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Nik Merlino McCarthy River Tours
Nik Merlino
Founder & Guide

Nik started McCarthy River Tours from a tent in his yard back in 2010.  Noticing the need for high quality, river oriented adventures in the Wrangell Mountains, the company was born!  He has been spending time in the Kennicott Valley since he first fell in love with the area in 1990.    Nik honed his rafting skills through college in the desert Southwest.  Bringing a Grand Canyon eye towards quality and comfort, his goal has always been to provide the best river rafting experience in the State of Alaska.

Gina Merlino
Operations Manager

Gina is the brains behind our operation!  She helps mostly behind the scenes and is our logistics (multi-day food planning, travel help, hotel stay) extraordinaire.

Evie Merlino
Chief Unicorn Spotter & Quality Control

Evie started her raft career at an early age.  Adept at the skill of spotting Unicorns and their Icy abodes, she supplies a special skill set not yet mastered by other guides.  Other skills that Evie possess’ include firewood gathering and resident food taste tester and approver.

Sean Johnson Operations Manager
Sean Johnson
Operations Manager

Sean came to Alaska in 2014 to attend school at Alaska Pacific University, pursuing a degree in Outdoor Studies and quickly realized Alaska was home for him. Sean has guided all over Alaska since 2015.  In his free time, you can find him backpacking, skiing, packrafting, climbing or flyfishing. Sean’s passion for the outdoors and exploring has taken him all around the globe. His love of nature, wildlife and the lands that we adventure on is contagious.

McCarthy River Tours Guide Sam Cox
Sam Cox
Lead Multi-Day Guide

Sam learned to raft on the crowded rivers of Colorado, now he spends his time avoiding the congestion on the rivers of Wrangell St. Elias National Park.  Sam is our lead Multi Day Guide, in his spare time he volunteers for local Search & Rescue and leads Snow Machine tours in the Winter.  Sam knows how to pick a camp, can grill a mean Cajun chicken and has the finest pancake cooking skills in McCarthy.

Johnny Aguirre Rafting
Johnny Aguirre
Lead Day Guide and Day Guide Manager

Johnny came here from California to visit a cousin in McCarthy, picked up the guide stick and never put it down!  Johnny loves paddle guiding day trips, rowing in the back-country and is our resident tinkerer around camp.  Some of his camp specialties are making sure everyone has the perfect amount of GORP and his secret family BBQ Mac n’ Cheese recipe.

Sarah Lindsay Guide
Sarah Lindsay
Multi-Day Guide

Sarah hails from sunny southern California, and started her rafting career on the rugged rivers of Colorado. She’s been boating in the Alaskan wilderness and the Wrangells for 5 years, exploring as many rivers as she can. Her love for the water shines through her stories and enthusiasm as she sails down the braided glacial rivers. Sarah loves cooking creative gourmet meals and desserts, with a Dutchi-Oven and a grill, the possibilities are endless! She’s also a licensed hairdresser/barber and has been known to cut hair out in the wild!

Sophie Littée
Multi-Day Guide

Sophie first came to the Wrangell Mountains to run rivers in 2003. She has run rivers all over the world, but the vast wilderness kept calling her back to Alaska and she’s come to the area every year since.  She loves to go with the flow and share the river with anyone who is willing to go. She has a keen eye for safety, quick with a laugh and makes some mean sourdough pancakes.

Kevin “Albo” Albinson
Lead Guide Emeritus

Kevin has spent a lot of years rowing the rivers of Wrangell St Elias National Park with us.  While responsibilities now keep him away for parts of the summer, Kevin still loves to spend time on the river.  He also helps coordinate all the fun behind the scenes projects that make your trip with us unique and authentically Alaskan.   With over 20 years of experience in the industry, you could say he “knows a thing or two about a thing or two.”  Kevin grew up in Minnesota and has paddled all sorts of watercraft throughout the United States.