Meet Kelli O’Keefe!
Our next guide profile write-up is about the lovely Kelli O’Keefe. If you know her, you’ll know she has a super upbeat, bubbly personality! We have had guests say, “her enthusiasm is contagious”, and that she is “quite the social engineer”. Our guests just love her, and so do we!
Kelli grew up in South Dakota, and now finds herself living in McCall, Idaho in her off-season. She was introduced to Northern Arizona and the river industry when attending Northern Arizona University to study Marketing, Parks and Recreation Management and play golf. She landed her first job guiding on the Arkansas River in Colorado. Now she’s lucky enough to spend about 7 months of the year guiding river trips around the world. She’s been guiding for 12 years now. She spends her springs and falls guiding with us on the Colorado River, and the summers on the Middle and Main Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. She also guides on the Daqu River on the Tibetan Plateau in China.
She started guiding with AzRA in 2012, but took her first trip with AzRA as an assistant in 2010. She mostly guides rowing trips with AzRA, and now dabbles in the Motor Adventure world, too. When asked what her favorite rapids and hikes were, she said, “There are so many to choose from! But Upset Rapid of course, Sockdolager is super fun, and it’s always a good time in Hermit! As far as hikes go, I love the view from the summit of the Tabernacle, and it’s hard to beat a day hiking at Tapeats Creek!”
Kelli loves to ski, snowboard, bike, hike, play outside, travel, crochet, play guitar and spend time with her nieces and nephews in her downtime. She’s also an extremely talented entrepreneur when it comes to sewing. She recently started her own fleece clothing company called FunHoggin’ Fleecewear, where she makes fun, colorful fleece shorts and skirts to be worn for all sorts of outdoor adventures. You can check her FunHoggin’ Fleecewear company out on Instagram, on her Etsy shop or coming soon on her website.
Why She Loves Grand Canyon
We also asked Kelli what she loves about Grand Canyon and guiding, and she heart-warmingly said, “I absolutely love my job; I love sharing the magic of the canyon with each and every passenger! I love that each trip brings a sense of exploration, adventure and excitement. I love that each trip is totally different. We are constantly working with different crews, meeting new passengers, hiking in different side canyons, and staying in different camps. I love taking people who have never camped or experienced the outdoors before on river trips. It’s so much fun to get people out of their element and open their eyes to the beauty and sublimity of the Grand Canyon. River trips can be life-changing, and there’s nothing more fulfilling as a guide than to see the transformation occur.
The canyon is one of the best natural classrooms in the world, and it has taught me so many lessons. The river has given me inspiration and perspective that guides me in all aspects of my life. I am fortunate to work for such an amazing and supportive company, and alongside a group of incredible tightknit river runners! The Colorado River is in my blood; and will keep me coming back year after year.”
Her Advice to You
Her advice to our guests is to remember to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, take care of your feet, and enjoy the ride. She expressed that rafting down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon is by far the best way to see Grand Canyon in all its glory. We couldn’t agree more! If you can’t wait to get on the river with Kelli or any of our other fabulous guides, contact us soon as we’re almost full for 2019! Or, join our 2020 opening day list and you will be contacted as soon as we’re ready to take reservations for the 2020 river season.