Bill McGinnis | USA

Bill McGinnis 2013 IWHOF finalist2013 Finalist: Bill McGinnis
Sport: Whitewater Rafting
Years Active: 1965-Present
Home Base: El Sobrante, CA (USA)

Pioneer Accomplishments:

The Guide’s Guide … is every bit as absorbing, instructive and entertaining as William McGinnis’ (first book) Whitewater Rafting.  If you are or wish to be a river rafting trip leader, this guide is a must … the lucid writing intrigued me word for word from beginning to end.” George Larson, Sierra Club

As the first thorough guide to the sport, Bill McGinnis’ book Whitewater Rafting served as a sort of bible and taught a generation to raft.  His The Guides Guide Augmented: Reflections on Guiding Professional River Trips (together with its earlier edition The Guide’s Guide) broadened the popularity of commercial rafting by inspiring new levels of safety and professionalism and by advancing a holistic, inclusive, supportive philosophy of guiding which helps people move from fear to confidence to joy.

Bill and the guides of his rafting company Whitewater Voyages pioneered raft descents on the Forks of the Kern, Burnt Ranch Gorge of the Trinity and the Middle Fork of the American, opening up these rivers to commercial rafting.  During its heyday from 1980 to 2012 Whitewater Voyages guided more people down more California Rivers than any other outfitter.  Bill’s novel Whitewater: A Thriller vividly evokes the beauty and magic of whitewater rivers.

Other Accomplishments:

  • 1974 Published Whitewater Rafting
  • 1975 Founded Whitewater Voyages
  • 1978 First known raft descents of Norway’s Begna and Tislea Rivers
  • 1979 First known raft descent of Norway’s Sjoa River
  • 1980 First complete raft descent of the Forks of the Kern
  • 1980 First raft descent of Pawac Falls on Peru’s Apurimac River
  • 1981 Published The Guide’s Guide: Reflections on Guiding Professional River Trips
  • 1981 First known raft descent of Middle Fork American
  • 1982 First known raft descent of Burnt Ranch Gorge
  • 1985 Published The Class V Briefing
  • 1989 International judge for Chuya Rally, Siberia.  Considered a landmark in the history of International competitive rafting and a worldwide whitewater landmark event as the beginning of Project RAFT.
  • 2000Named one of the top 100 Paddlers of the Century by Paddler Magazine
  • 2001 Published River Signals
  • 2005 Published The Guide’s Guide Augmented: Reflections on Guiding Professional River Trips
  • 2012 Published Whitewater: A Thriller


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