I lead several trips for my local outdoor club this past year. My group size for each trip was 6 people. I find that to be a manageable size that fits most campsites. I started off by making them all self-support/do your own food trips and that has worked out very well. I’ve had good feedback from participants about doing the trips that way. Group meal planning works great on rafting trips, but I have seen too many disasters with small boat trips. Trying to organize meals & kitchen stuff is such a pain in the butt, that I decided to go with the BYO method. Small boats lend themselves very well to back packer style kitchen & cooking, plus everyone gets to eat what & when they want. I tend to have a lot of folks who like to hike as well as paddle on these trips, so we aren’t waiting on folks to get back from a hike to cook & eat meals.
I led a spring & a fall Meander Canyon trip on the Colorado River. Potash (just outside Moab) to Spanish Bottom. 51 river miles in 4 paddle days. You have to arrange a jet boat shuttle back to Potash. We used Tex"s Riverways out of Moab and they did an outstanding job, very organized. If you have done Labyrinth & Stillwater on the Green River, this is very similar scenery. Beautiful canyons with good side hikes to rock art and cliff dwellings. Easy water for paddling. You have to arrange your shuttle in advance, especially for a fall trip, as that’s a popular time to do the trip. You get a river permit from Canyonlands Nat. Park that’s available online. The permit costs $30 + $20/person. The shuttle costs $125/person + $25/kayak & $35/canoe. The total for 6 people including a night prior to the trip at a Moab campground came out to about $185/person. Required gear for the trip includes a fire pan and a toilet system. Wag Bags are allowed & can be carried out in a heavy duty dry bag. This is a fantastic trip & I will definitely lead again next year.
I also led 2 trips to Leah Lake in Grand Teton Nat. Park. You can get backcountry permits ahead of time, or sometimes they are available as a walk-in at the visitor center. Absolutely gorgeous scenery. One short portage from String Lake to Leigh Lake. The campsites all have fire rings and bear boxes & poles. All food, garbage, and smelly stuff must fit in the bear box or be hung from the pole. The 6 person group size is about max for fitting stuff in the bear box & fitting people in the campsites. Paddle isn’t difficult, but afternoon wind & waves are always possible and can be a challenge. While not required, we carried a wag bag toilet system. They do highly encourage the use & pack out of the wag bags in the back country, but there is sadly much evidence of poor solid waste & toilet paper management around the campsites.
I’m hoping to do the Black Canyon trip below Hoover dam this coming February. I have a friend who winters at Lake Havasu and i’d like to do Black Canyon, then visit with him a few days to paddle some.