Mountain Buzz banner
1 - 20 of 54 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. I'm new to the forum and will be new to rafting next year, as I'm planning to attend a guide school.. somewhere. I've looked into the Ocoee/Pigeon, American, and Deschutes areas.
I'm currently interested in the Taos area, as the rivers seem a bit mellower and warmer. There's much less talk about the region than others so it difficult for me to get a read on what it's like to guide there..
Anyone know much about the:

-Season (length, business volume)

-Companies (average pay for first years)

-Housing (is it available, or is camping the theme?)

-General culture amongst guides (it seems like less of a party area, but is it totally subdued?)

And lastly, do I understand correctly that instead of application/resume, one simply pays for a spot in guide school in order to get a job?
Any insight would be much appreciated, thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,101 Posts
I did far flung guide school a long time ago.
Great instructors who were very active commercially when I took the clinic.
Rowing starts on first day and continues more challenges every day.
Started with overnight on Rio Chama with full instruction on land at camp DO, general cooking and setting up camp plus loading and unloading rafts..
Went to Race Course for two days with intense rowing.
Multiple days on lower taos box with really intense rowing leading up to graduation.

At the time I took the clinic rowing was primary and we got plenty of time each day on the oars.

As mentioned my time was in the late '90 time frame, do not know how the current instructors are. I do remember Brett being a first class teacher and all around guide.

Taos is a great town to visit and I recommend a few days early to acclimate and maybe a day after to rest up for the drive home. Taos is full of good places to eat and all price levels of places to stay.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did far flung guide school a long time ago.
Great instructors who were very active commercially when I took the clinic.
Rowing starts on first day and continues more challenges every day.
Started with overnight on Rio Chama with full instruction on land at camp DO, general cooking and setting up camp plus loading and unloading rafts..
Went to Race Course for two days with intense rowing.
Multiple days on lower taos box with really intense rowing leading up to graduation.

At the time I took the clinic rowing was primary and we got plenty of time each day on the oars.

As mentioned my time was in the late '90 time frame, do not know how the current instructors are. I do remember Brett being a first class teacher and all around guide.

Taos is a great town to visit and I recommend a few days early to acclimate and maybe a day after to rest up for the drive home. Taos is full of good places to eat and all price levels of places to stay.
Thanks for the reply.
Were you there strictly for the school and not attempting to land a job?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
I'm not much help on your guiding questions but here is some other info.

Most of new Mexico is in pretty bad drought. Seems like most of the commercial outfits still run trips on the racecourse and weekend trips on the Chama, but I doubt there was much of a season, if at all, on the box this year or last. There are also only a few outfitters who have permits to run the box from what I understand. In general the season starts earlier than most places and runs out of water even faster.

As for temperature, maybe a tad warmer than Colorado, but it is all snowmelt so still cold.

Housing availability could be worse, but it seems like there has been a significant influx of people with money and remote jobs flooding the market and driving prices through the roof, like most places in the west. It is my understanding that Taos ski valley has a very difficult time finding seasonal employees because of the lack of affordable housing.

Having a resume is probably a good idea. Kind or a necessary thing for any job, even rafting.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not much help on your guiding questions but here is some other info.

Most of new Mexico is in pretty bad drought. Seems like most of the commercial outfits still run trips on the racecourse and weekend trips on the Chama, but I doubt there was much of a season, if at all, on the box this year or last. There are also only a few outfitters who have permits to run the box from what I understand. In general the season starts earlier than most places and runs out of water even faster.

As for temperature, maybe a tad warmer than Colorado, but it is all snowmelt so still cold.

Housing availability could be worse, but it seems like there has been a significant influx of people with money and remote jobs flooding the market and driving prices through the roof, like most places in the west. It is my understanding that Taos ski valley has a very difficult time finding seasonal employees because of the lack of affordable housing.

Having a resume is probably a good idea. Kind or a necessary thing for any job, even rafting.

Good luck.
Thanks. Certainly don't want to pitch myself into a lurch. I do appreciate the added perspective.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
I'm not much help on your guiding questions but here is some other info.

Most of new Mexico is in pretty bad drought. Seems like most of the commercial outfits still run trips on the racecourse and weekend trips on the Chama, but I doubt there was much of a season, if at all, on the box this year or last. There are also only a few outfitters who have permits to run the box from what I understand. In general the season starts earlier than most places and runs out of water even faster.

