River Rafting Guide School

Learn all about Glacier National Park’s rivers and natural environment with our river school courses

If you have the desire to seek employment as a raft guide or if you’ve fallen in love with rafting and want to take that passion to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you want to become a river guide or would like to confidently be able to guide your own private trips down the river with confidence, we have the courses for you.

Intro to River Skills

Course Length: 2 days

This course gives students an opportunity to build the fundamentals of boat handling. Starting with dynamics of moving water, students learn how to read the river, pick their line, and maneuver their boat. We use both oar frames and paddle rafts.

This is an excellent course for a beginner boater who wants to learn the basics of running whitewater. After two days you will gain experience reading and running class II-III whitewater.

Course Dates

May 5-6, 2021
June 15-16, 2021

Course Price

$285/person for the group class.
Private instruction is available. Call for details.

Skills Covered

  • Hydrology and Reading Water
  • Safety Talks
  • Throwbag Training
  • Raft Flip Drills
  • Equipment
  • Rowing Techniques for an Oar-Rigged Boat
  • Commanding a Paddle Crew for Paddle Rafts
  • On Water Practice on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
  • Discussion of River Rescue Techniques

What to Bring

Required Equipment

  • Personal Flotation Device
  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • Helmet
  • Sturdy Footwear
  • Neoprene Gloves

Suggested Equipment

  • Locking Carabiner
  • Throwbag (so you can practice with what you will use)
  • River Knife
  • Whistle

Great Northern has rental equipment available. Call to reserve.

The Rafting School

Course Length: 6 days

The Rafting School is a comprehensive six day course that begins with basic boat handling skills and reading water, moves on to technical river rescue, and ends with an overnight trip to put all of your new skills to use.

Learn how to command a paddle crew, maneuver an oar rig and prepare for the unexpected. In addition, you’ll complete an Swiftwater Rescue for River Rescue.  After six days you will be a confident boater, ready for commercial or private guiding. This course is comprised of a combination of the three courses below.

Course Dates

June 15-20, 2021

Course Price

$1095/person for the group class.
Private instruction is available. Call for details.

Course Outline

Days 1 & 2: Introduction to River Skills

Days 3 & 4: Overnight trip focus on developing a situational awareness, planning, trip leader experience, Leave No Trace.

Days 5 & 6: Swiftwater and River Rescue Class

Advanced River Skills: Learn how to assess equipment needs for extended trips, rig a boat, plan meals, set up a campsite, and prepare meals on the river. Preparing for an overnight trip; Packing List, Rigging Boats, Choosing a Route & Campsite Selection. Camp Heading Home; ” Preparing meals on the River, ” Break down camp.

What to Bring

Required Equipment

  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • USCG approved Type III or V PFD (life jacket)
  • Whitewater Helmet
  • Water booties or Tennis shoes

Suggested Equipment

  • Locking Carabiner
  • Throwbag (so you can practice with what you will use)
  • River Knife
  • Whistle

Great Northern has rental equipment available. Call to reserve.

Paddle Rafting

Course Length: 2 days

The Whitewater Rafting – Paddle course is for those interested in learning the skills required to efficiently paddle a raft on rivers with class II-III rapids. This course includes advanced river reading, safety considerations, and paddling techniques.

This is an excellent course for a beginner boater who wants to learn the basics of running whitewater. We cover fundamental river safety and boating skills, including maneuvering rafts. In addition, you’ll gain the skills required to captain, or guide, a paddle raft in class II-III rapids. After two days you will gain experience reading and running class II-III whitewater.

Course Dates

May 22-23, 2021

Course Price

$285/person for the group class.
Private instruction is available. Call for details.

Skills Covered

  • Hydrology and Reading Water
  • Safety Talks
  • Throwbag Training
  • Raft Flip Drills
  • Equipment
  • Commanding a Paddle Crew
  • On Water Practice on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
  • Discussion of River Rescue Techniques

What to Bring

Required Equipment

  • Personal Flotation Device
  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • Helmet
  • Sturdy Footwear
  • Neoprene Gloves

Suggested Equipment

  • Locking Carabiner
  • Throwbag (so you can practice with what you will use)
  • River Knife
  • Whistle

Great Northern has rental equipment available. Call to reserve.

