Want to be a raft guide? Hiring both experienced and NEW guides – we will train you!
Wilderness Aware is the leading multi-day expedition style whitewater rafting company in the State of Colorado since 1976. Twice named Colorado's Company of the Year, we invest in our employees to deliver an outstanding customer experience. WA holds permits on the Arkansas, Gunnison, North Platte, Colorado and Dolores Rivers and the Salt River in Arizona. Make life-long friends and memories!
Buena Vista, Colorado
About Wilderness Aware Rafting Expeditions
Nestled in the Heart of the Rockies near Buena Vista, Colorado, we enjoy the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the state, world-class whitewater rafting, kayaking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, natural hot springs, and extensive off-road trails. Our community is comprised of outdoor enthusiasts sharing our passion with visitors from all over the world in a small-town atmosphere.
Because we offer expedition-style wilderness trips up to 10 days long on multiple rivers, our month-long training program focuses on comprehensive river skills, teaching guides how to read the river, while emphasizing strong fundamentals to empower our guides to professionally guide any river in the world. We also develop and enhance your camping and group cooking skills utilized on our multi-day rafting trips. We utilize Leave No Trace Ethics.
Working hard and playing hard is a core competency of our culture. We facilitate company-sponsored trips outside of work to outstanding rivers and offer our employees access to use our equipment including rafts, vans, and trailers for private trips when available.
Our rafting headquarters feature a private boat launch and well-maintained first-class equipment.
Our 5-Day interview trip puts you at the helm of a raft on the whitewater of Arizona’s Salt River on the first day.
The Employee Experience
Guides with Wilderness Aware form a close bond while working hard and playing hard together as a team. Many of our former guides remain life-long friends and partners. We encourage our team members to take full advantage of the outstanding natural resources of the Collegiate Peaks area and further develop outdoor leadership skills. Our company values and prioritizes a high-quality workplace that offers a professional, yet fun, work atmosphere. We don't just train our guides to operate a raft, we develop leadership skills and mentor our employees to develop traits that can be applied to any future career.
We hire strong candidates who are looking for an extraordinary summer job. We are passionate about our industry and we desire to recruit individuals with strong outdoor backgrounds and interests including hiking, skiing, kayaking, backcountry camping, climbing, and mountaineering. Our seasoned guides are willing to share their experiences and skills to help you further develop your own interests. Candidates should be people-oriented, outgoing, interested in sharing local history, geology, flora and fauna, and cultural resources with our clientele who may be experiencing our special rivers and wilderness areas for the first time. Many of our guides are requested year after year by former guests.
Room and Board
Wilderness Aware sets itself apart from other outfitting companies by offering subsidized housing for employees at the River Rest Mobile Park in Buena Vista, CO. The Mobile Park, situated alongside Cottonwood Creek, reserves trailers for guides living together during the season from May 10 - Labor Day. Guides have a full indoor kitchen, stove, oven, and refrigerator along with flushing toilets and hot showers in two and three-bedroom mobile homes. In addition, we offer lockable storage sheds to store personal equipment including climbing gear, mountain bikes, and kayaks. Parking is available within the park. Guide housing costs $1000 for the season including utilities. Socializing also included.
The mobile park is across the street from McPhelemy Park and two blocks from eclectic downtown Buena Vista. This location allows for convenient walks to restaurants, coffee shops, bars, skate park, pump track, and the world-class whitewater park on the Arkansas River. Mountain bike and hiking trails are plentiful in nearby public lands.
During the season in non-peak times, Wilderness Aware sponsors employee trips to away rivers, supplying a van, trailer, rafts, and food for our guides to gain experience on different rivers and conditions. In addition, guides can borrow equipment to hit the river after work, utilizing a company van for a shuttle. Rumor has it that full-moon trips are run from time to time as well. Guides are eligible to participate in various retail pro-deals ranging from river equipment, clothing, and other equipment suppliers. Many local businesses offer discounts to the guiding community for their services.
Senior guides are eligible to receive reimbursement for advanced medical training such as Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and Wilderness EMT. Senior guides also receive Swiftwater Rescue Technician certifications.
Getting Here and Getting Around
Many of our guides drive to Colorado. Others fly into Denver or Colorado Springs. We can arrange to pick you up at the airport if needed and a bus is available direct to Buena Vista. Once in Buena Vista, those without a car can rideshare from employee housing or ride a bike. You may elect to buy a cheap bike locally and we can store it for you between rafting seasons.
The nearby mountains feature multiple opportunities to soak in both developed and undeveloped hot springs. In the summer, Buena Vista is located within one hour of Aspen, Crested Butte, Breckenridge, Vail, and other world-class areas.
Many social activities take place during the summer season in Buena Vista and Salida, including concerts, festivals, drive-in movies, Ride the Rockies, and other outdoor-oriented activities. Come join us and see what others have discovered!
How to Apply
The hiring process involves filling out an online application, a short phone interview, and participation in a 5-day interview trip during the month of March. The interview trip typically takes place through Arizona’s Salt River Wilderness or Utah's Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River. The Salt River is one of the best whitewater rivers in the country. See photos of the Salt River. Our interview trip is offered at $400 for qualified candidates - a $600 savings over our regular commercial trip cost.
Applications will be accepted until March 1st. However, there are limited positions available on our interview trips so we encourage you to apply as early as possible.
PLEASE take a look at this page to learn more about the guide interview and hiring process before you complete your application.