Questions you Should/Shouldn’t Ask Every River Guide

Questions you Should/Shouldn’t Ask Every River Guide

River guides love telling stories. We love stories that make us laugh, stories that make us learn, and stories that make us look inward. Exaggerated details, extensive hand gestures, the Dramatic Pause, and a sharp punchline. We love telling good stories and bad ones, and we love listening to them, too.

So, we put together a list of questions to ask (and some questions to avoid) on your next river trip to ensure you share a few good laughs, lessons, and reflective moments with the people, and the place.


  • “What inspires you to work out here?”

You should never hear the same answer twice. If you get a generic answer without personal value attached, I suggest you dig a little deeper or request a new guide.

  • “What is the most epic true story you’ve ever heard?”

For a guide, re-telling a good story is almost as good as actually being there. Almost.

  • “If you could give your childhood self one piece of advice, what would it be?”

This question prompts some killer exchanges between guests and guides. Most of the best advice I’ve ever received comes from these flat-water chats.

  • “What’s your favorite river?”

More often than not, the answer will surprise you. Unexpected rivers and unconventional reasoning might convince you that an objectively “best river” does not exist.



  • “So, what do you want to do with your life?”

Or any version of that why-don’t-you-have-a-real-job question. The answer is most likely right in front of you, oars in hand.

  • “Has anyone ever died here?”

Usually asked while floating above a big rapid. Do you really want to know?

  • “How often do you shower?”

Do you really want to know?

  • Any questions about politics, ever.

Take a break and enjoy the scenery.




  • Leave your phone at home.
  • Leave your phone at home.
  • Leave your phone at home.
Guiding as a River Couple

Guiding as a River Couple

In any workplace, dating your coworker is a bad idea. In guiding, it is also a bad idea.

You’ve heard the story, I’m sure. Maybe you’ve lived it.

You met them on the river last season, and the magic of summer and nature whisked you away into a sun-drunk love affair. You two were the Gossip Juice of every trip. Then August came around and suddenly the river magic vanished, along with whatever made you stoked on that person in the first place. Oh, well. That was fun. You go home to winter with a good story.

A tale as old as time.

As for me and Larz, we weren’t that story. We were friends for a long time before we started dating, and we did many river trips together through those years. When we faced our first season of working as a couple, we learned to take the most important lesson of guiding and apply it to working as a couple: Figure it out.

That lesson means doing our job first and being a supportive duo to our crew. When you choose to date someone you work with, you choose to be there for them as someone they can rely on when everything hits the fan. You learn to work as a team, and that is a valuable lesson to take home to real life.

And there are moments on every trip where we do get to take a little time to just be a happy couple surrounded by great people in a beautiful place. Sunset deadheads, running the river trail, fishing the eddy at camp when we’re not on dinner crew…

Those are the moments we remember.

A strong friendship and a history of running rivers together is the foundation that ultimately makes working together possible, and more importantly, enjoyable. I’m incredibly lucky. Our ‘river romance’ extends far beyond a summer job. Our life is here in Missoula and it’s a really, really good life. So, this is my two cents: Dating your coworker is almost always a bad idea, unless they happen to be the person you want to run rivers with for the rest of your lives.