Raft Guide School

Learn from the experts! Nantahala Outdoor Center has been the leader in outdoor adventure since 1972 with professionally trained guides that have led more whitewater trips than any outfitter in the world.

At NOC Guide School, participants can expect top notch training to gain the skills needed to pursue work as a professional raft guide for commercial outfitters, summer camps, clubs, and outdoor schools. Join a small group of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts for an intensive multi-day training at our 500-acre campus in the Nantahala River Gorge just outside of Bryson City.

Request the 2022 Guide School Information Packet here!

Participants will learn to:

  • Read whitewater 
  • Use river signals 
  • Maneuver and rig rafts 
  • Tie knots 
  • Work with guests 
  • Other basic river operations 

Guide School not only teaches essential river skills, but it also provides students of all ages and academic levels with personal growth and development, building skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, and self-confidence.

Once you complete Guide School, utilize your new skills and apply for a fun and exciting position with NOC guiding guests down one of multiple rivers in the southeast.

Limited scholarship opportunities are available.

Students must be 18 years or older. 

Course Length:
4-5 Days


Meals: Included with Course

Included in Course:

  • All necessary specialty whitewater equipment
  • Week-long class includes Sunday-Friday night lodging and Sunday dinner through Friday dinner.
  • Weekend class includes Friday-Saturday night lodging and Friday dinner through Sunday lunch.
  • Transportation
  • NOC’s renowned instruction from highly trained guides
  • 35% off river essentials during your guide school date​: PFDs​, Helmets, Knives, Carabiners, Pulleys, Whistles, Webbing, and Rope

If you have ever had the slightest interest in being a raft guide, SIGN UP FOR THIS CLASS!! Whether you are 18 or 50 I promise you won't regret it. It was one of the best weeks of my life and helped discover something I had a passion for. Carpe Fluvium!

-Chris S.

I recommend this to anyone. This was a fantastic school taught by some great people. Best vacation you will take.

– Jim K.

If you want a life changing experience, take a week and go do raft guide school. It will change your life. Best medicine ever.

– David S.

Course In Action

Courses Dates

No Scheduled Courses

****Guide School dates are subject to change if minimum participation requirements are not met.

Weekend courses start the weekend listed and require the following weekend to complete the course.
- April 8-10 includes the weekend of April 15-17

Packing List

NOC provides the primary gear needed for each course, including boats, paddles, PFDs, helmets, dry tops and bottoms.
Participants will need to provide individual gear outlined below.


  • Alarm Clock
  • Band-Aids, Tape, Basic First Aid
  • Bed Linens or Sleeping Bag and Pillow
  • Clothing and Personal Items
    • Shorts or Swimwear
    • Synthetic, Wool, or Silk Long Underwear
    • Wool Socks
    • Rain gear
    • Water Shoes or Old Sneakers
  • Flashlight
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm
  • Towel


  • Sunglasses and eyeglass strap
  • Hat or visor
  • Ear plugs

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