As for temperature, maybe a tad warmer than Colorado, but it is all snowmelt so still cold.

Housing availability could be worse, but it seems like there has been a significant influx of people with money and remote jobs flooding the market and driving prices through the roof, like most places in the west. It is my understanding that Taos ski valley has a very difficult time finding seasonal employees because of the lack of affordable housing.

Having a resume is probably a good idea. Kind or a necessary thing for any job, even rafting.

Good luck.
Hi,
I am brand new to this board and this is my first post. The owner of Far Flung, Steve Harris, is an old friend of mine. We ran a few rivers together 45 yrs ago and did the Chama together last year. I know his business, guiding, ecology, and water principles and practices; thus I can highly recommend them. Guide schools are not an absolute intro to a job guiding. In fact, most companies will write a disclaimer to that effect. Some may hire out of the school of rowers who graduate but even that is not guaranteed. That being said, I can only really speak to the guide schools in California and Oregon. But rowing/guide school is an excellent way to gain new skills and sharpen old ones in preparation for seeking employment as a river guide.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi,
I am brand new to this board and this is my first post. The owner of Far Flung, Steve Harris, is an old friend of mine. We ran a few rivers together 45 yrs ago and did the Chama together last year. I know his business, guiding, ecology, and water principles and practices; thus I can highly recommend them. Guide schools are not an absolute intro to a job guiding. In fact, most companies will write a disclaimer to that effect. Some may hire out of the school of rowers who graduate but even that is not guaranteed. That being said, I can only really speak to the guide schools in California and Oregon. But rowing/guide school is an excellent way to gain new skills and sharpen old ones in preparation for seeking employment as a river guide.
Thanks OB. Noted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,022 Posts
Lower Taos Box and the Race Course section are super fun when they have water. Seems like late June and early July should be good for plenty of water. How long it lasts changes year to year. I did a couple of July 4th trips there a couple years back and had a ton of fun. I can't say much about guiding companies since I'm a private boater...but it seems like you'll mostly be reliant on the LTB and Racecourse...so if you want variety its not gonna offer a ton but its a fun river. At least at higher flows the last couple miles of the LTB are pretty continuous Class III+/IV...so not sure how a novice guide would do there.

I think if I was guiding...I'd either go work my way up through the ranks in Grand Canyon or go up to Idaho and get in with one of the companies that run a bunch of rivers up there. OARS comes to mind. I know they do a guide school too. I think they start people out on the Main Salmon and Hells Canyon and you can work your way up to doing the Middle Fork and Selway. If you'd rather do day trips... Arkansas Valley in Colorado or any number of places in Pacific Northwest and California.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lower Taos Box and the Race Course section are super fun when they have water. Seems like late June and early July should be good for plenty of water. How long it lasts changes year to year. I did a couple of July 4th trips there a couple years back and had a ton of fun. I can't say much about guiding companies since I'm a private boater...but it seems like you'll mostly be reliant on the LTB and Racecourse...so if you want variety its not gonna offer a ton but its a fun river. At least at higher flows the last couple miles of the LTB are pretty continuous Class III+/IV...so not sure how a novice guide would do there.

I think if I was guiding...I'd either go work my way up through the ranks in Grand Canyon or go up to Idaho and get in with one of the companies that run a bunch of rivers up there. OARS comes to mind. I know they do a guide school too. I think they start people out on the Main Salmon and Hells Canyon and you can work your way up to doing the Middle Fork and Selway. If you'd rather do day trips... Arkansas Valley in Colorado or any number of places in Pacific Northwest and California.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,022 Posts
I think you might be surprised... I've heard multiple accounts of outfitters approaching private boaters and asking them if they'd be interested in guiding on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. I bet you could get a gig on the Main Salmon or Hells Canyon pretty easily. Multi-days are more work...but they do seem to pay a lot better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think you might be surprised... I've heard multiple accounts of outfitters approaching private boaters and asking them if they'd be interested in guiding on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. I bet you could get a gig on the Main Salmon or Hells Canyon pretty easily. Multi-days are more work...but they do seem to pay a lot better.
Interesting, and certainly more to consider. Hadn't even heard (read) of Hell's Canyon, and had the impression that it's all Deschutes for new guides up that way. It's kinda difficult to get a feel for things through company websites I guess..
Thanks for the heads up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,101 Posts
I had been kayaking most of my adult life. Was getting close to retirement and wanted to be a decent oarsman for multiday floats. My bet is for any guide school student if you do well and tell your instructors you are looking for a job the instructors will do what they can but no guarantees.

