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Mountain Whitewater Descents

Raft Guide Training with Mountain Whitewater

Whitewater raft guide training offers the chance to learn the skills needed to be a certified guide in the Sate of Coloradoand the chance to earn a job with the best rafting outfitter on the Cache La Poudre River.

by Ben Costello, January 2016

Guide Training at Mountain Whitewater

This year’s raft guide training will start on Monday, May 16, 2016. The first week of the course will consist of classroom style training at Mountain Whitewater in the mornings with on-river training in the afternoons. These classroom sessions will consist of a compilation of videos, slides, handouts and lecture.

The following weeks of the course consist of mostly on-river training. We will take two trips per day, seven days per week to complete the state mandated number of hours required to be a guide. There is a Swiftwater rescue training and a CPR and First Aid course during this period of guide training. We will be doing some intense training so that we can get you on the river as soon as possible.

Class Schedule for the 2016 Raft Guide Training Course

Trainee Takes the Final Exam during Guide Training

  • Monday, May 16th – Paperwork, Employee Handbook, Equipment & Gear Rigging
  • Tuesday, May 17th – River Currents, River Features, Paddle Commands, rating scales
  • Wednesday, May 18th – Running the Rapids, Safety, Safety Talk, River Hazards, Poudre Bloopers Video, Slammin’ Salmon Video
  • Thursday, May 19th – River Rescue, Emergency Procedures, Heads-Up Video, Rope Rescue
  • Friday, May 20th – Miscellaneous, Outdoor Impacts, How to be a Better Guide

Other Requirements

  • Colorado State law requires that guides have First Aid and CPR certifications. Classes are usually between $50 and $80.
  • The Mountain Whitewater Swiftwater Rescue class will also be a required part of guide training. The cost of the Swiftwater Rescue course is included in the training investment.
    Whitewater Raft Guide Training with Mountain Whitewater
  • The State of Colorado requires that you have 50 hours on river time before you can guide commercially.

  • Mountain Whitewater will require that you have 100+ hours.
  • We will have a Poudre rapids check-off sheet that will require all trainees to run all of the rapids of the Poudre Plunge at least 5 times.
  • Once complete, if deemed appropriate, there will be a check-off run, top to bottom, with customers and a trainer in the boat. If all goes well, you will now be part of the Mountain Whitewater Descents team.

Training Investment

The cost for the course is $395 (half is returned after the second fulltime season working with Mountain Whitewater, half returned after the third fulltime season working with Mountain Whitewater).

This cost covers the classroom sessions, dry land sessions, equipment used during training (PFD, wetsuit, booties, splash jacket, and helmet), swiftwater rescue class and transportation to and from the Cache la Poudre River Canyon.

Being a river guide is a multidimensional job. It is physically and mentally demanding, days can be long with exposure to the elements. It is also very rewarding and tons of fun. We are looking for people who can fulfill those needs. Ask around…Mountain Whitewater has the best trained guides you will find. Call 970-419-0917 if interested or email contacts@raftmwd.com.

Raft Guide Training on Cache La Poudre River
Guide Trainees Smash a Waive during Raft Guide Training
Trainees Having Fun During Raft Guide Training

Third Annual Poudre River Forum – February 5, 2016

The third annual Poudre River Forum theme is Cultivating Connections for a
Healthy, Working River.

by Ben Costello, January 2016

The Poudre Runs Through It is a study/action work group dedicated to all things concerning the Cache La Poudre River. The group is made up of about 25 citizen experts representing a diversity of interests who were selected to study the Poudre River and formulate cooperative actions based on what they learn. One of those members is Brad Modesitt, Owner of Mountain Whitewater. The goal of the group is to build relationships and to put in action the initiatives they have identified, “to make the Poudre River the world’s best example of a working river that’s also healthy.”

The groups flagship event, The Third Annual Poudre River Forum will take place on February 5, 2016 and will be held at The Ranch in Loveland from 9am to 4pm. This years event theme is Cultivating Connections for a Healthy, Working River. The event will feature several different informational sessions and discussions surrounding the current state of the Poudre River. I have been able to attend the past two years and the event is very informative and well worth attending. It is important for anyone who cares about the Cache La Poudre River to be involved with groups and events like this as the river is the lifeblood of our Front Range communities.

The event will also include sponsor booths, door prizes including a rafting trip from Mountain Whitewater, networking opportunities, lunch, fun videos, and a closing celebration with music from Blue Gramma and beer from Odell Brewing Company. This will be a great event and I hope to see you all there!

