Whitewater Raft Guide
Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Whitewater Raft Guides Needed! Join one of our FREE Guide Schools today!

Located in beautiful East Tennessee just outside the Smoky Mountain National Park.


Whitewater Raft Guide

Smoky Mountain Outdoors
Hartford, Tennessee
No experience required
Start Date:
Job starts in about 1 month (May 01, 2019)

Smoky Mountain Outdoors (SMO) has a long-standing record of training great river guides. Over the past 25 years we have trained hundreds of guides, many of whom have continued to guide on other rivers both nationally and internationally.

Our River Guide School is a free program paid for by SMO. As someone who is interested in becoming a whitewater river guide you may have noticed that some companies offer their own programs, but at a high cost. Our River Guide School is designed to be affordable, with a full-time guide positioned offered to those who excel and pass the course.

The only cost SMO requests is the price of your river equipment, which we sell to you. Once you buy the equipment, it is yours to keep. We do our best to make this extremely affordable and we recommend shopping around online to compare cost. We are confident you will not find a better price for gear!  

  • Black Class V PFD (lifejacket)
  • Black Whitewater Helmet
  • 75’ Throw Bag
  • Four Locking Carabiners
  • 10’ Tubular Webbing
  • Whistle
  • Two 6’ 4mm Prusik Cords
  • First-Aid and CPR Certification American Red Cross
  • River Knife (not included in price)

The cost of all this equipment is a reasonable $300 and is for you to keep.

What are the Guide School dates?
May 6th -11th
May 13th -18th
June 3rd - 8th
June 10th -15th

Our Season
Our season runs from March to October with the main season running from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Between those dates, guides are required to work each Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Days start at 9am and can go anywhere from 3-6pm.

Our River
The Pigeon River has two commercially rafted sections, The Upper and The Lower. The Upper Pigeon River is a six and a half mile stretch of Class III-IV whitewater. The Lower Section is a five mile scenic Class I-II section. The Pigeon River is a dam-released river, flowing on a scheduled release from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from May to September.

Our Staff
We have a diverse, fun-loving staff of 80 river guides and growing. Most guides are in their early twenties, others bring years of river experience to the staff. SMO guides are a tight-knit group, who not only live and work together but spend their time off together as well. Each week, SMO hosts a staff dinner where every employee can take an evening to relax and enjoy a free meal.

Guide Housing
SMO guide housing is located directly on the river, at our outpost, in the quaint little town of Hartford, Tennessee. Shopping, restaurants, and  a movie theater are located 15 minutes away in Newport, Tennessee. The Smoky Mountain National Park is in our backyard. If you want a night out on the town, Knoxville, Tennessee is an hour to our west and the eclectic mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina is an hour to our east and Gatlinburg, Tennessee is 45mins to our southwest.

Our accommodations vary and are comfortable. Guides are paired and share a room for the season. We encouraged our guides to decorated their living areas to making them more comfortable. The rooms are unfurnished and only contain a bunkbed platform (twin) some shelving but not much else. The mattress and bedding is not provided so bring what is suitable for your comfort level. All rooms have electricity and air conditioning.

Separate shower and bathroom facilities are provided for men and women. A communal guide kitchen is provided for all guides, but please bring your own cookware and utensils.

Guide Perks
We offer several free employee exchange programs with tourism companies in the area including mountain biking, zip-lining and amusement parks. We also organize several staff outings during the summer including rafting trips to other rivers in the area. 

If you love the outdoors the Smoky Mountain National Park is only minutes away with 850 miles of hiking trails. Do you have kayak, canoe, raft, or just a fishing pole? The Pigeon River is literally your backyard. Guides often create their own weekly group outings, always strengthening the team dynamics that we are so proud to have. 

How to Apply

If you are interested in attending one of our guide schools, please fill out an application.


Eligible applicants will be contacted with an interview phone call.