How to Become a River Rafting Guide

How To Become A River Rafting Guide

You wake up early in the morning on a bright sunny day. You are heading to work but don’t need to dress formally.

You just throw on a pair of shoes and shorts and proceed towards the river in the national park.

As you hear the water gushing down the stream, you lavishly apply the sunscreen and are ready to put your raft in the river.

That could be the closest to an ideal vacation. But wait! This is not a vacation. It’s your job and you have just reached your workplace.

River rafting is one of the most exciting outdoor activities in the world. A sport that gained popularity in 1970s is now a great recreational activity.

You can find river rafting opportunities in numerous rivers around the world. Some offer extreme rapids while others provide a much smoother ride.

As much as you want to enjoy rafting alone, no river rafting spot offers the facility without a guide.

A river rafting guide ensures that you enjoy a safe and smooth ride as you go up and down the river.

The job of a river rafting guide can be an ideal job for anyone who loves being around water.

If river rafting fascinates you and you want to pursue a career in rafting, you do not need a professional qualification or experience.

On a positive note, you can be a seasonal river rafting guide so you don’t need to quit your existing job (if you have a professional career).

All you need is a license, the right age, perfect fitness and good sense of humor. Below you can find out how to become a river rafting guide.

Also, if you are not sure why you want to pursue this as a career, we provide some good enough reasons to motivate you.

As you continue to read you will also find out about some of the possible employment opportunities at some of the popular rafting destinations in the US.

Why Become a Rafting Guide?

Why Become A Rafting Guide?

Being a river rafting guide is a job full of adventure and thrill. But apart from the fun aspect, there are many other reasons for becoming a river rafting guide.

Read on to find out the top reasons why people pursue this career and continue with it years after years.

River Rafting Is Fun

One of the most important reasons why people want to become a river rafting guide is because it is fun. For most people, the mundane desk job is not what they want.

They want the excitement and thrill associated with outdoor activity and there is no better option than river rafting.

Spending time in outdoors is an essential human need and rafting helps you meet that.

Though being a river rafting guide involves physical activity, but if are someone who thrives outdoors around water, then being a rafting guide is something you will definitely enjoy.

It is Challenging

If you spend most of your time sitting in front of the desk, you might want a change. Being a river rafting guide provides you this opportunity.

It gives you a chance to be physically active while being on the job. Once you get used to this physical activity on the job, it is highly likely that you will end up pursuing this as your career path.

Being a river rafting guide is not only physically challenging but it is also mentally challenging.

The job requires you to be in the moment so that you can immediately solve any problem which comes along the ride.

So whether you want to choose the best course for your raft or plan to prevent a possible clash, your brain is never at rest.

People who grow well on this stimulation certainly want a career as a river raft guide.

It is a Way to Expand Your Social Circle

Being a river rafting guide is all about making friendships which last for a lifetime.

A lot of young adults start their career as a rafting guide but as they go through the training process of becoming a guide, they get to know a lot of new people who become great friends.

Also, when these new guides join the workforce, it gives them a chance to meet different people on every single trip.

Some of these people become part of your social network which you can benefit from later in life.

How to Become a River Rafting Guide?

How Much Do River Rafting Guides Make?

The job of a river rafting guide is an excellent way to earn paychecks while enjoying the thrill and excitement of an outdoor water adventure.

So as you reap the benefits of improved fitness and making friends for life, you can do all this while making good money.

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Similar to all professions, beginners in the industry need to work hard to make their way up the professional ladder. Only then they can enjoy the monetary benefits associated with their job.

But the best part of a rafting career is that most companies compensate well for new guides who take more responsibility and satisfy the clients.

Though each rafting company has a different compensation policy, a new rafting guide of average can make between $65 and $75 per day.

This is just an average so some rafting guides get slightly lower than this while others can earn much higher.

Since rafting is a seasonal job, over the course of the season, a guide earns a minimum of $4,000.

But as you gain more experience, the compensation tends to increase. Also, most companies offer a base pay and top it up with other benefits such as a bonus on x-number of trips.

Therefore, one of the best ways to earn more is to have guests who can request you as their guide.

How Many Rafting Hotspots are out There in the US?

