Expert Guides

You’ll be well taken care of. Our guides are the best in the business; all are trained in river and backcountry safety and first-aid. They’re all exciting individuals, experts in everything from rowing a rapid to sharing a good story. They take having fun seriously and will inform, entertain and engage you in a variety of ways. They’ll also show you their favorite places… a short walk up a side canyon to a private waterfall… a view from a cliff overlooking what seems to be the entire world… sleeping under the stars on a soft, sandy beach.

Our operations staff is seasoned and steadfast, a rarity among seasonal outfitting businesses. Our Director of operations manager Tim Gaylord has been with us for 38 years. His second in command in Green River, Kelly Dunham has been with us 32 years. Our Vernal operations manager Ben Levine has been on the oars since 2003, and several of our trip leaders, like Tilts and Jessica or TJ, have been around for decades! The cumulative expertise that comes from inter-generational experience is critical to how Holiday maintains our uniquely capable operations; balancing both innovation and wisdom every step of the way.

Get to know our guides

Tim Gaylord

Director of Operations for Holiday River Expeditions since 1978

Tim is Holiday River Expeditions' Director of Operations and COE (Chief of Everything). He makes sure our trips run smooth, so your vacation is trouble-free.

Obviously, with 38 years of guiding and running our operations Tim knows what he’s doing and does it well.

When he’s not training guides, inspecting gear or chopping wood, Tim enjoys Utah’s great places on his mountain bike or skis with his wife, Vicky, and young adult children, Travis and Courtney. It’s hard to get Tim to sit in any one place for very long, so if you see him say “Hi” before he disappears into the warehouse and beyond!

Frogg Stewart

Owner, Holiday River of Idaho since 1972

I was born at the end of the war to end all wars, 1945, in Hermosa Beach, California. I spent my youth surfing, sailing, diving, and just playing around the beaches of California and Mexico. After graduating college with a degree in Zoology, I moved to Utah and found I could make the same money skiing as inspecting crops for insects and poisoning so the choice was basic — I became a professional ski patrolman and began river running in 1973. In 1979 I became a partner in Holiday and moved to Idaho and began running the Salmon river. I continue to manage Holiday’s Idaho operation. Winters I am back to my roots surfing and kayaking in Mexico.

Kelly Dunham

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 1984

Kelly Dunham Growing up in Green River was the ideal place to spend time outdoors. I had experienced much of the vast desert country from the ground and air so the water was an obvious choice for me. In 1984 I started guiding for Holiday. My plans were to work for one summer… (So much for that plan) Most recently you will find me at the Green River headquarters where I organize food, guides, and gear for trips. We are one big happy family at Holiday with a very diverse group of guides and guests. That, along with the challenges of organization, are what keep me returning for season after season.

Steve Wassmuth

Guiding for Holiday River of Idaho since 1983

When I hear someone mention that “Their life is going downhill” I think to myself “How lucky they must be! I wonder if they are talking about skiing or rafting?” Hi, I’m Steve Wassmuth from Grangeville, Idaho and I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to do what I enjoy pretty much 365 days out of the year. From September to June I spend the weekdays with twenty some nine and ten year old students in my classroom where I get to teach all subjects including Idaho State History. ON the weekends when there is snow I ski patrol at the local ski hill just out of town. When the snow begins to melt in the spring I get out of my kayak and play on the local rivers. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity of showing people the different rivers and all that goes with spending time in the outdoors. What could be better than spending my summers with people on vacation, who want to have a fun time, sleeping under the stars, swimming in the river, laying on the beach, eating wonderful meals, sitting around the camp fire, enjoying the wildlife, making new friends and reacquainting with old friends. Yes, I am a lucky man. Oh, did I mention dress up night and sand golf? I hope that Ill see you on the river someday and I’m sure that you will enjoy your life “as it goes downhill.”

Mike Wassmuth

Guiding for Holiday River of Idaho since 1983

Mike has been a licensed river guide since 1983. Spending as much time on the rivers as possible is a goal for each summer. Working full time for Agilent Technologies as a Thermographer and Failure Analysis Technician puts some restrictions on his river time, but he still gets out around forty days a year. Making new friends and sharing time on the water is what brings Mike back each year. When not guiding on the rivers, Mike spends much of his time fishing . His favorite trip is an October steelhead-fishing trip down the lower stretch of the Salmon River. In July you can find Mike fishing for small mouth bass on the Grande Ronde River in Washington. Growing up in Grangeville, Idaho exposed Mike to the wonderful outdoors, which he still enjoys very much. Some of Mike other hobbies include black powder hunting, basketball and GeoCaching and spending time with his family.

