Meet Your Outfitters

Helfrich River Outfitter Inc

Meet Your Outfitters

Helfrich River Outfitter Inc

Meet Your Outfitters

Helfrich River Outfitter Inc

Meet Your Outfitters

Helfrich River Outfitter Inc

Ken Helfrich

I was raised along the banks of the McKenzie River in Oregon.  As a kid I spent a lot of time exploring and fishing small streams.  My family had boys’ fly-fishing camps that I would participate and work in during the summers.  I started helping my dad as a swamper on the Middle Fork of the Salmon trips when I was 13.  I started guiding as soon as I was able to get a guides’ license.  Being on a river has always been a passion of mine.  Coming from a river running and fishing family, I was able to learn river skills at a young age.  My life experiences running rivers has been spectacular.  Last year Read More

Sherill Helfrich

Hi, I am Sherill Helfrich, often referred to as the river mom, the glue or the rock of the Helfrich clan and crew.  Kenny and I have been married since 1980 and we are the proud parents of Kelsey and grandparents to our adorable Miss Fallon.  I am also happy to be Kidd’s “mom”!
I grew up in Junction City, Oregon and spent a lot of time on the river with my family.  Thanks to my Dad, he taught me to fly fish and love the outdoors.  I knew that when I first met Kenny and found out that he had a drift boat and loved to fish that he was a real catch!
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Kelsey Helfrich

I feel so lucky to have been born into the Helfrich Family. As a fourth generation guide in Idaho and fifth generation in Oregon, the river is in my blood. As a partner in the business, I love dedicating my time to furthering this amazing company that my family has dedicated their lives to since 1925. I get to spend my time working alongside my parents, my husband and some of my best friends as we all working together towards the common goal of providing the best experience we can for our guests. Running a boat and the opportunity to introduce people to the beautiful rivers of the Northwest is a true passion for me.
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Kidd Youren

I started guiding for Helfrich River Outfitters about a year after I met Kelsey, the love of my life and the mother of my beautiful daughter Fallon. I had never worked on a river crew, I had never rowed a boat and I really didn’t even know the difference between an oar and a paddle. But with great teachers and mentors like my father-in-law Ken Helfrich, his dad Dave and my wife Kelsey, I was able to learn the tricks of the trade.
I was born into and raised in the outfitting industry. My dad, Dusty Youren, was a hunting outfitter in Idaho, Nevada, Utah and British Columbia. He was also a 5th generation Idaho rancher and a true Read More

Family. Wooden boats. And, of course, the river. Setting the standard

The Helfrich Family has been running rivers throughout the Northwest since 1925.  Starting with Prince Helfrich and passed down through four generations, the high level of quality and attention to detail for each trip has become a Helfrich standard. “The Helfrich Family is so woven into the fabric and the culture of the McKenzie River, it’s hard to think of one and not think of the other,” says Greg Hatten, who runs Wooden Boat Adventures guide service and has won the McKenzie Two Fly fishing tournament. “They not only pioneered guiding on the river, they set the standard for how to treat guests and how to create authentic outdoor experiences in our classic wooden drift boats. We all look up to them.”
The Helfriches are to the McKenzie Valley what the Cartwright Family of “Bonanza” fame were to The Ponderosa: a multigenerational collection of testosterone — and Kelsey — that handles boats with the skill in which Hoss and Little Joe handled horses.
Counting spouses, children and in-laws, the Helfrich family now exceeds 50 people, of whom 14 are licensed river guides in Oregon and most also in Idaho. Five Helfrich families still live along the Mc­Kenzie River. Kelsey is not only the family’s first female guide, but the first female drift boat guide on the Rogue River and on the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River. Says Kelsey: “Anytime I get in a situation and feel nervous — some rapid with big technical challenges — I just think: Prince ran this, my grandfather (Dave) ran this, my dad (Ken) ran this.“People tell me my boating style is similar to Prince’s. He wasn’t a big guy, and he relied on finesse. His skill was in the way he read the waters, the way he knew exactly what he needed to do to make the boat go where it needed to go.”