Whitewater Raft Guide

This job has been Expired
Smoky Mountain Outdoors
Job Overview


Smoky Mountain Outdoors (SMO) has a long-standing record of training great raft guides. Over the past 25 years we have trained hundreds of guides, many of whom have continued to guide on other rivers both nationally and internationally.

Our Raft Guide School is a FREE program paid for by SMO. As someone who is interested in becoming a whitewater river guide you may have noticed that some companies offer their own programs, but at a high cost. Our Raft Guide School is designed to be affordable, with a full-time guide positioned offered to those who excel and pass the course. We only invite you if we are confident that you will pass the course.

The only cost SMO requests is the price of your river equipment, which we sell to you. Once you buy the equipment, it is yours to keep. We do our best to make it extremely affordable and we recommend shopping around online to compare cost. We are confident you will not find a better price for gear! Here is the list of what every SMO raft guide must have.

  • Black Class V PFD (lifejacket)
  • Black Whitewater Helmet
  • 75’ Throw Bag
  • Four Locking Carabiners
  • 10’ Tubular Webbing
  • Whistle
  • Two 6’ 4mm Prusik Cords
  • First-Aid and CPR Certification American Red Cross

The cost of all this equipment is a reasonable $300 and is for you to keep.


If you are interested in attending one of our guide schools, please fill out an application. https://www.smokymountainrafting.com/employment/

After completing application, and reading all the information provided, please feel free to send your resume and a cover letter to [email protected]. Most applicants also choose to include a few photos of themselves to show their personalities; this is a great way to put a face with a name. Eligible applicants will be contacted with an interview phone call.

Guide Schools 2020:
March 16th – 21st
May  4th – 9th
May  11th – 16th
June 1st – 6th
June 8th – 13th


SMO has a diverse, fun-loving staff of 80 rafts guides and growing. Most guides are in their early twenties, others bring years of river experience to the staff. SMO guides are a tight-knit group, who not only live and work together, but spend their time off together as well.

Our guides return every year, not only for the work they enjoy, but for the friends they have made. We have a full-time staff of 80 guides, and there is never a shortage of things to do, or friends to hang out with. We are confident you will make many new friends, and shared an amazing summer together.


Our ideal candidate is a healthy and active person who is eager to learn new skills while challenging themselves. During our Guide School, we look for candidates who show a great understanding of teamwork, self-motivation, respect, and responsibility. Yes, river guiding can be a physically demanding job. But is also extremely FUN and very rewarding. Being a raft guide is a job that you will truly enjoy.


We provide on-site, riverside housing, to all guides. Our accommodations vary and are comfortable. Guides are paired and share a room in one of our three bunkhouses for the season. We encouraged our guides to decorated their living areas to making them more comfortable. The rooms are unfurnished and only contain a bunkbed platform (twin) some shelving but not much else. The mattress and bedding is not provided so bring what is suitable for your comfort level. All rooms have electricity and air conditioning.

WI-FI is available at the outpost, just a short walk from guide housing. Camping is free and all share amenities are included.

Separate shower and bathroom facilities are provided for men and women. A communal guide kitchen is provided for all guides but please bring your own cookware and utensils.


SMO offers tons of FREE employee exchange programs with tourism companies in the area including Mountain Biking, Zip-Lining, Amusement and Water Parks, plus many more. SMO also organizes several staff outings during the summer including rafting trips to other rivers.

We host weekly staff dinner at the outpost. It’s always a big event and the highlight everyones week. A few guides every  week volunteer to cook whatever they want. They also pick a theme for the party and dress up. We also have a swimming pool at our campground that we allow our guides to use!


Most of our employees arrive in their own vehicles. However, if you are planning on flying in from abroad or another state, Tyson McGhee Airport in Knoxville, TN will be the closest airport. Knoxville also has the closest Greyhound station. Both are an hour away. Airport and bus station pick-ups can be arranged for a small fee.

Once at the outpost vehicles are not necessary. Walking from housing to work takes 3 minutes. Bicycles are recommended. The closest supermarket, movie theater or restaurant are 15 minutes away. Employees usually carpool for these, so having a car is not necessary.


As mentioned above SMO has tons a FREE employee exchange programs with tourism companies in the area including Mountain Biking, Zip-Lining, Amusement and Water Parks. We also organize several staff outings during the summer including rafting trips to other rivers in the area.

The Smoky Mountain National Park is only minutes away with 850 miles of hiking trails. If you have a kayak, canoe, raft or just a fishing pole, we are located directly the Pigeon River. Guides create their own weekly group outings, always strengthening the team dynamics that we are so proud to have. With 80 guides and three days off every week, there is never a lack of things to do!