Raft Guide Training: May 21st – June 9th, 2023

For a limited time, Raft Masters is offering the opportunity for FREE raft guide training. *Pay the initial fees up front and we will fully reimburse your cost of training after you complete 90 commercial trips as a Raft Masters’ guide. In addition, if all class requirements are met, ALL trainees are guaranteed to receive full certification as a class III river guide. Employment with Raft Masters is not a requirement in order to receive certification.

Raft Masters has a reputation for training top-notch guides. We emphasize quality raft guide training rather than the quantity of guides we can “crank out”. Our training is not easy, and we will make you do things other trainers will not. We want you to experience and learn to handle most situations you should expect to encounter as a guide under controlled circumstances rather than “under fire” on a whitewater rafting trip.

Our raft guide training program is designed to train guides to our standards for possible employment at Raft Masters. Typically we hire everyone who completes training and certifications. We only hire first-year (rookie) guides from those who we have trained.

We hire only professionals and we expect the highest level of professionalism from our staff. The job of a raft guide is difficult and demanding at times, but the rewards are commensurate with the demands. You can expect one of the best pay scales, generous tips, and a very liberal policy regarding the use of company equipment for personal use in your free time here at Raft Masters. Guides who work at Raft Masters have the satisfaction of knowing that they work with one of the most highly regarded companies (especially by other guides) on the Arkansas River.

Job Requirements

You must be available to work from late May until mid August to be considered for full time employment. By Colorado law you will be required to have a minimum of Basic First Aid and CPR, and higher levels of medical skills will improve your job prospects. We have a very close-knit staff and most of our guides return year after year, so we are primarily looking for new guides who are interested in more than just one season’s work, and this will be taken into consideration during hiring.

We are not your parents, nor do we want to be (although we may act that way occasionally), but we expect all of our staff to be responsible in their personal recreational habits. If you are interested in joining our first class staff, and meet our requirements, please send a letter of interest, a summary of your qualifications, and a completed employment application (found below).

The Course

This course is primarily intended for those who wish to seek employment as a raft guide, although we occasionally train individuals seeking to become private boaters. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be qualified to run commercial river trips through Bighorn Sheep Canyon on the Arkansas River (and other Class III rivers, with proper orientation) in a paddle-raft, paddle-assist raft, or an oar-raft while in the employment of a licensed outfitter. The State of Colorado River Outfitters Licensing Statutes and Regulations require all commercial guides to have received a minimum of 50 hours of on-river training by a qualified instructor. You should expect to have 100 or more hours of training by the time you complete the Raft Masters program, excluding “land” instruction and CPR and First Aid requirements.**

Course Details

This course will cover and progress through the following:

  • Care and Use of Equipment
  • Rigging Rafts
  • Maneuvering Rafts
  • River Features
  • River Hazards
  • Scouting and Running Rapids
  • Orientation and Safety Talk topics given to guests
  • Trip Organization and Trip Leader Responsibility
  • River Rescue and Emergency Procedures
  • Minimizing Outdoor Recreation Resource Impact

What Is Provided?

During training, Raft Masters will provide a Personal Flotation Device (PFD or life jacket), helmet, splash jacket, wetsuit, booties, and all group river gear. If you presently have personal river gear please bring it. In addition, we strongly recommend that if you have thermal layers such as polypropylene, you bring them. Additional warm layers, hats, wool socks, jackets, etc. would also be of value. We will be in the water frequently and it is cold. We have shower facilities available. You will need a bathing suit to wear under the wetsuit. Bring personal water bottles, sunscreen, sunglasses, and any other personal items for around camp and off-hours. You will be responsible for your own meals. A kitchen is available on the property for your use (including washing your own dishes!). Be prepared to pack your lunch as some days you will not return to Raft Masters until late in the afternoon. Training is strenuous and the days can be long, but they will prepare you for real life as a raft guide at a Colorado river rafting outfitter.


Raft Masters has on-site employee bunkhouses capable of accommodating males and females separately. The bunkhouses have a bathroom and kitchen facilities. These bunks are reserved for trainees only during the training period. After training they are available to employees for the rest of the season.

Registration And Cancellation Policy

The cost of this course is $400 per person which is reimbursed after completing 90 commercial raft trips with Raft Masters. Personal checks and credit/debit cards are accepted. Class size will be limited and early registration is suggested. Payment of $200.00 is due upon making your reservation. The remaining balance is due 30 days prior to the first day of class. Cancellations made more than 30 days in advance will be refunded one half of the deposit. If you cancel within 30 days of training there will be no refunds. Enrollment is limited and on a “first come” basis.

** By law, guides must have Basic First Aid and CPR. You are not required to have these for training, but they are required for certification. For those who do not already have them, a First Aid and CPR course with a certified instructor during the course. There is an additional charge for the instructor.

Training Location

Raft Masters is located at 2315 E. Main Street in Canon City, Colorado (about 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs).

To Apply

If you are interested in training at Raft Masters, please fill out an APPLICATION. Please include your resume and copy of driver’s license. We will contact you for a phone interview upon receipt of your application. (We request letters of interest because they require some initiative on your part and help us weed out the “recreational” applicants from serious inquiries.)