At Your Service

At Your Service. Customer service is the keystone of Holiday River Expedition‘s business. From the first voice you hear on the other end of the office phone to the warm welcome you’ll receive at the start of your trip, our goal is to provide you with exceptional service. More than 54 years since the founding of our company, we’re still a family-run business. We have a level of institutional knowledge that is unmatched in the industry. Read on, and you’ll find that people who come to work for us tend to stay. There’s a reason for that. With very little turnover of office staff, management, or guides, if you do more than one trip with us, you’re likely to work or float with the same people again and again. We believe not just in cultivating clients, but in creating a community.

Karen Johnson

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 1991

I found my way to Holiday River Expeditions quite by chance. While working at Alta, Utah, and pondering my “summer gig”, a co-worker suggested I try this local river company that he and his wife worked for. Thinking only that I had found my summer job has transitioned into a 30 year career. Originally from Virginia, I always tell people I came to Utah for the skiing but stayed for the rivers. I feel fortunate to have been able to raise my children around mountains and river canyons. Besides getting out to test the product as often as possible, my favorite part of the job is helping my customers choose their rafting or biking vacation. Most I know by name when they call year after year, but I am always looking forward to helping the next first-time rafter discover the powerful pull of these amazing experiences. When work doesn’t feel like work, you know you are in the right place.

Tim Gaylord

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 1978

Director of Operations

When you arrive at the meeting point for your trip you’ll be met by a staff of guides, warehouse workers and drivers, all under the direction of our operations director, Tim Gaylord. Tim has been with Holiday River Expeditions since 1978. His attention to detail and his ability to single out the folks who possess the qualities essential to becoming the best guides in the business are surpassed by none. Tim’s organizational skills, and his higher-than-the-average-human’s energy level, is the magic behind our seemingly effortless outfitting of all our Utah raft and bike trips.

At Your Service Tim Gaylord

Ellie Swanson

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 2016

Operations Manager

Oh hey there, it’s me, Ellie. Ellie Swanson. Here’s a little bit about me! Born in Salt Lake City to parents who weren’t going to let a child slow them down, I spent many a weekend backpacking the canyons of southern Utah. Utah’s desert, mountains, and proximity between all its wonders have kept me here in the state. I studied Biology and Geography at the University of Utah, because who wouldn’t want to study some ecology and maps while spending time outside?!

My favorite places to be, tend to involve rims of canyons – which brings me here to Holiday, where I can stare up at canyon walls all day long. Being outside is my safe place, contributing the most to my personal felicity. Because what is life except just a search for adventure and happiness, am I right folks? I hope I propel y’all down the river soon.

Ellie Swanson Guide Photo

John Wood

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 1980

President of Holiday River Expeditions

 

John Wood, our co-owner and president, started as a rafting guide and quickly worked his way to the office. From behind the scenes with both his creative and business background he led Holiday River Expeditions to the company we are today. John Wood, co-owner, president, back-up phone help, computer fixer, programmer, creative director, and raft guide, with Holiday River Expeditions for 40 years.

Rafting Company Owner John Wood

Lauren Wood

Working for Holiday River Expeditions (officially) since 2009

Ever since my first river trip at age two, muddy water has run a current through my veins and into my heart.  After 6 full-time seasons as a guide, I now work in the Holiday River Expeditions office. Like everyone in our office, I wear too many hats to count & wouldn’t have it any other way. I simply love getting to know all the awesome people who choose to take the plunge with us. Who knew only truly delightful people are interested in coming down a river?!

I spend my free time parenting an awesome kiddo & community organizing across the Colorado Plateau region. I’m the director of the Green River Action Network, a Waterkeeper Alliance affiliate and team up with Utah-based Living Rivers. I also recently joined the Executive Committee of the strategic and scrappy Utah Chapter Sierra Club.

Every day I wake up I choose to work for Holiday because my grandpa Dee taught me that protecting these magnificent rivers takes all of us & once you spend a few nights cradled between canyon-walls I think you’ll surely agree these places are worth protecting.

Meet the Guides Lauren Wood

Natalie Osborn

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 2014

I was born and raised in Salt Lake City and grew up in a family that spent a good amount of time outdoors. Exploring Utah’s beautiful landscape was always a great way to spend my free time, but I had never considered that I could turn such an incredible playground into my workplace. Then in 2014 a friend of mine asked, or nearly forced me to go on a river trip with him. During that trip down the Yampa River I had the realization that I was ready for a change. Exactly two weeks from the end of my trip I was in Green River working for Holiday River Expeditions. Tim started me off as a driver, and slowly I began to take on more responsibility. In September of 2016 Holiday offered me a year-round position with the company.

