Mountain Buzz banner
21 - 40 of 54 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Don't decide on New Mexico or Colorado until you see how the snow pack develops. Decide in March. If the west is in drought by March, look East.
Thanks for the heads up. Anyone know of a site or page which updates on snowpack?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
247 Posts
Western US, Sans California.

I guided on the Hudson out of North Creek, NY. The put in is on the Indian River (tributary) and starts on a 3 mile ~700 cfs dam release where it joins the Hudson which could be anywhere from 50 cfs to 15,000 cfs. Season is generally beginning of April (wetsuits) to Columbus Day. Some of the outfitters run another smaller, local (e branch of Sacandaga) river so you could work 7 days a week if wanted. Generally, as a first year guide, you'll only have consistent work 4th of July to Labor day.

I was trained in house, for free, although I had to do Swiftwater, CPR, and First Aid on my own dime.

With that said, Deso, Lodore, and Cat run April through October, too.

Starting day wage seems to be $80-100, with tips in the $50/day range.

Beauty of overnight trips is you're getting 3 meals a day and a place to sleep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Western US, Sans California.

I guided on the Hudson out of North Creek, NY. The put in is on the Indian River (tributary) and starts on a 3 mile ~700 cfs dam release where it joins the Hudson which could be anywhere from 50 cfs to 15,000 cfs. Season is generally beginning of April (wetsuits) to Columbus Day. Some of the outfitters run another smaller, local (e branch of Sacandaga) river so you could work 7 days a week if wanted. Generally, as a first year guide, you'll only have consistent work 4th of July to Labor day.

I was trained in house, for free, although I had to do Swiftwater, CPR, and First Aid on my own dime.

With that said, Deso, Lodore, and Cat run April through October, too.

Starting day wage seems to be $80-100, with tips in the $50/day range.

Beauty of overnight trips is you're getting 3 meals a day and a place to sleep.
Handy link there. Thank you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
probably the best advice so far.
As a guy looking to uproot himself into a new and unfamiliar situation, I wish this weren't as poignant as it probably is. Would much prefer not get caught in an application scramble closer to last minute. But I also want an opportunity at a good full season, and company websites don't really emphasize year-to-year volatility in their guide training descriptions.
Thanks everybody for the insight.
 

·
Beginner
Joined
·
2,585 Posts
If the snow pack is above average, check out New Mexico.

75-100% of average look at the dam augmented Arkansas River near Buena Vista. I train guides there and our fifteen rookie raft guides made good money this season on good water.

Below 75% of average look to the New River in West Virginia. Always water there and a good foot in the door for Gauley.
 

·
Beginner
Joined
·
2,585 Posts
As a guy looking to uproot himself into a new and unfamiliar situation, I wish this weren't as poignant as it probably is. Would much prefer not get caught in an application scramble closer to last minute. But I also want an opportunity at a good full season, and company websites don't really emphasize year-to-year volatility in their guide training descriptions.
Thanks everybody for the insight.
You can sign up to train at almost any outfitter in March. Plenty of time to decide. If you want reliable flows look to the Arkansas. Even in low water years it's fun for most of the season because of the AHRA Voluntary Flow Program. If you want to commit before the snow piles up, don't choose New Mexico or parts of California, IMHO.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You can sign up to train at almost any outfitter in March. Plenty of time to decide. If you want reliable flows look to the Arkansas. Even in low water years it's fun for most of the season because of the AHRA Voluntary Flow Program. If you want to commit before the snow piles up, don't choose New Mexico or parts of California, IMHO.
Got ya, and thanks for helping an ignorant person not make an ignorant mistake. I appreciate it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 ·
If the snow pack is above average, check out New Mexico.

75-100% of average look at the dam augmented Arkansas River near Buena Vista. I train guides there and our fifteen rookie raft guides made good money this season on good water.

