Multi-Day Trip FAQ

IMPORTANT PERMIT DETAILS

How does the permit system work on a guided overnight trip?

Backcountry campsites in any of the National Parks are not guaranteed until the park issues permits through a lottery system. Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism puts in requests for permits 4 months in advance on the first day of each month. Based on the permits secured, trip dates will be adjusted on the web within the first week of the month.

The permit system also applies for the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, particularly The Wave and The Coyote Buttes area.  This area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who conducts a lottery system for The Wave.  Though the success rates are not very high, the early bird typically gets the worm, so to speak.

To apply for a permit we must have a minimum of one registered guest, so it is beneficial to register 5 months before your departure month (please reference the helpful table below). To encourage you to plan ahead BMAGT will discount your trip price 5% for booking early. We have great success with securing permits, but if we are unable to book dates that work with your schedule we will provide a full transfer or refund of your deposit ($500 per person). Because most backcountry campsites in the National Parks accommodate 5 guests, small groups (5 or less) have a higher success rate than large groups (6 or more).
Additionally, to increase your chances of getting permits for your trip we encourage you to provide backup dates and itineraries. It’s best if your backup dates are as broad as possible, and they do not have to match up with website dates. “Anytime in the month” or “anytime from the 15th to the 30th” are excellent examples of backup dates, but even a day or two of flexibility is helpful. Please give us a call at 602-904-2536 for more detail on any part of this process.

DESIRED TRIP DATE (by month)                       RESERVE BEFORE
January                                                                September 1
February                                                              October 1
March                                                                   November 1
April                                                                      December 1
May                                                                      January 1
June                                                                     February 1
July                                                                       March 1
August                                                                  April 1
September                                                            May 1
October                                                                 June 1    
                                            
RESERVATIONS & PLANNING

Is there a minimum or maximum amount of people for each trip?

Each trip requires a minimum number of participants for departure. Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism reserves the right to cancel scheduled trips that do not meet minimum sign-up requirements (usually 4 guests).  We will however keep you informed well in advance of your trips departure.  We generally make a final decision about a trip 30 days in advance of the trips departure.*
Can we reserve one of your regularly scheduled dates exclusively for us?
Yes! As long as there are no other customers booked on that date – it is yours. There may be an additional charge depending on your group size.

ACCOMMODATIONS

National Park and Monument, National Forest, and BLM Campgrounds:
Main campgrounds in the National Parks all have assigned, separate tent sites with poles to hang your pack on, metal ammo canisters to keep food in, and a picnic table. Some campgrounds also includes indoor, running water bathroom and dishwashing facilities but no shower facilities. Many National Park Campgrounds have composting toilets. Drinking water is available in all main campgrounds during “non-freeze” seasons. Backcountry campsites vary greatly but most are fairly primitive.

What are bathroom and shower facilities like?

Trailside toilet facilities are composting toilets and are located strategically along the trails we hike. Most national park toilets are stocked with toilet paper, but it is always nice to have your own roll in your pack. Ask your guides for helpful hints and etiquette for using these toilets and what to do should you need to go at times when they are unavailable. Backcountry campsites are primitive, often with no bathroom facilities at all.

MEDICAL/DIETARY QUESTIONS

What if I have a medical condition? Can I still register for your guided backpacking/hiking trips?

If you have any physical or psychological medical conditions, it is very important you let us know well before departure. Trip leaders have the right to deny participation to anyone at any time during the trip if they feel the trip member is mentally or physically incapable of continuing and/or if a trip member’s continued participation jeopardizes the group’s or his/her own safety. Under either of these circumstances, refunds are not given.

All guides carry a basic first aid kit for emergencies. Your guides do not carry prescription medications. Please be aware that hospital facilities for serious medical problems may be a long way away, that a doctor may not always be available, and that evacuation can be prolonged, difficult and expensive. By signing our release form, you agree to pay for emergency evacuation and emergency medical care should the need arise. No refunds are given if you should have to leave the trip.

What if I have dietary restrictions or special requests?

Please let us know if you have any specific dietary needs or requests (i.e. vegetarian, gluten‐ free, allergic to nuts, loves hot chocolate, etc.) We make every effort possible to accommodate these requests. Meals are a healthy mix of fresh and backpacker-friendly foods that accommodate the full range of dietary needs and replenish all nutrients lost to a day spent exploring the canyon.

THE HIKES

What are the trails like?

The corridor trails of the National Parks are some of the best in the world.  They are well maintained, wide enough for multiple lanes of “traffic”, and are routinely patrolled by NPS rangers. On average they descend at about 500 to 800ft per mile, and consist of sections of gradual incline/decline and sections of stairs. If your trip takes place on the slightly more adventurous trails, you can expect slightly narrower, steeper, and more inconsistent quality in some sections of trail.
Before embarking on any hiking or backpacking trip you should feel confident in your ability to walk uphill for up to 8 hours. We recommend doing some significant training before you join us, as your trip will be far more enjoyable if you do not have sore muscles or blisters. As always, you should consult with your physician before commencing with a new workout program.

How much weight will I have to carry?

The average weight carried by our guests is between 30 and 40lbs. Depending on your equipment and preferences, your personal gear will likely make up about 15-25lbs of your total load.  You can also expect to carry about 5-6lbs of water, and 5-8lbs of shared group gear.

How should I train for my backpacking trip?

