The Most Coveted Banff Tourism Job: Becoming a Wild Water Rafting Guide

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Wild Water Adventures
Wild Water Adventures

Wild Water is the top choice for experienced rafting guides in the Canadian Rockies.

Liz Behler
Staff Writer

BANFF, ALBERTA – Canada – Sun, fresh mountain air, stunning Canadian Rockies scenery, and the invigorating waters of the Kicking Horse River. For some, this is where they come to get away from the stresses of life at the office. But what about the people who work here? The people who make the Kicking Horse River their office?

Ted Bilton is the owner of Wild Water Adventures in Banff, Alberta — a top tier whitewater company that’s been operating on the Kicking Horse River for 20 years, guiding families, whitewater enthusiasts and even celebrities. Wild Water has grown a reputation for its high level of service and highly qualified, experienced tour guides. But what exactly does it take to become a Wild Water rafting guide?

Requirements for Becoming a Wild Water Rafting Guide in Banff, Alberta

Wild Water insists its guides meet five criteria. Each guide must have a minimum of three seasons rafting on similar difficulty rivers to prove they have the technical skills required, and all guides must have some proven proficiency operating at a higher level within a company. Guides also must have a positive mental attitude, a presentable image, and have a passion for people.

“We have a saying at Wild Water, that we’re more interested in people than equipment,” says Bilton. He knows that while all guides need to know how to use the equipment and possess strong rafting skills and knowledge of first aid, the ability to interact positively with people is something that’s hard to train. “They need to like to be around other people, and be someone that others like to be around,” says Bilton.

The Perks of Being a Wild Water Guide in Banff, Alberta

There are a lot of benefits for individuals to become guides with Wild Water as well. Pay is commensurate with skill, and since Wild Water requires guides to be highly skilled, they also receive a higher level of pay. And the company’s success means that guides are never short of work. But the biggest reason Wild Water attracts the best rafting guides might have to do with the company’s dedication to customer service.

“I’ve been a guide before, and I know how hard it is to make excuses for why you’re handing out wet wetsuits, or old gear, or suits with a tear in the knee,” says Bilton, who was a guide for 7 years before starting the Banff-based company in the Canadian Rockies. “Our guides don’t have to make excuses. Our gear is always held to a high level and I know that makes a difference to the guides.”

And having a boss who knows the ins and outs of the job is helpful, too. “They like that their boss has been a guide, that I understand their concerns — whether it be about the hours they work or anything else. I get it.”

Wild Water operates tours on the Kicking Horse River, a glacier-fed river with rapids that range from Class II to IV+, in Banff, Alberta. Wild Water has offices in Lake Louise, located in Banff National Park.

More of The Best Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

Explore Banff, Alberta
Don’t pack up as soon as you finish rafting the Kicking Horse River. There’s plenty more to do in Banff, Alberta!  Explore Banff National Park, discover the beauty of Lake Louise, or make the most of your time with a tour from Banff Travel. Want more whitewater? Other Banff, Alberta whitewater rafting guide outfitters include Banff Rafting and Banff Whitewater Rafting.

Visit Nearby Jasper, Alberta
Only four hours away via the scenic Icefields Parkway, Jasper, situated in the middle of scenic Jasper National Park, is a must-see destination for those visiting the Banff, Alberta area. Check out for tours or visit Jasper Vacations for information about whitewater adventures in Jasper, Alberta.

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