Lessons & Training

Raft Guide School

Duration: 4-5 Days

Price Per Person: $475

Dates: 2021 Dates Now Open! Early Bird Discounts Below!

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.

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.

Students must be 18 years or older. 

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​ including PFDs, Helmets, Knives, Carabiners, Pulleys, Whistles, Webbing, and Rope.

2021 Dates Now Open, Including Weekend Options!

2021 Guide School Dates  
March 7 – March 13 Book Now
March 14 – March 20 Book Now
March 19 – March 21 & March 26 – March 28* Book Now
March 21 – March 27 Book Now
March 28 – April 3 Book Now
April 4 – April 10 Book Now
April 9 – April 11 & April 16 – April 18* Book Now
April 11 – April 17 Book Now
May 9 – May 15 Book Now

*Weekend courses go from Friday evening to Sunday evening two weekends in a row

Guest Testimonials

By: Chris S.

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!

By: Jim K.

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

By: J David S.

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

Outpost Overview

NOC's 500-acre adventure center is located at the intersection of the Nantahala River and Appalachian Trail. 


Guest amenities include:

  • Outdoor recreation activities including rafting, kayaking, zip lines, and mountain biking
  • Three restaurants, including two on the riverfront
  • Four retail stores, including NOC's flagship Outfitter's Store
  • Rustic cabin and bunkhouse lodging for over 200
  • Terminus for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
  • One mile of Lake Fontana frontage with lake kayak and SUP program
  • Host to over 30 annual events, from world championships to music festivals


Nantahala Outdoor Center's main campus, the Nantahala River Outpost is located in far Western North Carolina on US Highway 19. 12 miles from Bryson City and on the south side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the outpost is nestled in the Nantahala Gorge. If you are on a Rapid Transit rafting/train excursions, the meeting place is in Bryson City at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Depot.

From Asheville, NC: Take I-40 West towards Knoxville, TN. Take exit 27 onto US 74 West towards Waynesville. Stay on 74 West, the outpost is 50 miles down this road. 8 miles past Bryson City, the 4-lane will split into two 2-lane roads. Stay on 74, the left lane. You will enter the Nantahala Gorge and after 4.3-miles you see the Nantahala River and NOC's Nantahala Outpost.

From Gatlinburg, TN: Take 441 South through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and through Cherokee. Just past Cherokee, get on 74 West. After 15 miles, the road will split into two 2-lane roads. Stay on 74 W, the left lane, and continue the 4.3-miles to the NOC Nantahala Outpost.

From East Atlanta: Take I-85 North to I-985 North. At Gainesville, take 365 North to 441 North. Just past Dillsboro, NC, 441 merges with US 74. 8 miles past Bryson City, the 4-lane splits into two 2-lane roads. Stay on 74, the left lane. Continue 4.3-miles and arrive at the NOC Nantahala Outpost.

From West Atlanta: Take I-75 North to I-575 North. I-575 becomes State Hwy 5, and then Hwy 76. Stay on this road until Blue Ridge, GA where you turn left onto Hwy 60 towards Mineral Bluff, GA. In Mineral Bluff, turn right onto Hwy 60 Spur. Follow it into North Carolina to US 74 East, turning right towards Murphy and Andrews when the road ends. Stay on 74 East, NOC's Nantahala Outpost is 20-miles past Andrews. You will follow the Nantahala River for the last 8-miles.

From Chattanooga, TN: Take I-75 North towards Cleveland, TN. Take the 1st Cleveland exit, the US 64 Bypass Exit. Go 6-miles and take the Ocoee Exit onto US 64 East towards Murphy, NC. In Murphy the road number changes to US 74. Stay on 74 East, NOC's Nantahala Outpost is 20-miles past Andrews. You will follow the Nantahala River for the last 8-miles.

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