California > California Whitewater Guide School

California Whitewater Guide School

7 or 13 Days from $995
Trip Highlights
  • Essential white water rafting guide training
  • Train on multiple California near Sacramento & Yosemite National Park
  • Learn Swiftwater Rescue & Leave No Trace
  • Elevate your prospects for getting work as a professional river guide
  • New skills will also include: whitewater navigation, raft-rigging, camp skills, food prep & equipment care
Reserve This Trip

(4 reviews)

Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveller Best of the Bay Area Winner

Call Toll Free: 800-346-6277 or enter the month and year you want to go on this trip.
The season runs May - June.

Travel Months *
May June

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Departure Dates

May 15
- Intensive Guide Training & Swiftwater Rescue Certification
June 5 - Beginning Guide Training

Meeting Place

O.A.R.S.' River Park Adventure Campground

7330 River Park Drive, Lotus, CA  95651

38.806327, -120.903538

Adjacent to where Hwy 49 crosses the river, behind Hotshot Imaging and the River Park shopping center


7-Day California Whitewater Guide School: $995* to $1095
13-Day Guide Intensive & Swift Water Rescue: $1695* to $1795

25% discount off regular price for active military personnel and students with a valid university ID

Deposit: $250
Additional Costs: federal, state and local access fees
7 Day: $56 per person
13 Day: $88 per person
Sleep Kit $40 | Tent included

River Rating Minimum Age
Class III - IV16
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California Whitewater Guide Schools: Overview

Download Itinerary

Learn to guide rafts down California’s most exciting whitewater rivers from the company twice named the “The Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure magazine.

You need no prior outdoor or river rafting experience to participate in on of O.A.R.S.’ California Whitewater Rafting Guide Schools. You will learn rafting and camping techniques that will be useful throughout your lifetime.

These California guide schools are ideal for:

  • Those interested in working as a professional river rafting guide
  • Parties interested in guiding their own private river trip(s)
  • Anyone interested in learning the basics of whitewater rafting, reading whitewater and river safety
  • Anyone looking for an incredible bargain on multiple California rivers
  • Anyone who appreciates experiential learning
  • Folks looking for unusual graduation, anniversary, birthday, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, honeymoon GIFT ideas

Why sign up for a California guide school with O.A.R.S.?

  • As the largest and most geographically diverse whitewater rafting and adventure travel outfitter in North America, O.A.R.S. knows a thing or two about rivers and river safety
  • Outside magazine, National Geographic Traveler magazine, MSNBC, Good Morning America, Condé Nast Traveler and Men’s Journal have all recognized O.A.R.S. as offering the some of the “Best Trips” on the planet
  • O.A.R.S. has been guiding people on rivers and coastlines worldwide since 1969, including relaxing Class I floats to adrenaline-pumping Class V rivers throughout North and South America to the Class 10 rapids found in the Grand Canyon
  • More than 450,000 guests have entrusted O.A.R.S. to escort them on some of the most spectacular wilderness destinations worldwide
  • We use top-notch, well-maintained equipment
  • Our experienced, well-rounded guides are personable, approachable and the best in the business
  • We are committed to treading lightly on the environment
  • If you have no outdoor experience, we’ll show you the ropes
  • We have the best guide-to-guest ratio in the business (1:4) ensuring personal attention

For the 7-Day California Guide School, one price includes:

  • California whitewater rafting on multiple Class III & IV rivers located throughout the Sierra Nevada Foothills
  • Guide training
  • Jeff Bennett’s book, “The Complete Whitewater Rafter”
  • 6 nights riverside camping and a 2-person shared tent (You may bring your own sleeping bag/pad or rent them from O.A.R.S.)
  • Meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 7
  • Rafts and related river equipment, including paddles, helmet, PFD/lifejacket
  • All transfers

An example of course content taught during the 7 days at the O.A.R.S. California Guide School:

  • Reading whitewater
  • Maneuvering rafts
  • Various whitewater paddling techniques
  • Knot tying
  • Raft rigging
  • River signals
  • How to communicate with a crew
  • The basic logistics of a rafting trip
  • Camp - setting up, food preparation, minimum impact strategies
  • Tying up and anchoring boats so you know they’ll be there in the morning
  • Wildlife - what to do about those pesky critters
  • Basic River Rescue
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Emergency River Procedures
  • 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

In addition to the above, the 13-Day California Guide School Intensive & Swiftwater Rescue includes:

  • Three-day Swiftwater Rescue Technician I training and certification
  • California whitewater rafting on additional Class III & IV Sierra rivers, which may include the South Fork American River, the Merced River near Yosemite National Park, as well as possibly the Tuolumne River, the North Fork of the American River and/or the North Fork of the Stanislaus.

An example of course content taught in the 13 days at the O.A.R.S. California Guide School:

  • Everything taught in O.A.R.S.’ 7-day whitewater guide school
  • Advanced whitewater navigation, including paddle and oar raft techniques, route selection, maneuvering rafts, boat spacing and river etiquette
  • Swiftwater rescue techniques, including swimming in whitewater, hand signals, ropes, knots, slings, anchors, flipped raft scenarios, throw bag technique, rescuing and extricating an accident victim from the water, swiftwater rescue team organization and the response of the victim and the responsibilities of law-enforcement and on-scene leadership

Raft Guides for Hire

Don’t want the fun to end? If you do well in our California Whitewater Rafting Guide School, we just might consider asking you to stay on as an O.A.R.S. guide. (We do give preferential consideration to our guide school graduates.) Click here to complete our online guide application.

As the paddle sports industry evolves (smaller companies are disbanding, guide retention rate is shrinking due to fewer opportunities) working within the rafting industry has become increasingly competitive. O.A.R.S. requires skilled guides and seeks a higher proficiency rate of its crew. This guide school is a critical first step to river guiding and may provide an opportunity for employment with a well-established organization with itineraries spread throughout North America, South America and Fiji.

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“Our guide school trainers, Dana and Jody, were awesome. They were with us every step of the way. I always felt safe which made it easy to step up to the next challenge and they always had good feedback at the end of each day. Every day was challenging and fun! ”
Marie Riley Baldante ~ Philadelphia, PA

"I loved learning how to become a smart, safe, educated river guide, and seeing the differences between O.A.R.S. guides and those of other companies.
Dave and Jody were both awesome teachers and a lot of fun to be around. They were both super accessible and intelligent."
Gusty Clarke ~ New Canaan, CT

California Whitewater Guide School - 7 or 13 Days Trip Planner

Trip Documents


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Local Weather & Current Conditions

Average American River Temps
Month Low High
March 40° 64°
April 42° 69°
May 47° 77°
June 52° 84°
Water Temperatures
Seasonal Average: 60°

Average Merced River Temps
Month Low High
March 30° 60°
April 35° 65°
May 42° 73°
June 48° 82°
Water Temperatures
Seasonal Average: 50°

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Company Info

O.A.R.S. is an author ized concessioner of Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Grand Te ton National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument.
Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveler Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservations Manager Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist 2007-2013 (River Rafting) Best of the Bay Area Winner

For consecutive years, O.A.R.S. has been named the "Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside Magazine in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program. In multiple years, O.A.R.S.trips have been honored as "50 Tours of a Lifetime" by National Geographic Traveler and since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler has recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler's standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category.

Questions about trips or making reservations? Contact or call 800-346-6277 in the USA or Canada or 1-209-736-4677 if outside the USA or Canada.
O.A.R.S. Companies Inc.,
PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222