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Colorado Rafting Employment

Allison Noble

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.

As the experts in ‘Whitewater Hospitality’ American Adventure Expeditions has been providing guided raft trips on Colorado’s most popular river for over 30 years! We pride ourselves on safety, professionalism and excellent customer service, and our goal is to connect with each of our guests and exceed their expectations whenever possible. We’re committed to an inclusive company culture where everyone is encouraged to grow individually and as a part of a family owned organization!

Each one of our employees is a trained professional in his or her field and has an extreme passion for sharing their love of the outdoors with others. We employ approximately 4 year-round positions at our company and over 30 summer seasonal staff. Throughout their employment all of our team members will have access to top notch training programs, industry leading equipment and technology, and growth opportunities within this organization and within the industry.

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, or CDL Bus Driver, please fill out an application online.

If you’re new to guiding and are looking at participating in our Guide Training Program please read the information below.

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 22, 2023 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 22nd, 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 $2,000 and $3,000 plus $750-$1,500 in tips. While experienced guides can earn over $10,000 + tips in a season.

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.

Raft Guide Training Outline/Schedule

  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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