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Learn from the experts! Nantahala Outdoor Center has been the leader in outdoor adventure since 1972 with professionally trained guides that have led more whitewater trips than any outfitter in the world. 

We offer guide school on select weeks from March through May. Guide school dates are subject to change if minimum participation requirements are not met.

Early Bird Guide School Discount Offer!

Use Code GUIDE24 at checkout and receive a discount on Spring 2024 Guide School Enrollment. The sooner you book, the more you save!

  • 20% Off when you book by October 31st
  • 15% Off November 1st – 30th
  • 10% Off December 1st – 31st

At NOC Guide School, participants can expect the top-notch training needed to pursue work as a professional raft guide at Nantahala Outdoor Center. It also provides students of all ages and academic levels with personal growth and development, building skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, and self-confidence. 

Guide School not only teaches essential river skills but also provides students of all academic levels with personal growth and development, building skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, and self-confidence. We also have limited Guide School scholarship opportunities available.

Once you complete Guide School, utilize your new skills and apply for a fun and exciting position with NOC guiding guests down one of multiple rivers in the southeast.


Work in Adventure

Guide School is the perfect entry to becoming a raft guide on NOC's southeastern rivers. Students that pass through guide school and acquire a position at NOC will receive a $300 reimbursement after completing the initial month of employment!



  • March 3- March 8
  • March 10- March 15
  • March 17- March 22
  • March 31- April 5
  • April 7- April 12
  • April 14- April 19
  • April 21- April 26
  • May 12- May 17
  • May 18- May 23 ***note this is a Saturday start and Thursday end.

Learn how to: 

  • River Terminology
  • River Features
  • Risk Management and Mitigation
  • Crew Dynamics
  • Trip Dynamics
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Equipment Maintenance

Skills you'll acquire: 

  • Essential River Skills
  • Reading Whitewater
  • Guide Stance and Strokes
  • Raft Maneuvers
  • Whitewater Swimming
  • Raft Flip Drills
  • Knot Tying
  • Raft Rigging


Included in Course: 

  • All necessary specialty whitewater equipment 
  • River Transportation 
  • NOC’s renowned instruction from highly trained guides 
  • 35% off river essentials during your guide school date​: PFDs​, Helmets, Knives, Carabiners, Pulleys, Whistles, Webbing, and Rope  

Course Length:
5 Days


Meals & Lodging available to add-on


Participants will check in on Sunday evening and have a meal (included) with their fellow students to prepare for the week ahead. Lunch each day of the course is also provided. You will have the option to add on the following when you purchase the Guide School course:

Breakfast & Dinner Package: Add Monday through Friday breakfast and dinner from Relia’s Garden Restaurant each day to your guide school course. Individual meals will not be available for purchase during the course at Relia’s Garden Restaurant.

We have two onsite restaurants for additional dining options outside of the package offered above, and convenience items are available for purchase at the General Store.


Lodging is not included in the Guide School Course price but may be added on when you purchase the Guide School course:

Shared Bunkhouse Lodging | Enjoy a shared lodging experience with others attending Guide School at NOC’s Basecamp! This option includes a twin-size bed in a shared sleeping area. You will also have access to a shared community building with a kitchen, dining hall, and shower house. Linens and kitchen supplies are not included. All rooms have electricity, heat, and air conditioning.

Shared Tent Lodging | Relax steps from the river and sleep under the stars in our raised platform tents. This option includes a shared two-person tent and access to facilities on campus.


NOC provides the primary gear needed for each course, including boats, paddles, PFDs, helmets, wetsuits, and splash tops and bottoms. Participants will need to provide individual gear outlined below. 


  • Band-Aids, Tape, Basic First Aid
  • Clothing and Personal Items 
  • Shorts or Swimwear 
  • Synthetic, Wool, or Silk Long Underwear 
  • Wool Socks 
  • Rain gear 
  • Water Shoes or Old Sneakers
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm 


  • Sunglasses and eyeglass strap 
  • Hat or visor  



Best Spring Break ever! I want to go back...
– Todd S.

If you have ever had the slightest interest in being a raft guide, sign up for this class! Whether you are 18 or 50, I promise you won't regret it. It was one of the best weeks of my life and I discovered a new passion. Carpe Fluvium!

– Chris S.

I recommend this to anyone. This was a fantastic school taught by some great people.
– Jim K.

If you want a life-changing experience, take a week and do raft guide school. It will change your life. Best medicine ever.

– J David S.

Crazy to reminisce on a moment that changed my life!

– Francesca G.