Register for the event here: http://cwi.colostate.edu/ThePoudreRunsThroughIt/forum_2016.shtml

2016 Poudre River Forum Poster

Team Building the Mountain Whitewater Way

Group whitewater rafting trips are the perfect activity for an impactful and worthwhile team building experience for any business or corporate group.

by Ben Costello, December 2015

Whitewater rafters work together during a team building trip with Mountain Whitewater.Team building outings are a very important tool for managers, corporate officers, team leaders and business owners in developing a high-quality, professional staff. Most employees are more comfortable in a work place where we get along with our coworkers and can understand and relate to each other more effectively. Shared experiences through team building, especially those that take place in an unfamiliar setting, can help facilitate positive bonds between coworkers. Don’t waste time gathering in an onsite meeting room to try and build team camaraderie. Team building is a lot more effective when you take people out of their normal environment and put them in a situation that encourages them to break out of their shell. A whitewater rafting trip with coworkers provides the ideal scenario to build a cohesive team.

So why is rafting such a great activity to facilitate worthwhile team building? Simple. Whitewater rafting is a natural team building activity. Getting six or seven people to work together and paddle in unison to get a raft through the rapids requires teamwork, leadership, cooperation and communication. Everyone from the owner and managers to the newest employees must contribute equally to paddling for a successful run through any rapid.

Skills used during a rafting trip can be applied to many different scenarios at work. In a successful workplace, everyone needs to paddle towards common goals. The more efficiently everyone paddles together towards a common goal, the easier that goal is to achieve.

Group Members Enjoy Team Building on the Cache La Poudre River

As a rafting trip travels down the river it will encounter many situations that can relate to challenges your team can face. During times of calm waters it is important to remember to take-in the fantastic scenery and not focus on just your own raft. During times of turbulent rapids it is critical for everyone to buckle down and work together to make it through with success.

Following a guides instructions and helping others understand those instructions leads to improved communication. Relying on the paddling skills and effort of your team members builds trust. Collaboration is needed between raft mates to avoid swimmers. Down time between rapids gives everyone the chance to get to know each others back grounds a better through conversation. The action during a rapid helps to identify and respect strengths and weaknesses of team members. The adrenaline of rapids teaches paddlers how to perform in a fast-paced and unpredictable environment. Not to mention the chance to have FUN together. People naturally learn more when they are having fun and tend to remember those learned experiences better when the experiences were enjoyable.

Mountain Whitewater can facilitate a team building trip for groups ranging is size from 14 up to 50 people on any half-day trip. Group rates apply to team building trips as well. Custom programs are also available that include additional exercises and debriefing sessions at Mountain Whitewater.

Team Building through Whitewater Rafting on the Cache La Poudre River

Rafting Team Building: All the rafts on the trips must stay together and work as a team for a trip to make it down the river successfully.

The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area

The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area tells us about the history of Northern Colorado and the West.

Great View of the Poudre River from Hewlett Gulch Bridge

By Ben Costello, December 2015

In Fort Collins, we are very fortunate to live near the Cache La Poudre River. Not only is it a National Wild and Scenic River, but the river corridor is also a National Heritage Area. There are 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States. The Cache La Poudre River corridor is one of only three National Heritage Areas in Colorado. National Heritage Areas (NHA) are designated due to their historical significance and to encourage historical preservation of the area. NHA are not National Parks and are not federally owned. They are administered by state governments, non-profits or corporations with the National Park Service playing an advisory roll in their development. The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area is administered by The Poudre Heritage Alliance.

Here is a little bit about why the Cache La Poudre earned this designation from the Poudre Heritage Alliance:

The Cache la Poudre River is the heart of the National Heritage Area which follows the Poudre downstream for 45 miles. This is the story of the “working Cache,” a river essential to the lives of the more than a half-million people in the northern Colorado Front Range.

Originating among the Rocky Mountains and dropping some 7,000 feet to the Great Plains, the Cache la Poudre River is relatively short —125 miles from start to end. It flows eastward through diverse geographic settings. In many areas one can see head gates, flumes, water measurement devices, and an intricate network of ditches as reminders that people are able to modify the river’s flow. These structures symbolize the long struggle to sustain a viable agricultural economy and to meet the water needs of urban development for the people of northern Colorado.

The Poudre is significant for its contribution to the development of Western water law and the evolution of complex water delivery systems. The Poudre has also played a crucial role in regional economic development and has become a focal point for recreation.

Please visit www.poudreheritage.org for more information about the Poudre Heritage Alliance and the Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area.

Summer Memories: A Reason to be Thankful

At Mountain Whitewater, we are privileged to be able to help create and share life-long positive memories with our guests while traveling the Poudre River.

