Guiding in the Arkansas Valley - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-17-2007   #1
 
ecarlson972's Avatar
 
Summit, Colorado
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Guiding in the Arkansas Valley

So I was thinking about becoming a guide next summer in the Arkansas Valley. I am looking for comments on what company to work for! Any suggestions would be helpful.

Eric

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Old 10-17-2007   #2
 
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Work for Buffalo Joe's Rafting up in BV, those guys rock.

I love BJs
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Old 10-18-2007   #3
 
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First, apply to a lot of companies. Applying this time of year through January is ideal. Some Companies have cut off dates for application in Jan and Feb so you want to get in early.

Next, ask lots of questions:
• How many trips per day/week/month can I expect from you? No one will make promises, but there is a huge variation in the number and type of trips you will get. This will have a huge impact on how much cash you make for the season. Pin them down on this even if it takes some real effort and get actual numbers if possible for last years rookies. Remember that generally a company that can put you on three or four trips a day is better than someone that can only get you one trip a day. Get tipped 4 times or once – even if you only get a few trips at least you are working versus not getting any work/cash that day.
• What’s their tip policy? Do they allow signs, guide speeches, or have other tipping inducements? Tips will make up anywhere from 10-40% of your guiding income, and you want it to be the latter not the former.
• What work is required outside of guiding, safety talks and dealing with putting away/cleaning rafts, wetsuits, lifejackets, helmets and paddles? The stuff just mentioned is par for the course – vacuuming the shop, folding t-shirts, cleaning bathrooms, dealing with landscaping and numerous other duties are piled on by some companies as part of your PER TRIP pay. Watch out. Make sure you get paid extra for non-guiding duties and understand if this affects how many trips you get per day/week. Picking weeds should never be part of your per trip pay, being forced to “volunteer” for work w/o pay to get trips should never happen.
• What is their per trip pay? Rookies may make as little as $25 per half day, but senior guides can get $70+ for the same trip. More trips (and Tips) are usually better than a bit more per trip, but look for the most you can get. Top guides can make over $200/day plus tips, although that is rare on the Arkansas.
• Ask how many of their senior guides are returning. A high percentage indicates a generally good work environment, low percentage usually means something is wrong – bad management, low pay, lots of extra unpaid work, etc.
• Ask how close they are to the river and put-in/takeouts. Generally you don't get paid for riding in the van/bus, so the less time you are in a vehicle the higher your per hour pay is.

I know you asked for specific company recommendations – I only worked on the Canon City vicinity of the Ark. That was 7 years ago so I can’t make any real recommendations – but the stuff above should help you get on the right track. (I have guided commercially for 7 seasons in CO, WV and AK). I would also recommend checking out opportunities on other river/places in CO - Durango and the Animas, Canon City - Ark, Clear Creek - Golden, Poudre - Ft. Collins.
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Old 10-18-2007   #4
 
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Consider working for one of the resort town companies that has an Arkansas outpost. Lakota and Timberline in the Vail area service that area, and both have offices with staff based near the Numbers on the Arkansas. I can't speak for Timberline, but there may be some (loosely speaking) "housing" options available too. You will get (sometimes) big spenders who are shuttled over from Beaver Creek and Vail. Trip pay is maybe a little higher, and tips are way better from those guests than what the usual guests probably give. The Aspen companies might have a similar setup, but I'm not sure. If you want to do Royal Gorge, you might consider someone else, however (once again, don't know about the Aspen companies).
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Old 10-18-2007   #5
 
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Do you want to work 'upstream' in the BV area or down south in the Canon city/8 mile hill area?

That's your first consideration. BV is better for kayaking.

Good companies to work for include:

BV-

River Runners
AVA

Canon-

Raft Masters (if you want to work every single day)
Echo
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Old 10-18-2007   #6
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yo i hear noah's ark is pretty rad if you hate drinking, getting laid, or making money.
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Old 10-18-2007   #7
 
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Raftus said:
• What’s their tip policy? Do they allow signs, guide speeches, or have other tipping inducements? Tips will make up anywhere from 10-40% of your guiding income, and you want it to be the latter not the former.
• What work is required outside of guiding, safety talks and dealing with putting away/cleaning rafts, wetsuits, lifejackets, helmets and paddles? The stuff just mentioned is par for the course – vacuuming the shop, folding t-shirts, cleaning bathrooms, dealing with landscaping and numerous other duties are piled on by some companies as part of your PER TRIP pay. Watch out. Make sure you get paid extra for non-guiding duties and understand if this affects how many trips you get per day/week. Picking weeds should never be part of your per trip pay, being forced to “volunteer” for work w/o pay to get trips should never happen.
• Ask how many of their senior guides are returning. A high percentage indicates a generally good work environment, low percentage usually means something is wrong – bad management, low pay, lots of extra unpaid work, etc.


Hahahaha...I know where this comes from. Great advice.
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Old 10-18-2007   #8
 
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some advice

The best advice I can give you is to be prepared and versatile:

I would apply in several watersheds, maybe the Ark, and the Poudre in Colorado, and the American in Cali, and on the Ocoee in Tennessee, that way if there's a drought you have a job somewhere with water.

Beware that a lot of companies run their "guide school" for profit and take way more applicants then they plan on hiring so if possible go somewhere you have an "in."

The more prepared you are going into the season the more likely you are to work. Any offer you have to get on the water, take it, even if it's just floating Loma early season. Save some money over the winter to buy the proper gear i.e. throw rope, rescue vest, helmet, splash pants. Take a CPR / First Aid class as soon as possible, look into early season swiftwater classes, and think about getting a commercial drivers license to drive the bus (drivers are usually in shorter supply than guides).

Keep an open mind and be willing to work hard. Trust your gut when it comes to who you work for, there are a lot of good companies and work environments that work for different personality types.

Good luck.
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Old 10-18-2007   #9
 
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Good advice so far...

I worked for River Runners last summer as a rookie. There was a smaller number of returning senior guides...this was good for the rookies, I think we got more work than past rookie classes by far.

From my other friends in the valley and what i heard around town...
From the rookies I knew (I did not know rookies from every company), they were getting the most work at: Runners, Kodi, PT, Noahs and AVA.

Some of the companies hired too many rookies and most of them had second jobs somewhere in town.

It is so hard to have a bad time guiding, you will probably be fine anywere, everyone is pretty neat and every comapny has their good and bad sides.

The ark valley is awesome!!!! I am totally heading down that way again next year.

Good luck!
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Old 10-18-2007   #10
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american adventure expeditions was just on Trading Spaces, so you can't go wrong there.
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