skip to Main Content

Aaron and Jonnie Helfrich

Owners and trip leaders, Aaron and Jonnie Helfrich, met in 1988 on a multi-day trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Five years later, they married. Four years after that, both kids were on the scene, and Jonnie would need to stay home in the summers to raise them. A Helfrich Outfitter LLC was born, because she couldn’t survive a summer without being on a river.

Jonnie Helfrich - McKenzie River Rafting Guide

Tom Chestnut

Tom first became interested in whitewater rafting when he moved to Oregon in 1989. After his first trip down the McKenzie, he knew that he had to share this unique experience with others. With a background as a Ski Patrolman, Stunt Action and Safety Coordinator, and an American Red Cross Instructor, he decided to add River Guide to the list. Many years later, he still enjoys sharing the beauty of his home river, the McKenzie, and the wild and scenic portion of the Rogue River with water enthusiasts.

Tom is married to his ”very tolerant wife”,  Tami, who also loves the water as well as riding motorcycles and spending time with their granddaughter, Zaryiah.

Also a rated Paraglider pilot , Instuctor and Safety Director , as well as hack golfer, Tom’s lament might be,  “Too many sports too little time”.  His love for sharing the outdoors and exciting times with others insures that “A good time will be had by all!”

Tom Chestnut

Alex Deller

Alex has lived in Springfield near the McKenzie River since he was born. Growing up near the river has allowed for countless fishing trips in his grandpa’s drift boat where he learned to row at a young age. He enjoys being in the outdoors and has passions for fishing and hunting. If Alex doesn’t have a fishing rod or bow in his hand, you can bet he’s on the baseball field with his friends or spending time with his family.

Alex Deller Guide

Nate Chestnut

Born and raised on the McKenzie River, Nate grew up with a passion for the water that led him to begin guiding professionally in 2012 after years of trips with family and friends. His personal connection to the river runs long; his first home was on the upper section and another was three houses down from Helfrich Landing. This combination of personal connection and enthusiasm for the outdoors allows Nate to share many unique stories and facts.

When not on the river, Nate keeps himself busy as a full-time student at University of Oregon and as a drummer in at least three local bands.
A fan of traveling, Nate has been to at least 12 countries and most of the states in the US. You are sure to have an exciting trip with this enthusiastic and experienced river rat.

Sarah Wall

Sarah grew up in Eugene spending the summers guiding alongside her father and sisters on the McKenzie River. She’s excited to be back in beautiful, green Oregon this season after years of living in golden California and Australia. While inspired by the diverse artistic culture of cities, she finds herself constantly looking for ways to escape them for adventures backpacking, hiking, camping and swimming. These days you’ll find her doing quite of bit of that.

Sarah Wall

Brian Ward

Brian went on his first canoe trip when he was five months old and has been hooked ever since. He has guided trips on the Deschutes, White Salmon, McKenzie and Clackamas Rivers.  Sharing his love of rivers with his rafting guests is the best part of being a river guide. He has taken his kayak down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and over 40 waterfalls including 102-foot Metlako Falls. He has taught swift water rescue classes, kayak roll sessions, and whitewater rafting.  

Brian has a degree in Geography from the University of Oregon and currently works as a Special Education Bus Aide during the school year. When he’s not on the river he enjoys climbing mountains (he added Mt. Kilimanjaro to his summit list in 2013), skiing, biking, and backpacking.

Brian Ward

Wyatt Barrowcliff

Wyatt has lived in the Willamette Valley his whole life. He loves rafting and fishing the McKenzie and John Day Rivers with his family and friends. When he’s not on a river, you can find him playing football, hunting or being a camp counselor at Camp Harlow.

Ben Demarest

Ben was born in New Jersey and at a young age grew to love the outdoors while learning to fish with his uncle. After moving west, Boise, Idaho became home. Fishing, upland hunting, hiking, biking, ice hockey, and baseball became his life!
In college, he became a whitewater guide on multi-day expeditions on the Snake and Salmon Rivers and even made a few trips down the Grand Canyon.
In 2013, he relocated to Oregon, lives in Springfield and loves the Oregon Life. He works as a construction estimator and owns a residential remodeling company but couldn’t escape the pull to guide on the McKenzie River.
He still absolutely loves to fish, hunt, hike, and enjoys photography. In his spare time, you can find him in his drift boat on the McKenzie with his dog, Nukka. When the winter months keep him, more or less, off the river, he enjoys refereeing youth and adult ice hockey in Eugene and traveling all over the Pacific Northwest.
Ben Demarest

River Rafting Resources

Back To Top