WRO Response to COVID-19
Updated April 10th, 2021

In times like these, the pillars of biology and common sense tell us that remote river canyons and other wilderness landscapes are some of the safest places to be, far removed from the crowds and shared public spaces of the urban world. However, we still understand the obvious concerns surrounding the travel required to get to the starting points of many river trips, as well as concerns about traveling with a group of people coming from different areas of the country. After a year of a global pandemic, we still aren’t quite out of the woods!

The states we operate in have mostly opened back up, WRO is still monitoring Federal, State and local orders to remain in compliance. As we know more about COVID now and we operated during the 2020 river season, we have adjusted things slightly from last year. We will continue to do the things the science says works like social distancing, good hand washing, and wearing facing coverings when social distancing is not an option. After our industry operated over 2020, it seems like the outdoors and camping are a great place to spend time traveling and vacationing especially since many international options are still not an option. In preparation for river operations the upcoming season, we have modified our COVID Operating Plan, but it is still designed to minimize the risk of infection for all our guests and guides.

General trip expectations from all participants:

We have the expectation that everyone who participates in WRO trips respect everyone’s personal space this summer. From first arriving at orientation and potentially meeting new people, to sitting around the fire, to waiting in line for food, it is expected that people will maintain social distancing to the greatest extent possible. We still recommend against handshaking, hugging, or physical contact with people outside of household groups and families. If you are in the same group or know other participants and have a clear understanding of each other’s comfort level with regards to personal space, social distancing will be a personal choice among those people specifically. However, as a general rule, we recommend social distancing when possible. It is also expected that all guides and clients will have face coverings or buffs for when social distancing may not be possible, like riding in a bus or plane. It is also expected that everyone will practice frequent hand washing and good sanitation on our trips.


Additional COVID Measures:

  • We always recommend and promote regular hand washing on our trips, but we will provide increased access to hand washing stations and continue to recommend more frequent hand washing.
  • If anyone has symptoms of covid or feel ill, please let the someone on the crew know immediately. 
  • For vehicle travel, when social distancing is not possible, we are requiring masks in buses or planes.
  • We provide some transportation options that are included in the trip, however guests are still welcome to consider alternate transportation, like driving their own car to the put in, etc.
  • Continuing extra sanitation efforts for communal and kitchen spaces with Vital Oxide or other disinfectant.
  • Face coverings worn by guides in food prep.
  • Guest will all wash hands before going through the food line. By request, one of the crew can serve your food if you wish.
  • All dishes will be cleaned with additional sanitizing measures.
  • Please wash or sanitize hands before getting in any drink coolers drag bags. Personal drag bags are available for river cooler beverages upon request.
  • Increased disinfecting of the “groover”.
  • Following set protocols for any potential suspected COVID case.

As I mentioned above, the risk of COVID cannot completely be eliminated or mitigated when traveling in a group. We feel like we have outlined a plan to try to minimize the risk for participants, both for the crew and guests alike. Please reach out if you have specific questions on some of the measures. After operating one season during the pandemic, we feel like we can continue to do what worked and incorporate more of what is now known about COVID.

Although many trips are booked up, if you are looking to get outside and enjoy some river time this summer we would love to hear from you and happy to put together some possible options that might work for you. I can tell you from personal experience the river and the outdoors are still a great place to be right now!


Seth Tonsmeire
WRO President


Loki enjoying a day of practicing social distancing out on the Salmon River around town.