Madeline Friend

Professional River Guide


Where did you grow up?

Flagstaff, Arizona

Where do you call home now?

Flagstaff, Arizona (after seasonal stints in Wyoming, California, Mexico, Colombia, Utah, and Idaho!)

Year started at OARS?


What’s the best part of your job?

Sharing incredible outdoor places with people and showing them how to thrive in natural areas.

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

Surprise Valley reminds me of my favorite childhood book, “The Shamlanders.” It seems unreal, and is absolutely my favorite place in Grand Canyon.

I am also absolutely enthralled with the rapid Widowmaker on the Middle Owyhee for its macabre ominousness and the seven-hour portage.

Do you have a lucky charm or special river tradition?

On every trip, I bring along a book I created of favorite poems, stories, quotes, riddles, and jokes.

What can you not live without on a trip?

Silence and reflection.

Fun fact, special talent or favorite guiding memory

I research fluvial geomorphology (how rivers change landscapes) and sediment transport, which allows me to research the rivers I love! I also write place-based poetry and essays on my website,