I now work in the office heading the social media department, helping manage our storefront, taking reservations, and carrying on other responsibilities. In the summer I still get time to work in the desert. I’m grateful every day for the opportunities this company gives me. I get to work for a company I respect, with people who have quickly become family, in an environment that rivals most. I get to escape the daily grind, and lose myself in the beauty of the river. I also get to show my son what it means to be happy in the work you do, and share with him the joys this state has to offer.

Natalie Bio

Jesse Wood

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 2014

I’m Jesse or “JD”, and I’ve been a part of Holiday’s office staff since 2014 and rafting since my prenatal days. I provide support around the office in whatever mode is needed. And be warned, I’ve been known to rally legendary water fights on hot river days! I currently work part time for Holiday while finishing up a degree in public and consumer health. Since childhood, I’ve had the great fortune to be immersed in a community of river mentors and family, all of whom instilled within me a deep respect and appreciation for the wild and natural. I’ve experienced first-hand the transformative powers of a river trip. A river trip provides the ultimate reset button when the body, mind, and soul need a release from day-to-day life and stressors. I have a robust passion for the preventative side of health and as such, enjoy working for a company that embodies and promotes so many dimensions of good health and wellbeing.

Office Jesse Wood

Shar Schubach

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 2022

Being born and raised in Utah, skiing has always been my primary outdoor activity of choice. However, in 2017, I was invited on my first river trip with my partner who comes from a family of whitewater rafters. It opened a whole new set of opportunities for venturing out and being able to see more of this wonderful state that I love so dearly. After a few private trips, I started to meet people from Holiday through my partner’s family and that is how I landed here!

I now work at the Holiday River Expeditions office in Salt Lake City helping to facilitate the ‘River Currents’ blog, assisting guests with trip bookings, and popping in wherever else I can!
Shar Schubach Bio

Emily Tilton

Working for Holiday River Expeditions since 2018

Vernal Manager

Hi, I’m Em! My story is pretty short (like me)! I graduated from college with a degree in Graphic Design and immediately jumped into the real world. Three years of sitting at a desk and staring at a screen prompted a life change.
A packed car, 2300 miles, and a small family connection later I landed myself at Holiday! Born and raised in little Rhode Island I was searching for a big adventure, and I found one on the rivers. Happiest with a guitar or camera in hand I am excited to share my adventure and create new ones with all of you!

Emily Guides

Janet Wood

Vice President of Holiday River Expeditions
– Quality Control Specialist since 1963

 

Holiday would surely not be the same without the consistent presence of Janet Holladay Wood, Dee and Sue Holladay’s second-eldest daughter. Over the years, Janet has slipped into almost every role at Holiday from reservations to accounting and even guiding in the late 70s to early 80s. Her love of these rivers stems from her lifelong connection to them, floating through the canyons with her parents years before Holiday River Expeditions would even open up shop. Since that first trip at five years old, she hasn’t missed a river season with Holiday, spending a lifetime in Utah’s incredible back country. You can always find her helping out around camp or washing every single dish after meals. She recently celebrated her 60th birthday in the heart of Westwater Canyon, the place Dee fought to protect most passionately.

Dee and Sue Holladay

Founders and Owners of Holiday River Expeditions since 1966

 

And finally, the two folks who started it all, and the reason most of us are still here: Dee and Sue Holladay. The summer of 2015 marked a watershed moment for our company as we had to say goodbye to Dee, our founder, moral compass, and river father. His presence will be missed not simply by Holiday, but by the entire rafting community. Sue Holladay, although largely retired, still gives her magic touch to the menus. Despite the loss of Dee, the vision and the tone that he and Sue set for the company still resonate profoundly. The roots are planted deep, as they say, as deep as the river runs. Your Holiday River Expeditions experience from the first contact with a voice in our office to the book you pull from the library can on the river are all tied back to the special care Dee and Sue took with growing this business. They taught us all how to pay attention to details, to always look for the better way, to care for our environment, and to treat our guests with thoughtfulness and exceptional service.

Dee and Sue on the Yampa River trip