About Rivers and Oceans

We started in 1987 in Grand Canyon and today we offer more than 60 unique adventures worldwide from expedition cruises in Antarctica, to river rafting in Zambia. We’re a service-oriented team with decades of travel experience and a network of over 40 different outfitters around the world who are experts at creating exceptional experiences for adventurers.

We know that the decision to go on an adventure is the easy part; wading through websites and brochures can be overwhelming and time consuming. Think of us as a friend you can call who already knows the terrain. We’ve got the connections, we take the time to listen so we can offer an adventure that best fits you, and there is no fee for our service, ensuring the cost of your expedition is the same as booking direct.

We believe that outdoor adventures connect us to something greater and that’s why we’re here to make it easy for you to venture out.

Our Team

Our Core Values

Share our passion, our knowledge, our stories, our abundance. Create a healthy, playful, supportive environment in which to grow. Inspire ourselves and others to answer the call of adventure. Trailblaze, try something new, be bold, have the courage to make mistakes.  Express openly, honestly, considerately, simply. Go with purpose, do what needs to be done, keep it light. Lead, engage, empower.  Embrace this moment, challenges, opportunities, change. Respect ourselves, each other, our clients, our outfitters, our environment. Care, be a friend, encourage, make a difference.

Robby Pitagora – Owner

Operating customized trips with some of the best crews in the industry for over 35 years has made Robby an expert on river adventures. Having rafted over 50 rivers from the Alsek in Alaska to the Zambezi in Zambia, his favorite river is close to home: Grand Canyon’s Colorado River. Robby believes that every trip can be an opportunity to inspire people and build a direct connection with nature.

Why I love my work – Coming in each day and seeing all my motivated, happy colleagues. They all take such joy in helping people find adventures. What I offer is a great attitude and decades of experience in the adventure travel industry.

What travel has taught me – Every step can be an adventure. Meeting new people, going to new places and learning about different cultures is rich and rewarding. The more I learn the more I realize how much I don’t know. It is humbling, eye-opening and exciting all at the same time.

How I am a friend to the environment – When I shop, I consider the resources it took to make the product or service I am buying and who I am buying it from. Are they helping to create sustainable economic situations that help people and our natural environment? We vote everyday with our wallets and how we spend our money. We can make a huge difference for this planet if we make good decisions on how we spend our resources.

Jennifer Outland – Vice President

Although born in the Arizona desert, Jennifer could swim before she could walk; her love of water has been present ever since. Living on the Big Island of Hawaii for four years was her initiation into the big blue sea, which gave her a deep respect and love for the ocean. She’s had many adventures at sea from French Polynesia to Panama, to Antarctica and the Arctic. Jennifer believes fully in the power of nature to bring us home to our essence.

Why I love my work – Partnering with outfitters who are doing amazing things out in nature and connecting clients to these great experiences. It’s a win-win. I offer our clients an abundance of travel experience, a knack for matching people to trips, and a love of adventure that inspires others to get out there.

What travel has taught me – I have learned that the world is a friendly place. Our earth is a magical place full of wonder.

How I am a friend to the environment – I believe it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference. A few things I do to minimize my impact are: taking my own bags to the grocery store, using cloth napkins at home, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, hanging my laundry to dry rather than using the gas-powered dryer, recycling, and traveling with a water bottle so I can refill rather than having to buy plastic bottles. Being mindful of our individual impact is key to making a difference.

Megan Prescott – Adventure Booking Specialist

Megan’s river trip experience began early when her parents brought her on her first trip at 18 months old. Growing up with a river guide father meant that Megan has had many amazing experiences on the rivers of the American west, including Desolation Canyon, the Main Salmon, and of course the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River. While she doesn’t have a favorite river (she thinks they are all unique), her favorite part of a river trip is becoming part of a tribe.

Why I love my work – I enjoy getting to know wonderful new people, clients and outfitters. It’s greatly rewarding to connect with those who are willing to take a giant leap of faith outside of their comfort zones into the unknown! I offer my clients a shared enthusiasm for daring to take on an adventure, and compassion for when they need some reassurance and motivation to take the leap into a fantastic and rewarding experience!

