to the put-in a whole day before we launch?
Because it takes a long time to rig boats for an expedition, and to make sure you're really ready. Don't skimp on this time-it's your setup for a successful trip. We call it rig day.

Where do we camp the night before our launch?
Just downstream of the boat ramp. You can also stay at Marble Canyon Lodge the night before your launch; it is 4 miles away, and they provide a van shuttle if you ask. (Marble Canyon Lodge 800-726-1789).

Do we need to leave someone to keep an eye on the boats?
Yes. It's generally a safe place, but you never know what unsafe person might show up. You are responsible for the gear until it gets back into the PRO warehouse.

How can we get off on the right foot with the ranger?
Have your paperwork ready and be sure everyone has proper ID. Don't make coffee or eat breakfast on the ramp. Take up as little space as possible at the downstream end of the launch ramp. Obey parking regulations. Do a Painless Private ®--the rangers know our gear, and your advisor will facilitate the process.

When do we do our gear check-out with the Ranger?
The gear check out is done the day before you launch, generally while you are rigging.

What are the Park requirements for group equipment?
A complete list can be found in the Regulations, a copy of which is sent by the Park to the Permittee, along with the Permit. The short list:

    • One Major First Aid Kit, and a Minor First Aid kit for every other boat, including "unsupported" kayaks and canoes
    • One type III or V PFD per person, plus 1 spare life jacket per 10 people
    • One Throwable Cushion per 16' or larger boat
    • Emergency signaling mirror, US air force type
    • Two Helicopter signaling panels, each 3 x 10 feet and international orange
    • Four oars (2 running, 2 spare) per rowboat
    • Two Motors and 1 Fire Extinguisher (specific type) per Motorboat
    • One spare paddle per 4 kayaks or canoes
    • At least one large durable air pump (Bring more than one)
    • One raft repair kit per trip (or several to cover different boat types)
    • One guidebook or map per boat
    • Dishwater strainer
    • Kitchen ground tarps
    • Liquid bleach
    • Hand wash system
    • Firewood, if you will have a non-charcoal fire during the wood-collecting ban March 1 to October 31
    • Regulation Fire Pan (there is an exception during the summer if you aren't going to burn anything or cook with charcoal)
    • Firepan Blanket
    • Stoves for cooking

What are the other requirements for the Ranger Checkout?

    • Permit

    • Copy of the Regulations

    • Picture ID for every participant

    • Complete participant roster with Middle Initial & Social Security number.

What is involved in the Orientation Program at Lee's Ferry?
The ranger will usually do the orientation for all private trips together at 9am. The time and place will be set the day before. This is when the ranger will check all trip participants' photo id against the trip roster.

Is there electricity for blowing up boats at Lee's Ferry?
Yes. There's a place to plug in at the ramp; you need a long extension cord to get the blower near the water. If you have a PRO put-in shuttle and a boat rental, we'll provide a blower and cord.

Is there drinking water at Lee's Ferry?
Yes, the spigot for filling water jugs is to the left of the bathroom (when looking from the ramp)

 

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