Our Company > O.A.R.S. History

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River rafting becomes a business
1972 O.A.R.S. is incorporated as a fully operational river rafting company
1973 Sobek Expeditions is established and becomes part of the O.A.R.S. consortium. The first commercial trip is on Ethiopia's Omo River
1978 First descent of the Bio Bio in Chile
1979 O.A.R.S. establishes its first whitewater training and guide school
1981 First descent of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe
1985 50% office growth

O.A.R.S. begins producing videos to showcase tour programs
1986 First descent of the Alas River in Sumatra

O.A.R.S. aids production of PBS documentary on Colorado Plateau issues entitled "Troubled Waters."
1988 Acquisition of Grand Canyon Dories
1990 Development of sales for international river programs

Acquisition of Parklands Expeditions in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

O.A.R.S. is featured in PM Magazine
1991 Acquisition of Northwest Dories

David Brower joins benefit trip in Cataract Canyon to increase awareness of Glen Canyon Dam

O.A.R.S. provides support for production of ESPN documentary entitled "Tournament of Champions"
1992 George Wendt represents America Outfitting Industry, testifying before the Senate Subcommittee for river preservation
1993 Develops sea kayaking and whale watching programs
1994 25th anniversary celebration in Angels Camp
1995 Begins operations on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho
1996 Establishes award-winning presence on the world wide web with "O.A.R.S. Online"
1997 Facilitates the first ever virtual Colorado River Expedition through the Grand Canyon via Discovery Channel Online
Permitted to operate in Dinosaur National Monument on the Yampa River and the Gates of Lodore section of the Green River

Acquires North American River Expeditions, offering rafting and multi-sport vacations in Canyonlands National Park
1998 Develops premier international adventure travel programs in Fiji

Assists in production of documentary that retraces Major John Wesley Powell's legendary decent of the Colorado River for PBS' The American Experience and Journeys through Hell, a segment of ZDF, German public television.
1999 Obtains permit to run the North Fork of the Stanislaus River

Provides Salmon River trip for Get Challenged, a national non-profit organization dedicated to building the self esteem of people living with HIV/AIDS. Get Challenged produces a documentary film based on the trip
2000 Successfully negotiates with the government of Fiji to establish the Upper Navua Conservation Area -- a unique public-private partnership protecting this pristine river environment in Fiji

George Wendt named one of Paddler Magazine's "Paddlers of the Century"

Becomes founding member of the Adventure Collection
2001 Coordinates the river filming of the new IMAX theater film, MacGillivray Freeman's Coral Reef Adventures released in 2003

Receives international recognition from the WTO (World Tourism Organization) for the Rivers Fiji top-rated ecotourism enterprise
2002 Rivers Fiji plays host to the Eco-Challenge race event on the Navua River, receiving international media coverage

Acquires partnership interest in R.O.A.M. (Rivers, Oceans and Mountains) to operate rafting and sea kayaking trips in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory
2003 Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip selected as one of The Top Twenty-Five Adventures in the World by National Geographic Adventure magazine

R.O.A.M. and O.A.R.S. gain exposure through ESPN's "Last Man Standing" reality series that was filmed at Chilko Lake in British Columbia

O.A.R.S. provides 6-day rafting adventures in Utah as the grand prize for the nationally renowned McDonald's Best Chance Monopoly Game, further bolstering its recognition as a household name in the adventure industry
2004 Whitewater legends George Wendt and then 87-year old Martin Litton, row the Colorado through Grand Canyon to celebrate O.A.R.S. and Grand Canyon Dories 35th and 40th anniversaries, respectively.

