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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Women owned Adventure Businesses

Women owned Adventure Businesses

Southern Oregon entrepreneurs setting the bar for the outdoor industry

Story by KM Collins


A couple of years ago, one of my mentors launched a whitewater-based education business in Southern Oregon. In doing so, she opened up the possibility for me to shadow her and learn about whitewater safety and skills on a deeper level, from a woman. An additional unexpected outcome and benefit was that for some of the students, I became their mentor, at least for the duration of the class. Because there is a serious deficit of women in the outdoor adventure industry (specifically whitewater and paddle sports), let alone women instructors, let alone women business owners, for me, having the opportunity to learn from a woman is a rarity and something I want to spotlight when I see it.

My experience also begs the question. If a grown woman can be impacted so deeply by learning from another woman, what effect could this have on girls or younger women in the whitewater industry? Because the impact is so big and the shortfall has spanned so much time, lifting up female leaders is important work and relevant far beyond the whitewater and outdoor industries.

The local entrepreneurs spotlighted in this article shine a light not only on their individual expertise in their respective outdoor industry fields, they also each uniquely share their multidimensional connection to the environment and community beyond their business. They lament that females may have lesser access to the outdoor industry, they support stewardship and restorative action for outdoor spaces, and they build up community leaders beyond the success of their own business endeavors. The community leaders interviewed in this article are pushing forward a network of accomplishments that reverberate past their businesses and into the individuals they touch—student, customer, tourist, and local.

This article aims to celebrate women-owned adventure businesses in Southern Oregon and the countless contributions they are making as entrepreneurs, role models, community leaders, mothers, and beyond. Check out these offerings and book with these expert and dedicated outdoors women.


Nature Nicole Whitewater Skills, Safety and Swiftwater Training since 2021

Nicole Smedegaard, Owner/Operator




KM: What does your company offer to the adventure sports community?

Nicole: NNWW offers Level 4 American Canoe Association certified instruction in Whitewater Rafting (both Rowing and Paddling), as well as Swiftwater Rescue. Custom courses, packrafting and inflatable kayaking, private events, water-based event safety; women's specific and youth specific classes are also available.


K: What do you love about whitewater education?

N: I love that I can share the joy, excitement, and advocacy for river environments with Southern Oregon. Anyone who paddles is able to access some of the most scenic and remote areas of the Pacific Northwest in this region. River runners all become river stewards eventually, after experiencing these epic places. Raising community awareness around the conservation and restoration issues facing freshwater streams is a huge part of my passion.


K: What motivates you to provide whitewater education?

N: I am especially motivated by my female-identifying community members, who express that they have experienced barriers to learning adventure sports, wish they had gained access to whitewater communities earlier, and desire the independence and confidence to captain their own boats. This feels like a legacy project for the next generation of whitewater boaters to gain gender equality. One important aspect of being a female whitewater guide and instructor is the exposure I gain for all women in the outdoor community. If other women see that the industry and sport can be inclusive, we will see more and more diverse people drawn to the challenge and the fulfillment that comes with progressing in paddle sports.


Fluid Strokes Raft & Drysuit Repair since 2019

Co-owner: Tanya Scoggin

Gold Hill, Oregon, down the alley from Sawyer Paddles & Oars




KM: What does your company offer to the adventure sports community?

Tanya: Fluid Strokes is a full service repair, maintenance, and retail gear shop. We do everything from patching raft leaks, custom kayak outfitting, drysuit gasket repairs, to full custom sewing and retail. We can do quick turnarounds and although we take all brands, we are the manufacturer PNW warranty facility for AIRE & Outcast, Rocky Mountain Rafts, and River Rat.


K: What’s unique about your approach to raft repair and the whitewater industry?

T: We run the shop with the goal of community building in mind. This translates to utilizing and reusing recycled material, operating a Boat and Gear Library, and coaching gear owners on how to repair equipment themselves. Our patch material is often scrap donations direct from manufacturers. This way Fluid Strokes can help keep the same gear circulating for less cost to the consumer. Repairs can get expensive; we take many steps to keep costs down.


The Boat and Gear library is composed of donated equipment. Having an inclusive chick like myself run a Boat Library on the Rouge River is a great way for women to access whitewater. Most of us have been the only girl on several trips and for some people that's a big barrier, so I wanna fix that and the Boat Library is one way to accomplish that.


K: What motivates you to provide this repair service to the whitewater industry?

T: I've been paddling for 20 years, working in the industry 10, at Fluid Strokes for three years and once ya start boat road tripping ya realize the community isn't as big as you might have imagined. Since we put our safety in the hands of our buddies for fun, it’s a tight community. I just assume we're all friends who just haven't met yet, and the highest repair work quality always follows.


