Arkansas’ Guides to the Outdoors

Q & A with leading Arkansas professional adventure guides

by Monica Issitt

The benefits of hiring a guide for your next outdoor adventure are numerous. They share detailed knowledge of local flora, fauna, history and the specific skills of their area of expertise, as well as cover all safety concerns and logistics leaving their clients free to enjoy the experience. Each of the guides featured have a high level of familiarity with and ability in their chosen niche. Together with their passion for the outdoors and awareness of what the client needs, it is a recipe for a rewarding and inspiring time outside.


Amanda Smith

Arkansas Climbing Services

Q: TO WHAT AREAS DO YOU TAKE CLIENTS MOST OFTEN? 
A: Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Sam's Throne and Cave Creek.

Q: WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR GUIDE OFFERING?
A. We are the only climbing guides in the state that offer rappelling-specific trips and the only service with a permit to rappel above the Buffalo River.

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU GUIDED PROFESSIONALLY?
A: Two years. 

Q: WHAT CERTIFICATIONS OR QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HOLD?
A: Wilderness First Responder; Single-Pitch Instructor via American Mountain Guides Association.

Q: WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A GUIDE?
A: Getting to work with people on their specific goals and watching them take away something important from the experience.

Q: HOW DID YOU GET INTO CLIMBING?
A: I visited the climbing gym with a friend. I was stoked

Q: WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO A COMPLETE NOVICE?
A: Hire a guide; you'll get more out of it–and it's not as scary as you think. 

Contact Information:
Amanda Smith
Arkansas Climbing Services
479-422-5148
www.arkansasclimbingservices.com
Facebook: Arkansas Climbing Services, LLC


Brad Morris

White River Advantage Fishing Service

Q: TO WHAT AREAS DO YOU TAKE CLIENTS MOST OFTEN?    
A: On the White River, from 23 miles above, to the Bull Shoals dam and from the dam to Buffalo City.

Q: WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR GUIDE OFFERING?
A: I'm often rated as the top guide at several resorts along the White River. Iíve met requirements to be on the Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Pro Staff.

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PROFESSIONAL GUIDE?
A: 16 years. 

Q: WHAT EXPERIENCES QUALIFY YOU TO BE A GUIDE
A: I spend more than 220 days on the water each year. I was the youngest guide on the White River when I began my career at 18 and am still the youngest at 34.

Q: WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A GUIDE?
A: Understanding what my clients want and delivering–that's the best part.

Q: HOW DID YOU GET INTO FISHING?
A: I grew up in Cotter, catching crawdads as a toddler. It is all I ever wanted to do.

Q: WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO A COMPLETE NOVICE?
A: Don't be intimidated by not knowing anything or by not trying something before.

Contact Information:
Brad Morris
White River Advantage Fishing Service
870-405-3967

www.whiteriveradvantagefishing.com


Tonya & Michael Sacomani

Saline River Canoe

Q: TO WHAT AREAS DO YOU TAKE CLIENTS MOST OFTEN?
A: We operate from the headwaters of the Saline River in Benton and we drop clients off for 11-mile, 9-mile and 4.5-mile floats downriver.

Q: WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR GUIDE OFFERING?
A: The Saline River is a federally protected waterway and is home to several endangered species. We are a family-friendly service on a river unspoiled by industry.

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RUNNING YOUR SERVICE?
A: Six years.

Q: How long have you guided professionally?
A: Six years on Lake Greeson and four years in the Gulf of Mexico targeting tuna.

Q: WHAT CERTIFICATIONS OR QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HOLD?
A: CPR and Swiftwater Rescue.

Q: HOW DID YOU GET INTO PADDLING?
A: The Saline River was my backyard. We would go exploring and spend nights on the river. 

Q: WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO A COMPLETE NOVICE?
A: Use an outfitter, because it's a great way to find out if you actually enjoy doing something in the outdoors.

Contact Information:
Tonya & Michael Sacomani
Saline River Canoe
501-749-2266

www.salinerivercanoe.com
Facebook: Saline River Canoe


Matthew Friant

Pinnacle Mountain State Park Interpreter

Q: TO WHAT AREAS DO YOU TAKE VISITORS MOST OFTEN?
A: I guide hikes around the park and spend a lot of time guiding our canoe and kayak floats on the Little Maumelle River.

Q: WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT WHAT YOU OFFER VISITORS TO THE PARK?
A: I meet and help visitors leave with a handful of new things learned and a smile on their face.

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN INTERPRETER?
A: One year. I'm the newest interpreter at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

Q: WHAT CERTIFICATIONS OR QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HOLD?
A: Certified Interpretive Guide, Swiftwater Rescue, Wilderness First Responder, lifeguard, Base Management Rock Climbing Instructor.

Q: Who taught you the most to prepare you to be a professional guide?
A: My uncle, Paul Saksa, taught me how to fly fish and Jim Wakenight inspired me with lake fishing.

Q: WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT BEING A PARK INTERPRETER?
A: I get paid to be outside, meet people and have fun.

Q:  WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO A COMPLETE NOVICE?
A: Head out to experience my favorite vista in the park, the East Quarry overlook on the Rocky Valley Trail. 

Contact Information:
Matthew Friant
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
501-868-5806

www.arkansasstateparks.com


George Bieker

Guide Arkansas

Q: TO WHAT AREAS DO YOU TAKE CLIENTS MOST OFTEN?
A: Buffalo Wilderness areas near Jasper.

Q: WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR GUIDE OFFERING? 
A: I lead completely customizable experiences, tailored 100 percent to client care with no set curriculum.

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PROFESSIONAL GUIDE?
A: Five years.

Q: WHAT CERTIFICATIONS OR QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HOLD?
A: Wilderness First Responder, EMT, Certified Interpreter, CPR/Red Cross, Single-Pitch Instructor, Leave No Trace, 24 Day in Mountaineering and Lead Instructor Training, and 12 Day Rock and Ice Instructor Training through IWLS Outdoor Leadership School, Training through American Mountain Guides Association and Professional Climbing Instructors Association.

Q: HOW DID YOU GET INTO CLIMBING?
A: Through the University Recreation Program at University of Arkansas.

Q: WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO A COMPLETE NOVICE?
A: 90 percent of the time, you're going to fail, but failure is what keeps us climbing. You have to find the positive spin on that.

Contact Information:
George Bieker
Guide Arkansas
479-236-8798

www.guidearkansas.com
Facebook: Guide Arkansas, LLC