double clickHow to Become a Western River Guide
Every Employee Makes
A Difference to the Success of Every Trip
Guiding light... hehehee!

How to Become a Western River Employee

Western River Expeditions' tagline is "Best Rafting Vacations in the West" and we don't say it lightly. We aim to provide just that in every aspect of the business. Our employees, from the bus drivers to the truck drivers and warehouse or office staff, to the guides working on the river, are the heart and soul of our business. We are all guides. Whether working on the river with guests, making a reservation, or working the warehouse, "guiding" is our job.

How to Apply

Email your a resume, a cover letter, and 2 or 3 references to: [email protected]

Interviews will be conducted virtually during the last week of January, although earlier dates can be arranged if you know that you will not be available at that time.

Working for Western River and Moab Adventure Center

"It'll be the hardest job you'll ever have, but you'll be having so much fun you'll hardly notice." Brian Merrill, CEO of Western River Expeditions gives a peek at what the job entails, and how to apply!

Frequently Asked Questions About Working for Western

The following is a series of answers to questions that we often get concerning our hiring process. Please read this thoroughly before submitting your application. Our training for new employees usually starts on the first Saturday in May and you must be available from that point until, at least, the middle of August.

What kinds of jobs are available?

We are looking to fill the following summer positions:

  1. River Guides
  2. Moab Adventure Center Staff (retail sales and trip sales)
  3. Climbing and Canyoneering Guides
  4. Drivers (CDL is preferred but we can also train you and help you earn your CDL).
What is Western's Moab Adventure Center?

Western also has a store in Moab, Utah called the Moab Adventure Center. Out of the Moab Adventure Center we sell raft trips, merchandise, Hummer tours, Arches National Park tours, jet boat tours, horseback riding, mountain biking, canyoneering, rock climbing, scenic air tours, zip-lining and hot air ballooning. Western operates the rafting, climbing, canyoneering, Arches and Hummer tours. The other activities are operated by different companies who book many of their tours through the Moab Adventure Center. Some of our new employees may be asked to fill multiple roles such as guiding and working in the Moab Adventure Center.

What is Western looking for in an employee?

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, or disability, and will not be discriminated against on any of these bases.

We are looking for people who have an established work history and who have interesting personalities. We teach our employees everything they need to know about the job and bring them along as their skills develop, so previous experience is not required. Like any job, we need maturity, common sense, and a willingness to be taught. Here’s a hint: We assume you love the outdoors or you wouldn’t be applying. Let us know what makes you interested. Information like, “I’m really an outdoor person,” is not very interesting. Statements like, “I once lived an entire winter in a snow cave”, “In my spare time I volunteer at a homeless shelter”, or “I once won a Dungeons and Dragons tournament” are interesting.

We are looking for people who are willing to live up to our behavioral and grooming standards. Western does not allow its employees to drink alcohol, take illicit drugs, smoke, vape, chew tobacco, or do anything similar while on the job, on company property, or in company vehicles. This includes time spent in camp while on a river trip and includes time spent in company housing. Pursuant to our National Park Service contracts and Department of Transportation regulations, we conduct drug testing. Certain grooming standards are also required such as no beards or excessively long hair on males, and we ask that females shave their legs and armpits. We also reserve the right to ask you to remove excessive body piercings (anything that is visible other than your ears). Tattoos are allowed unless they are inappropriate. If there is a question, feel free to ask about it in your interview.

How does training work?

Western provides comprehensive training for all of its new employees. Many companies charge for their training sessions, but we choose not to. While our training is not competitive (i.e., we do not invite 20 people on training with the intention of only hiring 10), it is an audition. We reserve the right to rescind our offer of employment if you do not work out during training. This is a rare occurrence. Training is mandatory and starts on the first Saturday of May and continues for three weeks.

Where will I work?

As a new employee, you will start in our Moab, Utah operation. Western has two bases of operation: Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Grand Canyon trips are based out of Fredonia and all other trips and activities are based out of Moab. Note that while we sell Idaho, Oregon and Costa Rica trips through our brochure and website, other companies operate those trips.

What will I get paid?