Public Service Announcement: When your gear is at the end of its life or you just want to retire it, don't throw it away, give it to Fluid Strokes. Any salvageable parts and materials are reclaimed, cleaned, and cataloged.


Crater Lake Zipline (since 2015) and ROE Kayaking Tours (since 1999)

Jenifer Roe, Owner

29840 Hwy 140w, Klamath Falls, OR 97601

541.892.9477, reservation only



KM: What does your company offer to the adventure sports community?

Jenifer: We provide family-friendly adventures to locals and visitors. All of our adventures are located at our Crater Lake Zipline location in between Klamath Falls and Medford and just south of Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake Zipline has nine Ziplines, two bridges, two rappels, and an exciting UTV ride to the top of the mountain. Also onsite is Sasquatch Hollow (a zipline adventure designed for kids), an outdoor axe-throwing arena with eight lanes, food trucks, kayak rentals and departures for our calm water kayaking tours on Spring Creek. If that’s not enough, we can also hook you up with one of our fishing guides for fly fishing or a family-friendly lake trip.


K: What do you love about adventure sports?

J: Watching people become their own hero through adventure. Outdoor adventure is transformative. Almost every day I see people do something they’ve never done before. Despite fear or uncertainty, they go for it. I love that moment on the zipline when a guest lets everything else go. Fears, frustrations, and responsibilities melt away and they discover that they can do this. Of course, it’s not transformative for everyone. For some, it’s just pure fun. But that’s pretty fantastic too.


K: What motivates you to provide whitewater education?

J: It is a privilege to watch more and more people who have never considered themselves “outdoorsy” start to embrace outdoor adventure. The faces of those you see out paddling, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and lots of other adventure has changed dramatically. I like to think that as a woman owner of an outdoor adventure company I’ve had a hand in that. Plus, this is my home. I love it here. I want to share it with people. It's way too special to keep to myself.


Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventures since 2011

Lindsey Rice, Owner




KM: What does your company offer to the adventure sports community?

Lindsay: We offer year-round, three-hour, guided ZipLine Tours and a full-day excursion in warmer months called the Zip, Dip, & Sip Tour which takes about nine hours. It includes the ziplines, lunch, three hours of whitewater rafting with Rogue Rafting Co. and ends with a wine tasting at Del Rio Vineyards.


K: What do you love about the adventure sports industry?

L: I was born and raised here in beautiful Southern Oregon and I absolutely love it here. I purchased acreage in my early 20's and after having my daughter I was really motivated to find a way to earn an income while spending the most time possible with her. After many ideas, I knew that a zipline park was going to be the best fit for the unique view of my property. It overlooks many gorgeous regional landmarks like the iconic Table Rocks, Mount Mcloughlin, the Rogue River, and the rim of Crater Lake. Its location is close to Interstate 5 near Gold Hill Exit 40, which happens to be home of the Rogue River and the Crater Lake corridor, making it easy to access for tourists and locals.


K: How does your business help build future outdoor leaders?

L: My employees, AKA our certified guides, are highly trained professionals. They go through an in-depth certification process, background check, drug testing, and job shadow process before guiding on their own. Many of our guides have attended Southern Oregon University’s or Rogue Community College’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Programs, and some are even class instructors. My guides have been one of my personal favorite parts of owning a zipline business. Many have guided for several years and I consider them family.


K: What motivates you to provide ziplining to customers/community members?
The motivation when starting my business was very different then it is now. As I mentioned, I really wanted to invest in my property, be an entrepreneur and a stay-at-home mom while doing something adventurous and fun. After many years of being on the Travel Medford Tourism Council and running a tourism-based business, I have come to realize that Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventures is a Southern Oregon outdoor adventure staple. The way that our customers show their love and support is what motivates our team year after year. They definitely let us know that we are providing something that they like and are interested in. Our customer reviews have won us many awards and we appreciate them so much. So nowadays, my motivation is my awesome guides and our fabulous guests.


K: What recommendations do you have to aspiring outdoor sports entrepreneurs?

L: I didn't realize what I was getting into when starting an activity-based business. Many organizations do fundraising and one of the most requested donation items are from activity-based businesses. It led to my attendance at many local silent and live auctions, casino nights, poker tournaments, and galas, to name a few. This chance to network and contribute to fundraising is rewarding. If you're a new business owner, I strongly recommend reaching out to your local chamber to see what's going on in your community and how you can help support each other.



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