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About Tyler Williams

Tyler Williams knows adventure. Williams has rappelled slot canyons, paddled whitewater rivers, bushwhacked rain forests, and trudged across deserts. He was featured as one of Backpacker magazine's "tough dayhikers," but his true calling lies in multi-day wilderness trips.

The son of a professional football player and coach, Tyler's youth was occupied with team sports, but he always held an obsession with the outdoors. He took his first backpacking trip at age eight. By fourteen he was traveling solo into the Bradshaw Mountains near his Prescott, Arizona home, coercing his parents to drive dusty forest roads from which he could march into the backcountry.

Tyler studied geography at Northern Arizona University before becoming a river guide, an occupation he still practices today. He got his start on Idaho's Payette River, and was soon working rapids across the country. It was Texas' Rio Grande in the springtime, Idaho's Lochsa and Salmon in the summer, and West Virginia's Gauley in the fall. Tyler also guided on the "Deliverance" river, the Chattooga, and Arizona's Salt. Today, he guides primarily on Utah's San Juan, and the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

Between his river work, Tyler found time to pursue his own whitewater goals. He has completed over 20 first descents, and paddled over 250 rivers worldwide. In 2004, he made a ten-day solo journey down the glacial-fed, grizzly-rich Alsek River in Alaska. He is most renowned, however, for river explorations near his Arizona home. The culmination of his efforts there produced Paddling Arizona, one of his five books.

Tyler began his writing career with Canyoneering Arizona, a Southwestern classic packed with information on the state's many gorges. The idea for the book came during college, after Williams read a Jon Krakauer article about the new sport of canyoneering. "I knew right then that someone would do a guidebook for Arizona, so I figured it ought to be me," Tyler recalls. Every spare moment for the next several years was spent in a map room at the university library, and in the canyons. The success of his debut title led to Grand Canyon River Hikes, his second book, in 2001. Research required Tyler to complete extended hiking routes in Grand Canyon, a natural wonder that anchors him to his Flagstaff, Arizona home. "Whenever I need to get blown away by a huge landscape, the Canyon is right there. It's always inspiring," he says.

Tyler's Grand Canyon explorations continued with Arizona Summits, a two part guide series for the northern and southern halves of the state. All of Tyler's books are published through Funhog Press, a company that he operates with his wife, Lisa, from their home office. Lisa, a biologist who Tyler accompanies on field surveys, brings scientific insight to Tyler's writing, both in his books and magazine stories.

When American Forests magazine needed someone to find and re-measure the world's biggest whitebark pine, Williams was the man. He also sought the world champion subalpine and silver firs for the magazine, both found at a remote locations in Washington's Olympic Mountains. Tyler writes and photographs for Canoe & Kayak magazine, and is a regular contributor to Kayak Session - the international whitewater magazine, where his in-depth profiles of whitewater luminaries have helped shape the historical context of paddle sports. Tyler earned his biographical chops with Whitewater Classics–Fifty North American Rivers Picked by the Continent's Leading Paddlers, a book that he produced in 2004.

Currently, Tyler is combining his many wilderness skills in the Source to Sea Project–Exploring Pacific Waterways from Headwater to Salt Water. For the project, Tyler will descend all four of North America's major Pacific waterways–Fraser, Columbia, Yukon, and Colorado–from source to sea. In 2006, he became the first to paddle all 800 miles of British Columbia's Fraser River. In 2008, he floated Idaho's Salmon River into the Snake and Columbia Rivers to the ocean, a trip of 970 miles. He has paddled Oregon and California's 350-mile-long Klamath River to the ocean, and traveled the length of Washington's Bogachiel. Several of his source-to-sea stories have been featured in Paddler and Paddle World magazines.

Source to sea explorer, whitewater pioneer, canyoneering leader, Grand Canyon hiker, big tree hunter, writer; Williams wears too many hats to be pinned down to any one discipline, and that's just how he likes it. "I just love getting into spectacular places however I can," he explains. There is one niche, however, that he will always be ready to occupy–adventure.


Latest Funhog Adventure News

The Source to Sea Project
The Source to Sea Project aims to descend the most significant rivers of North America's Pacific Coast. In 2006, Williams became the first to paddle the entire length of British Columbia's Fraser River. He followed this with complete descents of the Salmon-Columbia, Klamath, and Bogachiel Rivers. Please click on the map to the right to learn more about the Source to Sea project.

A source to sea trip provides unique insight to a region, and the interdependence of man and environment. It links wild mountains with modern civilization, tracing our most pristine waters, and our most polluted. From the seat of his boat, Tyler gains a first hand view of dams that produce energy but kill salmon, reservoirs that are both revered and reviled, and agricultural diversions that grow food but pollute our water. For a view to the issues that we as a culture must confront, there is nothing like riding the lifeblood of the continent, on a source to sea trip.

Please click on the rivers located on the map to the right to learn more about Tyler's source to sea trips.


Kayak Session
Look for Tyler’s in-depth profiles of whitewater luminaries to continue with Kayak Session magazine.

Funhog Blob
Check out Tyler's latest adventures and more here.


Tyler Williams' slide shows.

Funhog: One who possesses, holds, acquires, or hogs an inordinate amount of fun.
Below are a sampling of Tyler's slide shows, suitable for any organization or event seeking an adventure speaker.

— Shows —

Fraser River—Source to Sea
In 2006, Tyler became the first to run British Columbia's Fraser River from its very source to its mouth in the Pacific Ocean. Join Tyler as he: bushwhacks in the Canadian Rockies, paddles the remote Fraser headwaters in a miniature pack raft, follows in the footsteps of mountain man Simon Fraser, breaks up fist-fighting indigents during a town stop, and runs 70,000 cfs of whitewater through infamous Hells Gate in his quest for salt water.

Klamath River—Source to Sea

"Klamath—The Broken River" is the story of a troubled waterway, and one man's journey down it. The Klamath is a 300-mile-long waterway traveling from Oregon's Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in northern California. It was once the third most productive salmon fishing river in North America. Today, Klamath River salmon are approaching extinction. Farmers demand water for irrigation. Indians fight for their share of the dwindling salmon. We all flip light switches from the dam-supported power grid. The Klamath embodies all that is at stake regarding water issues in the West.


Salmon/Columbia River—Source to Sea
Tyler launched at the source of Idaho’s Salmon, traveling over 400 miles by pack raft and whitewater kayak to the confluence with the Snake River. On the Snake, he loaded into a 15-foot motorized canoe, and continued through the first of eight major dams along his route. He battled treacherous wind waves on the mile-wide Columbia River before transferring into a sea kayak for the final push to the Pacific Ocean. The infamous Columbia River Bar at the mouth of the river—The Graveyard of the Pacific— was his final hurdle in reaching the sea.


Whitewater Classics
Talk about the ultimate paddling safari! Williams criss-crossed North America while conducting research for his book Whitewater Classics - Fifty North American Rivers Picked by the Continent's Leading Paddlers. Tyler visited whitewater rivers from southern Mexico to California's Sierras to the Appalachians. Highlighted in the show is a solo trip retracing the route of legendary Walt Blackadar. Tyler's 10-day journey down Alaska's Alsek River included close encounters with rolling icebergs and grizzly bears. Williams' presentation features the best whitewater destinations on the continent, places like Skookumchuck tidal rapids in British Columbia, and "the Deliverance river," Georgia's Chattooga.