California Whitewater Rafting Trips near San Francisco and Lake Tahoe
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions - Coordinated by Raft California

White Water Rafting Guide School 2016

Our intensive  White Water Rafting Guide School on the American River is a six-day workshop designed for those wishing to gain employment as commercial river guides and private rafters wanting to gain knowledge and increase their skills of safe rafting techniques for their own use. Emphasis is placed on learning to read whitewater, Class III-IV safety techniques, some of the swift water rescue skills (does not include swift water rescue certification), boat handling, camp cooking, river safety and conservation, and the methods of providing an excellent, safe, and fun river trip. Many of our students just want to be on the river for six days!

Basic instruction will be given on the South Fork American River.If water levels permit, we may also raft the North or Middle Fork of the American River. We have a 4-5:1 student to instructor ratio.

Professional Educators

The Commercial River Guide Course is conducted by several of the Mariah Wilderness Expeditions’ top core guides who have been professionally training new guides for many years. Basic instruction will be given at Mariah’s campground on the South Fork American River one hour east of Sacramento in the Sierra foothills. The South Fork is 21 miles in length and has over 50 rapids – each offering a unique learning opportunity. It is considered the best river in California on which to develop guiding skills. Evenings will be spent in a “classroom-like setting”, learning more details about river anatomy, knots, first aid and repair, rigging oar boats, etc.  Each participant completing and passing the course will receive a Certificate of Completion.


On your own you will need CPR and First Aid certification (you can obtain these online).
Swift Water Rescue certification is required for all second-year guides. You will learn more about this during the guide school.


  • Anatomy of the river – reading the rapids
  • Teamwork and leadership skills
  • Safety on the river – hand signals
  • Boating gear and equipment
  • Commercial river operations
  • Customer service – safety talks and guide “chatter”
  • Whitewater paddling techniques
  • River etiquette guidelines
  • Problems, emergencies, advanced river rescues
  • Knots and riggings
  • Natural and the local history of the river
  • Meal Preparation
  • Job requirements
  • Required guide equipment
  • Life of a river guide


May 21-26
6 Days and 6 Nights
Meet 9:00AM 5/21.
Courtesy camping the night of 5/20 is included.
(You are on your own for dinner on 5/20 and breakfast on 5/21).

The Commercial River Guide Course Includes

  • Guide School Manual,
  • Camping at Mariah, 6 night, 5/20-25,
  • Scenic campground,
  • Day and evening instruction,
  • Most meals 5/21 Lunch – 5/26 Lunch,
  • River equipment such as life jacket and spray jacket.

Things To Bring
Bring your tent and sleeping bag or, you may rent them from us
($25 ea. for the week).
You must also bring your own wetsuit or dry suit.
You may rent a wetsuit and booties from us ($25 for the week).

2016 Fees
$575 includes the river use fee

Guide School Application