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Hi all,

Thanks in advance for your assistance. My niece recently graduated from college and is thinking about taking some time off before graduate school to be a raft guide. She lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. A few questions to help her out.

1. What company near Glenwood Springs will give her the best raft guide training?
2. What company near Glenwood Springs will give her the most guiding trips once trained?
3. If she spends the spring/summer guiding in Colorado, will she have the experience she needs to get a job in West Virginia for Gauley season?

Thanks much,
Julie (Keller) Fitzpatrick
 

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I guide up in the Roaring Fork Valley, so my opinion here will be biased, but I'd recommend considering emloyment with an outfitter that will provide exposure and experience to a wide variety of rivers. Glenwood based companies mostly lap the Shoshone and Grizzly sections of the Colorado River... Yea, those sections are fun and pretty and shit, but I'd probably put a bullet in my head if I had to commercially guide Shoshone 100 times in the summer. The four companies in the RFV raft a mixture of runs, all distinct and varied in skill and challenge, which will really give a rookie guide the best opportunity to learn and get well rounded experiences on different sections. These will be class 2-5 runs on sections of the roaring fork, crystal, arkansas, and also the colorado. One can gain all the skills on these sections that they need to guide a section such as the Gauley, but regardless the individual this will be a process that will take years, at the very least.

I'd recommend checking out Blazing Adventures, Elk Mountain Expeditions, and Aspen Whitewater Rafting. If your niece is motivated, positive, and a hard worker, she should do her best to "check out" in her rookie training as soon as possible... Become one of the first rookie guides to qualify taking gaper paddlers down class 2/3 sections, and her amount of work for the summer season will be better guaranteed. It's a super fun job and lifestyle, but a surprising amount of idiots find ways to [email protected]$! it up. Show up to work and try not to be too hungover. Nothing replaces time and miles on the river. The biggest risk is that she'll fall head over heels with the river and never want to go back and to a "real" job. I can think of a lot of worse problems for one to have!
 

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Raft N Ride
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I'm an east coast guide who's paddled Glenwood Canyon, Brown's, New & Gauley (at normal and high water 6k cfs), Ocoee (normal & high +4k cfs), Cheoah (normal 860 and high 2200cfs), Chattooga, and Tallulah. Eastern rivers are different in terms of technicality than Glenwood. If she wants to guide the Gauley, I'd recommend starting on the Ocoee with a company like Rolling Thunder or Wildwater. Step up to the Chattooga and meet some of the guides from there that guide the Gauley. The Chattooga starts dying off just as Gauley season is ramping up so it's a natural fit. Plus, with the rains we've been having in the SE the last few years, she'll get good experience at high water learning to actually read water and not just navigate set lines. That's very helpful when guiding the G. After G season, she can van pool West for the winter!

Wildwater runs the Ocoee, Chattooga, Cheoah, Pigeon, Nanty, and French Broad so she could get some good experience on various rivers with the same company.

If she's heartset on staying in Glenwood Canyon, I'd recommend calling Ken at Glenwood Adventure Center. Good guy and smart businessman with a good team of guides.

I'll gladly offer an advice offline if you or she have specific questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks all! I really appreciate the advice. She is not heart set on guiding on the Gauley, but having paddled it myself know what a wonderful a place it it and hope that she can find that out someday too.
 

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I seem to remember a Julie Keller from rec.boats.paddle, and maybe the '99 slalom championships in Golden? Did you have a pink helmet?

Check out Timberline Tours in Eagle. I don't know if he is hiring, but Greg the owner is one of the nicest, most ethical guys you can meet. Also, he has outfitter permits for many more places than Glenwood Canyon.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I seem to remember a Julie Keller from rec.boats.paddle, and maybe the '99 slalom championships in Golden? Did you have a pink helmet?

Check out Timberline Tours in Eagle. I don't know if he is hiring, but Greg the owner is one of the nicest, most ethical guys you can meet. Also, he has outfitter permits for many more places than Glenwood Canyon.
Yep that is me! I used to be a regular on rec.boats.paddle, went to the '99 slalom championships in Golden and still have a pink helmet.

Thanks for the rafting advice for my niece.

Julie
 

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Boy Howdy!
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Blue sky, whitewater, and glenwood adventure company. I have freinds who guide for all three and all of them are good companies to work for.
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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Hi all,

Thanks in advance for your assistance. My niece recently graduated from college and is thinking about taking some time off before graduate school to be a raft guide. She lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. A few questions to help her out.

1. What company near Glenwood Springs will give her the best raft guide training?
2. What company near Glenwood Springs will give her the most guiding trips once trained?
3. If she spends the spring/summer guiding in Colorado, will she have the experience she needs to get a job in West Virginia for Gauley season?

Thanks much,
Julie (Keller) Fitzpatrick
Doesn't much matter who as long as they will train her and they have enough variety in their runs to keep it interesting.
She needs to understand; she'll earn very little, work her ass off, and have the time of her life if she gets with the right crowd.
 

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I spent my first coupla years in GW and had a blast! The paradox is that a company (in Colorado) who will train really well wont giver her many trips. I would recommend going out to a scene like California where the proof is in the pudding. If she picks it up and rocks she will get work. I felt like Cali didn't have the crazy hierarchy like some commercial guide scenes. I learnd more in my first week out in CA than I did in my first year or to in CO (just personal experience).


Also I would highly recommend heading somewhere else to go to guide school. The camaraderie built in a place where you don't already have a social network is irreplaceable both on the water and for life.
 

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I seem to remember a Julie Keller from rec.boats.paddle, and maybe the '99 slalom championships in Golden? Did you have a pink helmet?

Check out Timberline Tours in Eagle. I don't know if he is hiring, but Greg the owner is one of the nicest, most ethical guys you can meet. Also, he has outfitter permits for many more places than Glenwood Canyon.
I would agree, I bought a used boat from Greg in the early 80's and he is still in biz. His partner Bill M. taught me to roll a kayak. Longevity means something....
 

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Many of the Colorado outfitters will run a training class, usually in early May. They charge around $500-$600, it lasts about two weeks for paddle, less for oared. The WW shops will mostly be paddle, the oared shops will mostly be fly fishing outfitters. Colorado has a state certification process that she will have to complete to guide, and it should be the basis for any outfitter training. If they can't offer the state cert, she needs to find another shop. Sometimes, but not always, the outfitter will pay back the $500, if the student ends up going to work for them. They will probably also want her to complete Swiftwater, and she will need current CPR/First aid.

Usually, the classes cover the same runs the shop will do during the season. Most shops have enough turnover they will need to pickup at least a couple of newbies. As to the number of days/miles/runs lots of variables. There are years when some of the commercial runs are no-go, either because of too little, or too much water. A cold snap can last a week or more, and few clients show up to be cold and wet. Last I checked, most guides got paid per trip; first years around $30 per trip, max of two a day, not including tips. Bad weather, no trips, no pay. Never heard of a guide getting benefits, but I guess it could happen.

Most of the runs are covered by some form of Federal permit. Outfitters are limited by the permits they hold, and on the number of boats/clients they can launch in a day. The rich get richer, and the startups struggle.
 
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