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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. 

At NOC Guide School, participants can expect the top-notch training needed to pursue work as a professional raft guide for commercial outfitters, summer camps, clubs, and outdoor schools. It also provides students of all ages and academic levels with personal growth and development, building skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, and self-confidence. 

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.

Limited scholarship opportunities are available.

Learn how to: 

  • Read whitewater 
  • Use river signals  
  • Maneuver and rig rafts  
  • Tie knots  
  • Confidently lead guests  
  • Manage risks on the river
  • Other basic river operations  for
    commercial and private raft trips.

Included in Course: 

  • All necessary specialty whitewater equipment 
  • Week-long class includes Sunday-Friday night lodging and Sunday dinner through Friday dinner. 
  • Weekend class includes Friday-Saturday night lodging and Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. 
  • 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:
4-5 Days


Meals & Lodging:


We offer guide school on select weeks from March through May. In 2021, we will be offering new, back-to-back weekend courses for those who cannot commit to weekday training!


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 
  • Flashlight 
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm 
  • Towel 
  • Bed Linens or Sleeping Bag and Pillow


  • 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.