O.A.R.S. hosts Robert Kennedy Jr. and Christie Todd Whitman for an eco-debate on the Main Salmon in Idaho

O.A.R.S.’ Klinaklini Heli-Rafting Expedition named one of the “100 Best Trips on the Planet” by Men’s Journal

O.A.R.S. provides 6-day rafting adventures in Idaho for the second year as the grand prize for the nationally renowned McDonald’s Best Chance Monopoly Game

O.A.R.S. partners with American Express as part of the Member Rewards Program
2005 O.A.R.S. provides Grand Canyon rafting trip for people with disabilities through the organization Environmental Traveling Companions

Town and Country and Men’s Journal magazines both feature O.A.R.S.’ Grand Canyon trip as one of the Best Trips on the Planet

NBC features the Tuolumne Wine on the River Trip as part of their award winning series, "In Wine Country"

O.A.R.S. debuts a whitewater rafting series for Women Only

National Geographic covers the Firth River - 25 years after the first descent

Travel & Leisure covers Chilko Multi-Sport Adventure Spa trip in the wilds of British Columbia

O.A.R.S. goes international in a big way – adding Peru, Ecuador, Galápagos and Chile Multi-sports to complement existing international rafting and sea kayaking trips

88-year old Martin Litton rows a dory and documentary film crew down the Middle Fork and Main Salmon

Patagonia and O.A.R.S. collaborate for a series of Arctic awareness events across the country

O.A.R.S. forms strategic marketing partnerships with REI, Teva, Smith Optics and Royal Robbins

2006 O.A.R.S. introduces the online OARStore designed to meet the activity specific packing and gear needs of the O.A.R.S. traveler

Premier of the O.A.R.S. "River of the Wild West" High Definition promotional film, set to the sounds of Bluegrass music performed by O.A.R.S. guides

Taking the lead from the overwhelming success of the Wine on the River series, O.A.R.S. rolls out their new Wilderness Gourmet series featuring gourmet chefs and culinary instruction on the river

Wilderness Gourmet receives unprecedented media attention through Men's Journal and Shape Magazine with the first ever trip on the Rogue River in Oregon covered by Sunset Magazine

Men's Journal features O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon trip as one of "25 Classic Adventures Trips and How to Do Them Right"

O.A.R.S. hosts Tom Brokaw on a charter trip for Men's Journal on the Middle Fork of the Salmon

Working with Teva, O.A.R.S. coordinates the river filming of the new IMAX film, MacGillivray Freeman's "Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk"

George Wendt honored by the Adventure Travel Trade Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award

O.A.R.S. forms innovative new partnerships with the Leave No Trace, Center for Outdoor Ethics and commits to training guides company-wide in LNT practices

O.A.R.S. commits to voluntarily offset and help neutralize all of the energy used by our main office in California and our Grand Canyon operation in Arizona through a innovative new partnership with NativeEnergy

Grand Canyon Dories featured in Conde Nast, "World's Best" issue

O.A.R.S. purchases 613 tons of carbon offsets in 2007, which has the same global warming offset impact as keeping 100 average cars off the road for an entire year

Receives prestigious award for "Best Adventure Travel Company on Earth" in the River and Sea category from National Geographic Adventure magazine

O.A.R.S. acquires Don Hatch River Expeditions, a name that has been synonymous with river running since 1929 when Bus Hatch, along with his brothers and cousins, constructed a wooden boat and set out for the Green River, in what is now Dinosaur National Monument, to explore its canyons.

Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Wendy Perrin names Reservations Manager, Mindy Gleason, as “Top Travel Specialist” in the River Rafting category

O.A.R.S. and Teva team up for two wildly successful product-testing trips on the Main Salmon, prompting additional such itineraries in 2008

The Four Corners School of Outdoor Education and O.A.R.S. collaborate on a series of new archeology-themed Southwest Safari Camps in Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde and Canyonlands

Virtuoso Life magazine features O.A.R.S.’ Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip on the cover of the March issue

AARP Magazine features “Traveling with the Grandkids” on the Yampa in the January issue

Tom Brokaw article “Thirty-Six Years Later…” appears in Men’s Journal magazine in May, recounting Middle Fork Salmon trip

