Rafting Guide Q&A


At IRA, we take pride in our top-shelf guides, and river guide Max Gans is no exception. If you’ve been on a trip with him, you’re familiar with his unique sense of humor, vast river knowledge, and advanced rafting skills. We love having Max as a part of our Salmon River guides crew!

Guide Q&A - Max Gans



What got you into raft guiding in the first place?

I became a guide to work in the outdoors, run rivers and go camping. I have no plans to quit guiding as of now.

What was the hardest skill for you to learn as a rafting guide?

I think the hardest thing for me to learn was to always be caring and compassionate, not to get burnt out on spending every day working, and realizing that I am very lucky to have an opportunity to work on a river. It’s hard to not take things for granted, it can be easy to get frustrated when a guest needs extra help doing something I think is easy. I have to remind myself that they are out of their element and I am here to make their experience as enjoyable as possible.

What’s your favorite thing about Idaho River Adventures trips?

I love the raft guide crew at Idaho River Adventures. I love the respect and support that we all have for each other at the company on and off work. I cannot think of a particular favorite part about Idaho River Adventure trips, I love navigating difficult rapids, I love sleeping under the stars… I love the great equalizer that the river is; Doctors, lawyers, parking lot attendants, cooks, and river guides are all dealing with the same set of problems and circumstances, we all rely on each other to achieve common goals, and social hierarchies are leveled.

What’s your favorite memory raft guiding?

It’s very hard to lock down one favorite memory from guiding, so many come to mind. One of my most recent memories is my first time rafting the Middle Fork, I had so much fun exploring and falling in love with a new river. I remember being so excited to see what’s around every turn.

What would you tell someone who wants to be a rafting guide?

I give them full support, I think that it is more work and effort than it looks like from an outside perspective, but worthy things tend to be that way.

How would you describe the rafting guide culture at IRA?

The guiding atmosphere at IRA is great, every opinion and idea is valued and considered, when I bring things up to my fellow guides I genuinely feel heard and listened to.

Do you have a favorite meal to consume or prepare on river trips?

I am a fan of almost everything on our menu, some of my favorite things to make are the biscuits and sausage gravy with eggs and the pancakes because I really enjoy cooking the morning being the first one up while the world around you is still so still and peaceful is one of my favorite feelings on the river. That being said, getting a little extra sleep is another favorite feeling. The BBQ chicken and cornbread, and the salmon are amongst my favorite dinners.

Any stories that made your job extra special this season?

Being able to meet and connect with so many great people made the summer feel great. I loved learning from my experienced coworkers, new tricks, and jokes, they taught me all kinds of new history and magical spots.

What do you normally do in the off-season?

In the off-season, I supervise a ski patrol at Deer Valley, a major ski resort near Salt Lake City. I work with great people maintaining ski runs, helping injured guests, and solving any problems the resort might have. In the shoulder season, I spend most of my time traveling to go rafting, kayaking, or mountain biking.




Emily Knittel is a Montana based writer, mountain biker, and self-proclaimed professional hype girl. With a degree in Journalism, and an unshakable love for the outdoors, Emily writes to encourage a life of whimsy and adventure.

Main Salmon River

Main Salmon River

Our Main Salmon River trips put-in at Corn Creek, just below the confluence of the Main Salmon River and the Middle Fork on the Salmon River, and take out at Carey Creek. We float almost 80 miles of the beautiful Salmon River.

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