Joy Gustafson



Where did you grow up?

Washington State

Where do you call home now?

The river

Year started at OARS?


What’s the best part of your job?

Living and working in nature! I also love watching people transform and relax through out the river trip. It’s amazing what happens when people remove themselves from the modern world and technology for a few days…

Tell us about your favorite rapid, hike or camp and what makes it special

Big drops 2&3 in Cataract Canyon during high water. Every time I’m at the top scouting I have a hundred butterflies battling it out in my stomach and I think to myself “what am I doing here???” Then I run the rapids and when I reach the bottom it’s the best feeling in the world, stoked, I think yes this is what I’m doing here!

Do you have a lucky charm or special river tradition?

Yeah, I have fishhook carved from whale bone that lives in my life jacket. It is a gift from a local girl I connected with while traveling in Tonga. It represents protection from water.

What can you not live without on a trip?

Lotions, my skin gets so dried out working in the desert environment.

Fun fact, special talent or favorite guiding memory

I make my own natural lotions, salves, sunscreens, and lip balms. I got tired of paying too much for chemical laden products. I use coconut or olive oil infused with pinon pine resin and local beeswax as my base, along with essential oils and a few other ingredients. Products are great and smell awesome!