For me, guide school(s) was a great way to just show up and row. I did far flung school in Taos several times because it was great to show up and boat and everything set up for you. Plus I got to know the instructors and learned even more on a personal basis. I live in Tulsa OK area and rowing rivers are in short supply. I wanted to row rivers like the Rogue so I found another company in Sisters Oregon that ran the rogue, McKensie, plus that really cool river that comes out of crater lake. When I signed up the second year the owner knew why I was coming back. By that time I was a decent oarsman. He had a 14 ft brand new Avon set up just perfect. Told me to enjoy the boat and do what ever I wanted as far as setting in on clinics. It just does not get any better than that for us flat lander boaters. Fly out get picked up, boat awesome rivers with excellent guides who became friends. That second trip I went out several days early and lived with the guides. That was when I realized that real commercial guides work their butts off before the trip, during the trip and after the trip and get paid minimum or less per hour worked. At that time of my life I was close to retirement and the training was what I wanted not a job. I have the highest respect for river guides based on my time in multiple guide school training. I learned most people show up for the first time for the adventure. Get em wet, enternained maybe a bit scared but zero injuries. Then most custies come back due to the food and good guide custie interaction on a personal level. I got interested in dutch oven cooking on my first guide school especially cakes which on later private trips probably helped with invites plus the schools taught me technique and how to manage trips as well..

Bottom line is I recommend at least one good week or so of guide schooling for any one wanting to develop good technique fast. If you like the school and river they run go back if possible. That second time really grooves techinque. As mentioned above most commercial guides work hard for little pay. But the training to be a commercial guide sets up us private boaters to be far more successful at the craft a lot faster than just learning on your own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,101 Posts
Forgot, if I was looking for a job as a river guide, I would head for either Salida or BV in southern CO. Quite a few companies and tons of visitors. Be prepared to take what ever job you can to gain experience and that second year should be easier to find work either in CO or Idaho. In the fall with experience head to the Gauly in WVA for the release event.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I had been kayaking most of my adult life. Was getting close to retirement and wanted to be a decent oarsman for multiday floats. My bet is for any guide school student if you do well and tell your instructors you are looking for a job the instructors will do what they can but no guarantees.

For me, guide school(s) was a great way to just show up and row. I did far flung school in Taos several times because it was great to show up and boat and everything set up for you. Plus I got to know the instructors and learned even more on a personal basis. I live in Tulsa OK area and rowing rivers are in short supply. I wanted to row rivers like the Rogue so I found another company in Sisters Oregon that ran the rogue, McKensie, plus that really cool river that comes out of crater lake. When I signed up the second year the owner knew why I was coming back. By that time I was a decent oarsman. He had a 14 ft brand new Avon set up just perfect. Told me to enjoy the boat and do what ever I wanted as far as setting in on clinics. It just does not get any better than that for us flat lander boaters. Fly out get picked up, boat awesome rivers with excellent guides who became friends. That second trip I went out several days early and lived with the guides. That was when I realized that real commercial guides work their butts off before the trip, during the trip and after the trip and get paid minimum or less per hour worked. At that time of my life I was close to retirement and the training was what I wanted not a job. I have the highest respect for river guides based on my time in multiple guide school training. I learned most people show up for the first time for the adventure. Get em wet, enternained maybe a bit scared but zero injuries. Then most custies come back due to the food and good guide custie interaction on a personal level. I got interested in dutch oven cooking on my first guide school especially cakes which on later private trips probably helped with invites plus the schools taught me technique and how to manage trips as well..