Below 75% of average look to the New River in West Virginia. Always water there and a good foot in the door for Gauley.
Here we have the first of two in a row referencing the Arkansas, and it's dam influence. Certainly something to look for with regards to somewhat more reliable river seasons I gather.

Just from curiousity, as I'm sure this is all sound advice, what is it about a low flow season that impedes a profitable rafting season?.. Is it that companies are able to run less rivers, or is the customer base actually cognizant of the quality of whitewater?
 

·
Beginner
Joined
·
2,585 Posts
Here we have the first of two in a row referencing the Arkansas, and it's dam influence. Certainly something to look for with regards to somewhat more reliable river seasons I gather.

Just from curiousity, as I'm sure this is all sound advice, what is it about a low flow season that impedes a profitable rafting season?.. Is it that companies are able to run less rivers, or is the customer base actually cognizant of the quality of whitewater?
The guests don't know shit, but on some rivers in the SW the season can end by early August, if not sooner. Also tips are better when the water is big. And life is generally better too. Big fun, faster trips, etc.

On the Arkansas, I work full-time May 1 through Labor Day. When I go to Gauley I add another six weeks of full-time work to my season. Then I'll pick up a couple weeks of miscellaneous work fixing gear and such at the outpost. It makes for a six-month full-time job that actually pays pretty well (for a twenty year guide with a humble existence!)

Late August flows and reliable summer flows really make this work for me. Not sure I'd pay my mortgage just doing it June and July for a smaller outfitter in a drought...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #33 ·
The guests don't know shit, but on some rivers in the SW the season can end by early August, if not sooner. Also tips are better when the water is big. And life is generally better too. Big fun, faster trips, etc.

On the Arkansas, I work full-time May 1 through Labor Day. When I go to Gauley I add another six weeks of full-time work to my season. Then I'll pick up a couple weeks of miscellaneous work fixing gear and such at the outpost. It makes for a six-month full-time job that actually pays pretty well (for a twenty year guide with a humble existence!)

Late August flows and reliable summer flows really make this work for me. Not sure I'd pay my mortgage just doing it June and July for a smaller outfitter in a drought...
I kinda figured most of the people on vacation aren't necessarily traveling strictly based on the best water to raft. I guess I'm a bit caught up in the minutiae, wondering if raft companies simply close early, or what.
Thanks for your veteran perspective on things.
 

·
Beginner
Joined
·
2,585 Posts
I kinda figured most of the people on vacation aren't necessarily traveling strictly based on the best water to raft. I guess I'm a bit caught up in the minutiae, wondering if raft companies simply close early, or what.
Thanks for your veteran perspective on things.
There is some closing early, but mostly low water is just hard work, is hard on the body, and is worth avoiding. Don't get me wrong, it makes you a good guide, and we all finish the season on low flows, but choosing reliably good flows is a good first career choice, IMO.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·
There is some closing early, but mostly low water is just hard work, is hard on the body, and is worth avoiding. Don't get me wrong, it makes you a good guide, and we all finish the season on low flows, but choosing reliably good flows is a good first career choice, IMO.
Makes sense. And noted. Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
The perfect guiding year… guide training and a season on the salt river in az March and April. Run up to the Arkansas for may, June, July and part of august. Then head out east and finish up on the gauly after that your experience will speak for itself. Ps throw a wilderness first responder course in before
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,431 Posts
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.
Go for it, one of the best jobs in the world( body, mind and soul). I was 14 years old, on my very first rafting trip, put on through the high school I attended, what an experence in 1969. My physics teacher owned Adventure Bound and asked some of us in his class if we were interested in working for him the next summer, hell yes. So in the summer of 1970, I began an early career as a river guide(rat). My very first boats I trained on, with adult super vision(ha ha), were 29 ft to 33 ft militarily pontoon boats, that's all we had, along with some J- rigs(real pigs), S-rigs with 22 ft out-riggers and 30 hp outboard engins, all with a single boatmen and 8 to 12 passengers. We had excellent instructors, not much older than us, teaching us the ways of the river for the whole summer, back than they were all, 4 day to 7 day trips, never heard of one day or 3 day river trips back than. Had a River Rat initiation ceremony at the end of the summer, to be deemed a real River Rat in the guiding circles back than(not to be spoken about, what went on). Have a blast but don't forget about your regular education, either( college, training. etc.) very important for your other life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,011 Posts
In regards to Raymo's last sentence... make sure you make College count and don't go just to go. No matter how you swing it College is expensive and time consuming...so make it worth it. If you are just gonna be a career river guide... maybe don't go get a useless private school degree in a field you'll never work in. Getting a guiding job is a great way to make money, have experiences, and figure out what you wanna do with your life long term. I talk to waaay too many 20 something year olds that spent $200k on their college education and have been working jobs that don't require a college education after they graduate (and don't have plans to change it). Don't start your life out in debt unless you have a career plan to pay for it.

