Smoky Mountain Outdoors

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

Smoky Mountain Outdoors has over 25 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.

About Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Smoky Mountain Outdoors (SMO) has a long-standing record of training great raft 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 Raft 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 Raft 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 it extremely affordable and we recommend shopping around online to compare cost. We are confident you will not find a better price for gear! Here is the list of what every SMO raft guide must have.

  • 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.

If you are interested in attending one of our guide schools, please fill out an application. https://www.smokymountainrafting.com/employment/

After completing application, and reading all the information provided, please feel free to send your resume and a cover letter to scott@smokymountainrafting.com. Most applicants also 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.

Training Courses 2019:
May  6th - 11th
May  13th - 18th
June 3rd - 8th
June 10th - 15th

The Employee Experience

We have 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. Each week, SMO hosts a staff dinner where every employee can take an evening to relax and enjoy a free meal.

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. 

Room and Board

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

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. 

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. Knoxville also has the closest Greyhound station. 

Airport and bus station pick-ups can be arranged for a fee. 

For Fun

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. https://www.smokymountainrafting.com/employment/

Raft Guide School dates for 2019
May 6th -11th
May 13th -18th
June 3rd - 8th
June 10th -15th

After completing application, and reading all the information provided, please feel free to send your resume and a cover letter to scott@smokymountainrafting.com. Most applicants also 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.


Contact Smoky Mountain Outdoors