We understand you have many options when choosing a rafting or nature-based adventure. Here’s why we feel OARS is the best choice for your next trip…
A Family Affair
Late OARS founder and president, George Wendt, left behind what may be one of the largest outfitting companies in the world. Still, our roots as a family-owned and operated company since 1969 remain the same. Today, George’s sons Tyler and Clavey Wendt, along with numerous dedicated staff and guides, some of whom have been with us for decades, carry on the long legacy of providing people with unforgettable experiences in some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Just Ask Around
More than 70% of OARS travelers each year are repeat guests or were referred by a past OARS traveler. You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who’d say they didn’t get good value for the money they spent with us. That’s why it’s no surprise that a national poll recently found that OARS tops the adventure travel industry in: professionalism, organization of trips, as well as guides & operations staff. Additionally, more than 83% of people surveyed said that OARS trips were better to far better than other trips they’ve taken.
The Guides Make All the Difference
In the 50 years OARS has been in business, sure, we’ve learned a few things about operating fun and hassle-free trips for our guests. But the real magic happens because of the extraordinary guides you’ll find working on your trip. We are proud to have earned the reputation for having the most-experienced, professional and customer-focused crews on the water. Not to mention, fun and family-oriented. No other company’s guides do as much as ours to ensure you’re having the trip of a lifetime. And it’s not unusual for our guests to report back that a guide has transformed their life, or their child’s life, in a meaningful way.
We operate 100% of our trips in the U.S. using guides trained and employed by OARS at regional outposts throughout the West. On international trips, we partner with expert local guides and outfitters that have been thoroughly vetted by our operations staff. OARS believes it is a fundamental part of eco-tourism to work with local guides, while at the same time bringing our wealth of experience to the table.
“I was incredibly impressed with the professionalism, organization, and safety demonstrated by the OARS guides. They really go above and beyond to make sure that you are enjoying every minute of your trip. They provide an unbelievable experience that you will not get anywhere else.” ~Matt, Petaluma, CA
Year-round Office & Private Trips Staff
Our year-round office staff and adventure consultants have more than 150 years of combined experience in the industry. We’ve been there: over 1,000 river trips amongst us (hey, it’s one of the perks)! We’re available to answer your questions all year and anxious to match you up with the trip that best suits your personal interests. Want your own private trip? Call our Private & Charter Trips manager to start planning your personalized adventure today.
Guest Ratio & Group Size
OARS trips offer an average guide-to-guest ratio of one-to-four with generally no more than 24 people per trip (average group size is 12 – 16 guests). On our Grand Canyon trips that ratio is closer to one guide for every three travelers and on trips where we offer paddle rafts, we stick to one guide for every six or seven paddlers. Our group sizes allow travelers to develop lasting friendships and connections and guests often say they feel like family by the end of their adventure.
You’ve Got Options
We have trips exclusively for adults, women, and families (more than 10,000 families have trusted us with their vacation in the last 10 years). We have gourmet trips with table linens and exploratory trips that will push the boundaries of your comfort zone. With a broad range of itineraries and dates to choose from, we have something for just about everyone. And regardless of which adventure you choose, you can count on OARS trips to provide a crucial connection to nature, wilderness and the outdoors that allows guests to disconnect from daily stresses and reconnect with family and friends in a meaningful way.
Investing in Our Staff
Our guides earn competitive wages and OARS sponsors the cost of training for swiftwater rescue, Wilderness First Responder courses, Leave No Trace and on-river seminars in regional geology, history and flora & fauna. In many areas, we offer no-cost employee housing for guides and we have a travel fund to encourage guides to experience trips in other areas. Further, because we genuinely care about our employees, returning guides are offered healthcare cost reimbursement and a 401(k) retirement package with a company match. And because we like our guides looking sharp, we work with partner companies to supply our staff with a complimentary gear package every spring.
“The guides, the office staff, the pilots, the bus drivers, the food packers etc. were professional, courteous, and willing to go the extra mile no matter what it took! We have been on numerous rafting trips, but this was our first with OARS, I can guarantee it won’t be our last! Thank you to you all for running a first rate trip and making our river time special.” ~Hiker Girl, Peoria, AZ
OARS prepares fresh, high-quality, healthy food (often with organic ingredients), providing you a diverse menu and well-balanced meals that demonstrate our attention to detail. Whenever possible, foods and goods are purchased locally, supporting local businesses and farmers. You can expect to eat as well or better than you do at home—without having to deal with the mess or cleanup. Our focus on wilderness gourmet and the caliber of the meals our guides prepare is an area that continually impresses our guests. When surveyed, more than half say we do better than the competition.
“Great campsites (go for the OARS sleep sets with the 3-inch thick pads and sleeping bags with cotton liners that both put the “comfy” in “comfy catered camping”). Food was fresh, tasty and well-prepared and my vegetarian wife was also nicely accommodated. Can’t say enough about this trip and these fine guides who give OARS its well-deserved reputation.” ~Dan, Central CA
OARS uses top-of-the-line equipment that’s well-maintained. That means the best rafts, dories, kayaks and stand up paddleboards on the water; top-notch oars, paddles & helmets; lofty sleeping bags, comfy (three-inch thick) mattress pads & roomy tents and waterproof bags to keep your stuff dry. Plus, we bring camp chairs for everyone.
Whitewater rafting is an adventure sport plain and simple; it is not a carnival ride and there are some inherent risks. But it’s also exceptionally fun. OARS has been in the river running business for 50 years and that is no accident. What better way to moderate the risks than choosing to travel with one of the most-experienced outfits on the water today? We pride ourselves on a level of professionalism from our staff that demonstrates our commitment to training and preparation. We also produced an industry-leading whitewater rafting safety orientation video, which we ask all passengers to watch.
“One of the things that impressed me the most was the stewardship of the canyon that all of the guides were a part of. They made sure all of us understood the fragile nature of the canyon and how to best take care of it for those who followed us. The fact that they really love the ‘place where they work’ impressed me. Keep up the good work and the awesome stewardship.” ~Jeff Weber, San Jose
Environmental stewardship is nothing new to OARS. We’ve been at it for five decades. We utilize alternative energy sources, such as solar power, along with fuel-efficient vehicles and support vessels whenever possible to reduce our carbon footprint. We supply reusable insulated mugs on all of our multi-day river trips, follow Leave No Trace principles and guests are continually impressed by not only the company’s commitment to conservation, but our guides too, who are just as passionate about protecting the places we operate in as we are. It’s also hugely important to us to support local communities, and in partnership with our guests, we have contributed more than $5 million in donations and fees toward the preservation of the environment and to conservation initiatives.
Don’t Just Take Our Word For It
In recent years, OARS was named the “Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program. Additionally, OARS trips are routinely recognized as “best in class” by Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR, Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, and more.