Professional Rafting Guide School Missoula Montana

If you would like to become a river guide or you’d love to learn or increase your skills to run rivers with family and friends, Rafting Guide School Missoula Montana is a good option.

Adventure Missoula hires our guides directly from our Guide School but it is not a guarantee. Once you’ve completed the required 3 weekend 60 hour curriculum we’ll issue a certificate for both the general public and potential guides that have passed the Guide School.

Already a Guide But You Want to Work for Adventure Missoula? If you are already a commercial guide looking to work for us – Please send us your resume, cover letter, certifications, and interview. If we are interested, the next step is to join us for some days during Guide School to see your skills at no cost and go from there.

RAFTING GUIDE SCHOOL: 6 10 hour days of river guide curriculum is designed for people wanting to lead river trips with friends and family or become professional raft guides. We focus on safety, reading water, and guiding paddle rafts through Class II & III and at times IV whitewater. Topics include trip preparation, safety talks for your boaters, equipment, rigging, boat handling, river communications, paddle commands, and basic rescue techniques. First days begin with an introduction to equipment, risk management, reading water and boat rigging. We run the Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River on paddle rafts, stern, and center frames where participants will swim rapids, rescue swimmers, and recover from a flipped rafts and navigate water flows by paddles and oars. Some springs, we are on the Blackfoot River for these activities. Learn about the right gear, how to rig boats, safety basics, avoiding hazards, and guiding your own boat!

We offer this course each spring and is a commitment of three weekends in May in the Missoula Montana area. Rafting Guide School instruction includes:

Rafting Guide School – Missoula Montana

  • Reading river characteristics including currents, eddies, rapids, and hazards
  • Communicating with clients/people in your boat, including paddling and safety instruction and talks
  • Paddling strokes and techniques
  • Rowing strokes and techniques
  • Boat design and boat/river interaction
  • Equipment preparation and boat rigging
  • Equipment storage and care
  • Vehicle and trailer prep and inspection
  • Guest and river etiquette
  • Personal equipment
  • On river communication
  • Trip and shuttle flows
  • Food prep and packing
  • Boat control and multiple days of practice
  • Self rescue and participant rescue
  • Flipped raft recovery
  • Managing and retrieving swimmers
  • Knots
  • Trailer Managements
  • Boat rigging and unrigging and stacking
  • and more!

Tuition for Guide School: $250

*Reimbursement If you are offered employment from us we will reimburse you for the cost of this course plus pay you an additional $5 per trip if you keep your employment commitment to your predetermined end of season with us; usually Labor Day.

Both the general public (ages 18+) and interviewed potential guides for Adventure Missoula are welcome to register for this class.

2024 Spring Weekend Dates: May 11th/12th, 18th/19th, and 25th/26th

General Public: 60 hours Guide School, certificate issued

Potential Staff for Adventure Missoula: 60 hours Guide School + Video online hours, certificate issued Focus: Reading water, equipment management, rigging, trailer and packing, and boat set up, navigation, and more (see above list)! *This class is a pre-hire requirement and guides for Adventure Missoula must also have a Swiftwater Rescue certification prior to paid employment (see below options). Participants not guaranteed a spot on Adventure Missoula staff. Some people need more practice until they are ready to take commercial guests down the river. This often means more laps on the river, shadow guiding other veteran guides, assisting trips, rigging and de-rigging trips, and a host of other details that you’ll learn as you progress. Please view the guide requirements.

Swift Water Rescue Technician Certification: Local options: High Flow Rescue, Swiftwater Safety Institute or Montana Rescue and others as available. Usually a 20-24 hour commitment Tuition: Prices Vary Independent of Adventure Missoula Focus: River emergencies, accidents, prevention, and actions to take in ER situations.

80 hours is industry standard for professional guides: Adventure Missoula Guide School + SWRT certification

List to bring for each weekend:

  • wool or synthetic base layers top and bottom
  • warm non cotton socks (multiple pairs to change into between river runs)
  • warm hat
  • water bottle with attachment point
  • bathing suit
  • warm mid weight layer (like a zip up fleece or equivalent mid layer) NO COTTON
  • rain coat
  • gloves
  • wet suit*
  • booties*
  • pfd*
  • splash jacket*

*These four items can be rented from us for total $25 cleaning fee charge and are checked out on day 1 of Rafting Guide School. During registration this add on can be applied.

Car camping/tent camping with us is optional or you will want Missoula accommodations. If you decide to camp, consider bringing:

  • a tent or car or camper or trailer (some other form of shelter at night)
  • sleeping bag
  • cook set
  • utensils
  • headlamp
  • dry clothes
  • lots of food and beverages of choice (alcohol is not allowed on site at Adventure Missoula)

Location: Adventure Missoula Clark Fork River Headquarters and Raft Shop: 39 Juniper Lane, Alberton MT 59820. Questions? Call us: 406-813-0595

Here at Adventure Missoula we like to have fun. As staff increase their skills we often have a few fun runs where we hit and practice skills on different rivers in the Western Montana and North Idaho corridor. This run was on the St. Joe in Idaho on a beautiful spring rainy day and allows for some excellent bonding moments and forces quick learning curves post Guide School.