The Whale Foundation – A Resource for Our Beloved River Guides

A common theme in the reviews we receive after guests get off the river is how incredible their guides were. We often get requests to give them raises along with praise for their vast knowledge of the canyon, entertaining stories, and unsurpassed hospitality. Our guides work their butts off to ensure our guests have the best experience in the Canyon they have come to love, like their home. And our guests feel their passion and come away with a sense of compassion for the Canyon that the guides skillfully impart.

Many guests come off the river thinking. “Wow, what a cool job! Being paid to traverse this majestic place!” But as you can imagine, there are some challenges that come with guiding life. Finding winter work, working on relationships, and self-care are all difficult to accomplish when you are only at home a few days at a time before dropping into the disconnect of the canyon once more.

Luckily, the guiding community has a wonderful resource located in Flagstaff. The Whale Foundation was set up to ensure that Grand Canyon river guides and those in the industry always have somewhere to turn for mental healthcare.

The Whale Foundation offers free, confidential counseling services and financial and healthcare assistance. They also offer scholarships for further education.

To learn more about The Whale Foundation and how you can get involved, visit their website at:

Want to listen to more river stories straight from the mouths of legendary guides? The Whale Foundation has you covered there, too!

So why is it called Whale Foundation? Whale was the nickname of Curtis Hansen – a legendary river guide in his own right and a friend to all in the river rafting community. A boatman for Hatch starting in the late 60’s, whale was known for his love of the Canyon, his friends, and community, and his vices. Whale was also a Vietnam veteran and was followed by demons from that time. His death in 1995 prompted the creation of The Whale Foundation, with the intent that no one in the river rafting community should ever feel alone, without somewhere to turn for help again. Rest in Peace, Whale.