By Ben Costello, November 2015

Summer Memories: A Group High Five ojn the Last Day of the 2015 Poudre Rafting Season
As we approach the end of the year and the weather begins to turn colder we tend to start to think back about the past year. We remember all the fun things we experienced. We recall the time we were able to spend with friends and family. We relive the memories of our adventures. We remind ourselves of the challenges we faced and how we were able to overcome those challenges. The end of the year also brings us the holiday season were we reflect on the things in our lives we are most thankful for. As I look back on 2015, it is obvious that we have a lot to be thankful for at Mountain Whitewater.

We are thankful to operate on the only “Wild and Scenic River” in Colorado. The Cache La Poudre is truly a special place and is a perfect setting to create Summer Memories: Guests Enjoying a Rafting Trip with Mountain Whitewaterwonderful and lasting memories. We are thankful for the community in which we live. Fort Collins is a fantastic city full of people who share our love of the outdoors and value spending time in nature. We are thankful for our fantastic staff. Mountain Whitewater would not be the same without the eclectic, caring, fun-loving employees who love sharing their river experiences with others. Most of all, we are thankful for all the amazing guests who come to Mountain Whitewater for a summer adventure. We continually strive to provide an educational, entertaining and rewarding experience while traveling with our guests. We are thankful to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Summer Memories: Mountain Whitewater Guide Smiling as they Smash a Wave

My favorite memory from this past summer occurred during high-water in June. There were several couples who rode in the raft I was guiding, one couple on their anniversary. The weather was beautiful that day, mostly sunny, but not too warm. We had a successful run with lots of splashes and an adrenaline rush when one person briefly exited the raft. We saw a deer on the riverbank and even an eagle searching for a meal. After the trip, I sat with the anniversary to have a beer while discussing the trip. The part of the day that I remember most was part of this conversation. The couple told me that this trip will be there most memorable anniversary yet and that they hope to come back for next years celebrations as well. It was very satisfying for me to get such a complement.
Here are just a few quotes our guests shared with us about their memories form this past summer:

“Could Not Have Been a Better Experience, The staff at Mountain Whitewater Descents delivered an unforgettable rafting experience for our family.” -Ross from Springfield, MO

“The whole family agreed this was the best activity we did on our trip to Colorado and MWD was definitely the best choice…They created camaraderie between the people on the different rafts and had us all laughing together.” -BeachSwan

“Had one of the most perfect experiences. The guides were very professional, knowledgable, fun and safe…Our children enjoyed themselves immensely and have not stopped talking about the day.” -Nik from Manchester, UK

“We have participated in numerous family activities but undoubtedly Mountain Whitewater Descents ranks at the top as one of our best family outings, ever! Luckily, we have lots of memories thanks to the video of us as we cruised down the Poudre taken by the staff photographer. ..Thank you all at Mountain Whitewater Descents’ staff for a magical, spectacular, action-packed day! Paddle High Five!”  -TMA5280 from Denver, CO

Check us out on Trip Advisor to read more testimonials from our fantastic guests! We would love to hear more about your summer memories with Mountain Whitewater as well, so please share with us on Trip Advisor, Facebook or Google+.

Thanks you everyone who contributed to our memories during the summer of 2015. We will look forward to seeing your on the river once again hope that the Poudre River will remain as the inspiration for more great summer memories.

Rafting the Colorado River: An Employee Trip

Mountain Whitewater employees celebrate another great season by participating in a multi-day trip rafting the Colorado River.

By Ben Costello, November 2015

Rafting the Colorado River: Rafts on the Water near Blackrock

It was another great rafting season on the Cache La Poudre River for Mountain Whitewater, one of the best ever in fact. There were great water levels throughout the season and entertaining music at the Paddler’s Pub. A fantastic crew of employees and all our wonderful guests contributed to making 2015 a rafting season to remember. The staff at Mountain Whitewater worked hard all season to ensure a great experience for everyone involved. After all of that hard work, it was time for a group of employees to celebrate the season by going on a multi-day rafting vacation.

In mid October, with permits secured, food packed and rafting and camping equipment secured in trucks, our group of twelve guides headed to Western Colorado for a trip rafting the Colorado River. The plan for the devoted band of river rats was to launch just west of Frutia, Colorado and head down river to spend five days running the Ruby-Horsethief and Westwater Canyons of the Colorado River.

Those who have never experienced an over-night rafting trip often assume the trips are strenuous and rough. Traveling with minimal gear while eating freeze dried food, like backpackers. That is not the case for most rafting trips. Rafts can accommodate lots of gear, a full kitchen, large, comfortable sleeping pads, camp chairs, fire pans, plenty of beer and lots of other creature comforts. Our trip rafting the Colorado River included meals like lasagna, eggs and bacon, steak shish-ka-bobs with artichoke dip, Reuben sandwiches, chicken fajitas and pineapple upside-down cake. Camps were comfortable, even luxurious by camping standards.

