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How To Become A River Rafting Guide

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Careers

If river rafting is a passion of yours or if you would like to increase your knowledge and familiarity with whitewater, becoming a river rafting guide might be a good path for you to follow. Being a river rafting guide is hard but rewarding work; the training process ensures you can safely traverse whitewater rivers and teach others how to do so as well. There is never a boring day out on the water, and sharing this experience with other people makes it even better.


Different employers look for different qualifications in possible river rafting guides. For example, Wilderness Aware Rafting looks for people who are quick learners, can provide the best experience for customers, and are willing to work hard, whether it’s in regard to packing lunches or leading hikes. Mild to Wild Rafting looks for people who are capable of being responsible leaders and taking care of clients.

First-aid and CPR training are always requirements that must be learned separately from the training courses. You can find classes for learning first-aid and CPR on American Red Cross’ website. River rafting guides must also be at least eighteen years old.


As for Mild to Wild Rafting, after completing either the provided comprehensive or basic course, you are eligible to apply to be a river guide. Applicants should email their resumes and job interest to They should also include first-aid and CPR certifications, their river log, driver’s license, and social security number. The application can be found here.

To apply for Wilderness Aware Rafting, fill out the form on their website first. These applications will then be evaluated and phone interviews will be conducted between December and February. After this, selected applicants will take part on an interview river trip in Arizona that lasts five days. This will let Wilderness Aware evaluate you in person out on the field.

Guide Training Courses

There are several guide training courses in the Arizona and Colorado area.

Mild to Wild Rafting both a State Certified Colorado Comprehensive White Water Instructional Course and a State Certified Colorado Basic Guide Instructional Course. The comprehensive course is a twelve-day long course that teaches individuals how to guide a river trip. Participants will be trained a number of useful skills such as meal preparation, river rescue, raft rigging, and leadership. After completing this course, the participants are certified as Colorado Class III river guides. The basic course lasts eight days and also teaches people how to guide a river trip. Participants will learn about technical gear, leadership, crew orientation, river navigation, and guest service. Finishing this course allows participants to be a Class III Colorado state raft guide. More information on both of these courses can be found on Mild to Wild Rafting’s website.

Wilderness Aware Rafting provides a guide training course to chosen applicants after the interview river trip. This takes place in Buena Vista, Colorado. This training course lasts three weeks and is free to those who are invited to participate. After completing this course, applicants are automatically hired as river guides. Further information can be found here.

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