Colorado State River Guide Certification Course

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14 days . Colorado . Day Clinic

RIGS has offered its Colorado State River Guide Certification Course since 2002 and provided the most extensive guide certification course, with the highest level of certifications, available in the region. Your instructors have been training top quality river guides since 1991 and look forward to sharing their experience with you. Your lead instructor for this course is Owner, Tim Patterson.  Tim has 20 years experience in training Professional River Guide and has worked commercially on the Arkansas River, Gunnison River, Colorado River (Grand Canyon), Salt and Verde Rivers, as well as several rivers throughout Guatemala - C.A.  Several additional RIGS Certified Guide Instructors will join us throughout the course providing a diverse level of skill, technique, and experience.

*NOTE: If you are specifically looking for Rowing/Oar Boat Training, please consider our: ROW Course - Oar Boat Skills (including Float Fishing), as an aspect of your Guide Certification (separate cost).  Participants who are signed up for our River Guide Certification Course, will receive a $100 discount if adding the ROW Course to their training and be more valuable to the RIGS Team by being versed in multiple skill sets!  Inquire for further details.  

On the first morning of training, you will be provided a River Guide Training Log Sheet, which must be signed by your Instructor. This log sheet details the amount of training hours necessary to commercially guide river trips in the state of Colorado. After successfully completing the course, you will have the opportunity to be "signed off" by a Certified Trip Leader, allowing you to legally guide commercial rafting trips throughout the State of Colorado. Small course size ensures a great learning environment and plenty of personal attention. We will be on the river all day, every day, and cover all aspects of river running and commercial guiding. The course will cover all topics required by the State of Colorado for commercial guides including: rigging and maneuvering, river currents, eddies & waves, river hazards, types and causes of rapids, running & scouting rapids, river rescue & emergency procedures, minimizing outdoor recreation resource impacts, proper fit, wearing, and use of personal floatation devices. Immediately following our Guide Certification Course, we will host (with separate instructors) the following course is required to be a guide: First Aid & C.P.R. (additional $100).  *Payment for these additional components must be made directly to the instructor, prior to the course.

This is a physical course, running class I through IV rivers. You will be required to carry rafts, flip boats, swim in the river, and be generally active. We will provide all necessary equipment including P.F.D.'s, helmets, paddles, etc.  We will provide transportation and take care of all shuttles. If you have personal boating gear, bring it with you and we will determine its suitability. You will need clothing and footwear suitable for rafting (Chaco, TEVA, KEEN or similar wet shoes or booties) and a packed lunch everyday. Dry clothes for the end of the day are also a must. While completing our course does not guarantee employment, we will be hiring for the upcoming season and employment requires all of the above mentioned certifications. Our company's goal is to provide the best in customer safety and an energetic personality - we are looking for service oriented individuals.

May 11th, 9 am to 5 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

Introduction to Equipment, Trips, Regulations & Company History

This day will consist of familiarizing ourselves with our equipment, reviewing the diverse sections of water, State Requirements and Regulations and history of the RIGS operation.

May 12th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

Lower Uncompahgre River Introduction (Boating all day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.


May 13th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

Lower Uncompahgre River Introduction (Boating all day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 14th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

Lower Uncompahgre River Introduction (Boating all day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 15th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

San Miguel River Introduction (Boating all day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 16th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

San Miguel River (Boating all day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 17th, 8 am - 5 pm (meet @ RIGS) *FIRST-AID & CPR Course (Day OFF, if are already current for season)
*First-Aid & CPR Course is a separate component of RIGS Guide Training Course. Current First-Aid / CPR is a requirement of the State of Colorado to opperate as a commercial river guide.  Course Cost: $100 - *Cost of Instruction may vary based on instructors discretion. 
Independent Instructor: (Kevin Dunkak, CPR World)

May 18th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

San Miguel River (Boating all day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 19th, 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

San Miguel River (Boating till early afternoon, then Gunnison Gorge Pack-Out for following day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 20th, 7 am to 7 pm (Meet @ RIGS) *Big Day on the Water - GUNNISON GORGE
14 mile river section: Gunnison Gorge NCA - BLM (wilderness).
*Dressto swim!  We utilize these days to cover our more advanced aspects ofthe course including: Scouting Rapids, Boat Flip Exercises, SwimmingRapids, Throw Bags and Environmental Considerations. 

May 21st 8 am to 6 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

San Miguel River (Boating All Day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.

