What do Rafting Guides do in the Off Season?

Written by Ben Sack, 04.10.2019

What do Rafting Guides do in the Off Season?

As the air grows crisp and the leaves begin to turn a bouquet of colors, Colorado white water rafting season draws to an end. So what do those adventure-loving raft guides do when they’re not guiding trips down the jostling rapids of the Arkansas river?

These hard-working, fun, carefree wilderness lovers come from nearly every background out there. With white water rafting trips only running five months each year, these river-lovers must return to their other lives when rafting season comes to a close.


Guide Philip: Student at CSU Fort Collins

Raft guiding is a great way for college students to enjoy a summer reprieve from their coursework. With most river rafting trips taking off during mid-summer months, the rafting season aligns perfectly with student’s summer break.

For some, guiding time prepares them for their future careers in the outdoor industry. This includes those looking to work with the Forest Service, National Parks system, in recreation management, or even those wanting more hands-on experience with nature as they work towards a career in environmental sciences.

There are others who spend their summer time on the river not for the purpose of experience in a specific career field, but for the fun, adventure, and life experience that it offers. Future engineers, doctors, and lawyers can be found tackling the rapids during rafting season.


Guide Matt: High School Teacher

Teachers are another lucky group whose schedules align perfectly with rafting season. Often times, the teachers that spend their summers on the river also spent their college summers as guides, and now serve as some of our more experienced trip leaders.

You will find elementary school teachers alongside highschool coaches  enjoying outdoor time on the river, sharing their passion for rafting and the outdoors with those they take on a journey down-river. Teachers are often the guides that stick with us year-after-year, living fulfilling lives where they get to share their passion for education and wilderness all year long.

Ski Instruction

Raft Guide Gerj
Guide Gerj: Ski Patrol

Here in Colorado, we are fortunate enough to experience four beautiful seasons in the pristine Rocky Mountains. Our wilderness provides the perfect canvas for all sorts of outdoor adventure. Die-hard adventurers take advantage of this diversity, spending their time leading one adventure trip after the next.

Many of these thrill-seekers spend their summers on the river guiding families, friends, and groups on the ride of their lives, and winters teaching youth (and late-blooming wilderness-loving adults) how to ski or snowboard.

With river rafting lasting from May through September and ski season starting as early as October and lasting through April, the rafting season and ski season perfectly complement one another, allowing these guides to have fun all year long.

Tour Guiding

Echo Raft Guide Jered
Guide Jered: Snowmobile Guide

Tour guides are another group who have figured out how to spend all-year long in the beautiful outdoors. Guides can lead snowmobile expeditions, rock or ice climbing trips, horseback riding adventures, and more. You will find these individuals scattered across national parks throughout the US, and even the world!


Echo Canyon Raft Guide Brown
Guide Brown: Non-Stop Rafter

Yes, there are guides in Colorado who spend the rest of the year…rafting. Some of our guides spend the months that they aren’t guiding on the Colorado rivers in other rafting destinations world-wide. You will find amazing rafting spots scattered all across the world. This gives people the opportunity to experience beautiful landscapes world-wide while spending their days taking people on trips that they’ll never forget.

Remote or Freelance Work

Echo Canyon Raft Guide Spencer
Guide Spencer: Freelance Artist

Most of us dream of a job that we could do from anywhere, at any time. Some of our guides are those who have achieved this dream. Whether typing away from their laptops, taking calls as they run their businesses from afar, or taking a seasonal break from work, these guides often return to their home offices once the season commences.


There are those lucky few who spend their time traveling the world when they’re not leading trips down the river. All throughout the year, those of us still here at the Raft Echo headquarters receive postcards from all around the world, our guides sharing their travel tales.

Closing Thoughts

No matter how our guides spend the rest of their year, many of them return to Raft Echo year-after-year. These committed wilderness lovers share their passion for the river and the outdoors with every person they take on a rafting trip. Some of our customers ask for the same guide every season, catching up with their favorite guide and sharing stories of fun, adventure, and travel that filled the rest of the year.

Would You Like to Spend Your Summers Rafting?

If you fall into one of the above categories, rafting might be the perfect summer job for you! Click here to learn more about becoming a rafting guide with Raft Echo.

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About the Author

Ben Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado's largest white water rafting outfitter. He's also a raft guide, a photographer, and he loves exploring Colorado and beyond with his wife and two boys.
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