Rafting the Colorado River: Breakfast at Mee Canyon

The first part of the journey traveled through the Ruby and Horsethief canyons. This particular stretch of the river contains mostly placid, class I and II water and beautiful desert landscape. Huge red rock walls, calm green water and aromatic desert shrubs are experienced along the way. Birds of prey ride the drafts off the canyon walls while fish jump, leaving ripples on the water surface. It’s a perfect setting for a relaxing row by the oarsmen (and women) captaining the seven rafts on the trip. Two of the guides paddled stand up paddleboards while others simply rode on the bow of a raft. Regardless of the mode of travel, each member of the group enjoyed being out in the desert away from the hustle and bustle of real life. Spending time on a desert river allows for the unmistakable feeling of freedom without worry. No electronic devices, no bills to pay, just the great outdoors with great friends.

Rafting the Colorado River: Precambrian Rock in Westwater Canyon

The group spent the first couple days of our adventure on this part of the river. Popular activities included playing in the water, relaxing by the fire and playing Bocce Ball or Washers. On our layover day, most of the group hiked up Mee Canyon. I stayed back to wait for a couple of our other guides friends who would be meeting us at camp that day. It was nice to spend time soaking in the view. I watched river otters play and waved at other groups of rafters heading down river. We left camp the next day and spent time jumping off the rocks in the Blackrock area before moving on to the Westwater Canyon section of the Colorado River for some exhilarating class III and IV whitewater.

Westwater Canyon is one of the most popular overnight river trips in the Western Colorado/Eastern Utah area. It is the only place, other than the Grand Canyon where a whitewater traveler can see Precambrian rocks like Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite. These rocks and the large, steep canyon walls give it a feel very similar the Grand Canyon. The short, but action packed section of whitewater within the Westwater Canyon area provide for a very wet and wild experience for river runners.

Rafting the Colorado River in Westwater Canyon did not disappoint for our employee trip. We saw mostly warm sunny weather, with just a little rain while running the rapids when you are wet anyway. Most all of the rapids were run successfully by the seasoned guides, smashing through large waves while smiling with joy. One raft, a smaller mini-me did flip in one of the larger rapids called Skull. The raft hit the main, large hydraulic in the rapid and was flipped instantly. But that was not unexpected because rowing a raft as small as the mini-me makes for a wild ride. All went well as the raft was easily righted once it was pulled into an eddy after the rapid. For our group, there is nothing more satisfying than traveling together on a river and running big rapids.

Rafting the Colorado River: Rafts and Paddleboards enter Westwater Canyon

The trip ended with one final night at camp with rowdy campfire discussions about the day of running whitewater. Final rounds of washers and bocce ball were played to determine trip champions and the group enjoyed one last gourmet camp meal. It was another memorable addition to the river logs of the veteran guides and an unforgettable first multi-day experience for a few others. The trip fortified the already tight bond between coworkers. Can’t wait to do it again. A multi-day adventure rafting the Colorado River, or any other river for that matter, is an unbeatable experience. And for our group, it was a perfect way to unwind and celebrate another season doing what we love: guiding rafts on the Cache La Poudre River.

photos by Melissa Matsunaka

Rafting the Colorado River: Calm Waters of Ruby/Horsethief Canyon
Rafting the Colorado River: Sitting Around Camp in the Morning
Rafting the Colorado River: View from Camp at Mee Canyon

Rafting the Colorado River: Melissa Takes a Selfie During Lunch One
Rafting the Colorado: Little Deloris Camp in Westwater Canyon
Rafting the Colorado River: Backflip at Blackrock

Mountain Whitewater Paddleboard Trips in Fort Collins Magazine

Standup Paddleboarding on Horsetooth Reservoir.Mountain Whitewater earned a mention in the latest issue of Fort Collins Magazine as part of a NOCO Bucket List article. The article, titled “The Official Love-Living-Here, Gotta-Do-It, Kick-A** NOCO Bucket List,” outlines 50 things to do in the Fort Collins area that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Activities on the list include visiting restaurants and breweries, wildlife viewing opportunities, arts and culture attractions, showing your Ram pride, music events, cycling opportunities and outdoor recreation options among others.