What travel has taught me – I have learned that the adventure begins before we even leave our doorsteps and, to quote Katherine Hepburn in A Philadelphia Story, “the time to make your mind up about people is never.”

How I am a friend to the environment – I practice “leave no trace” principles everywhere I go whether it is in a remote wilderness, National Parks, neighborhoods, and even around town. I take nothing, but pictures and do my best to leave nothing but footprints. “Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” -Terry Tempest Williams

Michelle Pappas – Adventure Booking Specialist

Water has always been a way to connect with family and friends for Michelle. Her childhood in Arkansas was spent water skiing, swimming, canoeing, and boating with her family. Later, she met her husband, Sam, on a river rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Her most memorable adventure was a month long stay in Belize learning how to scuba dive and snorkel, leaving her with a deep connection to the ocean and the friends she met along the way.

Why I love my work – I love helping make people’s travel dreams come true! I offer knowledgeable advice and direction, so that the client can get the most out of their adventure. I ensure they are paired with a trip and outfitter that best suits their unique requests and desires.

What travel has taught me – You must have patience and a sense of adventure to enjoy the ride of travel!

How I am a friend to the environment - I want to respect what nature has to offer and believe even the smallest efforts can make a huge difference – I recycle, pick up trash whenever I see it and always leave no trace when hiking or camping.

Debra Blackhat-Office Coordinator & Accounts Manager

Debra spent her first 9 years of life in Ponce, Puerto Rico, which forged a deep connection to the sea. Whenever she visits, she spends from sun up till sun down jet skiing, yacht cruising, snorkeling, collecting seashells, fishing, and swimming. When she moved to Oregon she got to experience river rafting on the Clackamas River and other outdoor programs in the natural forest environment, expanding her love of water adventure. The natural world has impacted her life and she believes we all gain a lot of respect and admiration for nature when we experience adventure firsthand.

Why I love my work – I get to be part of the process in making dreams come true by assisting people with their grand adventure. 

What travel has taught me - The earth and our different cultures are important. Experiencing different adventures keeps us all connected and aware of our surroundings. 

How I am a friend to the environment - I find recycling to be a vital part in my life and I practice it wherever I go.  I take my reusable water container and use my reusable bags for shopping. My husband and I try to carpool as often as possible, so we can reduce pollution as well as save a little extra money.  We only have one earth and I try to treat it with as much respect as I can.

Jeremy Sjodin - Custom Adventure Booking Specialist

Growing up in Southern California, Jeremy spent summers camping along the beaches in San Diego County for weeks at a time and going on weekend trips to the Southwest with his family.

In 2015, he decided to take a break from his job as a Civil Engineer to attempt a thru-hike of the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail. Since then, he’s accumulated over 9,000 miles of hiking - walking from Mexico to Canada, from Georgia to Maine, through the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe, and across the entire state of Arizona (south to north).  Time spent sleeping under the stars and living out of a backpack has taught Jeremy to slow down and appreciating the little things. 

Why I love my work - I get to help people create and experience a life-changing experience in nature.  I am lucky to be able to have a career centered around outdoor adventure with colleagues full of positivity and enthusiasm.  

What travel has taught me - The majority of perceived limitations are self-imposed. I’ve learn to shed expectations, focus on being present in the moment, and open myself up to whatever opportunities the adventure provides.

How I am a friend to the environment - I am conscientious of waste and try to minimize my impact on the environment.  I promote Leave no Trace Principles while in nature.  While hiking the Arizona Trail in 2017, my partner and I picked up, carried, and disposed of 98 lbs of trash along the trail. 

