The Scoop on Pee and Poop


"Groover" is usually set up in a scenic and private place.
The red bucket is for pee only. 
Red bucket is dumped into the river each morning when breaking camp.  All solid waste in metal box is carried out

When privacy can't be found, we have a tent.

Forget about modesty!



This is the big question that everyone wants to know but many are afraid to ask!
How do we pee and poop on the trip? (ok, I asked it!).

Let's start by reviewing the National Park Service regulations

"It is the responsibility of each boat party to remove its solid human waste from the canyon. A human waste carry-out system will accompany all trips on the river. This system must contain washable, reusable, human waste containers approved by Grand Canyon National Park. This system must meet the minimum standard described under Sanitation and Food Preparation or other NPS approved toilet systems. These facilities will be set up in camp and remain until the party breaks camp. A washable reusable container must be accessible during the day. Deposit toilet paper in the main toilet. DO NOT BURN TOILET PAPER.

URINATION MUST OCCUR IN THE RIVER OR IN YOUR TOILET. When in the main corridor of the Colorado River, urinate directly in the Colorado River. Go “HIGH and FAR” at least 100 feet from trails, backcountry campsites, and side streams, to urinate at off-river places to avoid the buildup of feces and urine. Due to the impact of high volumes of people visiting the same areas, when hiking away from your river camp, bag all human waste (feces) and bring it back to your river camp and deposit it in your reusable toilet.

Ok, to summarize, you must pee in the river (or, on the wet sand if the daily river level is at the low point) and you must either poop in the camp toilet or in a special "poop bag" which you can get from the boatmen or people on your support boat.  They will be carrying these bags whenever you go on hikes, feel free to ask for one if the situations requires.  If you must pee on a hike (away from the main river), you should go "high and far" from the main trail and stay away from all water sources.

Modesty is thrown by the wayside on a river trip!

If you are unable to pee in front of other people, then a trip like this is likely not for you.  People are quite modest on day one, searching for a rock or boat to stand behind but after a day or two, well, you just look the other way.  Hey, no big deal.

The toilets we had were strong aluminum boxes with screw on lids.  With the lid off, a seat was attached and the toilet was placed usually in a scenic and private place.  These toilets are called "groovers" because before the seats were installed, people using them would have a "groove" ring on their butt from sitting on them.   Toilet lines will be the longest in the morning just after breakfast and it is the toilet line that determines how soon you will be able to pack up and get going each day.

For those of you who pee at night, you should borrow one of the bailing buckets from a boat or raft or bring a spare water bottle.  Since all pee must go into the river, it can be a chore finding your way to the river at 2am and then getting wet and cold feet.  The bucket or bottle can be dumped in the river the following morning.  If you are using a private "pee bottle", suggest you mark it as such.  Women can use a tupperware type container with snap on lid.

Hand washing is very important after using the groover.  This typical hand washing station is on the path to the groover.  When the TP is gone, it means the groover is occupied.  Bucket on the right is fresh water.  Use the foot pump and rinse your hands into the bucket on the left.    Rinse water eventially is dumped into the river.

Affectionately called "The Bag".  It may be necessary to use one when the toilet is not set up (like during a lunch stop)   Use of these is also required if you are out on a hike and nature calls.  These bags have everything you need including TP.  They contain chemicals, seal tightly, and can be deposited in the regular trash container. Learn more about restop here.

Return to the River index page.

We opened this website so that we could share our adventures and travels with you.  Please feel free to email us if you have any questions or comments.



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