White Water Raft Guide School - 7 Days

Prices Starting At


We only accept 16 people into guide school. Click on “Book this Trip” to apply for a space.

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Tributary Whitewater Tours has been running Guide Schools since the 1980’s. Throughout the years our industry has changed and therefore so has our guide training program. We still find that an immersive 7 day training course to learn the skills to guide rafts down white water rapids on the many rivers we are permitted to run is the best way to learn.

Application Based Training Program

Tributary Guide School is an application based training program. If you are interested in coming to our Guide School you will need to fill out our application form, there is no deposit required to apply. We will review your application and if accepted we will hold you a space for our Guide School for 1 week (awaiting a 50% deposit). If we do not feel that you are up to par with our Guide School requirements our reservations team will reach out and suggest alternative river trips.

Where we go rafting

We start at our South Fork American River Campground with both on and off river instruction on the Forks of the American River. We usually travel to others rivers like the North Yuba, Truckee, Upper Klamath, Lower Klamath, Trinity & East Carson. The rivers we travel to depend on flows as several are free flowing and depend on snowmelt. We want to take you to the best places for putting your raft guiding skills to use on river, so often the itinerary is flexible.

Lunch is included daily. Dinner and breakfast are not included, except for one of each when we teach you how to cook for our overnight meals. The group usually shops and cooks for other meals together.

For the duration of the guide school we are camping. We will provide the space for camping and you are to bring your own gear (tent, sleeping bag, camper van etc). There is typically no power at most locations (including our main camp in Lotus), many of our guides carry around solar charges. We also have an office in Lotus just a couple miles from camp that you can use to charge things, connect to WiFi, as well as a washer/dryer for laundry.

Whitewater Rafting Guide School Emphasis:

  • River hydrology
  • River navigation
  • Reading whitewater
  • Raft equipment rigging
  • Equipment maintenance and repair
  • Personal rescue equipment & signals
  • Commercial safety put-in talks
  • Camp/kitchen operations
  • Knot tying
  • Leading safe, enjoyable whitewater rafting trips


Included in the cost of Raft Guide School:

  • Transportation to and from camp to the instruction locations
  • PFD (although most like to purchase a guide PFD prior to guide school as these allow for more mobility than our customer PFDs).
  • Helmet (also something most purchase)
  • On river equipment (ie: raft, paddle, ropes etc…)
  • Camping space & river use fees
  • Lunch everyday

River Map

Trip Itinerary

Arrive the night before at our South Fork Campground

Day 1

  • 8:00am meet & greet, intro to Guide School
  • noon(ish) lunch
  • afternoon – rafting or off river training


Day 2-7

  • Rafting, Camping & Fun

Once we have the schedule nailed down we will post it.

Traveling to the

Where to Meet

Tributary Outpost & Private Campground on the American River

6500 CA-49
Lotus, CA 95651

Where To Stay

What Should I Bring

For Rafting

  • Required Items
    • Re-usable 20oz or more water bottle
    • Shoes (no flip flops)
  • Suggested Items
    • Sunglasses (with a strap)
    • Baseball hat
  • Do Not Bring
    • Cell Phones
    • Wallets
    • Expensive jewelry

For Camping

  • Linens
    • Blankets
    • Pillow
    • Sleeping bag
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Change of clothes
  • Towel
  • Camp chair


Click here for a full detailed list of what to wear and what to bring.

What Does Tributary Provide

Included with Rafting

  • PFD (Personal floatation device / aka life jacket)
  • Paddle
  • Helmet
  • Shuttles to/from camp

Included with Guide School

  • 7 nights camping
  • Lunch is included daily.
  • Dinner and breakfast are not included, except for one of each when we teach you how to cook for our overnight meals.