Where it all Began
One day in 1967 Dave and his friend, Henry, decide to raft the Grand Canyon of the Snake. Even though neither young man has ever rafted the section, they look right at one another and feign expertise, "Of course, I’ve rafted this section. No problem."
4 miles or so into the trip they look down river and see the cresting, pulsing waves of a large rapid. Silence falls over the pair as they observe the series of 7 waves, each one peaking with 8-10 foot walls. Uncertainly, Dave asks, "Henry, what the hell is that?" Henry, equally amazed and ready to come clean, says, "Hell, I don’t know. I’ve never been here either!" Realizing there is no going back, Dave laughs and says, "Well, if we’re ever going to get our lunch, we’re going to get it right now!"
Reflecting on his first time through Lunch Counter, Dave says, "it was such a rush—an adrenaline rush. We looked at each other and both of us just started hootin’ and hollerin’. And I was hooked. I mean that was it."
"Paddle Faster! I hear banjos!"
Dave effectively makes his office on the river and with Burt Reynolds starring in the movie, "Deliverance," the river rafting business is booming. People come from all over to raft the Snake and they don’t just want to just sit there, they want to be part of the action! The ‘70s bring paddle boats, wooden oars, May West Life Jackets, Green River Rafts, center mounted oar frames, the brilliant idea of boat ramps, lots of waves, lots of bailing water, and a whole lot of laughter.
More laughter, more waves!
More laughter, more waves, more boats to bail, and more bad hair. The ‘80s bring aluminum paddles, Stern life jackets, DIB tanks, Hyside rafts, Dead Horse Eddy, and, to combat the near freezing spring water temperatures, wetsuits.
Bud and Kelly come to Jackson
25 years after Dave's first venture down the Snake we find a skinny, big dreaming 18 year-old named Bud Chatham. He’s a die-hard fly-fisherman who thinks a cutthroat trout rising for his caddis fly is pure poetry and he’s willing to do anything to spend a summer in Jackson. Bud begs his aunt and uncle, the owners of Snake River Park KOA, to let him spend his college summer cleaning bathrooms at the campground.
Uncle Stan and Aunt Karen give the young man his big break and Bud works his tail off around the campground, but every free second he is on the river, training under some of the best guides in Snake River history. With some 100 trips down the river and an entire summer of training without pay under his belt, Bud is asked to return the following summer as a river guide. He comes back the next summer, and the next, and the next. Around summer #3 Bud invites his girlfriend Kelly to join him and, of course, she falls in love with the river! (and maybe Bud too)
Kelly and Bud spend so much time on the river they see waves when they close their eyes and at the end of each day of rafting, as they walk around Town Square with their Haagen Dazs ice cream cones they think: Wouldn't it be cool to own a whitewater company?
Passing the paddle.
The new millenium finds Dave wanting to pass the paddle as the urge to grab the fly rod becomes stronger than the urge to grab the oars. Meanwhile, Bud and Kelly marry and have two beautiful baby girls. Perhaps it’s the fact their little girls like splashing around in the water more than playing with their dolls, or that Kelly feels the need to wear Tevas to work, but the river is always calling. Dave, Kelly, and Bud come together and all three see a great opportunity. Bud and Kelly buy the company with one essential condition they feel strongly about: the values and ethics of Dave Hansen Whitewater must remain intact and, in fact, thrive.
We can't wait to take you down the river!
This is a picture of Dave four decades after the bravado incident and he is really catching some air! Nowadays, you’ll find him casting a fly rod much more than paddling a raft, but the traditions of Dave Hansen Whitewater stay strong:
We're all about respect and love for the river. We think an eagle perched on a tree or an osprey diving for a Snake River cutty is pure beauty. That the stillness of the early morning as the sun filters through the cottonwoods is pure splendor. We're all about a quality experience for our customers and not a rushed trip down the river. We value safety first and train guides who are not just Snake River guides, but guides who can read any river, who can get you laughing, and get you smiling. We think we’ll be the highlight of your trip. Thanks for reading our story, and we can’t wait to take you down the river!