Why O.A.R.S.?

Experience & Knowledge

  • O.A.R.S. has been guiding people on rivers and coastlines worldwide since 1969
  • You have access to detailed trip and area information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • We offer more trip options than any other North American whitewater rafting company
  • We provide fresh, diverse meals with organic choices
  • More than 450,000 guests have trusted us to take them to exotic locations worldwide
  • We use top-notch, well-maintained equipment
  • Our experienced, well-rounded guides are personable and approachable
  • We set the gold standard in safety
  • We are committed to treading lightly on the environment
  • You need not have outdoor experience, we’ll show you the ropes
  • Our trips involve small groups: we have the best guide-to-guest ratio in the business
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In praise...

"Hello Debbie,

Working in the service industry myself, I wanted to take the time to write a proper thank-you email to you for the excellent service that you have provided to me over the last few months in finalizing my reservation for my OARS Grand Canyon river trip.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but in this day and age it is rare to interact with someone like yourself (Debbie) and Joy who is so exceptionally prompt and pro-active in all replies. Even though we are separated by a nine hour time difference, it has been an absolute pleasure to deal with yourself and Joy and my booking process has been seamless and easy.

At all times and points of my interaction with you, it truly seemed that you love your job and your passion translated in my dealings with you, making it a really special experience, given that this is a once in a lifetime trip!"
~ Lindi Martin, South Africa


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Founded in 1969 as the first oar-powered, small raft outfitter in the Grand Canyon, we helped pioneer whitewater rafting in the western U.S. Our experience, knowledge and dedication are reflected throughout our operations.

The Advantages of Traveling with O.A.R.S.

Humble beginnings…

O.A.R.S. was founded with the genuine dream of helping people of all ages and abilities enjoy the best outdoor experience of their lives. George and Pam Wendt established O.A.R.S. in 1969, and the company remains a family affair. It’s the kind of place where there is a good chance you will get the owner when you call to ask a question late in the evening on a summer night before your trip. You might find their sons Clavey or Tyler guiding your raft on the South Fork of the American River when they're not overseeing operations from the Angels Camp office.

Benefit to You: We measure our success by your comfort and overall satisfaction. We will feed you well, provide a comfortable place to sleep, and share with you nature’s bounty—all while treating you like part of the O.A.R.S. extended family.

First to the River…

O.A.R.S. was the first exclusively oar-powered rafting company permitted to operate trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon: we have been rowing people through the Grand Canyon longer than any other outfitter.

Benefit to You: Some of our guides have been with us almost since the company’s inception, and they’ve seen the river canyon throughout its many seasons and moods. We understand a river’s nuances, which allows us to set the stage for an unforgettable, hassle-free outdoor experience.

Your Choice of Traveling Companion(s)... of Destinations... of Transportation…

O.A.R.S. offers more than 75 unique itineraries worldwide, including one-day and weekend escapes to rivers, lakes, bays, oceans, islands, arctic tundra, jungles, and deserts. You are given many travel options: paddle raft, oar raft, dory, inflatable kayak, sea kayak, mountain bike, horseback, catamaran—or your own two feet. Trip itineraries are created for families, singles, small and large businesses, bachelors and bachelorettes, women only, gourmands and wine lovers. O.A.R.S. travels to the desert Southwest, pacific islands, sunny Mexican beaches, arctic tundra, the Andean countryside and a host of destinations in between.

Benefit To You: There are a multitude of options that might work for you. We will continue to offer something new to do or see and you can trust us to do it right.

We Thought You’d Never Ask…

O.A.R.S.’ year-round office staff and adventure consultants have more than 100 years of combined experience in the industry. These folks are friendly, knowledgeable, quick to respond to your inquiries and know what questions to ask to direct you to an ideal vacation.

Benefit to You: We speak from experience because we’ve been there: close to 950 river trips amongst us (and that is not including our guides). We are available to answer your questions all year.

Tell us a little something about yourself…

An informal office survey revealed the most enjoyable part of an O.A.R.S. Adventure Consultant’s day is getting to know you.

Benefit to You: The more we know about you, the better able we are to match you with an ideal adventure. We’ll take into consideration whether or not you’ve been rafting before, your outdoor experience or inexperience, the types of people you enjoy being with, the kind of terrain you might enjoy, and, of course, your date-selection needs. While we’re at it, we’ll more than likely discover similar interests or connections to a person or place.