Peter Tilton, aka Tilts

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 1987

Cataract Canyon is my favorite section of river. I love the power and complexity of the river, the beauty and grandeur of the canyon present a different experience each time through. I also love riding the White Rim and getting the “other perspective” of Canyonlands from high up.

Holiday’s “senior” guide my favorite part of the job is still providing and sharing a positive trip experience with new people. I’m originally from New Hampshire, but have been a rolling stone guiding rafting trips in West Virginia, Alaska and Zimbabwe on Holiday’s off-season.

In the winters I’m on the road with the US Ski Team coordinating race set-ups…the rest of my free time is spent on my recreational lifestyle — golfing, mountain biking, skiing, traveling and playing with good friends.

Tim Sattelmeier, aka TJ

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 1994

My favorite part of each trip is sleeping by the side of the river in the canyons. This is the lure that draws me back to the river every spring. I grew up in a sleepy little resort town in Northern Michigan called Petoskey, went to university in Ann Arbor then wandered around before settling down in Utah. In the winters, I’m a writer and ski instructor at Park City Mountain Resort.

Dave Vernon, aka Vern

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 1996

Coming from scenic Utah, it was easy to follow my family’s love of the wilderness. After spending six summers on the Snake River in Wyoming, I joined the Holiday crew in 1996. Every year I come back for the adventurous rapids, the quiet solitude of a desert sunrise, floating through the majestic cliff walls and the great people. When I am not on the river or trail, I teach at an alternative education school. If you ride on my raft, you might hear a joke or a story or two (maybe even a true one!).

Jessica Gardner

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 2000

I grew up in the great state of Idaho where we are not known for our famous potatoes but for our Famous Whitewater, so when my friends heard I was going to boat in Utah they thought I was crazy, after my first San Juan trip I thought they were crazy. Having a little bit of experience and the desire to sleep under the stars as much as possible, Holiday River has helped me become the person I am today. Boating as much as possible (commercially and privately), starting my own urban gardening business (with a boating friend) and trying to make a difference in this world one cause at a time. I am here to congratulate you on discovering the desert, it will change your life forever. Hope to see you on the water!

Ben Levine, aka LB

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 2003

Hailing from the wild west, I grew up in Wyoming and have always had a passion for the outdoors. In 2003 during my junior summer of high school I began my Holiday legacy and spent a spectacular summer in the warehouse where I became know as LB “Little Ben”. Now several years later I am known as BB “Big Ben” and have moved from my native Wyoming to Park City, Utah. I attended Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, and while I was there I was able to mountain bike, explore Zion National Park and wake board for the majority of the year. Every summer though I return to my second home, Holiday, were I am able to work with the finest most exciting group of individuals that I have ever had the privilege of meeting. I especially enjoy going on trips with my big brother Jason. Who as his picture very accurately portrays is the best looking and most serious trip leader in the history of river rafting, it must run in the family. My favorite river trip is the Yampa River, which is referred to as the last wild river because it is the last undammed river on the Colorado Plateau. The scenery that it provides is absolutely breathtaking, every camp sight is perfect for camping and a great game of river horseshoes, the hiking is amazing and the rapids are as the nickname suggests, wild. I have found my one true love in the canyons and rivers of the west and feel honored to share their exotic beauty with everyone who I have the privilege of journeying through them with.

Brin Finnigan, aka Brian

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 2005

Born and raised in Vermont, I spent a good deal of my young life staring at maps. I was particularly drawn to the vast blank areas of the American West. In one of these wide-open spaces two great blue streaks converge in the heart of the Colorado Plateau’s canyonlands region. Guiding for Holiday Expeditions since 2005 I’ve found that the maps and dreams of my childhood are grossly inaccurate. The Colorado and Green Rivers are anything but blue and the land anything but blank. I’ve discovered that by sharing knowledge with my guests and simply bringing them to these spectacular canyons they gain an ownership of the place and the desire to protect it. Along with my life on the river I have also earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Gettysburg College and a BCU 3-Star kayak certification and become a Seminar Coordinator for the Headwaters Institute. Prior to Holiday I worked for my campus outdoor education program, guided sea kayaking trips up and down the East Coast and in the Great Lakes, and washed dishes professionally.

Matt Chick

Guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 2005

I grew up in Salt Lake City and did some trips with Holiday with my parents when I was younger. I thought working at Holiday would be fun, so I applied to Holiday and started by working in the warehouse. While there I was pretending to fix stuff, but I was probably breaking more than I was fixing. Ever since then I have been a guide for the last few summers in between attending the University of Kentucky. I think Holiday is a good fit for me since in my personal ads I have always put liking long walks on a beach and cleaning banos. The nights and the mornings on the river are spectacular, even when someone forgets to get the fish smell off of the griddle and we have fish flavored french toast…mmmm…fish toast. I guess the rapids are nice too.