May 22nd 8 am to 5 pm (Meet @ RIGS)
San Miguel River (Boating All Day)*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flow

May 23rd 8 am to 5 pm (Meet @ RIGS)

San Miguel River (Boating All Day)
*Each day is subject to change/location: dependent on water flows, access and conditions.


May 24th 10 am to 5 pm (Meet @ RIGS)
COURSE Debrief & Guide Assignments - may include additional boating/training. 
*Completion of this course does not guarantee that you will be qualified to guide a commercial raft trip. Further time on the water may be required for additional training, prior to completing a final "check-out" run with a certified Trip Leader.  Check-Out run assignments will only be made available to those that have successfully completed the course and those committed to working a full commercial rafting season with RIGS.   
 Important Travel Information
Is This Trip For You?

Job Description: Rafting Guide

Guide a raft with clients:

  • Assess clients, read type of people and constantly assessing them for nervousness, ability, strength/weakness, physical, medical conditions.
  • Lead, inspire, and instill confidence.
  • Interact with clients.
  • Show interest in clients, communicate with clients, informing on and off the river.
  • Manage time and trip to ensure boats/people are off the river (before dark), within company schedule requirements.
  • Read body language, assess state-of-mind of clients.
  • Manage group behavior, so that it is appropriate to activity. (safety, briefing, prevention)

Instruct generic rafting skills to clients both on and off the water:

  • Use verbal and visual demonstrations, so that the guide is confident that clients can understand and follow instructions on the water.
  • Demonstrate paddle strokes (forward, back, stop, rest)
  • Demonstrate control of raft (turns, weight distribution, crew position, sitting in raft)
  • Explain safety instructions (foot entrapment, flipping, wrap)
  • Demonstrate and explain self-rescue skills (swimming in whitewater position, throw bag rescue, extended paddle rescue, getting back into the raft)

Maintain safety of raft and equipment:

  • Ensure safety equipment is carried and used according to company operating procedures (helmets, wetsox, wet suits, PFD, throw bag, repair kit, pump)
  • Know how to maintain, care for, and inflate raft.
  • Know exit/access points on the river for getting on and off the river, as per company’s emergency procedures.
  • Know river signals. (hand, paddle, whistle)
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of company and personal raft guide safety equipment (throw bag, carabiner, pulley, knife, flip rope, whistle, prussic)
  • Follow company procedures for storing and placement of safety equipment on raft (spare paddles)

Demonstrate river rescue skills:

  • Pr-requisite skills include river-crossing skills, rafting skills, knowledge of ropes and knots, life saving skills (approaching a panicked person), river confidence. Additional skills include the following:
    • Perform self-rescue; demonstrate water confidence on Class III water.
      Correct a flip.
  • Set up a system to unwrap a raft. This may include working with static ropes, knots, anchors, pulley system (z-drag), knowledge of ropes and what they are used for; advantages and disadvantages.
  • Throw a throw bag to a client (from bank/ from raft). This may include retrieving a person, throwing accurately, informing person in water, , knowing when and when not to use it, making assessment about river conditions, clients' ability and condition, potential hazards (strainers, state of river bank, keeping self safe)
  • Apply river rescue skills to rivers on which company operates.
  • Prioritize actions and manage a river rescue; people & equipment
  • Demonstrate river swimming skills. This includes: rescuing people, swimming from one side of the river to another, using current and eddies, avoiding hazards (foot entrapment's, strainer, sweeper), assisting people who are stuck.


A 50% deposit is required to secure a spot in the course - advanced online registration required. This course fills up fast and is limited in size, so we recommend you sign up asap.  Please keep in mind, successful completion of this course is a requirement for employment at RIGS.   We look forward to working for you during this course and providing you with the most comprehensive Official Colorado State River Guide Certification Course available anywhere.

*PRIOR EXPERIENCE GUIDES: Regardless of your prior experience level, already Certified Guides will be required to participate in portions of the training course in order to access your ability level and to learn the rivers in which you will boat this coming season. (If you already have prior commercial river training, please provide us a copy of all River Logs, Licensing, Certifications, Resumes and Documentation to us on to be considered for employment.) Most documentation - Training Logs (even out of state) will be applicable to your Colorado Certification and will help lessen the amount of training in which you would otherwise be required to participate in.


