April 20th, 2017

Grand Plans to Become a River Guide

Grand Plans to Become a River Guide - image
The author manning the oars on the Colorado River

My whitewater experience all began when I won a permit to raft down the Grand Canyon. A coveted opportunity recognized by boaters across the world fell into the lap of a largely, if not wholly inexperienced ‘boater’. I use parentheses here to emphasize how much I had to learn before truly calling myself a whitewater boater, let alone feel prepared enough for the challenges I found within the Grand Canyon.

I immediately began searching far and wide for the right company to invest in; a company that will devote their time in return to teach me the ways of whitewater rafting. I needed it all. How to read the water and all of its intricacies, how to rig a boat properly, and what to do when, despite my best efforts and decision making, the river takes its turn and does what it pleases with my boat.

Grand Plans to Become a River Guide - image
Big hit on the Wenatchee River, Leavenworth

Enter Wildwater River Guides. I was in touch with multiple outfitters, and running into dead-ends either through lack of communication, companies that did not share the same passion I was seeking and not receiving the attention and information I expected from a professional company. When I got in touch with Wildwater, I knew almost immediately that this was a different group of people.

Speaking over the phone with Lance Reif, the owner of the company, I realized that he was not only a passionate boater himself, but also a friendly guy willing to talk me through my expectations and needs. Once I was in touch with everyone at Wildwater, my search for the right company ended. I had found them, and I couldn’t have been more excited. My expectations and hopes were soon to be blown out of the water, pun intended.

Grand Plans to Become a River Guide - image
Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, Washington

Once I got to Leavenworth, WA where they are based out of, I was immediately brought into the family that is Wildwater River Guides. Over the coming weeks I learned valuable knowledge and shared in priceless experiences and memories that I will never forget.

My training included everything from safety protocols and precautions, chalk talks about river dynamics, the various parts and functions of the raft, and what to expect out on the water. We spent countless hours running the Wenatchee River, watching and learning from the guides that trained us, and getting time to guide the boats ourselves! After enough time, once the guides felt we were ready, we started to run longer sections of the river. The progression that the course took was perfect. We were ready and well prepared for the challenges the guides saw fit for each of us individually.

The way the Guide Training course at Wildwater is organized results in the perfect mix between hands-on experience and digging deeper into the knowledge of river running. Both of which are absolutely necessary in both recreational and professional boating. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience. From being welcomed with open arms to being taught in the most professional manner the ins and outs of whitewater rafting, my experience at Wildwater will not be forgotten. There isn’t another company I would recommend, even after meeting other companies that I know and respect.

Grand Plans to Become a River Guide - image
The author at Redwall Cavern located in the Grand Canyon

Wildwater River Guides is not only the best outfitter for guide training, but in my opinion, the only option that is worth your time and investment. Don’t hesitate to sign on with this group of amazing people, you won’t regret a thing and you will learn what you need to know to begin your own whitewater story.


-Hayden F.
Telluride, CO