The Whale Foundation – A Resource for Our River Guides

So why is it called Whale Foundation?


No, there are no whales in Grand Canyon


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 Grand Canyon, his friends, and community, as well as his vices. Whale was a Vietnam veteran and was followed home by demons from that time. His death in 1995 prompted the creation of Whale Foundation, with the intent that no one in the river rafting community should ever feel alone, without somewhere to turn for help again.

A common theme in the reviews we receive after guests get off the river is how incredible their guides were. We often get 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 Grand Canyon that they’ve come to love, like their home. Our guests feel their passion and come away with a sense of compassion for Grand Canyon that the guides skillfully impart.

You might think guiding is a cool job, and it is, but as you can imagine, there are some challenges that come with guiding life. Finding winter work, maintaining healthy relationships, and self-care are all difficult to accomplish when you are only at home a few days at a time before being out of service canyon once more.

Luckily, the guiding community has a wonderful resource located in Flagstaff. 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 to learn more.

Want to listen to more river stories straight from the mouths of legendary guides? The Whale Foundation has that covered, too! Listen here.