Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Join Our Team in Tennessee! We'll Train You to Become a Whitewater Raft Guide!

Smoky Mountain Outdoors is located in Hartford, Tennessee, just outside the Smoky Mountain National Park.

About Smoky Mountain Outdoors

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

Training is FREE of charge. As someone who is interested in becoming a whitewater raft guide   you may have noticed that some companies offer training courses, but at a high cost. Our guide training program is designed to be affordable, with a full-time guide positioned offered to all that pass the course. 

There is a cost that every new guide must expect, and that is the cost of your equipment. Again, we make this extremely affordable. In order to keep the cost as low as possible, we pass our wholesale rates directly to our employees. We recommend shopping around online to compare the cost of gear. We are confident you will not find a better deal! Here is the list of what every guide at SMO must have. 

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

The cost of all this equipment is a reasonable $300. 

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

After completing application, and reading all the information provided, please feel free to send your resume and cover letter to Most applicants also choose to include photos of themselves to show their personalities; this is a great way to put a face with a name. Eligible applicants will be contacted with an interview phone call.

Training Courses 2018:

  • March 12th - 16th
  • May  7th - 11th
  • May  14th - 18th
  • June 4th - 8th
  • June 11th - 15th

*Dates are subject to change due to the number of participants 

The Employee Experience

We have a diverse, fun-loving staff of 80 raft guides and growing. Most guides are in their early twenties, others bring years of river experience to the staff. It's an experience like none other and will stay with you for years to come. We are a tight-knit group, often spending our time off
together. Each week, the company hosts a staff dinner where everyone can take an evening to relax and enjoy a meal and have fun at the outpost.

Ideal Candidate

Our ideal candidate is a healthy and active person who is eager to learn new skills while challenging themselves. During our training courses, we look for candidates who show a great understanding of teamwork, self-motivation, respect, and responsibility. Raft guiding is a physically demanding activity. Please consider the physical requirements this job demands before applying. 

Room and Board

Housing is provided for all employees. The housing and outpost are located riverside in the quaint town of Hartford, Tennessee. If you feel like getting out and stretching your legs, the Smoky Mountain National Park is only minutes away. If you want a night out on the town, Knoxville and the University of Tennessee are an hour to our west and the eclectic mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina is an hour to our east.

Guide housing is available at only $75 a month and is deducted from your paycheck monthly. Our accommodations vary, but roughing-it-easy best describes our rooms. You will be paired up with another guide to share the room with for the season. Guides are encouraged to decorated their living areas to making them more comfortable. The rooms are unfurnished and contain a bunkbed mattress platform (twin) and not much else. Bedding is not provided, so bring what is suitable for your comfort level (mattress, bed sheets, sleeping bag, pillows, etc). Rooms do have electricity and air-conditioning.
WI-FI is available at the outpost, just a short walk from guide housing. Camping is free and amenities are included.

Separate shower and bathroom facilities are provided for men and women. A communal guide kitchen is provided for all guides, but pots, pans, plates etc. are not provided. 

We love dogs and cats, but for the safety of our customers, guides, and the pets themselves, pets are not allowed on SMO property.

Employee Perks

We offer free employee trade benefits with many local tourism companies in our surrounding area. We also offer several staff outings each summer. Guides often create their own weekly group outings, always strengthening the team dynamics that we are so proud to have. 

Getting Here and Getting Around

Most of our employees arrive in their own vehicles. However, if you are planning on flying in from abroad or another state, Tyson McGhee Airport in Knoxville, TN will be the closest airport.

Airport and bus station pick-ups can be arranged. 

For Fun

Want to get away for the weekend? Several major cities in the area are within a one to four-hour drive. They include Gatlinburg TN, Asheville NC, Knoxville TN, Pigeon Forge TN, Nashville, TN and Atlanta GA.

If cities aren't your thing, the Smoky Mountain National Park, Pisgah National Forest, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are in our backyard. 
Weekend retreats to other rivers are great team building we all enjoy. 

How to Apply

Applicants are suggested to follow up with a resume and cover letter. We would also like a few photos of you. Showing your personality and interest. This is up to you, but we find it helps to put a face to the name during the hiring process. Applications are answered in the order they are received with our hiring process beginning in March. We look forward to hearing from you!