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