The main thing with high snow pack vs. low is that most rivers will run even with low snow pack...but might dry up quickly. No guiding if you can't get a raft float a raft down the river. The nice thing about the Arkansas is that even on low water years they'll still keep pushing people down it. The Arkansas is sort of unique in that the water district has deemed recreational use as a primary use for the water in the basin so they have a lot of seniority for claims for it. Upshot is that there is guaranteed runnable flows down the river from the start of run off until at least mid August. Taos Box and many other sections of river don't have that same guarantee.

Ideal commerical guiding season for me would be February-March on the Salt if it runs, April and May doing a few Grand Trips, then up to Idaho for Middle Fork and Selway trips through July or August, back down to the Grand for the rest of shoulder season and then maybe finish out on the Gauley if you can't get Grand trips. If you really wanna fill the season... options to go international are there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #39 ·
In regards to Raymo's last sentence... make sure you make College count and don't go just to go. No matter how you swing it College is expensive and time consuming...so make it worth it. If you are just gonna be a career river guide... maybe don't go get a useless private school degree in a field you'll never work in. Getting a guiding job is a great way to make money, have experiences, and figure out what you wanna do with your life long term. I talk to waaay too many 20 something year olds that spent $200k on their college education and have been working jobs that don't require a college education after they graduate (and don't have plans to change it). Don't start your life out in debt unless you have a career plan to pay for it.

The main thing with high snow pack vs. low is that most rivers will run even with low snow pack...but might dry up quickly. No guiding if you can't get a raft float a raft down the river. The nice thing about the Arkansas is that even on low water years they'll still keep pushing people down it. The Arkansas is sort of unique in that the water district has deemed recreational use as a primary use for the water in the basin so they have a lot of seniority for claims for it. Upshot is that there is guaranteed runnable flows down the river from the start of run off until at least mid August. Taos Box and many other sections of river don't have that same guarantee.

Ideal commerical guiding season for me would be February-March on the Salt if it runs, April and May doing a few Grand Trips, then up to Idaho for Middle Fork and Selway trips through July or August, back down to the Grand for the rest of shoulder season and then maybe finish out on the Gauley if you can't get Grand trips. If you really wanna fill the season... options to go international are there.
For anyone reading this in the future, sorry if I've strung this thread out with replies and diminished the real info, but I do appreciate people taking time to share knowledge.
..and this is what you call well-balanced perspective. If your parents are paying, and you have no gripping aspiration (or maybe even if you do) go to college ffs. But the college narrative seems to have proven to be just that for a lot of folks.
As for me.. Well this is a whole nother thread, but I'll be forty-three by Spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #40 ·
The perfect guiding year… guide training and a season on the salt river in az March and April. Run up to the Arkansas for may, June, July and part of august. Then head out east and finish up on the gauly after that your experience will speak for itself. Ps throw a wilderness first responder course in before
Hadn't even realized there's an early jump on the season in AZ. Pretty inviting since May seems so late at this point. I wonder if many companies hire first years with a couple months in from other than their own training program..
 
21 - 40 of 54 Posts
Top