Whitewater kayaking is one of those sports that absolutely necessitates that a person takes lessons and maybe even attend a whitewater kayaking school. Everything from getting into a whitewater kayak, to learning how to stay balanced in the boat, to actually paddling in a straight path requires lessons and much practice. This shouldn’t intimidate anyone from taking up the sport as the excitement of learning is part of the fun.
While it is true that most people learn how to whitewater kayak from friends who are already proficient paddlers there are many others who are drawn to this type of kayaking but have no guidance on where to begin. Even the paddlers who have learned from their friends often miss some key tips that an intermediate lesson will help improve.
How to Seek Out Whitewater Kayaking Lessons
So the question is, where does one go to learn how to whitewater kayak? Well, most local kayaking shops that sell whitewater kayaks and gear have some sort of program, lessons, and school to teach whitewater kayaking technique. These lessons range and cater from the very beginner all the way up to the competitor level. If your local outfitter doesn’t offer these programs themselves, they most certainly will know where to direct you. Many of them even have bulletin boards where people can advertise everything from boats for sale to private instructions.
So your best bet is to check at your local kayaking shop. This will help you to build a relationship with the local experts which can prove invaluable to learning about those local runs that outsiders rarely know about. It will also introduce you to other boaters at your same skill level. This is crucial because when the lessons are over you’ll need someone to paddle with. As the sport of paddling continues to grow, the amount and quality of lessons offered out of local shops is bound to continue to get better and better.
Whitewater Kayaking Schools Around the U.S.
Besides your local kayaking shop, there are some very well known regional whitewater kayaking schools that draw from a large radius and have a broad following. These schools often have professionals leading the lessons and their instruction is cutting edge due to their extensive experience. They also frequently offer multi-day packages that include accommodations so if you’re willing to travel, this might be a good option for you. Here are whitewater kayaking schools in each region of the United States.
- Southeastern United States
North Carolina: Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)
- Mid-Atlantic United States
Pennsylvannia: Northeast PA Kayak School
Washington D.C.:Valley Mill Kayak School
- Northeastern United States
Massachussetts: Zoar Outdoor Kayak and Canoe Clinics
- Mid-Mountain States
Colorado: Alpine Quest Sports Kayak School
- Northern Mountain States:
Montana: Great Northern Kayak School
- Southwestern United States
Southern California: Sierra South Kayaking School
- Northwestern United States
Northern California: California Canoe and Kayak
- The Pacific Northwest
Oregon- Adler Creek Canoe and Kayak