RIGS Rafting/Adventure Guide Protocol


Pre-Trip Guide Requirements:

  • Preparedness – River Flows, Weather, Alert & Rested
  • GUIDE GEAR: cell phone (for emergencies), spare dry bag, personal first aid kit, camera.
  • Attire: clean/professional clothing (RIGS logo shirt and/or hat). *If you work both Fishing & Rafting Trips, have available at all times the required gear for each trip product readily available for last minute changes.
  • On Call/Standby: if you are not assigned to a scheduled trip on a day we have determined you are “Available” (see: Pre-Season Questionnaire) then you must make yourself readily available (via cell phone) until 1 pm each day in order to guide last minute bookings. June 10- August 20

Start of Trip:

  • Check in with your Trip Leader first thing. If you are Trip Leader (TL) you should have the trip manifest in your hands upon arrival. - Review Trip Sheet with Shop Staff to access requests, rentals, location, timing, etc.
  • Arrive at least ½ before departure (allocate additional time to get lunches at Mt. Market on full-day trips).

During TRIP:

  • Safety: use good judgment – do not put clients in harm’s way or introduce concepts beyond their ability level regarding the following: access physical condition of client and choose appropriate locations on your boat and with appropriate guide). 
  • Up Sell, Request Trips  & Job Security:  Part of what makes the RIGS operation successful, is your ability to communicate opportunities to the client regarding continued development of their skills (i.e. additional trips) and product knowledge (i.e. personal gear purchases).  *Develop a relationship/trust with our clients, this will lead to guide request trips for you.

End of Trip:

  • Return to Shop: We need your participation in bringing guests back into shop post trip! Mention: additional trips, photos, t-shirt deal ($5OFF).
  • Rentals/Shop Gear: All rental gear from trips must be immediately returned to its designated area in good working order (boots cleaned and placed securely in dry rack, paddle jackets/pants accessed for damage and hung to dry on rack.  Boats bleed and any additional RIGS gear should be returned to its appropriate place –cleaned and in good working order).
  • VEHICLES: participate in all vehicles cleaning to satisfaction of your lead driver. It is part of your job duty to thoroughly maintain a high standard of vehicle cleanliness before, during and after each and every trip.


 Recommended Gear List

WHAT TO BRING: River Gear! Dress to swim some very cold waters and be exposed to the outdoors for the entire day. Dry top/bottoms or Paddle top/bottoms, wetsuit (if available), Warm fleece or wool layering (2 sets), sturdy river sandals (Chaco’s) or neoprene booties, gloves and hat, dry bags, chair (crazy creek or similar), notebook, pen/pencil, etc.

BE PREPARED for each day’s activities! * Please Pack a Lunch for each day, break time will be limited and more often than not, lunch will be eaten on the water. We will issue a Dry Bag/Backpack for the Gunnison River Sections.

 Departure Location
RIGS Fly Shop Headquarters
565 Sherman #2
mailing: PO Box 2086
Ridgway CO 81432

 Cancellation Information

Reservation Policy: A 50 % deposit is due at time of reservation, with the remaining balance due 48 hours prior to trip departure. At this point your trip is considered non-refundable.

If we are unable to obtain authorization on your credit card and cannot reach you, your reservation will be considered void. A confirmation email will be sent to you at the time of payment confirmation. It is the client’s responsibility to reconfirm receipt of all details contained in the reservation confirmation email including: trip location, meeting/departure times, appropriate attire, and expectations.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations made prior to 48 hours will forfeit a cancellation fee of $20 (per person). Cancellations that occur within 48 hours of trip departure, will be considered non-refundable. Cancellations must be received via email ( with a written response confirming the cancellation. This policy applies to all fly fishing trips, regardless of reasons for cancellations – no exceptions. We are not responsible for cancellations due to weather conditions, road hazards, vehicle breakdowns, medical emergencies, or other unforeseen conditions which may hinder our ability to safely conduct a trip.

We reserve the right to modify or reschedule any trip if last minute water levels, weather conditions, or other circumstances arise which are beyond our control. If these circumstances arise, we will provide an alternative location, if a suitable alternative is not available we will provide a full refund.

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Additional Details

Duration:   14 days
Category:   White-water Rafting
Destination:   Colorado
Theme:   Day Clinic
Private Parties
Next Departure:   5/11/2017 at 8:00 AM
Skill Level:   Beginner

Adventure Matrix

Comfort level

Pickup Location

If you would like us to pick you up, the following locations are available:

meet @ RIGS Fly Shop Headquarters - Downtown Ridg


Colorado State River Guide Certification Course:   $595.00

We Accept