A family smiles as they raft Split Mountain Canyon in Utah

The OARS Difference

Late OARS founder and president, George Wendt, was a river-running pioneer.

In the early 60s, when he wasn’t teaching middle school math, George was busy exploring the rivers of the West in military surplus rafts. The more he saw, the more it became clear to him that he wanted to bring people into the wilderness and share his passion for wild river canyons. By 1969, his private trips turned into professional trips, and George’s dream of “officially” taking guests downriver came to fruition.

When he passed in 2016, George left behind one of the largest river outfitting companies in the world. Still, some 50-plus years later, our roots as a family-owned and operated company remain the same. 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 our long legacy of providing people with unforgettable adventures in some of the most beautiful places in the world.

The OARS Difference

We understand you have many options when choosing an adventure vacation. But there’s a reason that 70% of our travelers each year are repeat guests or were referred by a past OARS traveler.

Smiling guide on the raft on the Main Salmon river.


With more than five decades of experience under our belts, we are proud to lead the way and set industry standards for everything from training and safety to environmental stewardship and sustainable travel.

The Tuolumne river.

Diverse Collection of Permits

We have assembled a more diverse collection of river-running permits than any other outfitter in the world, providing our guests unparalleled access to some of the last truly wild landscapes in the West and beyond.

Group rafting down the Green River through Gates of Lodore.

Passionate Guides

Our passionate and knowledgeable guides have earned the reputation of being the most experienced, professional, and customer-focused crews on the water, and the proof is the overwhelming number of positive reviews we receive after almost every single trip.

Guide and guests looking at a monument.

Adventure Consultants

We’ve been there: our dedicated year-round office staff and team of Adventure Consultants have hundreds of trips among us, so we know we can match you with the perfect trip and answer any and every question you may have leading up to your adventure.

Whitewater rafting group rafting down the South Fork of the American river.

Small Group Sizes

Low guest-to-guide ratio and small group sizes that often foster a family dynamic on trips. Our average, guest-to-guide ratio is 3:1, with generally no more than 23 people per trip (average groups are 16 guests) on multi-day trips.

Guide serving food to guests on the Green River through Gates of Lodore trip.

Best in Class

Our award-winning adventures are routinely recognized as “best in class” by major travel publications, including the “Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside.

The OARS Mission

We strive to have a positive impact on people’s lives by providing outstanding river trips and other outdoor adventure experiences. Our goal, since 1969, has been to help people of all ages enjoy “the best experience of their lives.” We personally encourage and actively support awareness, deeper appreciation, and preservation of our rivers and environment.

Bottom line, our mission is to have a positive impact on people’s lives and our natural world.

OUR Promise

  • We seek to maintain a safe, inclusive, and accessible community where all feel welcome.
  • Outdoor adventures are inherently life-enriching, and we make it easy to experience full immersion in the wonders of the natural world. We help our guests enjoy the best outdoor experience of their lives.
  • We strive to take care of our guides and staff the way our guides and staff take care of our guests, and we are devoted to creating an environment where people can thrive.
  • We invest in our staff by offering competitive wages and benefits, sponsored training and wellness support, and endeavor to maintain the best boats and expedition equipment on the river.
  • We treat our colleagues, travelers, partners, and competitors with respect and civility.
  • We give back to local nonprofits and professional guide organizations that align with our mission and help make a difference in the communities where we work and live.
  • We seek to inspire a deeper connection to the rivers and lands where we operate, and actively support their preservation for future generations through sponsored outings for under-resourced youth and young adults, responsible travel, stewardship, and monetary support for environmental non-profit organizations.
  • We communicate openly, listen carefully, and learn constantly, with an aim to improve all facets of our operation.

OUR Core Values

Guiding the Way
We set high standards across all facets of our business and endeavor to be an industry leader. We do what we say we will do.

Safety Conscious
We have fun and provide the most enjoyable, carefree experiences of people’s lives, while expertly managing the anticipated and unanticipated risks that come with any outdoor adventure. We inspire confidence and trust from our guests and staff with our risk management practices.

Culture of Caring and Community
We care deeply for our co-workers, travelers, and the greater outdoor community. We strive to maintain safe, inclusive, and accessible spaces where all feel welcome.

Access for Everyone
We provide unique access to some of the most iconic national parks, wilderness areas, and off-the-beaten-path locales on the planet, to help inspire generations of passionate environmental stewards from diverse backgrounds.

Constant Improvement
OARS has always been, and continues to be, a work in progress. We want to hear how we can do better and take action to improve.

Passion for Wild Places
We strongly believe the wilderness experiences we offer are life-changing, and our shared love of the outdoors is a driving force behind all of our decisions.

Unparalleled Hospitality
We maintain professionalism in everything we do and routinely exceed guest expectations. Whether it’s on the phone with our reservations staff, or out in the field with our guides and drivers, we provide a premier experience for our travelers.

Equal and mutual respect for our colleagues, travelers, partners, suppliers, and competitors is at the foundation of our company culture. We also have a deep respect for the natural environments, Indigenous Lands, and protected wilderness areas where we operate and believe it’s crucial to acknowledge, listen to, and learn from the Native Peoples whose ancestry is ingrained in the river corridors through which we float.

Giving Back
We contribute in meaningful ways to the communities and environments where we work and live.

Discover your next OARS Adventure

Whitewater river rafting on a river in California.

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