How Many Rafting Hotspots Are Out There In The US?

Numerous rafting companies operate in almost all states of the country. Below you can find a list of some of the most amazing rafting hotspots in the country.

These locations are shortlisted based on popularity among tourists, experience with the rafting company (called outfitters) and guides and availability of activities other than rafting.

    , Grand Canyon – Arizona
  1. Tuolumne River – California
  2. Arkansas River – Colorado
  3. Gauley River – West Virginia
  4. Salmon River – Idaho
  5. Rogue River – Oregon
  6. Kennebec River – Maine
  7. Chattooga River – South Carolina
  8. Ocoee River – Tennessee

Moving Forward

Being a river rafting guide can be a dream profession for anyone who enjoys being in the water.

It comes with a unique set of benefits, a decent paycheck and lots of fun.

So if you are looking forward to a career in river rafting, now is the right time to apply.

Ways to Raft Down A River

Holiday Boats

Ways to Raft Down A River. The roots of modern river rafts date back to the post-World War II surplus equipment sold across the country. Before rubber, river runners were using wooden boats with poor agility and little room for cargo or passengers. They were heavy, easy to break, and time-consuming to repair. To avoid these issues, Goodrich Rubber Company manufactured one of the first rubber rafts for whitewater in 1938 for use on a documentary film trip. The resulting footage from the trip inspired more individuals to experiment, and once they became cheap and abundant after the war, rubber rafts became king and wooden boats generally fell out of style.

The diversity in boat types on the river has never been greater than it is today, with almost all of them being made of rubber. Because every boat provides a different experience and their names are not always intuitive, here is a basic guide to the main types of water crafts you may see on the river.

Oar Rafts

Oar Raft Lodore Canyon - Ways to Raft Down A River

The luxury cruise liner of the river, oar rafts are designed to carry as much gear as possible while leaving space for passengers to ride comfortably onboard. For seating and gear storage, oar rafts have wooden or aluminum frames strapped onto them, with the oars attached in the middle. These boats are sometimes confused with paddle boats, as the guts of both are the same, but the utility and experience of each could not be more different. On a paddleboat, everyone is participating, while oar rafts are powered by a single person utilizing two 9-10 ft. long oars positioned off of either side of the boat, allowing the passengers to relax, lay back, and enjoy the ride. A typical oar raft can carry 5-6 people and upwards of 1500 pounds!

For slow, flat-water stretches, there is no more relaxing way to travel downstream than riding along on an oar boat. Sharing stories and conversations, reading books, taking naps, or simply marveling at the scenery, the experience of the calm float offers something that is lost in activity. Due to the heavy weight of gear, food, and passengers, oar boats are difficult to flip and generally the safest way downstream, making them the most popular boats for multi-day trips.

Paddle Boat

Paddle Boat Westwater

A paddleboat is what most people picture traveling on when they imagine “whitewater rafting”. These rafts have elevated tubes that make up the sides with smaller tubes running width-wise across the floor. These smaller tubes are called “thwarts” and they act as seats or footholds for passengers. Paddleboats hold between 6-8 people and everybody has their own paddle, with one person (usually a river guide) sitting in the back. The passengers are responsible for creating and maintaining momentum, with the captain in the back doing all the steering and voice commands.

Paddleboats are a great way for people to participate and stay active. With strong paddlers, these boats are very maneuverable and lots of fun in the whitewater. However it is often hard to find 6-8 people who are committed to paddling the entirety of a trip. They are not designed to carry any cargo, and because of how lightweight they are, it is much easier to flip over in a rapid. Also, paddling can be a tough workout, especially in flat water and fighting a headwind, which may scare away any willing participation. Ideal for day trips and active groups, paddle boats are rare for multi-day trips but may be available upon request. Read more about why we don’t bring paddle boats on all of our trips in this blog.

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Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak - Ways to Raft Down A River

Affectionately known as “duckies” for the characteristic way they appear to waddle downstream while following bigger boats (mama ducks), inflatable kayaks are a great source of freedom and autonomy on the river. Great for beginner and experienced paddlers alike, duckies are fun, stable, and easy to use while providing good exercise and the opportunity to explore the river on your own. It is common to see duckies on all stretches of water, but are not typically used in larger whitewater on commercial trips. Most kayaks are designed for one adult, but tandem duckies have become more popular in recent years. Holiday will bring duckies on most trips, when appropriate.