Bottom line is I recommend at least one good week or so of guide schooling for any one wanting to develop good technique fast. If you like the school and river they run go back if possible. That second time really grooves techinque. As mentioned above most commercial guides work hard for little pay. But the training to be a commercial guide sets up us private boaters to be far more successful at the craft a lot faster than just learning on your own.
I grew up on I44 myself.. Never even knew of much beyond canoe trips in the general Ozarks/ Ouachitas.
I can't say I'm hip to boating overall, but I'm moving into a seasonal work mode and would much prefer to be "part of the action" as opposed to housekeeping to earn my keep.
Thanks for taking time to share your experience. Quite insightful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Forgot, if I was looking for a job as a river guide, I would head for either Salida or BV in southern CO. Quite a few companies and tons of visitors. Be prepared to take what ever job you can to gain experience and that second year should be easier to find work either in CO or Idaho. In the fall with experience head to the Gauly in WVA for the release event.
Yeah, Bella Vista has popped up a bit in my research.. I just get the impression it's all splash jackets and general "coldness". Maybe I'm wrong.?

Gauley.. Well Gauley looks way cool on youtube with some music track bumping behind it, but frankly, I ain't ready for all that. Though I can see it being a way to extend the season for someone who's into the intense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,022 Posts
Interesting, and certainly more to consider. Hadn't even heard (read) of Hell's Canyon, and had the impression that it's all Deschutes for new guides up that way. It's kinda difficult to get a feel for things through company websites I guess..
Thanks for the heads up.
Hell's Canyon is a 3ish day trip on the Snake River in Idaho and takes out in Washington. Basically take out a little ways down from the Confluence of the Salmon and Snake rivers. Its a big water river with a pretty interesting first day and a mellower later part of the trip. You may have to start in the boat house, but if you show some willingness and skill you'll move into trips pretty soon. They have you just be a baggage boater for a while as well... no customers.

The cool thing about OARS is you can kind of jump around between areas. A lot of the guides start out the season in the Grand or the Vernal office (that services Desolation and the Dinosaur National Monument trips) and then head up to Idaho once that season starts. They have offices in Moab, California and even international too. I think they run guide schools in most of their locations.

p.s. Its Buena Vista. Great place to learn to guide...but you certainly aren't going to get rich. They'll definitely start you out on the boring stuff...but its a decent place to learn. I can reach out to a few guide friends that work for companies and see if they'd be interested in getting you in the door with their company. Temperature wise....early season they'll be sticking the customers in Wetsuits and Splash jackets and then as the season progresses it'll be just splash jackets. Helmet always. At least for early season...I'd probably invest in a drysuit personally. I'm sure some guides just do shorts...but it can definitely be cold. Lots of variety on the Arkansas though and an absolute shit ton of companies to work for.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hell's Canyon is a 3ish day trip on the Snake River in Idaho and takes out in Washington. Basically take out a little ways down from the Confluence of the Salmon and Snake rivers. Its a big water river with a pretty interesting first day and a mellower later part of the trip. You may have to start in the boat house, but if you show some willingness and skill you'll move into trips pretty soon. They have you just be a baggage boater for a while as well... no customers.

The cool thing about OARS is you can kind of jump around between areas. A lot of the guides start out the season in the Grand or the Vernal office (that services Desolation and the Dinosaur National Monument trips) and then head up to Idaho once that season starts. They have offices in Moab, California and even international too. I think they run guide schools in most of their locations.

p.s. Its Buena Vista. Great place to learn to guide...but you certainly aren't going to get rich. They'll definitely start you out on the boring stuff...but its a decent place to learn. I can reach out to a few guide friends that work for companies and see if they'd be interested in getting you in the door with their company. Temperature wise....early season they'll be sticking the customers in Wetsuits and Splash jackets and then as the season progresses it'll be just splash jackets. Helmet always. At least for early season...I'd probably invest in a drysuit personally. I'm sure some guides just do shorts...but it can definitely be cold. Lots of variety on the Arkansas though and an absolute shit ton of companies to work for.
Whoops. Bella Vista's a town in Arkansas haha.
I might like to take you up on that offer, though I haven't really pinned down where I'd like to go just yet and wouldn't want to throw any balks. Especially since I imagine most are in wind-down mode about now.
Your guide friends operate from where?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,022 Posts
I have a friend who has been guiding for OARS for 4-5 years now. He operates mostly out of Idaho but does some trips in the Grand too. He works for both OARS and AZRA down there. He's far from the top of the totem pole but might be able to give you some pointers. I also have a friend who is a lead guide on the Arkansas River (forgot what company) and does stints in other places too.
 
1 - 20 of 54 Posts
Top