How did you find yourself at Holiday?

As a teenager, I participated in Grand Canyon Youth, a non-profit focused on getting kids outside and learning environmental stewardship. Through it, I met the singular Emma Wharton, former HRE guide who put me on to Holiday!

What years did you spend guiding?


Joe Ballent on the beachWhat is something you learned while at Holiday that has stuck with you and has been valuable to life beyond the river?

We are so small and so temporary- all the more reason to relish every second and breathe that canyon river air deeply. Charge toward your passions and don’t be shy. 

What is your favorite stretch of river that you have been on? 

Westwater was always my favorite- a great blend of history, serenity, and whitewater.

Do you still do river trips?

Not enough – and now generally as a passenger/paddle-boater

What do you miss most from guiding?Joe Ballent with wife

Everything. The work, the immersion in nature, the laughs, but most of all being a mile deep in red rock canyons.

What was it that pulled you away from guiding?

The ever-ballooning costs of bread and electricity.

What advice or sentiment would you share with young guides working today?

Be present. Don’t miss your ears or the tops of your legs when applying sunscreen. Explore every inch of southern Utah that you can. Go to Ray’s enough that they know your drink when you walk in the door.

Do you have a favorite memory of Dee? Sue? Tim? Frogg?

Dee and I did pull-ups together in the warehouse, and thanks to him I’ll forever remember not to cook eggs such that they look ‘like rabbit turds’. Tim’s work ethic sometimes masked his humor, but both were contagious. I also still have the channel locks given to me by Tilts.

Joe Ballent paraglidingWhat’s your most memorable story from a river trip?

Having to shag a black bear out of camp during breakfast. Not to mention a Class V groover experience I had…

Do you have a story to share about a positive experience with a guest? 

Every day on Burn Camp, for all three years I did it.

Are you in touch with any guides you met during your time with Holiday? 

I’ve been so lucky to crisscross with legendary guide Brian Donlon over the years, and hope to catch him in Hawaii one day. I also still keep in touch with Brad from Burn Camp. 

What are you up to these days? (career, passions, hobbies, artistic endeavors, etc…)Where do you call home?

Guiding led to obtaining my WFR, which led to obtaining my EMT and going back to school to become a PA. I have worked in Urgent Care and Sports Medicine outside Boulder, Colorado, and shortly will begin my new PA job with combat veterans. I recently got certified as a paragliding pilot and will play music until the day I die. The red rock country of Utah affected me so deeply I got engaged and married there, and visit annually. You may see me biking the road from the warehouse to Swaseys in my Utah kit!