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Raft Guide School

Bryson City, NC
from $500
Dates offered in early Spring and Summer

Learn the skills needed to work as a professional raft guide for commercial outfitters, summer camps, clubs, and outdoor schools in our industry-leading NOC Raft Guide School.

18+ Years Old
4-5 Days Long
Instructor and students in Raft Guide School
Rafting through rapids during Raft Guide School
Carrying a raft up a staircase during Raft Guide School
Instructor and students in Raft Guide School
Book Now from $500



Learn from the experts! Nantahala Outdoor Center is 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.

Guide School not only teaches essential river skills, but it also provides students of all 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.

What You’ll Learn

  • Essential River Skills
  • River Terminology
  • How to Read Whitewater
  • Risk Management
  • Working with Guests

Skills You’ll Acquire

  • Using River Signals
  • Maneuvering and Rigging Rafts
  • Knot Tying Techniques
  • River Rescue
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Basic River Operations

What to Expect

Designed as a fast-paced program, a majority of Raft Guide School instruction will take place on the river teaching participants the essential skills needed to work as a professional raft guide. From start to finish, this challenge-by-choice program is designed to get students engaged early and create a learning environment that is geared towards your success as a student!

Most of guide school will be spent on NOC’s main campus on the world renowned, Nantahala River. Whether you choose a week of guide school, or the brand new intensive program split between two weekends, students will learn just as much off the river as instruction sessions and meals are conducted in a group setting to further emphasize group camaraderie and learning opportunities.

From how to sit in a raft to running to Nantahala falls, our Guide School program is designed to give you all of the tools to be successful in the whitewater rafting industry.

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




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

NOC provides the following:

  • All necessary specialty whitewater equipment
  • Week-long class includes Sunday-Friday night lodging and Sunday dinner through Friday dinner
  • Weekend Intensive class includes Friday-Saturday night lodging and Friday dinner through Sunday lunch for two consecutive weekends
  • Transportation
  • NOC’s renowned instruction from highly trained guides
  • 35% 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 each course including boats, paddles, PFD’s, helmets, splash tops and pants, wetsuit bottoms, and booties. Exclusive discounts are available for course participants at the Outfitter’s Store.


  • 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

Optional Items

  • Sunglasses and eyeglass strap
  • Hat or visor
  • Ear plugs (if sensitive to water)

Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Meals are included in the cost for NOC’s Guide School. For additional dining options, choose from two onsite restaurants. Convenience items are available for purchase at the General Store.


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