Outdoor recreation in the U.S. generates $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs nationwide. At the foundation of this economic powerhouse are America's first families of adventure — multi-generational outfitters who have been evolving outdoor sports for nearly a hundred years. These family names have become almost as recognizable as their sports: Whittaker and mountaineering, Seavey and dog sledding, Barker-Ewing and river rafting. We talked to the nine most iconic family-owned outfitters about their adventure legacy, and their company's most defining expedition.
DVK Expeditions: Gunnison River Fly Fishing
For 30 years, DVK Expedition's most memorable river rafting trip has been the eight-day Classical Music River Journey on Utah's Green River. Owner Bill Dvorak himself rarely misses the annual trip, which brings in professional musicians from as far as Los Angeles to turn the riverside beaches, forests, and canyons into a concert hall. This year he's excited about the addition of a bluegrass version, the Green River Roustabout, that took place for six days on the Green in September.
But when asked to decree his company's most defining trip, Dvorak goes in an entirely different direction: the Gunnison River Fly Fishing trip.
"People wouldn't except me to pick that trip, it's not even whitewater, it's a float trip," says Dvorak. "All I can offer by way of explanation is that I'm on the Yvon Chouinard progression. I went from rock climber to mountaineer to kayaker, and now I'm transitioning to fishing guide."
It's not hard to see why Dvorak loves this trip. The Gunnison Gorge is like a little Grand Canyon, a remote wilderness with steep, deep canyon walls. DVK Expeditions uses horses to bring the gear down to put in, where only two commercial outfitters are allowed to launch per day. "And the Gunny Gorge is a Gold Medal river, a special designation by the Colorado Wildlife Commission," says Dvorak. "So you know the trout fishing is some of the best."