ART has an outstanding reputation for training whitewater river guides. We set the industry standards with our comprehensive program. Our training is primarily in paddle boat rafting but our guides are also trained to become proficient in oar boats. We feel our style reflects our philosophy of providing trips that are a learning experience. ART guides are trained to teach our guests about paddling techniques, river characteristics, local history, and the riparian environment.

Our training program is intensive and experiential in design. We will document training hours which will greatly exceed the state requirements. We expect all trainees to have a minimum of Red Cross basic first aid and CPR certifications before they arrive. We will begin to develop your “RIVER SENSE” as you learn about river characteristics and gain experiences in the river environment. ART guides must also possess a genuine interest in working with the public in a team environment. Topics of instruction include:


  • EQUIPMENT: Use and care of all rafting gear. Proper inflation, maintenance, repair and rigging of paddle and oar boats.
  • PADDLE STROKES: Forward, back paddle, pry and draw strokes. We will emphasize efficient techniques to maximize propulsion and minimize injury. We will develop an understanding of their effects on maneuvering rafts. Oar strokes are also covered.
  • HAZARDS: Recognizing potential problems such as rocks, hydraulics, strainers, undercuts, low head dams, cold water and high water.
  • RAPIDS: Scouting, portaging, and running rapids safely. Types and causes of rapids. Learning the classifications and grading on the I to VI scale.
  • RESCUE: Self rescue, boat-based rescue, throwbags, and technical rope systems. Preventative procedures, rescue team organization, use of equipment, medical emergencies, entrapments and extrication will be covered. This rescue course set the industry standards for professional guides.
  • TRAINING THE COMMERCIAL GUESTS: Techniques in developing a competent paddling crew, safety orientation, rescue procedures and understanding group dynamics.


Our river guide training will begin with an orientation at Arkansas River Tours’ base in Cotopaxi. We will then start the “on the river” training on the Arkansas River. This will be held in Bighorn Sheep Canyon and Browns Canyon to introduce trainees to river travel and the necessary skills and teamwork needed to safely run commercial trips. Our instructors will begin to evaluate your work ethic and ability to learn skills necessary to become a guide with ART. This trip will give you an opportunity to show your skills and desire.

Our hiring process is thorough and starts with your first phone interview. We expect trainees to

show a strong ability to work in a team atmosphere and be supportive of each other. Your acceptance as an employee of ART will depend on your ability to work with our guests and with other employees as well as your river skills. Working as a river guide can be a fun and very rewarding occupation. If you are ready for a challenge, send us your application or call for more information. Get ready for the best summer of your life!


Training starts 0n May 17, 2021 at 8:00 am in Cotopaxi.
Costs: $550.00
This includes instruction, all boating gear and camping. A $100 deposit after we accept your application will hold your training position. Full payment due April 1.


  • Reservationist/Office Staff – Cotopaxi and Canon City offices
  • Trainee River Guide and Experienced Whitewater Guides
  • Experienced Float Fishing Guide
  • CDL Bus Drivers
  • Videographer
  • Food Coordinator

If you are interested in any of these positions, send an application or call 719-942-4362 for more information and job descriptions. We are looking for friendly, creative, dedicated and hard-working applicants looking for a fun job opportunity.


HIRING ROYAL GORGE (CLASS IV -V) GUIDES FOR THE 2021 SEASON! Thank you for your interest in guiding for Arkansas River Tours. ART guides have an outstanding reputation in running quality whitewater trips proficiently in paddle or oar boats. We feel our style reflects our philosophy of providing trips that are a learning experience as well as a fun experience. ART guides are trained to teach our guests about proper paddling techniques, river characteristics, local history and the riparian environment.

All experienced guides interested in working with us must be open to learning and training to meet our high standards. We feel there is room for individual styles but our basic objectives must be met. If you have an open mind and can agree to this arrangement, we invite you to send in our application. After a phone interview we need your current river log and guide documents. Please call me at 719-942-4362 if you have any questions. All potential guides must confirm their attendance by April 1.


ART employees may camp for the summer at our private campground at Itty Bitty Lakes. This shady, riverside campground has electricity, phone, men and women’s bathrooms with showers and a communal kitchen. This camp is located in Coaldale just 2 miles from our rafting base in Cotopaxi. This is a cost sharing arrangement and averages about $ 550 per person for the entire season.


ART guides are paid by the trip. First year guides make $84 for a full day, $45 for a half day trip and senior guides make $120+ for a full day and $65+ for half days. Guides enter our work rotation after completing the training program and successfully completing a qualifying (check out) run on a commercial trip with an instructor on board. This run usually takes place between 2 – 3 weeks after formal training is completed. During this time potential guides continue to gain experience by running boats with fellow trainees and riding on commercial trips with experienced guides.

All rafting equipment is provide during the training program. Upon completion of the program guides are required to have their own PFD (Type 3 life jacket), rescue knife, whistle, throw bag, carabiners, guide paddle, helmet, tie down straps and waterproof bag. If you have any of these items bring them but don’t purchase them for the training. Upon completion of the training you are eligible to purchase these items through our Pro Purchase program at wholesale prices.

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