Mountain Whitewater was featured under option 14: “Paddleboard on Horsteooth Reservoir” for our guided paddleboard trips and paddleboard rentals. While whitewater rafting is still our core business, paddleboarding (also know as Standup Paddleboarding or SUP) has become a popular activity for the business as well. Paddleoarding is fun, great for fitness and provides opportunity to explore our waterways. The Cache La Poudre River also provides paddleboarding opportunities for the more the adventurous paddler. Also try our relaxing paddleboard yoga classes for another unique paddleboard activity.

Item number 47, “Rafting the Cache La Poudre River in June,” is another bucket list item that can be checked-off at Mountain Whitewater. This list item also includes a photo of one of our rafts navigating the river at Pine View Falls. Whether it by through our whitewater rafting adventures or our paddleboard offerings, we are quite happy to help folks check a couple of items off of there NOCO bucket list. Thanks to our friends at Fort Collins Magazine for mentioning our business in this entertaining and informative article.

2015 Projected Flow for Poudre River Above Average

Big wave splash on the Cache la Poudre River with Mountain Whitewater DescentsAs of March 1, 2015 the Cache La Poudre River spring and summer flow is forecast to be at levels around 103% of average flows. This is according to the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report issued by the US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

NRCS issues a monthly report from January to June every year that outlines snowpack levels, precipitation amounts, reservoir storage and stream flow forecasts for the different river basins in the State of Colorado. The Cache La Poudre River is a sub-basin of the larger South Platte River basin that covers most of northeast Colorado on the east side of the continental divide. Overall, the South Platte basin has seen 110% of median snowpack levels this past winter and has the highest on average stream flow forecasts for 2015 for each of its sub-basins (Cache La Poudre, Big Thompson, Boulder-St. Vrain, Clear Creek and Upper South Platte) compared to other basins in the State.

The streamflow forecast for the Cache La Poudre River comes as great news for recreation, as average to high snowpack levels translate to better water conditions. While there is still time for variations in the snowpack levels and ultimately spring and summer streamflows, above average numbers in March usually lead to very exciting peak levels in June and sustained water levels throughout the summer season. Another bit of good news from the report is that reservoir storage levels in the Cache La Poudre basin are also near or above average as well.

“We are very excited to see streamflow forecast near or above 100% of average for the Poudre River. Great water conditions are exciting for our staff and provide for an unforgettable rafting experience for our guests” says Ben Costello, Director of Fun for Mountain Whitewater Descents.

High-water view of Pine View Falls on the Cache La Poudre River near Fort Collins, CO“We are looking forward to another fantastic season and cannot wait to start taking our guests down this very special river.”

Whitewater rafting on Colorado’s only “Wild & Scenic River” is always a unique and memorable experience, but good water conditions make things even better. If a fast paced trip is what you seek, be sure to book your 2015 rafting trip in May or June for the most exciting water conditions. As long as we continue to see average snow fall amount in March and April (typically the best months for snow in Colorado), conditions for rafting on the Cache La Poudre River will be fantastic for the entire 2015 river season.

Follow this link to the Basin Outlook Report to read the entire report for yourself or to check on forecast conditions around the rest of our beautiful state.

Mountain Whitewater Descents Finds Success with New Booking Engine

For the summer 2014 whitewater rafting season, Mountain Whitewater Descents was in need of finding a new reservation platform. Our old system worked, but was outdated, not intuitive for users and did not provide the kind of support that we would like. There are a multitude of different reservation software platforms available for tour operators today, but not all work in a way that is convenient for both guests and staff. Our goal was to find a system that allowed our guests to book in an easier, more streamlined way that looked professional and kept feel or our website. After researching different platforms, we found Rezdy and could not be happier.

Booking your adventure on our website is now a breeze. There are less steps to go through for guests, whether booking online or over the phone with our professional staff, which means less time booking your experience and more time enjoying your vacation. Rezdy has also benefited the business by giving our staff more time to focus on providing great customer service that is expected by our guests because they spend less time clicking through screens in the booking software. Rezdy was easy to implement, is easy to use and provides very high quality support.

Thanks to Rezdy for building and maintaining such a useful booking tool. We are excited to provide a worry free way for our guests to book the experience of a lifetime. For more information check this link to our Rezdy case study.

Professional Office Staff at Mountain Whitewater Descents

Office staff member, Lindsey, waits happily for guest check-in.

River Love

IMG_4899The song of the river ends not at her banks, but in the hearts of those who have loved her. – Buffalo Joe

There is no rushing a river. When you go there, you go at the pace of the water and that pace ties you into a flow that is older than life on this planet. Acceptance of that pace, even for a day, changes us, reminds us of other rhythms beyond the sound of our own heartbeats. – Jeff Rennicke, River Days: Travels on Western Rivers

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
– A. A. Milne, Pooh’s Little Instruction Book