Stand up Paddleboard (SUP)

Stand up Paddle Board Westwater - Ways to Raft Down A River

The newest river craze is the stand up paddleboard, or SUP. Despite being inflatable, these can be stiff as a surfboard and surprisingly stable. Manufacturers make many different shapes and sizes of SUPs, with the river designs being wider and thicker to better fare in whitewater. Another fun option to explore the river with autonomy, SUPs offer a unique workout and challenge to those seeking an active experience. The flat water of Cataract, Ruby/Horsethief Canyons, and Desolation Canyon are the most common sections of river that Holiday will bring SUPs.

Originally from the suburbs near Cleveland, Ohio, Justin made his way to Utah after graduating from Ohio University with a degree in exploring and having fun… If not on the river or in the kitchen, you’ll find him wandering the mountains, drinking coffee, or writing down words he hopes will come across as sensical.

How to Build Rafts

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD. Christopher Osborne has been a wikiHow Content Creator since 2015. He is also a historian who holds a PhD from The University of Notre Dame and has taught at universities in and around Pittsburgh, PA. His scholarly publications and presentations focus on his research interests in early American history, but Chris also enjoys the challenges and rewards of writing wikiHow articles on a wide range of subjects.

This article has been viewed 20,949 times.

If you want to test your survivalist skills, you can build a log raft with supplies provided primarily by nature. If you don’t mind employing some plastics, though, you can also make a raft out of either PVC pipe or plastic storage bins. So go ahead, grab some lumber and tools, and impress your friends with your DIY raft!

Making a Plastic Storage Bin Raft

Image titled Build Rafts Step 1

  • You can buy plastic storage bins and plywood sheets at any home improvement store.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 2

  • Choose a drill bit that has an equal or slightly larger diameter than the 1.25 in (3.2 cm)-long bolts you’ll be inserting, so that the pilot holes are large enough to accept the bolts.
  • Either prop the plywood up on blocks or low sawhorses, or place it on soft ground. That way, you won’t drill into the floor of your garage, workshop, or driveway!
  • Drill a total of 20 pilot holes—2 per bin, 1 per handle.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 3

Remove the bins and stand the plywood upright on its long side. You can lean the plywood up against sawhorses, a fence, etc., or just have a friend hold it upright for you. You just need to be able to access all the pilot holes you made. [3] X Research source

Image titled Build Rafts Step 4

  • So, on one side of the plywood, each piece of duct tape will cover one bolt head and one washer that’s pinned between the bolt head and the plywood. The other end of each bolt will be sticking out of the other side of the plywood.
  • Galvanized bolts are rust-resistant and will hold up better on the water.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 5

Lay the plywood on the ground and feed the bins onto the bolts. Place the plywood down so that the bolts are sticking up (and the duct tape-covered bolt heads are down). Slide the pilot holes in the handles of each bin over the bolts. [5] X Research source

Image titled Build Rafts Step 6

  • Finish tightening the bolts with a ratchet that has an extension attached to it, or with a power drill that has an extended ratchet bit attached to it.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 7

  • For instance, to create an 8 ft × 8 ft (2.4 m × 2.4 m) raft, place 2 smaller rafts together long side to long side. Then use 2, 8 ft (2.4 m) long pieces of 2 in × 4 in (5.1 cm × 10.2 cm) lumber to connect the decks along their short sides.
  • Drive in at least 1, 2.25 in (5.7 cm) galvanized screw per linear 1 ft (30 cm) of 2 in × 4 in (5.1 cm × 10.2 cm) lumber.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 8

  • The plastic bins provide ample buoyancy for this raft. However, overloading the raft makes it more likely someone will fall off, so stick to 2-3 people per 8 ft × 4 ft (2.4 m × 1.2 m) section.
  • Make sure everyone has a life vest on at all times.
  • This raft is OK for slow-moving water (such as a lazy river), but keep it out of fast-moving or rough water.
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Assembling a PVC Pipe Raft