For guides, pay is by the “river day”. Your pay goes up as your experience and responsibility increases. Trip Leaders get extra pay and we pay extra for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certificates. There is also hourly work available, and if you have a Commercial Driver’s License or other specialized skill, such as welding, higher hourly rates may be earned.

Because pay rates may change from year-to-year, actual rates will be discussed in your interview.

It is possible to receive increases in any of these amounts based on merit, level of responsibility, and previous experience. Guides also receive gratuities from their trips. This can be a significant amount of money above and beyond your wages.

Where will I live?
Western provides employee housing at its warehouses. It is “bunkhouse style”. There is a monthly charge to live in the housing. You are welcome to take advantage of it or live in housing that you find for yourself. It will be much less expensive to live in our housing, than any other housing you will find in Moab. Male and Female employees are housed separately, and access is via a secure key card system. Employees are expected to keep the housing clean and there are rules to be observed that will be explained at training.
What and where will I eat?

If you work on the river, you eat the same food that our guests eat. In fact, you and your fellow guides will prepare all of the meals. There is always left-over food from trips, and this is placed in the “employee fridge” and is available for your use. Otherwise, you are on your own. There is a full kitchen available in the housing. Between the inexpensive housing, and a lot of free food, a frugal person can live very inexpensively during the summer.

Are there other expenses I can expect?
Guides purchase their own lifejackets and you need to provide all of your own clothing and personal gear (if you are hired, a “what to bring” list will be provided). We provide all other river related gear that you will need (e.g., boat straps, first aid kit and rescue gear). You will also need to pay for your first aid certification. This can range from about $150.00 to $600.00 depending on which certification you obtain. The extra pay you receive for obtaining an EMT or WFR certificate more than off-sets the higher cost of the training.
When does the season begin and end?

For a new guide, your season begins the first Saturday in May. If you are a college student, check your finals schedule. Our training course is required, even if you have previous guiding experience. You will spend 3 weeks training. Most of the time, you will be on the water. All guides are expected to work until the end of August. For many of you, this will be right up until you return to school. For those who will not be in school next fall, there is work available well into the fall. In fact, we need some people all the way through October. In subsequent years, you may start guiding as early as March 15th.

If you work in the Moab Adventure Center, you also need to be available around the first week of May and are expected to work right up until school starts again in late August or early September. If you are not in school, we would love to have you start working earlier in the spring and you can continue working through the fall.

May I get time off?
Yes you may, but not too much. Area managers write the work schedules. All time off requests need to be made in writing and with plenty of notice. If you have not specifically requested a day off, we assume you are available to work. Often, the number of guests on our day trips will grow dramatically just hours before the trip, so we need to be able to reach you and put you on the trip.

Our business is seasonal. We are like farmers in that we have to make all of our money in a short period of time. Getting a lot of time off for family vacations or other events does not work well with this job. All employees are needed, most of the time, during our season. Please consider this before applying. We do not want to be harsh, but we simply cannot afford to have summer employees who are constantly asking for time off. Also, if you intend to only work one summer, please do not apply. If you know you are getting married at the end of the summer and will have to leave a month early to get ready or must make a weekly trip to Salt Lake for a little snuggle time, please do not apply. If you plan to go on a two-week vacation with your family, during the busy part of our summer, please do not apply.

Is this the job for you?

This job is a paradox. Guiding can be the most difficult and exhausting work you ever perform and at the same time be the most fun and exciting. We need people who can get up early and keep pushing even when it is cold or hot and windy. We need people with a positive, upbeat outlook on life. If you need a lot of “me time” or prefer to be alone, this is not the job for you.

Cataract Canyon Guides 2x

What is it like to work for Western? »

Western is extremely proud of its employees and we try our best to maintain a work environment and company that is supportive and that our employees will be proud of. At the same time, we are just like any other business that expects a reciprocal commitment from our employees.

Check out our websites and to get a better idea of everything we do and sell.

Being a Western River Guide

What does it take to become a Western River Guide? How do the guides feel about the long hours of rowing boats, taking care of guests and being in remote canyons most of the summer?

What is the Western Way?

So many of our guests come away from these trips saying the guides were the very best part of their trip. Regardless of where you choose to go on vacation, that really is what makes the biggest difference.

What Do Our Guests Say?

Western River Expeditions guests describe what they like most about the unique river guides who lead Western River trips.