Dory Trips Adventures
Meet the Crew
Martin Litton is an icon not only to those who know the modern history of the Grand Canyon, but also to those who today fortunately share the untrammeled beauty of some of western America's most beautiful lands. A crusader for the protection of many rivers, national monuments and forests, Mr. Litton first floated the Colorado River in 1955. Humbled by its beauty and grandeur, he fought to save the river from being dammed, and in doing so founded Grand Canyon Dories in 1964. After a half century of river running, he still finds time to take to the oars now and again.
It's taken him since 1971, his first year rowing the Grand Canyon, but today Regan Dale will humbly admit he's got some inarguably dependable talents when it comes to piloting a dory through one of the world's most colossal stretches of whitewater. "After you've rowed more than 35,000 miles, that's like going around the world. You're bound to build up a few skills," Regan smiles. Along with dories legend Curt Chang, Regan started his guiding career on the Colorado more than 35 years ago. Since then he's made the trip from one end of the canyon to the other a few hundred times.
Ask Curt Chang for some sage advice on life and you're apt to get a quote from one of Hollywood's more gritty leading men. "I like what Steve McQueen said," Curt will tell you. "I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth." That might be what you'd expect from a man who's run one of America's longest undammed rivers - the free-flowing Salmon-some 200 times. Curt oversees O.A.R.S.' operation in Idaho, where he's worked for more than three decades fostering the tradition of dories amongst a new generation of guides.
In 1969 George Wendt stepped back from his career as a middle school math teacher and took to the oars with his friend Ed Gooch establishing Gooch-Wendt Expeditions on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. That same year, the company was selected as the first small-raft, oar-powered operator in the Grand Canyon and was appropriately renamed O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists). Since then, George and his wife Pam have taken the O.A.R.S. experience from the churning waters of the Grand Canyon to over 35 rivers and coastlines around the world.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
Three words meant as sage advice from a man who knew what a river had to offer one's heart and mind - Mark Twain. "Twenty years from now," Twain said, "you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines" and go!
Since 1969, Grand Canyon Dories, part of the O.A.R.S. family of adventure companies, has been leading generations of families and friends through some of the nation's most legendary waters by dory; rivers considered icons of history in the Great American West. Our means of travel, by dory, offer a uniquely authentic river experience unparalleled by any other vessel on the planet.
You'll see! If you haven't already, please come along - alone or with those most dear to you - to help create your own legacy. Come and share the exploration, the discovery, the dreams and most importantly, the memories.
Journeys By Dory
Rivers and lands as you've never seen them before...
At Grand Canyon Dories, the adventures and experiences we cherish most, with families, friends and even ourselves, are those which evolve naturally and which involve unforgettable events which happen in meaningful locations. For more than 40 years, these are the places we have taken you and these are the memories we have helped create.
As part of the O.A.R.S. family of companies, we provide unequalled access and unmatched service to more rivers - by dory - than any other company in the world. Our vision at has always been simple: To provide superlative vacations for families and adventurers alike, in some of America's most spectacular landscapes. While we are by no means the only ones who celebrate the rivers of the American West, there is something discernable about our heritage; something that markedly differentiates the experiences we offer.
In a word—one that may become synonymous with a few of your life's most vivid, wonderful recollections—dories.
Navigating all waters in the finest of style, slipping through rapids and over drops as effortlessly as they do silent, still eddies, these classic craft are renowned as much for stalwart capability as for elegance.
Since the first day Grand Canyon Dories floated a commercial expedition down the Colorado River in 1969, our dories have become fixtures there, along with other storied waterways of Utah, Oregon and for almost as long, Idaho.
So climb in. Your life's newest memories are just around the bend.
Our History of Grand Canyon Dories and O.A.R.S.
Throughout the American West there exists a legacy defined by true frontiersmen and defended by devoted conservationists. That legacy winds and surges through some of our nation's greatest heartlands.
That legacy is a river. Many rivers, in fact.
Our story-the history of O.A.R.S. and Grand Canyon Dories-would not have been written if it weren't for those who found and fought for some of the West's wildest waters.
In essence, our story started over 130 years ago, in 1869. Major John Wesley Powell led a bold, four-boat expedition down hundreds of miles of uncharted water on The Colorado River. Powell's men were the first American settlers to behold the enormous beauty of the Grand Canyon, today, one of the world's seven wonders.
A century later, a young environmentalist named Martin Litton began running trips down that same river. Inspired by the canyon's grandeur, he was driven by a will to save it from proposed dams and inevitable destruction, Litton founded Grand Canyon Dories, the canyon's first dory operation.
The year was 1964.
Five years later, George Wendt launched O.A.R.S., a rafting company that also got its start on the Colorado, before expanding to more of the many wondrous rivers of the West.
Around the same time, two aspiring guides, Curt Chang and Regan Dale, started learning the ropes under Litton, who had introduced commercial dory trips not only in the canyon, but also on rivers in Idaho and Oregon.
After independent adventures of their own, Chang took over the reins in Idaho, Dale handled the canyon and today Grand Canyon Dories and O.A.R.S. are part of one integrated family born of the Grand Canyon.
Tradition has always been the benchmark by which we measure our values and success as a world-class adventure company.
An authentic replica of Powell's first boat hangs at our Grand Canyon office in Flagstaff, Arizona. We now have second generation guides on a number of our expeditions; sons and daughters who've inherited their love and knowledge of the land from parents who've guided before them. We particularly covet the legacy of Martin Litton, a man who many credit with literally saving the canyon, and who to this day advocates for the threatened wilds of the West.
From Powell's first journey to the untrammeled existence of some of the very rivers we run today, our past and present are rooted in respect for the efforts of real American pioneers.
So is our future-a future we hope to forever share with our families and yours.
The Dory Experience
If it is indeed true that experience is the best teacher, there is no greater means than by dory to experience-not just see-some of America's greatest rivers. Their individual characters, their histories, wilds and lore await just beyond the bow of the boat.
With a dory, the difference is more than subtle. Dories are designed with a blend of rationale, romanticism and adrenaline. That's what you feel when you slip into your seat. What we're offering, really isn't so much a trip as an experience. To most folks the scenery, the thrills and the camp life are only a part of it. The rest of it comes from within. The thrill of adventure is real. The fascination is real. The relaxation is deep. Are you experienced?
You will be.
Smooth, solid, surreal
As stylish as it is burly, a dory is to the river what an Italian sports car is to mean, urban streets and rowdy rural routes. No other boat is as capable, safe or elegant on the wild waters that O.A.R.S. explores. Beyond their stout, thoughtful design dories hold a soulful connection to the river and a heritage of western exploration. Combined, the qualities of the vessel make for an unmatched and unforgettable journey.
Dories are made for rock and roll. They're also fine-tuned to provide classic amenity. Hardwood-hulled but ultra-bouyant, they slice walls of wave, buck through rapids and land large drops with ease (and more than enough splash).
In rippling waters and inconsistent currents - conditions that would make other vessels more unruly - a dory is unbelievably sleek and lounge-like. Sincerely smooth sailing. Decked over, there is room for hundreds of pounds of gear, dry and out of sight. Above board, there's ample space for four passengers and a central cockpit for a guide manning two powerful oars.
Aside from the incredible places these boats will take you; aside from the wonderful experiences you will have there; aside from the dories' heritage and elegance; these boats, more than any other on the river are just plain fun.