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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Canyons River Company

a group of people on a rocky beach

In December 2017, when Anna Levesque of Mind Body Paddle called us to inquire about collaborating on a multi-day women’s trip in Idaho with Canyons River Company, without hesitation, the answer was a resounding… HECK YES!


Cali Collective is founded on creating community and connection, and one of the fantastic perks of this is being able to collaborate with uber-talented and experienced teachers and outfitters. So it was a total no-brainer being able to join forces with Anna Levesque and Canyons on the iconic Salmon River.

Anna & Melissa on the Salmon

Anna & Melissa on the Salmon

Becoming a member the Canyons river family…

For 35 years, Canyons has been growing its river tribe. Founded in 1985 by Susan and Les Bechdel, Canyons prides itself not only in offering unique guided multi-day river trips but they operate with the desire to make the employees and guests feel like family. It’s amazing how after just one trip with Canyons, you’ll totally be part of the clan!

In addition to the family vibe, an adventure vacation with Canyons encompasses many things – from exploring the wilderness to relaxing at camp on the beach, soaking in geothermal hot springs to playing in the river, eating locally-sourced handmade meals to sunrise yoga, and sharing the river with your loved ones to meeting new friends and joining a river family.

The river has an amazing way of encouraging fun activities, unlocking new interests, expanding horizons, building friendships, fostering a love of each other and wild places. The river has a way of grabbing hold of you and not letting go. You always hope to return to her someday for another visit.

Now it’s time to meet some of the crew that makes Canyons so very special…

Lisa Whisnant

Lisa “Whizzy” Whisnant grew up in California spending much of her days in the outdoors. Whizzy discovered river guiding at BYU University in Utah and never looked back. In 1987 she landed a job with Canyons and is as much a part of Canyons, as Canyons is a part of her.

Through countless river trips and a passion for archeology and the tribes of the Northwest, Whizzy brings a knowledge and respect for ancient cultures to her trips that is unparalleled. She has a way of taking us all back in time, as we stand and gaze at the pictographs along the river.

A wealth of knowledge and experience, Whizzy gives a history class on the Salmon

A wealth of knowledge and experience, Whizzy gives a history class on the Salmon

I think my connection with the natural world is what makes me who I am.  I love it and I love being submerged in its beauty and wonder.  It makes me smile. It makes me want to dive into its mysteries, to learn and share with others, to connect and enjoy life in every possible moment. It inspires me to give back to a world so precious and to always be grateful for the journey. -Lisa “Whizzy” Whisnant


Ariana Lowe

Born in a tree house in the redwood forests of Northern California and raised in Colorado, Ariana began her river life at the tender age of 6 on family rafting trips. She became a river guide after her freshman year of university and was instantly hooked… for life by the looks of it! A woman of many talents, Ari not only guides trips but is deeply involved in operations management at Canyons and often treats her river guests to her musical stylings – playing the guitar and singing under the stars around the evening campfire.

At Canyons we are full of love, for just about everything. In fact, it is part of our philosophy. The more you love, the better the world is. We love Idaho. We love the rivers that we run. We love the Wilderness and everything she offers. We love each other. We love our guests. We love paddling. We love to play. We love to share stories, food, time and space. We love life. And most importantly we love to advocate for the protection of what allows for all of this, the earth and the life she provides. -Ariana Lowe

The superwomen of Canyons

The superwomen of Canyons

And now for our esteemed co-host & veritable force in the paddling world…

Anna Levesque

As a woman of extraordinary talent and the founder of Mind Body Paddle, Anna Levesque has taught and empowered thousands of paddlers worldwide. Through her study of yoga and Ayurveda, Anna shares the strategies she has learned for cultivating power through self-awareness, freedom through discipline and the joy of feeling alive through adventure.

And just to think it all began when she took a summer job in the kitchen of a whitewater rafting company…

Through whitewater kayaking I discovered what it felt like to truly be alive and there was no turning back! Instead of going on to law school after college, I chose to re-align my priorities and become a full-time pursuer of living life to the fullest. -Anna Levesque

Anna’s 20+ year journey took her paddling and competing to over twelve countries on five continents, a spot on the Canadian National Freestyle Kayak Team and a podium finish at the Freestyle Kayak World Championships. Anna is the author of Yoga for Paddling and was voted 2017 Most Inspirational Outdoors Person in Best of the Blue Ridge from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, and named One of the Most Inspirational Paddlers Alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine. Her expansive reach has also landed her in mainstream publications such as TIME, SHAPE and SELF.

Anna is an American Canoe Association (ACA) Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer, Stand Up Paddleboard Instructor Trainer and a member of the ACA SUP Standards Committee. On the health and wellness side, Anna is a 500-hour registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance and a certified Ayurveda Wellness Counselor.

Anna brings a grace and style to every river trip, and we are beyond to grateful to be working with this exceptional leader and teacher.

Open your heart and smile

Open your heart and smile

So if a wilderness trip on the Main Salmon with Cali Collective, Anna Levesque and Canyons River Company sounds like magic to you…

Join us September 5-10, 2021 on our next Women’s Adventure Retreat!

Many thanks and heaps of gratitude to Anna Levesque and the phenomenal guides of Canyons River Company for sharing their talents and expertise. We can’t wait til 2021!!!


All words and images copyright California Watersport collective 2020. All rights reserved.