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River Rafting Guide

Being a river raft guide entails spending time outdoors and being with other individuals excited for the thrill of a whitewater adventure. While filled with breathtaking moments, it is a leadership demanding job that focuses on planning, preparation, and safely guiding yourself and others through sometimes rough and technical rapids. Rafting is big business in almost any region with a river to navigate so jobs take those who seek them to beautiful locations throughout the state. 

A group of rafters navigate whitewater rapids

Daily rafting guide duties include greeting guests, loading and preparing rafts, providing safety talks and most importantly leading a safe and fun rafting trip. Daily water conditions vary so a raft guide must know the terrain in the area well. Sometimes rafting guides also work out of the rafting base, which might include working at the rafting shop or helping guests make reservations. Rafting is usually seasonal summer work since this is when river flow and temperatures are manageable. This makes rafting the perfect guide job for college students or for people with other seasonal work.

A river rafting guide needs to have many diverse skills. They need to be personable, good communicators, problem solvers, and calm under pressure. They also need to be in shape! Finally, a good guide is knowledgeable of the area and able to engage guests with historic information, stories and even jokes.

For this field, experience is key as safety is the most important part of rafting. Most guides attend a rafting guide school such as White Water Voyages, Raft Masters or Blue Sky Guide Training where they learn basic hydrology, how to set up rafting equipment, and safety procedures. Other certifications a rafting guide may need include Wilderness First Responder and CPR. 

In Colorado, the average annual pay for a river guide is $28,159 a year. However, new raft guides may make closer to $15,000. Some rafting companies provide housing however most do not and in some locations housing can be a large expense for guides.
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A group of rafters navigate whitewater rapids