Ann-Marie Bringhurst - Marketing & Sales Coordinator

Ann-Marie was born into an outdoor family in Kanab, UT.  Her father began guiding in Grand Canyon in 1970 and her mother not long after.  She did her first river trip before she could walk and rafted the Grand Canyon at the age of 6.  It was only natural that she herself would become a guide at 22 years old.  There are currently 15 of her family members guiding in Grand Canyon - chances are you will pass one of them on your trip!  When Ann-Marie isn’t in the office, you can find her guiding on the Colorado river exploring the deeper, unseen corners of the Grand Canyon. 

Why I love my work -  I get to share my heart’s passion with others.  A river trip in Grand Canyon is truly the adventure of a lifetime and cannot be duplicated.  I love knowing that the people I speak with will soon have their hearts and minds expanded in such a beautiful way that only immersing yourself in the beautiful wilderness environment can.

What travel has taught me - Travel allows your true self to come out.  It is inevitable that there will be bumps along the road while traveling.  Even the most detail oriented planner can run into delays and inconveniences beyond their control.  How an individual responds in these situations is a choice.  Over time, one can learn to release control and immerse in all that the adventure has to offer.       

How I am a friend to the environment -  I am cognizant of my personal impact on our delicate mother earth.  I am careful of my water use.  I monitor my purchases and try to avoid large bulky plastic items, choosing instead to purchase in bulk from natural grocery stores.  I refuse straws, reuse disposable containers as much as possible and recycle.  I make all my own cleaning products and avoid toxic chemicals that can have damaging effects on our water systems

Kristin Hooten - Assistant Adventure Booking Specialist

Kristin’s love for the outdoors began in the bubble of her childhood back yard in El Paso, Texas.  Her fascination with the earth eventually grew into a greater love of science and lead her to become an outdoor educator and guide. When not in the office, Kristin is leading adventurers on backcountry trails, rafting trips, jeep tours, and other expeditions through the Southwest. She believes that traveling outdoors connects us to others, the earth and especially ourselves.

Why I love my work -  I get the opportunity to relate to people who are looking for adventure. I relate to the innate desire and passion to experience something new, which connects me to clients, colleagues and everyone else I have the privilege to encounter here at Rivers & Oceans. 

What travel has taught me -  Always be open to a variety of perspectives; everyone has something to offer the world whether it is big or small. I believe that travelling gives us the opportunity to grow and expand our outlooks, to become better human beings by accepting differences as well as seeing commonalities within each other.

How I am a friend to the environment - I practice and influence others to adopt the Leave No Trace ethics inside and outside of nature. If you see me out on the trail, I am often picking up micro trash that I encounter from other adventurers. I put it in my pack and eventually dispose of it properly. I think that it is important to see ourselves as guests on this planet rather than rulers.

SHAPED BY LOVE: OUR FOUNDER’S STORY

Just as a river shapes a canyon, the love of Tim and Pam Whitney has shaped Rivers & Oceans. Tim and Pam met in 1984 in Marble Canyon, Arizona as adventure travel was just beginning to take off. Pam was a manager for a Grand Canyon rafting company and Tim met her when he applied for a job as a boatman. Tim loved to tell the story of how he got the job…and the girl!

In the 80s’, the number of outfitters offering rafting trips in Grand Canyon was growing and information on booking river trips was hard to come by. Tim and Pam saw a need for a travel company that could help people in their search to find their best water adventure. They started Rivers & Oceans together in 1987 with the vision of booking adventure trips from the Colorado River to the Sea of Cortez.

World travelers themselves, Tim and Pam have explored rivers from Arizona to Papua New Guinea to Zimbabwe and have dove in all the oceans of the world from Borneo to Baja. Over the years they have seen the adventure travel industry grow and have transformed Rivers & Oceans into the single best source for information and reservations for river trips in the American West and select water adventure travel worldwide.

In 2012 Tim passed away leaving a lasting impression in the hearts of those who knew him. A few years later Pam retired leaving Robby Pitagora, a dear friend and fellow river guide, at the helm of Rivers & Oceans. Today, Rivers & Oceans continues to grow from the steady stream that started it 30 years ago, powered by the love of people, water, adventure, nature, and the love of Tim and Pam Whitney.

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