Image titled Build Rafts Step 9

Cut 4 sections of 3 in (7.6 cm) diameter PVC pipe to 12 ft (3.7 m) lengths. If you find 12 ft (3.7 m) sections of 3 in (7.6 cm) diameter PVC pipe at the home improvement store, just buy 4 of them. Otherwise, use a hacksaw to cut 4 longer sections–e.g., 16 ft (4.9 m)–to length.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 10

  • “Medium grit” generally refers to sandpaper with a grit number between 60 and 100. [10] X Research source

Image titled Build Rafts Step 11

  • Repeat this process with the other 7 end caps and pipe ends.
  • You’ll find small (separate) cans of PVC primer and PVC cement in the plumbing supplies section of any home improvement store.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to dissipate the fumes created by the PVC cement, and wear work gloves to keep it off of your hands.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 12

  • This step isn’t absolutely necessary, since the PVC cement should provide a lasting watertight seal. However, the caulk does provide extra insurance.
  • Use a caulk that is labeled as water-resistant.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 13

Cut 2, 5 ft (1.5 m) lengths of 2 in × 4 in (5.1 cm × 10.2 cm) lumber. Buy pressure-treated lumber if possible, as it will resist rot better. Use a hand saw or circular saw to cut the lumber to length.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 14

  • In reality, then, your rectangle will have 4, 1 ft (30 cm)-long “tails” of PVC pipe sticking out beyond its corners.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 15

  • Make the pilot holes with a drill bit that has a slightly smaller diameter than the 2 in (5.1 cm) brass screws you’ll be inserting.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 16

  • You’ll be doing this for all the screws, but work one-at-a-time.
  • You can buy tubs of silicone gel at your local home improvement store.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 17

Drive the dipped screw into the pilot hole, and repeat. Use a power screwdriver to twist the dipped screw through the pilot hole and into the PVC pipe, until the washer is snug against the top of the wood. Then, repeat the entire process (dipping the screws, etc.) 7 more times to secure the PVC pipes to the wood.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 18

  • Dip the brass screws into the silicone gel as before.
  • If you can’t find a large enough sheet of plywood—some stores carry a maximum size of 8 ft × 4 ft (2.4 m × 1.2 m)—attach 2 more 5 ft (1.5 m) pieces of lumber to the PVC pipes, spaced out evenly between the 2 at the ends of the raft. Then, cut 4 sheets of plywood to 5 ft × 2.5 ft (1.52 m × 0.76 m) lengths and secure them side-by-side over the 4 supports.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 19

Let the silicone dry for 4 hours before putting the raft in water. If the silicone isn’t allowed to dry for at least 4 hours, it will simply wash off when you launch the raft in the water. Without the silicone coating, the screws will rust more quickly and the connection between the raft lumber and PVC pipe won’t be as strong.

Image titled Build Rafts Step 20

  • To add some extra buoyancy, you can glue sheets of rigid foam insulation to the underside of the plywood deck. Pick a glue intended for use with rigid foam. Even with this extra buoyancy, though, keep this raft on calm water.

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Building a Plastic Storage Bin Raft

Assembling a PVC Pipe Raft

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About This Article

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD. Christopher Osborne has been a wikiHow Content Creator since 2015. He is also a historian who holds a PhD from The University of Notre Dame and has taught at universities in and around Pittsburgh, PA. His scholarly publications and presentations focus on his research interests in early American history, but Chris also enjoys the challenges and rewards of writing wikiHow articles on a wide range of subjects. This article has been viewed 20,949 times.

To build a raft, remove the lids of 10 plastic storage bins and lay them upside down on a sheet of 0.75-inch plywood. Then, drill 20 pilot holes through the bin handles and plywood using a drill bit with a diameter of at least 1.25 inches. Next, remove the bins and stand the plywood upright, so you can slide 1.25-inch galvanized bolts with washers into each hole. Then, temporarily duct tape the bolts down and flip the plywood so the ends of the bolts are sticking into the air. From here, you can finish your raft by feeding the bins onto the bolts and securing them using washers and nuts. To use your raft, place it bin-side down in the water and steer it with long poles or paddles. For more tips, like how to assemble a PVC pipe raft, scroll down!




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