"Having spent a lot of time in and around the outdoor recreation industry, I can categorically say that your operation is truly a cut above the rest; the staff were unfailingly friendly, helpful, and encouraging, and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I stayed through the holiday weekend, and even with the chaos of rafting groups, clinics, and campground turnover, everyone I ran into around the base and on the river took the time to stop and say 'Hi,' to see how I was doing, to ask if I needed anything. That kind of personal attention does not go unnoticed, and I wanted to thank you all. I have been singing your praises to anyone who will listen. "
OUR PEOPLE are exceptional. We hire carefully, train thoughtfully and promote an atmosphere of teamwork, mutual respect and fun. Here’s what some of our guests have said about our staff:
OUR FACILITIES are convenient. We’re located right on the Deerfield River at the end of our most popular trip, meaning that most of our guests don’t experience a bus ride at the end of their trips. Onsite camping and lodging, hot showers, the first zip line canopy tour in southern New England, a fully stocked outfitters shop and a commercial kitchen that produces consistently delicious meals set us apart.
OUR EQUIPMENT is top of the line and well maintained. We use only the best rafts, kayaks, canoes from the most reputable manufacturers. Our zip line canopy tour uses top quality gear from harnesses to zip line trolleys. We follow an aggressive maintenance and replacement program that ensures that the equipment you count on to keep you comfortable and safe is state-of-the-art and in excellent condition.
OUR EXPERIENCE on the Deerfield River is the longest of any outfitter in the northeast. We pioneered rafting on the Deerfield in 1989 and have taken the most trips on the river of any outfitter. When you go with us, you benefit from 20 years of experience.
Zoar Outdoor was established in 1989 by Bruce Lessels, President, Karen Blom, Vice President and a third partner as the first outdoor center on the Deerfield River in Massachusetts. Since then, the company has grown to a staff of over 100. Bruce is a former member of the U.S. Whitewater Team, and Karen was a trainer for the team as well as a public health nutritionist.
Zoar Outdoor is based in an historic Charlemont homestead, built in 1748 by Moses Rice, the town's first settler. The house was the boyhood home of the writer Charles Dudley Warner and it was the subject of the book "Boys of The Border" by Mary P. Wells Smith, an historic novelist.
Our riverfront location on the Deerfield River includes a guest lodge (Hawk Mountain Lodge), a campground, retail shop, zip line canopy tour and miles of hiking trails. Our facilities span 80 wooded acres and our campground includes 5 tent sites and 11 cabin tents nestled in the woods overlooking the river valley. Our cabin tents are equipped with gas lights, cook grills, and 4 beds to provide a restful night with the shower house only a short walk from the camping area. Our commercial kitchen provides the freshest lunches on all of our trips and clinics with homemade breads, salads, and baked goods.
Our nationally recognized whitewater canoe and kayak school provides levels of instruction for beginners to experts. Our zip line canopy tour is the first zip line adventure in Southern New England. Our livery program offers over 40 sit-on-top kayaks for self-guided trips down the easier sections of the Deerfield River. Our rafting program maintains a fleet of 18 13-foot self-bailing rafts and 9 13-foot bailer rafts to take us down the 5 different rivers we run. Our whitewater instruction clinics use over 75 of the latest canoes and kayaks to teach beginner to advanced levels.
Our Outfitters Shop stocks all of the latest whitewater paddling gear including a full line of paddles, PFDs, helmets and apparel. We carry boats from the top manufacturers including Mad River and Esquif canoes, Dagger, Liquidlogic, Wave Sport, Pyranha and Jackson Kayak.
Zoar Outdoor is a member of, or works closely with the following organizations: