Here is a rundown on how tents work in the Grand Canyon. How you get one, how many we bring, and every other question you can think of about your domicile in the Canyon.
We bring fewer tents than people with the idea that a husband and wife would share a tent, a brother and sister, two good friends, etc. Generally, on a trip with 28 or 24 people, we bring about 20 tents. This seems to work out just fine. You will help the guides unload the boats when you get into camp; you’ll take everything from kitchen equipment to chairs off the boat. You’ll also unload the tents. They usually get piled up on the beach and, if you want one, you can go and grab it as soon as the boats are unloaded. The tent bags are numbered and the guides will encourage you to use the same tent throughout the trip.
You won’t be required to share a tent with a stranger, so don’t worry about that. We let folks sort themselves out. The truth is: if it isn’t raining, I’m not using a tent. I’d rather sleep under the stars on a cot. If you’re on a trip that leaves after September 16th you’ll be issued a sleeping pad. Believe me, you won’t regret falling asleep under the Milky Way. If it looks like it is going to rain then, sure, I’m grabbing one but only under that circumstance. Sometimes I might set one up and still sleep outside, then if it does start to rain I can escape right into my tent in the middle of the night. The guides also will recommend sleeping out under the stars, so you’ll likely find that lots of folks forego tents on your trip — which means there probably will be plenty of extras floating around.
Our tents are Alps Mountaineering and easily fit two people with your gear. You can actually squeeze three cots or sleeping pads into the tents, if you’re so inclined. Make sure to stake down — or, even better, tie down — the tent because one big gust of wind has toppled many unsecured tents in the Canyon. The guides will do a tent orientation on the first night and show you how to set it up in a jiff. We also have a tarp that you can set up in front of your tent as a nice ‘patio’ area for sandy shoes.
So the question we usually get is this: “Can I reserve a tent?” and, as you’ve probably guessed, the answer is “not really.” But that’s OK! If you’re really itching to have a tent, just snag one as soon as the boats are unloaded and put it next to your stuff. Remember, just ‘go with the flow’ down there! There are usually plenty of tents to go around, even if there happen to be a lot of solo travelers on your trip.