HCR Guides are the Best in the Business!

It’s no secret that whitewater rafting makes for an awesome family vacation. Blasting through rapids, sharing new experiences, getting awestruck by amazing scenery, and enjoying surprisingly delicious river food are all part of the perfect package.

But what is it that makes a multi-day raft trip TRULY unique and different from all the others? Hands down, no question…It’s your guides!  Check out our new video, featuring a couple of them now! https://youtu.be/HOUl47FuOYQ

Most people say that the guides can make or break your whitewater rafting trip, which is why we are so proud that our guides are considered the best around.

Don’t take our word for it, here are a few recent reviews from guests singing their praises (you know the guides nailed it when the guests call them out by name):

CJ Ericson wrote a review Aug 2022: What an amazing trip! Went on the 3 day Snake River trip and loved every minute of it! I just can’t say enough great things about this trip. From start to finish we had the very best time.
The food was amazing… baked brie, lemon ricotta pancakes and perfectly cooked steaks were just the highlights. Sitting by the river, having an amazing meal prepared for me, was just the best. It was a true vacation!
The crew took amazing care of us on the water and we had the best time in the rapids and just floating in the river. We saw bears, big horn sheep, goats and more eagles than we could count. We learned a lot about the area and the homesteaders on our hikes.  I can’t thank Catherine, Cam, Arden, Gabby and Haley enough for the 3 amazing days on the river. They all were so much fun and we could tell they loved being out on the river.  You should book this trip and I know you will have the time of your life!

AnJanette D wrote a review Jun 2022:  I don’t even know where to start. The last four days were some of the most memorable days for our family. Hells Canyon Raft guides are truly incredible humans and their company is hands-down the absolute best. This trip was initially important to us as our last “Mom and Dad financed vacation” but our oldest son, 21 year old Rylan, was recently diagnosed with early onset macular degeneration and we’re trying to give him as many visual memories as we can before he loses his functional site. HCR crew absolutely helped us in accomplishing this check off and for that we will be eternally grateful. From the depths of our heart and souls, that you Eileen, Catherine, Cam, Alex, Gus and Lee.

Read More Reviews Here

So how does Hells Canyon Raft make sure our guides are giving the best experience imaginable? It’s all about the hiring and training process, and for that, we owe a lot to our crew of experienced Snake River and Salmon River rafting guides.

First, let’s talk hiring. We always look for that ‘something special’ in our guide candidates. First aid skills are mandatory and river experience is a plus, but the main thing we’re looking for is personality. Good communication skills, character and attitude are KEY, and we look for a mix of experienced seasonal guides and newbies. Those new recruits join our team of dedicated, returning guides that come back to HCR every summer.

The second secret is training. Each year, our new guides undergo an intensive week-long dry land training, to master the hard skills needed to make sure that you have the best experience possible on your whitewater rafting trip. During guide training, some of the things our new guides learn about include gear management, rafting techniques and lingo, how to read rivers, how to understand river obstacles/hazards and the immense river history.

After that, our seasoned guides join the fun for a one-day meet and greet.  It’s always energizing to see these two groups come together. We do team building activities and the old guides share some of their soft skills and trade secrets with the new recruits.  Then to the river we go…

At Hells Canyon Raft, new guides get AT LEAST three multi-day training trips. This is an opportunity for them to grow their skills, boost their confidence, and, above all, learn the finer details of how the experienced guides manage the group experience in the one-of-a-kind Hells Canyon environment.

These training trips are where the new guides pick up the skills and tools to make a river trip truly memorable. Some of the things our experienced guides help the new guides learn include:

  • How to handle rapids to deliver thrills while keeping safety as the top priority.


  • How to treat each guest with respect and get stoked about sharing the wonders of the river with their guests.


  • How to make raft conversations with the guests extra interesting by learning about local history, wildlife and geology.


  • How to be upbeat and flexible and stay in tune with the needs of rafting guests of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

One of the newest additions to the HCR team is Haley. After spending a summer of guiding day-trips in Utah, she felt ready to move into doing multi-day trips in Idaho, and the Hells Canyon stretches were at the top of her list. “After talking to Kurt, I felt sold on the way the company was run and I knew I wanted to work here.”

Haley says the dry-land training helped emphasize all the skills needed to create the best customer experience possible, and that the knowledge she gained on the training trips was a crucial part of what made her first season with us such a success. This was not Haley’s first experience as a raft guide, but getting to know the ins and outs of a new stretch of river is always a personal journey.

“The most valuable part of the training process for me was synthesizing the history I heard about and the places I had read about, all while learning a river that I grew to love,” says Haley. Among the first season highlights for her? The rapids on the Snake river definitely stood out to Haley, and she says she loved learning about all the fresh fruit they were able to eat on the river and how many different kinds of fruit grow right in Hells Canyon!

While we’re proud of the way we train and mentor our guides, we can’t take credit for one thing that makes guides amazing: individuality. Our guides come from a broad range of backgrounds. Young or older, they’ve had some amazing life experiences and they certainly have some entertaining stories to tell! So while your guides are there to support you and deliver the river trip of your dreams, you might find that taking the time to learn more about them as individuals can make your river trip even richer and more enjoyable.

Arden, Quinn, Robinson, Catherine, Cam, Finn, Gus, Lee, Craig, Eileen, Gabby, Jack, Shane, Jake, and John have been singled out by recent guests in online reviews, but we hear constant praise for everyone on our guide team. To learn more about this special group of people and what they’ll bring to your next raft trip, head to our guide profile page and get to know them. They are the heart and soul of Hells Canyon Raft and we can’t thank them enough for another amazing season in Hells Canyon and on the Salmon River!





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