5 Crowd-Favorite Films from the OARS Boathouse Tour

OARS 50th Anniversary Boathouse Tour

How do you celebrate 50 years? You party, of course! For a good cause… 

For our 50th anniversary season, we brought back the OARS Boathouse Tour for a second year in a row. Hosted at our outposts throughout the West, these gatherings have been a way for us to connect with our neighbors and give back to the communities where we operate. But this year, the tour was also a chance for us to pay tribute to the thousands of guides and employees, nearly a million guests, and countless partners who have supported the company and been a part of our extended family over the last five decades.

Designed as a mini film festival—and fueled with support from YETI, NRS, Chaco, Smith and Chums, along with countless local sponsors—this year’s Boathouse Tour helped us raise more than $20,000 for local organizations. Aimed at groups that support the health and wellness of guiding communities and the next generation of river lovers, this year’s non-profit beneficiaries included:

In total, the OARS Boathouse Tour has raised more than $36,000 over the past two years thanks to the generosity of our partners, neighbors and friends. And we had a blast along the way! If you weren’t able to join us in person, this is your chance to experience a small part of the Boathouse Tour at home. Put on some cozy clothes, grab a bowl of popcorn and get lost in the world of OARS…

Best of the Boathouse Tour: Watch Everyone’s Favorite OARS Films

1) OARS – 50 Years

Pulled together just in time for our 50th Anniversary Boathouse Tour, this commemorative film weaves together vintage footage from early expeditions in Grand Canyon, California, and on Oregon’s Rogue River, as well as interviews with some OARS originals. It’s not only a nod to company founder, George Wendt, but also an acknowledgment of the hundreds of guides and employees who have worked tirelessly over the last five decades to help make OARS the company it is today.

2) Derby

In the spring of 2019—on the front end of one of the biggest whitewater years in history—we followed our fearless, lipstick-wearing snout guide down the Colorado River to watch her in action in Cataract Canyon. Go behind the scenes and into the pressure zone with Samantha Derbyshire.

3) River of Eden

“The Upper Navua Gorge is unparalleled. Sheer walls rocket 150-feet skyward as green, roiling waters sleuth through 20-foot-wide natural canals. Waterfalls and a misty spray dance from the jungle above, keeping this oasis glistening with life.” Join filmmaker Pete McBride, a National Geographic Freshwater Hero, on a journey into the Fijian Highlands where the locals’ innovative tourism model has protected one of the most beautiful rivers on Earth. You won’t believe your eyes…

4) The Sweep

Sweep boats are part of the history, excitement and challenge of running Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. And there’s only about 35 people in the world who are skilled at piloting these 4,000-pound boats downstream. Tag along with OARS sweep boat driver Ned Perry and learn more about one of the most unique jobs in the world. 

5) Return from Deso  

Filmmaker Justin Clifton brings us the story of Garrett Eaton, an OARS guide who served in the United States Marine Corp. After returning from Afghanistan, he was dangerously close to losing his family and his life to addiction when he found a river guiding program for American veterans. Slowly finding his way back from the brink, Garrett rediscovered what he has been fighting for deep in the canyons of Desolation.

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