The Next Generation of Dory Guides

For nearly 50 years, a few devoted river guides have carried on the legacy of running dories on the rivers of the West—a tradition fostered in by Martin Litton when he founded Grand Canyon Dories in 1969. Now, a new generation of dory guides is passionate about learning the ropes and carrying on Litton’s legacy. We talked to OARS guides Trevor Case, Amber Shannon and Godwin Peck to find out more about what it means to be among the next generation of dory guides.

What’s special about dories?

Trevor: There’s no better way to feel the river than with a dory.

Amber: Dories are magical. They have years of love and repair and boatmen’s angst in them.

Godwin: They are one of the most beautiful craft on the river. Dories are emblematic. Most of the boats are named after rivers or waterways that have been negatively affected by humans, and to me, this is a constant reminder of the conservation work that needs to be done to protect wild rivers and waterways.

Dories on Idaho's Main Salmon River in Idaho

How do dory trips contribute to the long term preservation of places like the Salmon River and the Grand Canyon?

Trevor: One of the best ways to get people to fall in love with nature is to show it to them. Nowadays, people are so busy and absorbed in technology that they have no time to experience how truly amazing it is.

Amber: The more people we can get to realize how important these places are, the more likely they are to fight for them when the time comes.

Godwin: Dory trips make wilderness areas accessible in one of the most beautiful, unobtrusive ways possible. It is hard to come away from a dory trip and not feel a sense of awe and appreciation for a river. The more people that feel this sense of wonder, the more they will be willing to fight for the preservation of wild areas.

O.A.R.S. Guide Trevor Case rowing a dory as a kid

As the next generation of dory guides, why do you think this is more important than ever?   

Trevor:  We have a duty and a responsibility to protect these places.  I want my kids and grandkids to experience their beauty. And I want people who would otherwise never see these places to experience their beauty.

Amber: Our world is changing as we speak. Global warming and an eminent world water crisis, mining interests and the need for more development are all going to affect our rivers in this lifetime. If we don’t have people to fight, we are going to lose the lifeblood of our planet.

Godwin: Even though people might recognize that wilderness is important, and that we should protect wild areas, it is hard to care for places that you have never seen in person. There is no substitute for being fully immersed. When people visit places like the Grand Canyon and the Frank Church Wilderness they realize that there is no way to replicate or replace that kind of beauty.


Video: Corey Robinson | Photos: Justin Bailie and The Case Family