Colorado Rafting Employment

Employment Oportunities

Thank you for your interest in Colorado rafting employment with American Adventure Expeditions. Hopefully, the following information will help you in making your decision to apply for a position on our team.

AAE is one of the largest Colorado white water rafting companies in the Arkansas River Valley as well as one of the largest outfitters in the entire state of Colorado. We employ approximately four year-round positions at our company and 50 summer seasonal staff. At American Adventure Expeditions we pride ourselves on professionalism and excellent customer service that is surpassed by no one. It is our goal to provide the best guides with the best equipment and to always go the extra mile to make sure we take care of all of our customers’ needs.

We are always looking for quality individuals to join our staff. Whether you have years of guiding experience or this is your first attempt at becoming an outdoor professional, we have a position for you. If you are an experienced guide or safety kayaker, or are interested in joining our team as a Guest Services Representative, Guest Services Manager, or CDL Bus Driver, please fill out an application online.


Guide Training

If you are not a certified white water rafting guide but wish to become one, please read the information below about our guide training program, completion of which is required for anyone without previous guiding experience.

Our training will give candidates the skills and know-how to perform the job of a white water professional. However, proper attitude and an outstanding work ethic are traits that must already be possessed. If this is your first year seeking employment as a river guide, you will need to attend our guide training school. The cost is $500 and it begins Monday, May 20, 2019 and is approximately three weeks long. A $250 nonrefundable deposit is due upon acceptance into the Guide Training Program and the remaining balance is due on or before May 20th, no exceptions. The minimum age to be considered for the guide training program is 19.

Please note that acceptance into the guide training program does not guarantee employment. The successful completion of the training program along with your attitude and work ethic will determine your employment with AAE. If hired, training will continue on the Arkansas River (unpaid) until you are ready to guide commercially (usually two to three weeks). Please realize there is much more training in May and June than commercially paid trips so you must be able to support yourself financially through those times. Once you have completed the training and your ‘Check-Out Run,’ a first year guide can gross between $1,000 and $2,000 plus $400-$800 in tips.

Colorado Rafting Outfitters are licensed by the Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and managed by the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. A minimum of 50 hours of on-river training (30 of which must be with a certified training guide) are required by law. American Adventure Expeditions has set a much higher standard for its guides, and we will provide an additional 50 hours of training for a total of 100 before you will be able to take your qualifying run. Our training program greatly exceeds the state requirements in all areas.

All trainees are required to have a minimum of Red Cross Basic First Aid and CPR certifications before their first commercial trip for AAE. These certifications are included in the cost of guide training, but please remember that these are the minimum certifications required by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and advanced certifications such as Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, or Emergency Medical Technician are highly encouraged. Advanced certifications are not only taken into consideration during the application process, but they will also result in pay increases. Keep in mind that your certifications are one of the evaluators for job consideration. If it’s down to two applicants of equal qualifications and one has more than Basic First Aid, the job will go to that person.

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Raft Guide Training Outline/Schedule

  • Chevron down AAE Provides:
    • Training – lots of time on and in the water
    • Basic First Aid & CPR training and certification
    • Rafts and essential gear (PFD, helmet, wetsuit, river shoes, and splash jacket)
    • Shuttles from our outpost to various put in sites, and from the river back to the outpost
    • Free camping will be made available by AAE during training
    • Excellent prices on all your professional gear
  • Chevron down What You Will Need:
    • Personal Gear – It’s still COLD here during training, and candidates are required to spend time on the water as well as in the water. Dress warm – although some cold water gear is provided, proper attire such as capilene, polypropylene, fleece, hats, gloves, booties etc. is highly recommended
    • Camping Gear – During training, you will be camping at our outposts, so be prepared. You will need some sort of shelter (tent, pop-up trailer, etc.) and all of the essential gear that goes along with living outside (sleeping bag, cooking utensils, camp stove, appropriate clothing, etc.)
    • Rafting Gear – Although we will be providing all of the necessary gear during training, prior to employment you will be required to have your own personal rafting gear (PFD, helmet, throw rope, knife, personal 1st aid kit, straps)
  • Chevron down Training Will Cover:
    • Overview of all equipment used on half-day and full-day river trips, maintenance and repair of boats, first aid kits, etc.
    • Classroom discussion on basic hydrology, swift-water rescue techniques, ropes and knots, Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations and expectations
    • Basic First Aid Certification
    • CPR Certification
    • Hours of daily hands-on experience
    • Rigging and de-rigging boats
    • Boat maneuvering
    • Reading water
    • Flipping and recovering
    • Pinning and un-pinning boats
    • Swimming in moving water
    • Knowledge of all important aspects of all river sections, put-in & take-out locations, rapid names, proper lines through rapids, emergency access points, backboard locations, lunch spots, photo spots, etc.
    • History and geology of the region
    • Equipment
    • Paddle strokes
    • Hazards
    • Rapids
    • Rescue
    • Training the commercial guest
    • Keeping a river journal documenting river miles, hours and skills performed
    • Work on skills such as dealing with group dynamics, outdoor leadership, and proper protocol
  • Chevron down Important Things to Note:
    • Colorado white water rafting is a physically demanding activity not only as a participant but especially as a guide. Our training program consists of many long days on and off of the water, as well as many physical and mental stresses. There are inherent risks involved and good physical condition is essential for all of our employees
    • If you have any medical conditions or physical limitations please consult a physician before applying for our guide training program
    • During training, you are not considered an employee of American Adventure Expeditions, and therefore are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. We highly recommend having health insurance so that you are properly covered during the training program
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