Remembering George Wendt, OARS Founder and Adventure Travel Icon

09 Aug Remembering George Wendt, OARS Founder and Adventure Travel Icon

george wendt

The adventure travel world lost one of its most generous and gentlemanly members last month with the passing of George Wendt, the founder and president of O.A.R.S. and a beloved adventure travel icon.

O.A.R.S. recently shared this sad news with the statement below:

It is with profound sadness that we share news of George Wendt’s passing. George breathed his last at 1:36 pm on Saturday July 9th, by all appearances in comfort and with relief. Surely, he was loved – by those in the room with him at the end, and by the many he touched with his gentleness and grace.

George was the Founder and President of the O.A.R.S. family of companies and a beloved figure in the river community who touched many with his passion for rivers and wild places. George was a kind and humble man who seemed to take a genuine interest in everyone he met. He was a river pioneer, an adventure travel icon, and a conservation leader.

George found his calling as a college student on the rivers of the West in the summer of 1962. That’s when he and a friend built a raft out of inner tubes and planking and floated down the Colorado River through Glen Canyon. In the years that followed, as George continued to explore the canyons of the Colorado River and its tributaries, it became clear to him that these special places needed to be shared, fought for, and preserved for future generations. The drowning of Glen Canyon and then the Stanislaus River near his home in California delivered a profound sense of loss for George; it became his calling to bring people into the wilderness and share with them his love for wild river canyons. As he often said, “we save what we love and we love what we know.”

An endlessly supportive father to his two sons, a loving husband to his late wife Pam, and a role model, mentor, leader, and inspiration to many more, George will be deeply missed. We at O.A.R.S. are grateful for the kind words of support and encouragement during this difficult time, and are dedicated to living on in George’s legacy, continuing to introduce people to the wild places he knew and loved—and working to protect them for future generations.

Outside Online also published a comprehensive obituary about George, which can be read here.

The members of the Adventure Collection extend their heartfelt sympathy to the Wendt family and to the O.A.R.S. community. In memory of George, the AC members have made a $10,000 donation to the O.A.R.S. Foundation.

We were blessed to count George as a colleague and friend. May his profound passion, humanity, sense of adventure, and commitment to stewardship continue to inspire and sustain us all.

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Don George
Don George is the Adventure Collection’s Web Editor in Chief. A highly respected and pioneering travel journalist for more than three decades, Don is the author of "The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George," and of "Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing." Don is currently Editor at Large for National Geographic Traveler and Special Features Editor for BBC Travel. He has also been Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications, Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, and founder and editor of’s travel site, Wanderlust. In addition to authoring two books, Don has edited ten literary travel anthologies, including “The Kindness of Strangers,” “An Innocent Abroad," and "Better Than Fiction." He has won numerous awards for his writing and editing, and he speaks, teaches, and consults at campuses, conferences, and corporations around the world.
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