Garrett – River Guide

Posted July 4, 2023 by Reily Schultz

Name: Garrett
Hometown: Placerville, CA
Guiding Since: 2015

Water is a powerful element; one that the rafting community has come to love and respect. Glaciers create and move mountains, rivers shape valleys and canyons, and whitewater has the power to dramatically change landscapes. Whitewater, specifically, has shaped Garrett’s life since 2015.

Garrett on the California Salmon River

Legacy and Community

Garrett didn’t grow up interested in whitewater rafting, even though his father was a guide and Garrett was surrounded by the All-Outdoors community. He did not catch the rafting bug until he was in high school when his dad’s friends told him that “it was his turn” to go to guide school and join the AO family.

Even after guide school, Garrett wasn’t convinced that he was in the right place. You can’t have a conversation about AO without someone stating that it feels like family, and that is exactly what made Garrett stay. The people he met here in guide school and during his first seasons of work kept him coming back. When asked candidly, he’ll admit that some days he likes the community more than the river (which is really saying something).

Garrett - River Guide

Sharing wisdom

For someone who was apprehensive to commit to being a river guide, Garrett has certainly done a 180. Before starting work at All-Outdoors, Garrett studied atmospheric chemistry at UC San Diego. He pursued this field without a specific career path in mind, only knowing that he was passionate about learning, climate change, and social change. This major allowed him to explore all of these interests, and taught him that he was not built for lab work; not built for sitting still. These days, Garrett uses his scientific background in water conservation to teach the next generation of guides how to be effective and climate conscious members of the whitewater community. Garrett is all-in in regards to whitewater now. He has taken on teaching roles not only in AO’s guide school, but in swift water rescue certification and wilderness first aid courses as well-  positions that take much hard-earned skill and are crucial to any rafting outfitter. 

Garrett on Cherry Creek

Garrett has always understood that there is more to a river than its rapids. Big whitewater is an undeniable draw to rivers like the Tuolumne and Cherry Creek, but the shared experience the canyon offers beats even the splashiest Class V rapid. By nature of the river, Cherry Creek is never the same on any given day, just like the guests in Garrett’s boat will offer variety every day. Garrett says that being a raft guide never gets old and that multi-day trips are his favorite AO itineraries. Meeting guests and learning about their lifestyles, helping them gain confidence as paddlers, and seeing them benefit from a wilderness escape reassures him that he is in the right place.

Heading South for the Winter

Annual visits to South America have allowed Garrett to take on river guiding as more than a seasonal job. Instead of heading up to the mountains in the off season like many of his peers, Garrett heads south to Peru or Chile to paddle on new water and learn from another community of raft guides. His excitement is palpable as he talks about getting the opportunity to kayak on so many famous rivers, and even having the chance to teach a swift water rescue course while he visits and works. Garrett comes home from these adventures every summer with fresh skills and renewed passion for our California rivers.

Garrett in South America

 Meeting Garrett now, you would never know that he was not always enthusiastic or confident about rafting. Any shyness from being a novice guide has long gone thanks to some hard lessons in overcoming fear and challenges. Years of guiding taught him that you are not defined by your mistakes, but rather how you work to overcome them. Garrett has learned how to ‘roll with the punches,’ remain adaptable to change, make critical decisions, and found his voice as a leader. He has had quite an evolution- starting as a hesitant student to now pushing his limits and looking for the next challenge he can tackle. His desire to learn has fueled much of his time at All-Outdoors. Guided all three forks of the American river? Guided all of our Class IV rivers? Consistently guided on Cherry Creek (Class V)? Instructed AO’s guide school? Trained as a high-water guide? Garrett has accomplished all of the above, and more. What’s next?!

It’s easy to get Garrett talking while he’s in (or on) his element. He won’t run out of words while you’re on the water, but in case you do, ask him what is unique about his house, why Christmas trees are a big part of his life, or why he has a collection of oak logs. You will get a big smile and a memorable story every time.

Words to Live by: “I don’t know… follow your heart?”

Author Bio

Reily Schultz

Reily is a Gold Country native. She graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Studio Art and a minor in Gender Studies and Psychology. She joined the All-Outdoors family in the spring of 2022, working as a California Rafting Consultant and a member of the marketing team. Her favorite All-Outdoors itinerary is the multi-day Tuolumne rafting trip. Reily is an avid artist, outdoors-woman, and purr-fessional cat snuggler.


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