5 Questions with Grand Canyon River Guide Rio Hibarger
Name: Rio Hibarger
Hometown: Hagarville, Arkansas
Guides For: O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon Dories since 2006
Greatest Memory: 2011 high water in Cataract Canyon
Special Talents: Amateur juggler
Tell us about your first experience on a river?
After serving as a Marine during the early years of the Vietnam War my father found peace and happiness canoeing the rivers of the Ozarks. It’s there with him, my mother, and later my younger siblings, I was fortunate enough to start spending time paddling creeks and rivers. When I was six we found a long fiberglass kayak for us kids to use that allowed us to start running bigger water during spring floods!
How did you get into guiding?
At age 16 I started working as a baggage boatman on tributaries of the Colorado River. When I finished high school I kept at it, and by the time I was 24 I had worked running rivers on every continent except for Antarctica.
What role do rivers play in your life?
I cannot imagine life without them. They are the veins of the world and we should work to keep these living treasures as intact as is possible.
What benefits do you think a rafting trip can bring to others?
I think a river trip can bring people together by offering a great place in a natural setting to reflect, gather energy, and take a break from demanding work schedules and urban habitats.
Is there a river you’ve never run, but hope to in the next couple of years?
The Marañón River, a large branch of the Amazon located in northern Peru. The trip is 30 days long, which I believe is the longest commercial river trip in the world at this time. The river is scheduled to be dammed in eight places over the next couple of years unless we are able to stop the projects.