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Learn to Raft Guide Clinic Level 1

Bryson City, NC
from $650
2024 Dates Open!

Spend three days with personalized instruction learning how to guide and paddle your own raft! Participants will get top notch instruction from the experts and hands-on experience on the Nantahala River.

18+ Years Old
3 Days
four people in a yellow rafting in rapids with rocks in the background
two rafters in a black inflatable pack raft
two people with helmets smile with paddles in a yellow boat on the river
Instructor and students in Raft Guide School
Instructor and students in Raft Guide School
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If you are looking for more personalized raft guide instruction for recreation and private boating, then this is the clinic for you!

Learn to Raft Guide is a three-day hands-on clinic for those looking to learn the basic skills to guide their own raft for outdoor recreation and leisure. Participants can expect top-notch training from our experienced guides in a personal setting at 4:1 student teacher ratio. Meet 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.

Gain strong technical foundations that will serve you as you progress your paddling skills. River reading, water safety and communication, rescue techniques, and learning to run the river are all skill sets and knowledge bases you will grow in this clinic. It will provide all participants personal growth and the self confidence to guide rafts and instruct crew members.

What You’ll Learn

  • Essential River Skills
  • River and Raft Terminology
  • How to Read Whitewater, Identifying River Features & Hazards
  • River Running
  • Proper Raft Care
  • Guide Strokes & Stance
  • Crew Strokes & Dynamics
  • Rescue Techniques
  • River Safety & Communication
  • Righting a Flipped Raft

We offer a Spring Raft Guide School for aspiring professional raft guides interested in working at NOC.

What to Expect

Guests will meet their professional instructors, get issued the necessary river gear, and then head to a lake to learn the foundations of effective guide strokes. After spending some time on the lake, we will be putting that knowledge into action as we run Class II-III whitewater rivers for the remainder of our time together. While most of our time will be spent on the river, we will supplement lessons with river side “chalk talks” to ensure that students gain strong understanding and confidence in the skills being taught.


Upcoming Dates

Dates Location  
Jun 21-23, 2024 Bryson City, NC
Aug 9-11, 2024 Bryson City, NC
Sep 13-15, 2024 Bryson City, NC
Oct 11-13, 2024 Bryson City, NC



Nantahala Outdoor Center
13077 U.S. 19 West
Bryson City, NC 28713

NOC provides the following:

  • All necessary specialty whitewater equipment
  • Three days of full day instruction and support
  • In-course transportation
  • Riverside picnic lunches daily
  • NOC’s renowned instruction from highly trained guides
  • 10% off river essentials during your guide school date​ including PFDs, Helmets, Knives, Carabiners, Pulleys, Whistles, Webbing, and Rope.

NOC provides the primary gear needed for this clinic including rafts, paddles, PFD’s, helmets, splash tops and pants, wetsuits, and booties. Lunch is provided daily.

Please pack warm layers made of synthetic materials or wool, a water, bottle, and a spirit of adventure!

A more detailed packing list will be sent out before your clinic.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older. No paddling experience required.

Daily picnic lunch is provided. NOC offers other dining options onsite at River’s End Restaurant, Big Wesser (seasonally), and the General Store.

Lodging is not included in this clinic. NOC offers onsite lodging in Basecamp, Dogwood Motel, and Cabins and is bookable online.

See Accommodations here. 


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