Sunset magazine names the “Rogue River Wilderness Gourmet” as one of the 10 Best Rafting Trips of the year

Outside magazine names the full Grand Canyon Dories trip as one of the Best Trips in 2007

Receives recognition from the nationally syndicated NBC series, "In Wine Country" for "Best Wine Country Adventure" on the Tuolumne River in California

Creation of the new O.A.R.S. blog for past guests and adventure enthusiasts - Waterblogged - http://whitewaterraftingblog.oars.com


The company goes 100% solar for their warehouse and main office operations in Angels Camp, California, and for their warehouse and office in Flagstaff, Arizona, for their Colorado River operations in the Grand Canyon. These two new systems are expected to generate over 123 kWh of electricity their first year and every year thereafter - enough to keep 8 medium-sized houses supplied with electricity for a year. This will result in a reduction of approximately 180,000 lb - over 90 tons of green house gases (mainly carbon dioxide) per year

SmarterTravel.com recognizes O.A.R.S. Rogue River trip as one of "The 10 Best Adventure Travel Bargains of 2008"

Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Wendy Perrin names Reservations Manager, Mindy Gleason, as “Top Travel Specialist” in the River Rafting category for the second year

Invited to share knowledge regarding environmental protection at a number of professional meetings for those in the outdoor industry and members of the federal land management agencies

O.A.R.S. multi-generational family trips highlighted in an article in the Wall Street Journal

“Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk” premiers at giant screen theaters in IMAX and 3D IMAX worldwide

National Geographic Traveler magazine names Mystical Peru trip as one of the “Best New Trips” of 2008

Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Wendy Perrin names Reservations Manager, Mindy Gleason, as “Top Travel Specialist” in the River Rafting category

O.A.R.S. and Teva team up for two wildly successful product-testing trips on the Main Salmon, prompting additional such itineraries in 2008

Cataract Canyon featured in Sunset magazine as one of their "10 Earth-Friendly Spring Flings"

Forbes Traveler recognizes the Upper Navua River in Fiji as one of the "Top 10 Rafting Trips in the World"

O.A.R.S. partners with Hilton Grand Vacations Club to offer members adventure travel experience

Outside magazine names the Rogue River Wilderness Gourmet "Trip of the Year" for 2008


O.A.R.S. commemorates landmark 40th anniversary

The company introduces an easy-to-navigate online version of the catalog

The O.A.R.S. Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, is established to provide the ethical, educational, and experiential foundation for inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards and outdoor enthusiasts

The company again receives the prestigious award for "Best Adventure Travel Company on Earth" in the River and Sea category from National Geographic Adventure magazine

The company joins the fight against an East Bay Municipal Utility District plan to expand Pardee Reservoir–which would inundate some of the Mokelumne River–destroying a popular whitewater run and flooding some of the best riparian habitat left on the lower reaches of the river. O.A.R.S. donates a series of trips on the Mokelumne River raising nearly $10,000 to help fund the Foothill Conservancy and their efforts to support National Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne River

Highlands to Islands: Ultimate Fiji Explorer featured as one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime”

O.A.R.S.’ new Yosemite & Tuolumne Hiker: Peaks, Creeks & Waterfalls recognized as an Outside magazine “Trip of the Year”

Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Wendy Perrin names Reservations Manager, Mindy Gleason, as “Top Travel Specialist” in the River Rafting category for the third year

The Rogue River featured in a National Geographic Adventure article on the nation’s Wild & Scenic River system

The new OARS.com launches with more than 15 High-Definition adventure travel videos plus photo slideshows, interactive maps with 360-degree panoramic photo tours, live trip reviews and the option to view real-time availability and book online

Rivers Fiji recognized for the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards in the “Best for conservation of cultural heritage” category

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Company Info

O.A.R.S. is an author ized concessioner of Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Grand Te ton National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument.
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.
O.A.R.S. Companies Inc.,
PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222