Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Upper Pigeon River
Friends Visit
Lower Pigeon River
Upper Pigeon River
Staff Housing
Bus Ride
Lower Pigeon River
Powerhouse Rapid

Whitewater Raft Guides Needed! Join one of our Free Raft Guide Schools today. Apply Now!

Smoky Mountain Outdoors has over 30 years of whitewater experience and training. Through our FREE Raft Guide School, we have introduced hundreds of applicants, just like you, to the exciting profession of being a Whitewater Raft Guide. It's an opportunity that will last a lifetime.

Smoky Mountain Outdoors can be found in the quaint town of Hartford, Tennessee, right outside the Smoky Mountain National Park. Our rafting company, and riverside staff housing, stretch along one mile of the Pigeon River. We are centrally located 45mins to an hour from Asheville, NC, Knoxville, TN and Gatlinburg, TN.

Jobs in the Spotlight

About Smoky Mountain Outdoors

***We are currently hiring for the 2023 rafting season!***

Smoky Mountain Outdoors (SMO) has a long-standing record of training great raft guides. Over the past 30 years, we have trained hundreds of guides, many of whom have continued to guide on other rivers both nationally and internationally.

Our Raft Guide School is a FREE program paid for by SMO. As someone who is interested in becoming a whitewater raft guide you may have noticed that some companies offer their own programs, but at a high cost. Our Raft Guide School is designed to be affordable, with a full-time guide positioned offered to those who excel and pass the course. We only invite you if we are confident that you will pass the course. 

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

When filling out the application most applicants choose to include a few 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.  Please read through the information that is sent to you before you are contacted for an interview. 

Guide School Dates 2023:
May 8th - 13th
May 15th - 20th
June 5th - 10th
June 12th - 17th

The Employee Experience

SMO has a diverse, fun-loving staff of 80 rafts 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.

Our guides return every year, not only for the work they enjoy but for the friends they have made. We have a full-time staff of 80 guides, and there is never a shortage of things to do, or friends to hang out with. We are confident you will make many new friends, and shared an amazing summer together. 

Ideal Candidate

Our ideal candidate is a healthy and active person who is eager to learn new skills while challenging themselves. During our Guide School, we look for candidates who show a great understanding of teamwork, self-motivation, respect, and responsibility. Yes, river guiding can be a physically demanding job. But is also extremely FUN and very rewarding. Being a raft guide is a job that you will truly enjoy.  

Room and Board

We offer the best guide housing on the river. We provide on-site, riverside housing, to all guides. Our accommodations vary and are comfortable. Guides are paired and share a room in one of our three bunkhouses 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.

WI-FI is available at the outpost, just a short walk from guide housing. Camping is free and all share amenities are included.

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. 

Employee Perks

SMO offers tons of FREE employee exchange programs with tourism companies in the area including Mountain Biking, Zip-Lining, Amusement and Water Parks, plus many more. SMO also organizes several staff outings during the summer.

We host weekly staff dinner at the outpost. It's always a big event and the highlight of everyone's week. A few guides every week volunteer to cook whatever they want. They also pick a theme for the party and dress up. We also have a swimming pool at our campground that we allow our guides to use!

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 pick-ups can be arranged for a small fee. 

Once at the outpost vehicles are not necessary. Walking from housing to work takes a minute. Bicycles are recommended for getting around the outpost. The closest supermarket, movie theater or restaurant are 15 minutes away. Employees usually carpool for these, so having a car is not necessary. 

For Fun

As mentioned above SMO has tons of FREE employee exchange programs with tourism companies in the area including Mountain Biking, Zip-Lining, Amusement and Water Parks. We also organize several staff outings during the summer including rafting trips to other rivers in the area. 

The Smoky Mountain National Park is only minutes away with 850 miles of hiking trails. If you have a kayak, canoe, raft or just a fishing pole, we are located directly the Pigeon River. Guides create their own weekly group outings, always strengthening the team dynamics that we are so proud to have. With 80 guides and three days off every week, there is never a lack of things to do! 

How to Apply

If you are interested in attending one of our guide schools, please fill out an application. Guide applications can be found at bottom of our employment page. 

After completing an application, you will be emailed an informative PDF. Eligible applicants will be contacted with an interview phone call.

Contact Smoky Mountain Outdoors