Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

So you Wanna Grow Up to be a Whitewater Rafting Guide?!

Guiding whitewater rafting trips may be one of the most exciting opportunities you’ll encounter while working at a Job in a Great Place.

My first summer while working in Yellowstone, a group of friends traveled down to Jackson Hole, Wyoming on our days off, and jumped on a trip on the Snake River. I had canoed and kayaked before, on smooth water, in the midwest, and had one other white water adventure in Pennsylvania. This was a whole different ball game.

Later, I lived and worked in Gardiner, Montana at the north entrance to Yellowstone, where a handful of whitewater raft companies launched a bazillion boats every summer season. The highlight of our day in the CoolWorks’ WebShack was hearing rafters and guides scream and shout and wave and lift their paddles as they floated by the Yellowstone River webcam mounted on the side of the cabin.

Countless rafters come and go, but Raft Guides are the solid force behind this adventure. Whether guiding the Yellowstone, the Snake, the Arkansas, the Nenana, or one of many other amazing rivers, has pages for both Guides and Jobs on Water where Whitewater Raft Guide jobs might appear. Have you ever thought that “Raft Guide” might be the job for you?

The great news is that many guiding companies offer training sessions in the later winter or spring. This opportunity might provide you with a jumping-off point to your Raft Guide life, and offer them a look at what you would bring to the (water) table.

We’ve done some digging to help you unearth more details about this wild career where “getting your feet wet” is just the start of every day!

Keep in mind that it’s so much more than a job where you get to play on the river every day. It’s a “boatload” of hard work, pardon the pun. You’ll need mad water skills and be able to read the river with your eyes closed. You’ll be guiding as well as paddling – which means multi-tasking – sharing information about landmarks, history, wildlife, flora and fauna – while navigating the river and paying attention to your guests and their safety. Every single trip. Some raft adventures require participation from the rafters; you’ll be shouting instructions over the roar of the water to a bunch of people who might not even know to paddle forward and backward! You’ll need to have emergency skills and a cool head to manage whatever comes your way. And – you’ll have to be in good physical shape to lift rafts from trailers and the river’s edge, and pull water-logged rafters back in the boat, and clean and make repairs.

You’re still reading? You’re ready? You’re all in? Get your to-do list going and start knocking off the training and certifications you might need well ahead of the next season.

To dig in deeper start scoping out the raft guide opportunities that offer guide trainings, and to keep your head above water – check out these additional resources that will help you further determine if this opportunity is a good fit for you. See you out there!