Cliff Ghiglieri

Professional River Guide
Where did you grow up?

Flagstaff, Arizona

Where do you call home now?

Flagstaff, Arizona

Year started at OARS?


What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of working as a river guide in Grand Canyon is the ability to give people a sense of the greater natural world that exists and has existed since time immemorial. It is a privilege to be able to traverse with as much ease as we are allowed because of modern ingenuity and the knowledge of our river running “ancestors” thru one of the most inhospitable and extraordinary places on earth and in our solar system. Sharing this perspective with people I think allows for reconnecting humanity with the greater nature without and within. Also, putting Professional Commercial Whitewater Rafting Guide on my tax forms.

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

I have two favorite canyons (rapids are great, but I don’t think they’re the focus of the Grand Canyon experience, although, running whitewater is one of those things that while you’re doing it, your mind is not allowed to do anything else, a very focusing space). Havasupai and Tuckup Canyon. Havasupai is obvious, beautiful, amazing, paradise, blah, blah, but Tuckup is a really magnificent canyon because it maintains a really picturesque canyon very typical of Grand Canyon the entire length of whatever distance you decide to traverse, but for me the Redwall narrows in Tuckup are just so mind-bogglingly massive, it’s what all cathedrals aspire toward I think. It’s always a pleasure and you always have to earn it.

Do you have a lucky charm or special river tradition?

I couldn’t say that I I have a tradition, but one thing that I think is essential to the quality of a trip is music. I always bring a guitar with plenty of spare strings.

What can you not live without on a trip?

Toothbrush, water bottle, book. It’s a pretty simple life out there, one of the greatest parts of this kind of trip is every day, you need less, the canyon and traveling fills more and more your life. Like Socrates said, he is richest who is content with the least.

Fun fact, special talent or favorite guiding memory

Every trip I get to do with my Dad is my new favorite trip. I just try a little bit harder every year, learning a little bit more, seeing a little more, and explore more of the canyon and the unbelievable part is, even after so many years, this is more than possible. Finding new stuff in the old.