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Business Happenings - June 2005

World Wide River Expeditions
“Come Play In Our Backyard”

World Wide River Expeditions
625 Riversands Road
Moab UT 84532

Moabites are lucky – and right – to claim the Colorado Plateau as their backyard playground. World Wide River Expeditions carries a double meaning for this message found on the cover of the 35-year-old river company’s brochure. People, lots of them, literally play in owners Nicki and Steve Hazlett’s backyard on Riversands Road on the edge of the wetlands, nine months out of the year. They make their home there with their five children ages 3 to 14, and 24 of the 28 guides that work for them in the summer. The Hazletts call this a “family operation.” And so it is. It isn’t unusual to have 3 year old Eli on Nicki’s lap while she works, 7 year old Lily filing in the office, 10 year old Zak answering the phone, 12 year old Jed loading boats, and 14 year old Ivy doing interpretation on a trip.

“We’ve been down here (from the Salt Lake area) for 18 years,” Nicki says. “We started as guides for Richard Jones, who owned World Wide for 30 years before he retired. At first we worked summers while we went to school. Then we moved down to Moab to manage the company. Now as owners it’s major full-time for us.”

Steve and Nicki managed the boating business until they decided to buy the company in 2000. Richard Jones was ready to embark on his lifelong dream of boating across the Atlantic, and was consequently ready to sell the company. For Steve and Nicki the decision was easy: if the company sold to anyone else they would have to move and give up their vocation of 15 years. They stayed on the river so they could continue rafting with their friends, and they consider anyone who rafts with them their friends. Steve is a business teacher at Grand County High School during the off-river season, but when summertime rolls around, its back to the river full-time. “As it turns out Nicki is able to use the Family and Consumer Science degree she earned from BYU and I’m able to use the business degree I earned from SUU,” Steve points out. “And we love hanging out with the guides,” Nicki adds.

“Two guides just came in from the daily and they were having a blast out there with the kayaks,” Steve says at the end of a recent and unusually high water river-running day. “We don’t mind these higher water levels after so many years of lower water. But, low water has its advantages too. The water’s warm and people have just as much fun when the water levels drop back to normal. We really don’t know what normal is over the long course of things. It is really fun at any level, especially in inflatable kayaks.”

World Wide has 40 inflatable kayaks that hold two people each. The “duckies” are relatively easy for people of all ages to maneuver. There’s as much opportunity for fun in low water as there is in so-called “normal” years, the way Steve sees it.

From mid-April to mid-September the Hazletts organize a multitude of river trips: Cataract, Westwater, and the Daily on the Colorado, Desolation Canyon on the Green, and the Main Salmon in Idaho. The trips vary in length from ½ day to five days. Unlike many river companies, the guides at World Wide rotate so that a guide coming off a multi-day Cataract trip might spend the next week on the Daily. This is where Steve says the guides are World Wide’s best marketing. “They come off a trip like that excited, and they talk about it to our one-day guests,” Next thing you know our clients want to do a multi-day trip.” And it gives the guides both the break and the excitement these adventure-seeking guides thrive on. “Most of the guides that come to us are very entertaining,” Nicki says poignantly. “It is a great break for them away from school and they love just being out on the river.”

The Hazletts go to great expense each year to make sure all of their guides are well trained on every section so that all of them can take people out on all of the trips available. “Besides being trained in rowing, geology, flora, fauna and other things of interest, they are very well trained in advanced first aid,” Nicki said. “Even the returning guides are retrained each year. Steve says many of the guides become like family as well. The Hazlett’s work is their lifestyle. “We just want to have fun,” Nicki said, “we want to play.” Steve laughs. Both have said they get on the river a couple of times a year themselves. The office mailings, phone calls, and commissary – none of it runs itself. But, Nicki points out, our work is fun. It is even more fun now as their kids have gotten older and can participate more in the business.

World Wide offers competitive prices on its trips because the company is “off-Main Street,” but still has combination packages that include horseback riding at Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge and Hummer and ATV tours with Highpoint Hummer. Brochures and rack cards are available around town, and a video is available on request for those interested in one of the World Wide River Expeditions packages. For more information, contact Nicki or Steve at 435-259-7515, 800-231-2769, visit the office at 625 Riversands Road in Moab or visit

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