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Old 10-16-2012   #11
Canon City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 427
Average pay for first year guide might be around $30 per half day trip on the Arkansas.

I second Sean's advice, as well.

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Old 10-16-2012   #12
Bellvue, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 117
30 a half day!!??? that is low balling for sure, thank god i do not work on the ark. Also DO NOT DO IT, Commercial guiding will kill your river sole

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Old 10-16-2012   #13
RockyMt.Razorback's Avatar
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 76
Don't listen to these guys guiding is weak just move to the river be a private boater!!! For money take pictures of your junk and put them on the internet. ha ha ha
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Old 10-16-2012   #14
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Originally Posted by RockyMt.Razorback View Post
Don't listen to these guys guiding is weak just move to the river be a private boater!!!
I am not a guide and didn't suggest he becomes one. He inquired, and I provided info. I would also suggest moving to a boating destination but getting a different job then guiding. A really sweet one just happens to have opened up at CKS:

CKS Sales Associate
GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 10-16-2012   #15
MountainManJake's Avatar
Winter Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 29
I think being a guide is an awesome way to get to know the river better. No, you dont want to do it for the rest of your life but you'll make some great friends/connections and instead of getting a bunch of random advice, you are surrounded by people who have had professional training and experience. I've seen ALOT of sketchy behavior on the river, and regardless of how you choose to boat later on, at least you learned the right way to do things to begin with. Just apply early, and some backups. Also some companies offer free training some companies make you pay for it. you'll also have a list of required gear.

as far as where to raft, pick a river that looks like your speed, and a town you'll be happy to live in. Remember, an 8 on the front range is a 10 in the mountains. but living in the mountains is sick.

you need first aid and CPR. I highly recommend a swiftwater rescue course/certification as well. its a really awesome experience and you learn a ton of skills, however its not required until you want and have enough river miles to become a trip leader.
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Old 10-16-2012   #16
stuntsheriff's Avatar
jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 164
expect 30 dollars a day tops. learn to play the banjo and you might get an extra dollar every trip !
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Old 10-17-2012   #17
Glen Vegas, Florida
Paddling Since: 92
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 338
If your going to work on the Ark, better watch The HBO tv show Oz to better prepare yourself. Your either a bully or a fluffer son.
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Old 10-17-2012   #18
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,406
Originally Posted by Spaceghost View Post
30 a half day!!??? that is low balling for sure, thank god i do not work on the ark. Also DO NOT DO IT, Commercial guiding will kill your river sole
I wouldn't take advice from someone who can't spell simple four letter words. As a ten-year raft guide who has worked on the Ark and the Poudre I think you're getting yourself into something great! The energy that comes with showing people the best day of their year is amazing and you'll constantly be amazed that you get paid for it!

Yep, you'll make between $30 and 40 for a half day and probably work 6 half days a week at first. However, you get TIPS - and I can't believe nobody has mentioned this. My average in my first year was probably $10-15 per trip and was nearly $40 in my 10th year. I know some guides that do even better than that. A six-day a week senior guide in Colorado, working for an ideal company can earn nearly $10,000 in a season with tips and pay combined - but it will take a long time to get there. Count on making about $3000 total your first summer and most of that in July and August when the water is a lot lower.

As for where to go, this topic has been debated ad infinitum so I'l stick to advice where I've worked. The Ark is fun, and has a much deeper, richer guide culture - but Brown's Canyon is really easy and the work usually ends in mid-August. If you're looking to camp and party all summer it might be for you. Lots of boat traffic. The Poudre is a better (much more fun IMHO) river at high water, but doesn't have guaranteed flows like the Ark can. However, in a good snow year you can earn money running the same 2 miles over and over again all the way through August, which can mean a lot of cash to a rookie. Fort Collins is a cool town, but is a LOT bigger than B.V. It's hard to camp all summer, but there is more going on than just the river.

I would suggest making a list of companies in both towns and applying after you see what the snow is looking like in February. Big snow - go to the Poudre. Less snow - maybe the Ark. Of course there is commercial rafting on the Animas in Durango, other sections of the Arkansas (Royal Gorge, etc.) and all over the U.S. so don't stick to these two necessarily - I just wanted to give advice about where I've worked.

Oh, and if you work in Fort Collins DON'T work for A1 Wildwater. The owner is SOUL-less trash and will literally trim those small paychecks so he can pay the bills on his riverside mansion. I'd recommend training with Rocky Mountain Adventures - the new owner seems great and there is a good balance of experience and youth these days.
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Old 10-17-2012   #19
wheretheriverflows's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 82
You're funny trying to keep newbies out of A1?
Commercial guiding changed my life, so I say DO IT! Live in a tent, eat commercial leftovers day in and day out, get really sick of sandwhiches, NEVER get sick of your clients, get happy and never look back. Granted, I have a roof and cable now and bought my own boat, but that takes a god damn job! Im still saving up for the damn groover! Cheers!
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Old 10-17-2012   #20
The Mogur's Avatar
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 457
Originally Posted by Dirty q tip View Post
How does one get hooked up with a raft guide position anybody have any info on this. I live in Kansas City and frequent Colorado to paddle white water.. I have the option to not work spring and summers with my work.. Just think this would be a great way to build my skills and make a little extra while I enjoy my summers in Colorado on the rivers..
I wouldn't do day-trip guiding for $30 a day--I paid my guides twice that much twenty years ago!

Here's a great company that runs some of the best river trips you can buy. They run a river guide workshop in March, during the week that most colleges have spring break. New guides are frequently hired directly as a result of their performance in the workshop.

Oregon Rafting - River Vacations and Adventures

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