Hardshell Kayaking

Whether you are a whitewater aficionado craving big action and adventure, or are just starting to get your feet (and face) wet in the multi-day whitewater kayaking world, Wilderness River Outfitters has the trip for you. Come discover the magic of raft-supported, multi-day kayaking on some of the most sought-after rivers in the West, and you will quickly realize why these wilderness trips are consistently listed on paddlers’ bucket lists world-wide. With a wide variety of permits and launch dates, we have adventures that range from intermediate class II/III pool-drop rapids with flatwater sections to practice and hone in your basic skills, to more continuous and demanding class III+-IV+ rapids with possible class V (portageable) rapids on our most remote and wild trips. 

Why kayak with WRO?

We take pride in our company’s reputation for being one of the top selections for raft-support kayak trips in our area. In addition to our wide range of permits and whitewater difficulty, Wilderness River Outfitters has a long history and foundation built upon the love of hardshell kayaking. One of our company founders, Joe Tonsmeire, was close friends with the expedition kayak legend himself, Walt Blackadar, who is most famous for his 1973 solo descent of Turnback Canyon on the Alsek in Alaska. With the friendship of Walt, Joe and Fran obtained many of our obscure permits early on in the 70’s with the help of Walt’s beta. 

Many of the guides are hardshell kayakers themselves, and understand and connect with others who share our passion for the sport. Upon paddler request or if there are more than four kayakers registered for a trip, WRO will typically provide a safety kayaker/ kayak guide. Our kayak guides have a wide range of skills and experiences, such as paddling internationally and all over the states, taking and instructing kayak-specific swiftwater rescue courses, and some of which are ACA certified kayak instructors. 

Why raft-support?

Multi-day wilderness experience

Whether it is your first venture into the multi-day world of kayaking, or you’ve had a taste and just can’t get enough, allow yourself to be gently immersed into the world of expedition kayaking, all while on vacation and with the safety and complicated logistics taken care of! There are few superior ways to escape reality than to explore the heart of the western wilderness and its free-flowing rivers in your happy place doing the sport you love with the people you love. With sunrise to sunset on and around the river, you will truly be able to lose yourself in a way that day trips can hardly compare.

Bring your family/ friends (or travel solo!)

Some of the most rewarding trips we do are the ones in which river-lovers get to share their passions with the people they love. In a sport that can feel distant and abstract to non-river runners, raft-supported trips offer a unique and intimate way to plan a trip that everyone can enjoy, regardless of the group’s river skills or experience. Additionally, outfitted multi day trips are a great option if you are a solo traveler, and provides the opportunity to safely run rivers and meet plenty of new friends from all over the place that share a similar passion for whitewater. The connections you make on these trips often last a lifetime.

Simplify your logistics

“Damn it, which one of you dirtbags stole my 20 footer?!” “I knew I shouldn’t have bought the biggest truck of all my friends- putting me in the worst position of having the perfect shuttle rig. I think my record is eight boats.” “No, but are you sure you went through a hard point on my boat?” “Who brought the takeout beer?” “Maybe next year we’ll be one of the 17,000 applicants that get chosen for the Middle Fork Salmon lottery…”  *A full shower of cold river water drains all over your head and into your shoe as you lift your kayak onto the rig to be strapped* “Where are you going to stash your wag bags in your boat? No, I don’t have a poop tube.” “What is more important, my repair kit or this extra beer? Well, I probably won’t blow a gasket this time…” “Yes, Forest Service, I definitely have a firepan. Oh, um yes it is this wadded up piece of breakfast burrito foil on the floor of my car.” “I can’t wait to try this new scrambled egg MRE again.” “No, but seriously who brought the takeout beer?”

If any of this sounds like you, your friends, or like something you don’t want to deal with, welcome to the beauty of having the logistics of a multi-day trip taken care of. Though self-support trips can be incredible, challenging, and rewarding, sometimes when you’re on vacation, you want to just be on vacation. 

We also have a shop rental fleet of kayaks, which makes the headache of traveling with your kayak avoidable (or maybe you just want to try out a new boat!).

Kayak guide in the water

 If running rivers for the first time without having seen it before makes you nervous, or you just want some easy beta on play spots, extra safety, etc., this is another reason why a guided kayak trip is awesome. WRO’s safety kayakers are all very experienced on all of our rivers, and have advanced safety and kayak training.