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Old 03-07-2007   #1
yogi's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Differences in Poudre River Rafting Companies?

I'm looking to sign on with a rafting company on the Poudre near Ft. Collins. Are there any notable differences between any of the rafting companies - specifically MWD vs. AWA?


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Old 03-12-2007   #2
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Poudre Companies

I have worked for RTR and RMA. Both companies had great employees and good owners - but there were substantial differences. Here are the highlights:

Pay: about the same
Duties: RMA expects that as part of your per trip pay you will show up earlier and stay later doing things like folding t-shirts, vacuuming, picking up trash, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping, selling pictures and whatever else needs to be done. RTR requires none of these additional duties and allows you to show up sooner and leave earlier so your per hour pay ends up being significantly higher.
Location: RMA, A-1, and MWD are all located near each other in North Ft. Collins about 20-40 minutes away from put-ins and take outs. AWA Meets in Laporte a bit closer to the river. RTR is located in Estes Park - but the guides never go to the office - instead they meet near Filter Plant in the canyon a few minutes from bridges takeout. By meeting up in the canyon you spend less time riding buses up and down the canyon again meaning you work less hours for the same pay. At RTR some guides get to work 3 1/2 day trips per day which really boosts your daily rate over 2 trips - I am not sure if this is possible at any other companies.
River Sections: RTR almost exclusively runs Lower Mish/Bridges a class III-III+ section. The other companies run Upper Mish IV, Poudre Park IV-IV+, occasional early season upper/lower Woodys and some Upper C trips. RMA runs Poudre Park/Pine View Falls only on full day trips. I think that AWA and MWD both run pineview on their 1/2 day class IV trip.
Other things: MWD has a great base area with a volleyball court, hot tub, BBQ and frisbee golf course - presumably the guides get to take advantage of this stuff. Like RTR, AWA doesn't have a office that the guides go to - they just have meeting points.

AWA (Wanderlust) has a reputation for keeping the same guides long term - usually that means a well run company that treats it's guides well. Personally I thought working for RTR was a great deal and I would recommend them wholeheartedly. My 2 cents. PM me if you have more specific questions.

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Old 04-18-2007   #3
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185 lb. waste of space, Keeping Glenwood Springs real
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I worked for wanderlust and A-1 and they are both the shit in their own ways. Wanderlust is the best run company out of them all but doesn't hire rookies usually and most of the guides are older, not that that is bad but it is not as laid back as some of the others. A-1 is run by the guides and is usually a drunken mess but is so much fun. RMA has some cool guides but you don't run Pineview cause RMA suck balls, run by neo-nazis. Descents has some good guides as well but I always hear about drama going on over there and they suck at volleyball so if you like eating sand that is the way to go. Rapid transit is kush, easy runs, no dealing with customers and good pay, downside is easy runs
Best pay and treatment of guides is easily wanderlust
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Old 04-18-2007   #4
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185 lb. waste of space, Keeping Glenwood Springs real
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Oh and Wanderlust does have an office, two of them actually.
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Old 04-19-2007   #5
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Leadvillian, Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
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I've worked for both and you can't go wrong either way. They're both very professional operations. But you should talk to someone asap, they usually have most if not all of their staff lined up by now. Good luck.
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Old 04-19-2007   #6
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Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
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Both are quality companies......I'd say the best two on the Poudre (no disrespect to RMA, RTR, or A-1).

I worked for MWD in their first year of operation and know the management well. Brad Modesitt has set up quite the "headquarters" on his property where customers meet and are shuttled to the river (about 30-45 min on the bus to Steven's Gulch). I'd say stop by their respective offices, meet the peeps and get your feel.

As mentioned, they're probably hot on the training trail right now. Get on it quickly or you may miss out on valuable time.

Can't speak to the others, but AWA and MWD have a LOT of return guides every year.
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Old 04-19-2007   #7
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 169
consider learning to guide somewhere else

rumor has it poudre guides are the worst in the state. just what i've heard, i don't think i've ever met anyone who would admit to it!
if i'd known it was gonna be that kinda party...
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Old 04-19-2007   #8
Join Date: Feb 2005
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id put a handful of poudre guides I know against any one you got. Ark guides are just jealous that there are more than four girls in ft. collins and we get to live indoors during the summer

by the way A1 is a great place to hone your problem solving and crisis management skills which i heard are a plus if you ever seek out a real job.
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Old 04-19-2007   #9
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 103
Poudre is a great place to learn

I have to disagree with the statements that the Poudre is not a good place to learn and that our guides are "among the worst in the state". First I think the technical and steep nature of the Poudre(minus Filter Plant) makes it an ideal place to learn raft control, ferry angles, high speed eddy catching, etc. It is a much more challenging place to learn on than others(i.e. Brown's Canyon). Even on the easier runs (Bridges, Lower Mish.) there are several places that you can wrap or flip a raft,therefor providing great "real-world" scenarios for rookies to learn from.

As for the skill level of the guides. I would have to say that Poudre guides are among the TOP in the Colorado. The moves we make everyday are much more technical and fast paced than alot of the other Class III and IV runs I have rafted around the state. I have lost count of how many guides from the Ark., and other rivers who have come to the Poudre and quit in a week saying "you can't raft this river" while Poudre trained rookies are having no problems. Also as Brian mentioned we actually have a cool town to live in with more than 10 single women, more than 3 bars, and more good restaurants than you could eat at in a year!
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Old 04-19-2007   #10
Join Date: May 2006
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i'm just going on heresay... but I'm told Clear Creek eats Poudre guides and shits ego.

if i'd known it was gonna be that kinda party...
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