Why Helfrich

When inquiring about the preferred choice for a river vacation, Helfrich River Outfitters frequently emerges as the top pick. Our reputation as the most seasoned and knowledgeable company on the rivers we navigate is unmatched, and we’ve maintained an impeccable safety record from the start.

The Helfrich Family river journey began in 1922 with Prince Helfrich, who revolutionized guiding on the McKenzie River. He differentiated himself from other fishing guides by providing exceptional experiences, like preparing the day’s catch on the riverbank and offering homemade pies baked by his wife Marjorie during lunch. This approach of adding unique elements to our trips has been a key feature of our services for over 100 years, defining the Helfrich standard or as we call it, “the Helfrich Way”. 

Prince’s passion and vision of outfitted river trips also shown through in his role in the invention and perfection of the McKenzie River Drift boat.  As they built different designs, Prince and his close friends would use these boats on their river trips to see how they ran.  At the end of their expeditions, they would return to the shop to perfect the design of the boats before their next adventure.  

Through time, the family business has been passed down through four generations.  Dave Helfrich, Prince’s oldest son, along with his brothers, carried on their father’s legacy with pride.  Dave, a truly amazing boatman, was also know for his innovations that made Helfrich trips top of the line. 

Once Dave was ready to retire from outfitting, his son Ken proudly stepped in and purchased ownership of the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Rogue River permits.  Before taking over the family business, Ken had already started his own outfitting business, successfully operating on multiple rivers around the Pacific Northwest.  He took on the challenge and grew the business into a thriving operation.  Ken, like his father thrives on innovations that advance not only the quality of Helfrich trips, but the outdoor industry as a whole.  He has been quietly responsible for many key inventions that are now standard parts of the river industry.

Now as we move into the fourth generation of the Helfrich family taking over ownership, we remain dedicated to continually improving and elevating our trips.  Kelsey Helfrich, the fourth generation owner, has been proudly guiding along side her dad and grandad from a very young age.  She quickly took to the oars like a natural and holds a true passion for the outdoors and the opportunity to introduce people to these amazing natural places.  Her vision for the future of the business and industry will drive her as she carries on the success of the Helfrich Family legacy for years to come. 

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