Of course it is always advisable to consult a physician before embarking on any new training program. In order to get the most enjoyment out of your trip, you need to begin a training regimen that starts easy, and builds up incrementally as your departure date approaches. The best possible training involves mimicking your upcoming trip as much as reasonably possible. Practicing not only the anticipated mileage, but uphill and downhill hiking WITH a weighted pack will serve you well on your trip. Understand that backpacking trips generally involve 6-8 hours of hiking. If you can’t find a natural environment near you to recreate this, find a set of stadium bleachers, stairs, or set a treadmill on max elevation and up AND down on one of these with a weighted pack.  Two important things often forgotten are flexibility and rest. A regular stretching routine and plenty of rest between training sessions are the keys to staying healthy and uninjured. Hydration is another area that is often overlooked. It may sound strange but you may have to “train” to feel comfortable drinking the 5-8liters of water per day necessary for ultimate comfort on your backpacking trip. Upon registering for the trip, we will provide you with more detailed suggestions to build your own training plan. As with any of your questions, feel free to call us at any time to get personal feedback on training for your adventure.

Will we get wet during the hikes?

Some of our canyoneering hikes will require wading into shallow pools, or even some swimming.  The trip price will include wetsuit rental for each guest.  Otherwise, it will typically be the choice of the guest – you may dunk in some of the tributary creeks, and you may want to soak your feet in a spring river. We require protective footwear at all times when wading or refreshing in the creeks. Guides are always available to assist with any stream crossings you might encounter.

INCLUSIONS

Should I bring my own snacks?

Plenty of food and snacks will be available to you at all times during the trip. However, you are welcome to bring snacks that you prefer.

Does Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism provide drinking water?

We will provide water for all guests. You will need to keep the water we provide and refill them at locations along the trail if necessary. If you have a Camelbak or similar hydration pack with a water bladder/reservoir, we recommend you bring that and fill it each day. Information will be on your Personal Information Form.

PACKING QUESTIONS

What should I pack?

Clothing:  Lightweight, quick‐drying fabrics such as nylon, fleece and other synthetic materials are preferred. Cotton, especially denim, is not recommended as it retains heat and moisture. Of course, comfortable cotton is great for nighttime and sleeping apparel. You can see a suggested packing list on each trip page on the website and Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism provides a detailed packing list upon registration.

Detailed weather information will be provided several days before the trip is scheduled to depart.

Gear: All “group gear,” including stove, water purifier, and cooking utensils, is provided, and will be used by the guides.

What if I want to use my own gear?

It is unnecessary to bring your own unless your sole interest is in getting some guidance and practice with it. Your guide will be happy to teach you the ins and outs of your new piece of gear!

What if I have my own tent?

Although a tent is provided for you on most trips (check gear list for your specific trip), you are always welcome to bring your own. Understand that your guide may encourage you to use our tent instead if yours is not suitable for the weather and terrain to be encountered. Bringing you own tent will not result in any change in pricing for your trip.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES

What happens in the case of an emergency?

If there is an emergency and you need to be reached, your friends or family should contact Blue Marble's Multi‐day Tour Manager. They will then contact the trip leader if the group is not out of cellular or radio reception. If the group is inside not able to be reached via normal communication, they will contact the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or other government agency which will attempt to deliver a message only in dire emergencies.

MISC. QUESTIONS

Tipping

You are not required to tip, however it is customary. Blue Marble AGT prides itself on our outstanding crew and our attitude about customer service. The guides expect to meet and even exceed all your expectations. They appreciate gratuities and always divide them equally. If you feel the service provided has been outstanding, the standard gratuity is 10-15% of the trip price. Tipping is at your discretion and this information is provided only as a suggestion.

Single Travelers

If you are traveling alone we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary and upon special request.

TRIP ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION

We recommend your airline flights be scheduled to arrive the day prior to your trip start date and depart the day after your last trip date. Flights can be booked to arrive and depart from several locations dependent upon trip: Phoenix SkyHarbor International Airport (PHX) in Phoenix, Arizona, McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, NV, or Flagstaff-Pulliam Airport (FLG) in Flagstaff, AZ.  Flagstaff-Pulliam is serviced by American Airlines only. Blue Marble AGT cannot be responsible for penalty fees or additional airfare costs as a result of trip cancellations or changes to our itineraries.

Where from and when do we depart?

Blue Marble AGT will send a detailed itinerary including departure locations, times, and daily itineraries upon booking of your trip.  This information will incude a suggested group hotel in the departure city.  We strongly recommend staying at this hotel, as this is where the trip will depart from in the morning.   The stay at this hotel is NOT included in the trip price. It is the guests responsibility to advise BMAGT if they will be making alternative arrangements, and is solely responsible for prompt arrival on the morning of departure.  BMAGT is not responsible for missed departures due to lack of planning and understanding.  Please make every effort to communicate with our staff to ensure that you do not "miss the bus".

When will we return? When should I schedule my flight home?

You will return to the group hotel in the departure city between 3:00pm and 8:00pm on the last day of the trip. Please do not schedule return flights before 9:00pm, as the return time is dependent upon traffic, weather, road conditions drive time, and other factors.  BMAGT is not responsible for missed flights due to traffic jams or variables that are out of our control.  Please plan your flights and outside-of-trip travel plans accordingly.

Can I meet the group some place other than the trip departure city?

Every effort will be made to accomodate your needs, however we strongly advise you to follow the instuctions and suggestions in our trip itineraries.  Extra costs will be incurred by guests that need supplemental transporation arrangements.

Where should I stay pre‐ and post‐trip?

Pre‐ and post‐trip lodging is not included in the cost of the trip and we recommend you reserve rooms well in advance at the group hotel in the departure city. We highly recommend this hotel as it is where we will be departing from on Day 1 of the itinerary.

*For more detailed information regarding cancellation and fees, see our trip policies page.