Oar Rafting

Course Length: 2 days

The Whitewater Rafting – Rowing course is for individuals interested in learning the skills required to efficiently row a raft on rivers with class II-III rapids. This course includes advanced river reading, safety considerations, and rowing techniques.

This is an excellent course for a beginner boater who wants to learn the basics of running whitewater. We cover fundamental river safety and boating skills, including maneuvering oar-rigged boats. After two days you will gain experience reading and running class II-III whitewater.

Course Dates

April 24-25, 2021
June 26-27, 2021
July 10-11, 2021

Course Price

$325/person for the group class.
Private instruction is available. Call for details.

Skills Covered

  • Hydrology and Reading Water
  • Safety Talks
  • Throwbag Training
  • Raft Flip Drills
  • Equipment
  • Rowing Techniques for an Oar-Rigged Boat
  • On Water Practice on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
  • Discussion of River Rescue Techniques

What to Bring

Required Equipment

  • Personal Flotation Device
  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • Helmet
  • Sturdy Footwear
  • Neoprene Gloves

Suggested Equipment

  • Locking Carabiner
  • Throwbag (so you can practice with what you will use)
  • River Knife
  • Whistle

Great Northern has rental equipment available. Call to reserve.

4-Weekend Full Raft Course

Course Length: 4 weekends

This comprehensive course is designed for the boater who would like to guide professionally or gain extensive knowledge about rivers and river safety. Learn how to command a paddle crew, maneuver an oar rig and prepare for the unexpected. In addition, you’ll complete an Swiftwater Rescue for River Rescue.

After six days you will be a confident boater, ready for commercial or private guiding. This course is comprised of a combination of the three courses below.

Course Dates

June 2021: 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27

Course Price

$1295/person for the group class.
Private instruction is available. Call for details.

Course Outline

Weekend 1: Paddle Raft Course

Weekend 2: Rowing Course

Weekend 3: Swiftwater and River Rescue Class

Weekend 4: Overnight trip: maneuvering through planning, packing and performing the tasks during the trip and time at camp.

Advanced River Skills: Learn how to assess equipment needs for extended trips, rig a boat, plan meals, set up a campsite, and prepare meals on the river. Preparing for an overnight trip; Packing List, Rigging Boats, Choosing a Route & Campsite Selection, Camp, Preparing Meals on the River, Break Down Camp, and Heading Home.

What to Bring

Required Equipment

  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • USCG approved Type III or V PFD (life jacket)
  • Whitewater Helmet
  • Water booties or Tennis shoes

Suggested Equipment

  • Locking Carabiner
  • Throwbag (so you can practice with what you will use)
  • River Knife
  • Whistle

Great Northern has rental equipment available. Call to reserve.

Overnight Intro to River Skills

Course Length: 2 days

The Introduction to River Skills course gives students an opportunity to build the fundamentals of boat handling. Starting with dynamics of moving water, students learn how to read the river, pick their line, and maneuver their boat. We use both oar frames and paddle rafts.

This is an excellent course for a beginner boater who wants to learn the basics of running whitewater. We cover fundamental river safety and boating skills, including maneuvering both paddle rafts and oar-rigged boats. After two days you will gain experience reading and running class II-III whitewater.

Ages

10-17 years old

Course Dates

July 24-25, 2021

Course Price

$340/person for the group class.
Private instruction is available. Call for details.

Skills Covered

  • Hydrology and Reading Water
  • Safety Talks
  • Throwbag Training
  • Raft Flip Drills
  • Equipment
  • Rowing Techniques for an Oar-Rigged Boat
  • Commanding a Paddle Crew for Paddle Rafts
  • On Water Practice on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
  • Discussion of River Rescue Techniques

What to Bring

Required Equipment

  • Water Bottle
  • Personal Flotation Device
  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • Helmet
  • Sturdy Footwear
  • Neoprene Gloves

Great Northern has rental equipment available. Call to reserve.

Get everything you need to participate in our river school courses

Advanced equipment reservations are recommended and can be made by calling our office at 1-406-387-5340 (800-735-7897). The pickup and drop off location is at our resort in West Glacier, Montana just outside the West Entrance of Glacier National Park, 1 mile west on U.S Highway 2.