About Joe Ordonez

Joe Ordóñez lives with his wife Edie, and daughters, Stella and Sapphire, in their hand-crafted cabin near Haines, Alaska. He graduated from Western Washington University in 1983 with a B.S. in environmental education. Since that time, Joe has combined work and travel to take him to all seven continents. Joe has served aboard expedition vessels as naturalist, historian, zodiac driver, cruise director, and expedition leader. He works as a wilderness guide in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and co-authored the book “The Complete Guide to the Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers”. Joe owns and operates Rainbow Glacier Adventures in Haines, Alaska.

Guide and Naturalist

Joe began rafting in 1982 while in college and has seventeen years of experience using rafts to explore remote corners of Alaska and the Arctic. After 12 seasons guiding on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers (see sidebar), Joe began guiding in the Arctic in 1999.

Joe began working on cruise ships in 1986 as a naturalist, historian, expedition leader, zodiac driver and cruise director. Joe enjoys working as a stand-up guide for bus tours visiting Haines and working as a private photography guide and naturalist for special groups.
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Professional Photography, Publications, and Training

Joe has over 18 years experience training guides and naturalists throughout Alaska. He especially enjoys start-up projects, where companies need a helping hand getting a new tour or project off the ground.

In 2011, Joe worked as a consultant for Orion Cruises of Australia to design shore excursions for their inaugural visit to Alaska. Ports visited included Metlakatla, Petersburg, Haines, Elfin Cove, Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and Attu.

In February of 2008, Joe was invited by the Alaska State Department of Commerce and Economic Development to participate in an educational DVD program. The purpose of the project was to help entrepreneurs interested in securing a cruise ship contract. The project was filmed in Anchorage. Joe described the growth of Rainbow Glacier Adventures and gave helpful pointers. Joe was the only cruise shore excursion representative invited to participate in this program.

Joe has trained guides and tourism employees in Alaska since 1986. In May, 2004 it was with Icy Straits Point in Hoonah, Alaska. Joe was given one week to transform unemployed loggers, truck drivers, and fishermen into eco-guides on their Bear Watching tour. The training was successful.

In 2001, Joe was hired by Royal Caribbean International to develop an Alaska Enhancement Program to teach the on-board guests about Southeast Alaska. He developed six Powerpoint presentations and a tour resources manual covering the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Haines, Skagway, and the Hubbard Glacier. He then trained on-board staff in history, natural history, and present-day issues.

In May of 1999 and 2000, Joe traveled throughout Alaska training Princess Tour staff on the basics of Customer Service. Some groups were over two hundred people.

In 2000, Ketchikan Indian Corporation hired Joe to develop their Bald Eagle and Salmon Hatchery tour program and train their guides.

Joe has also trained guides for Chilkat Guides, Chilkat Cruises and Tours, Gold Belt Native Corporation, Alaska Discovery, Gastineau Guiding Company, and Exploration Cruise Lines.

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Work Experience

  • Owner
    Rainbow Glacier Adventures
    Directed a multi-dimensional educational and tour company offering a wide variety of high-quality tours in Haines, Alaska. Special projects included: development and training for the Royal Caribbean International Alaska Enhancement program, film location consulting with Japanese film crews in Southeast Alaska and the Queen Charlotte Islands, interpretive training for Icy Straits Point, Chilkat Cruises, Fort Seward Tours, Ketchikan Indian Corporation and Goldbelt Native Corporation. Presented customer service seminars for Princess Cruises. More recent special projects include designing a shore excursion program for Orion Cruises, development of an Arctic rafting program for Abercrombie and Kent, and a research and writing project about Southeast Alaska for www.alaska.org.
  • Naturalist
    Exploration Cruise Lines, Society Expeditions and Clipper Cruise Lines
    1986- present
    Served as on-board lecturer, expedition leader, cruise director, naturalist, and zodiac driver.
  • Wilderness Guide
    Alaska Discovery, Mountain Travel/Sobek, and Chilkat Guides
    Led small group rafting trips in the Alaskan and Yukon wilderness. Destinations include Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness, Kluane National Park, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Glacier Bay.
  • Training Director
    Chilkat Guides
    Managed and developed a training program for Chilkat Guides, a local rafting company. Trained guides in interpretive techniques, river safety and communication skills.

Photo Resume

Professional Photography, Publications and Training

  • 2015
    Joe’s photograph of Chilkoot Lake was selected for the fundraising poster for local radio KHNS.
  • 2013
    Joe served as consultant and guide for part of a BBC children’s series entitled “Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature.” The show discussed myths and the natural history of bald eagles and brown bears.
  • Incredible Travel Photos
    Joe has worked with Oliver Klink and other photographers since November, 2009 to provide support for bald eagle photographers.
  • Rocky Mountain School of Photography
    In 2009 Joe trained with the New York School of Photography’s Digital Photography course and Rocky Mountain School of Photography Weekend Seminars.
  • Wilderness Ventures
    Shot brochure photos for Wilderness Ventures 2005 catalogue. Photos included ice climbing on the Davidson Glacier, camping on Mt. Ripinski and work party shots with Alaska Indian Arts.
  • Royal Caribbean International
    Created Alaska Enhancement Program, an onboard educational lecture series that featured personal and historic photographs with accompanying text. 2001.
  • Society Expeditions
    Expedition leader and photographer.
    Several published brochure photographs, including cover photograph.
  • Mountain Travel/ Sobek/Wilderness Travel
    Published brochure photographs.
  • The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini River
    Co-author and photographer for guidebook. Cover photograph.
  • Wada Productions
    Expedition photographer, Juneau Ice Field expedition for NHK (Japanese National Public Television) production. Photographs featured in two Japanese magazines.
  • The Black Rhino, on the Edge of Extinction
    Published photographs of African rhino capture for conservation book.
  • Creative Nexus, Inc.
    Naturalist, film location consultant and photographer for Japanese film company. Explored the relationship between Alaskan Coastal Natives and the rain forest for NHK (Japanese National Public Television) production.
  • Southeast Alaska State Fair
    Photography awards include Best of Show, Best Landscape, Best Portrait, Best Wildlife and Best Human Interest.
  • KHNS                                                                                                                                                                    Joe’s photograph of Chilkoot Lake was selected for the 2015 fundraising poster for Haines NPR radio affiliate KHNS


  • Western Washington University, Huxley College of Environmental Studies
    B.S. in Environmental Education, 1983.

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Contact Joe

Joe Ordóñez
P.O. Box 1103
Haines, Alaska 99827
(907) 766-3576

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