River Rat Whitewater

Home of The Rat
Upper Pigeon
Where it all begins - Upper Pigeon put-in
Loading up an Extreme raft
The Lower Pigeon
TheRatPack!
Gold Standard - Loaded Up!
Excellent Equipment
Great boat spacing on the Upper Pigeon
The End of Training
Guide View
Awesome Guide Housing
Private Single Rooms
Community Kitchen

Join the Smoky Mountains Top Ranked and most Exciting Rafting Company for our 29th summer of adventure AtTheRat.com

From our beautiful setting in the Great Smoky Mountains, River Rat Whitewater Rafting provides the exhilarating experience of whitewater adventures. Whether they are planning a quick weekend getaway or a fun family vacation, the perfect adventure package is waiting and YOU can help us deliver it!

Nestled on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hartford, TN is convenient to most of the southeastern U.S. 100's of miles of trails and rivers are just outside the doorstep and ready for you to explore.

About River Rat Whitewater

Join our top rated team at RIVER RAT WHITEWATER RAFTING in The Great Smoky Mountains for our 29th Epic Season!!!

Housing, Pro-deals on Equipment, Bonus Programs are available.

We at River Rat Whitewater are Extremely proud of our dedicated staff who continually strive for the Gold Standard of whitewater adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains. We offer competitive pay based on experience and commitment.

We are located in the old Hartford elementary school on the Class IV Pigeon river in East TN one of the 5 most commercially rafted sections of whitewater in the United States. We specialize in making our trips a personal adventure from mild to wild.



We are seeking Guides of all experience levels! We offer training for new guides! Our training program will start May 13th.

This intensive program will include First-aid, CPR, whitewater hydrology instruction, teambuilding, safety and rescue procedures, and up to 50 river trips on various southeastern rivers,
as you learn the skills to enable you the greatest opportunity of success.

  • Most applicants can complete the training program in 2-3 weeks before being hired.
  • There is a non-refundable $350 training fee that you can secure with a $50 deposit.
  • This training fee primarily covers your certifications and purchase of your personal required equipment at industry discounts.
  • Housing (Dormitory style) is also available at no charge during the training period. After hiring, housing is available for rent at $150 per month.
  • We look forward to your application and encourage those who are outdoor adventure enthusiasts with customer service experience to apply.

The Employee Experience

River Rat Whitewater offers trips on the Upper and Lower sections of the Pigeon River. During the peak summer season, we run trips on Tuesday-Thursday, and Saturday. On average, guides work 3 trips per day. Typically, the workday begins at 9:30 a.m. and the last trip leaves the outpost at 5:00 p.m.

The day begins by tidying up the outpost, then moving on to inflating rafts for the day's trips. After that, it is on to loading rafts on top of the buses and readying equipment for the guests on the trip. When guests arrive, they will be checked in by office staff and prepared for the trip. When trip time arrives, the guests will be provided rafting safety information by an experienced guide. Once that is completed, guides will be introduced to their guests, get them properly fitted into their gear, and get them onto the bus. After a 15-minute ride to the put-in, guides will inform their guests of paddling instructions. Then it is game on! Guides will navigate their rafts through all the waves, holes, and rocks the Pigeon River Gorge has to offer. Once you hit the take-out, it's time to do it all again!

The day ends by unloading the rafts and storing the gear for the next day of operation. 

After work, guides enjoy relaxing and unwinding by the firepit, debriefing the day's adventures. Working at a rafting outpost is far from the typical work environment. As the summer progresses, your fellow guides will feel like family. 

Ideal Candidate

Those who possess a passion for connecting with people in the outdoors are ideal candidates. Other skills that translate well into the guiding profession include: customer service skills, leadership, and being a team player. 

Those with advanced medical certifications and a history in outdoor leadership are highly encouraged. 

Room and Board

We are proud to offer industry-leading housing to our team of guides!

Newly Upgraded in 2021, our housing option includes a code-accessed private room, communal restrooms and kitchen, coin-operated laundry facilities, and multiple lounge areas to enjoy your time off. The private room is furnished with a bunk, mattress, clothes rack, and shelf. Employees are responsible for providing their own linens.

Guide housing is located on site, making your commute to work effortless. 

During training, there is no cost for housing. Once hired, the cost for housing is $150 per month. 

Housing is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Employee Perks

Working as a guide with River Rat Whitewater sure has its perks. Some of those include:

  • end-of-season bonus program
  • training trips to other rivers in the area
  • discounts on industry equipment 
  • complimentary passes to River Rat tubing
  • awesome food truck on site

Getting Here and Getting Around

Most employees arrive in their own vehicle, but that is certainly not a requirement. The town of Hartford TN has multiple convenience stores and dining options that are easily accessed by foot, bike, or skateboard from our outpost. Parking for employees is provided, but each employee is allowed one vehicle. 

Newport, TN is the closest town with a Walmart, hotel, or fast-food options. It is about 15 minutes away from our outpost. 

Planning on flying in? Knoxville, TN or Asheville, NC are the closest airports. We would be happy to pick you up from either.

Airport: Knoxville- McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) Asheville-Asheville Regional Airport (AVL)

For Fun

The River Rat Whitewater outpost is nestled only a few miles from an entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Outdoor lovers will be in paradise, as the national park offers over 900 miles of hiking trails to beautiful waterfalls, mountain peaks, and ice-cold swimming holes. 

Resort towns like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Asheville, NC and Knoxville TN are easily accessible. 

For fun, our team of guides are always planning rafting trips on other rivers or creeks in the South. In the past, we have visited:

  • Nolichucky River
  • Ocoee River
  • New River
  • Gauley River
  • Chattooga River
  • Big Creek
  • Big Laurel Creek

Also, River Rat employees are provided with a free tubing pass to enjoy at our sister tubing outpost located in Townsend, TN. Guide tubing trips are always a great time!

How to Apply

Simply fill out the application link via the Apply Here button below. One of our team will then contact you to schedule an interview. 


Contact River Rat Whitewater