Experience? Who Needs It…

O.A.R.S. has more than 40 years experience running rivers: you need only the desire to enjoy yourself. Whether or not you have rafted, kayaked or camped before, everyone is welcome on an O.A.R.S. adventure. With more than 75 itineraries on over 35 rivers and coastlines worldwide, O.A.R.S.’ crew members have seen it all, perfected the details and are more than willing to lead the way or allow you to find yours.

Benefit To You: We think it safe to say that if more than 450,000 guests have chosen us to guide them, we must be doing something right. With such a variety of rivers in our portfolio, our guides have more opportunities to hone their skills and practice their trade. With time comes intimate knowledge of a region, which is passed along to you. You’ll come away from your journey with not only a deeper understanding of yourself, but of your surroundings and fellow travelers. Our company has withstood political and climate changes, droughts and floods and the damming of rivers. We continue to thrive, and we intend to stick around from one generation to the next.

Take me to the River…

O.A.R.S. guides are some of the best anywhere. They are reliable, responsible, experienced and committed to enhancing your safety. All are qualified in CPR and First Aid; many have earned credentials in wilderness first responder, swift water rescue and Leave No Trace. They also know their territories: not just a river’s moods and the best way to handle a rapid in a high spring flow, but also the difference between a beaver tail cactus and a barrel cactus, a pictograph and a petroglyph. They know people, too. They’re friendly, open, and approachable. They’re there because they want to share and learn along with you.

Benefit To You: Your questions will be answered. A guide’s self-sufficiency means you are in good hands in the natural world. They know how to care for and repair equipment and are well prepared in case of emergencies. They want to you to have the best vacation of your life.

Welcome Back…

More than 60% of O.A.R.S. travelers each year are repeat guests or were referred by a past O.A.R.S. traveler.

Benefit To You: With such a high return rate, we think it a safe to say our guests experience a high level of customer satisfaction.

Size Matters…

O.A.R.S. offers the best guide to guest ratio (1:4) in the industry: relationships are just as important as whitewater.

Benefit To You: We’ll give you the personalized attention you expect and deserve.

Cutting edge technology on and off the river…

With a comprehensive website and blog, as well as a year-round knowledgeable office staff, O.A.R.S. provides access to information and booking technology 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Guides carry satellite telephones for emergency use on all wilderness multi-day trips and remote access to passenger rosters and trip reporting maximizes communication efficiencies for all operations. The Angels Camp headquarters and Grand Canyon operations warehouse utilizes solar power to keep electrical use “off the grid.” O.A.R.S. constantly assesses and purchases new equipment to help keep paddling gear in top-notch condition and well maintained.

Benefit To You: We provide you with communication tools and access to information for your convenience from anywhere on the planet. We have a diligent I.T. department to guarantee our website is up when you need it and that your personal and financial information is protected and secure.

Moveable Feasts…

O.A.R.S. prepares fresh, high quality, healthy food, (often with organic options) providing you a diverse menu and well-balanced meals that demonstrate our attention to detail and your dietary needs. Whenever possible, foods and goods are purchased locally, supporting local businesses and farmers.

Benefit To You: You eat as well or better than you do at home—without the mess or cleanup—and you get a chance to experience the local fare.

How Green is Your Whitewater…

Environmental stewardship is nothing new to O.A.R.S. We’ve been at it for four decades. In partnership with our guests, we have contributed more than $3 million in donations and fees toward the preservation of the environment and to conservation initiatives. For a detailed account of our environmentally responsible practices, check out our Responsible Travel page.

Benefit To You: We assist you in creating a heritage for your children, and their children, so they may experience the same enjoyment of the natural environment.


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Company Info

Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveler Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservations Manager Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist 2007-2013 (River Rafting) Best of the Bay Area Winner

For consecutive years, O.A.R.S. has been named the "Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside Magazine in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program. In multiple years, O.A.R.S.trips have been honored as "50 Tours of a Lifetime" by National Geographic Traveler and since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler has recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler's standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category.

Questions about trips or making reservations? Contact info@oars.com or call 800-346-6277 in the USA or Canada or 1-209-736-4677 if outside the USA or Canada.
©2014
O.A.R.S. Companies Inc.,
PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222