(Level 1) Introduction to Whitewater and Recreational Kayaking

Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
76 Sandia Lakes Rd
Bernalillo, NM, 87004
See map: Google Maps
From Albuquerque or Santa Fe: Take I-25 to Tramway (Hwy 556). Turn West on Tramway, continue to the round-about. Take Hwy 313 North, approximately 1 mile, past Shady Lakes, to Sandia Lakes Recreation Area on the left side of the road. From Rio Rancho, or the West side of Albuquerque: Take Alameda to 2nd Street (Hwy 47), turn North on 2nd Street. Continue on 2nd Street past the merger of 2nd and 4th Street; this becomes Hwy 556. Continue to the round-about. Take Hwy 313 North, approximately 1 mile, past Shady Lakes, to Sandia Lakes Recreation Area, on the left side of the road. From Bernalillo: Take Hwy 313 South approximately 7 miles to Sandia Lakes Recreation Area on the right side of the road.
Start Time: 
Saturday, September 1, 2018 - 8:45am - 1:00pm

Introduction to Kayaking (level 1) is a 4-hour clinic teaching you the essential skills needed to paddle whitewater or recreational kayaks in flat water.  For those interested in whitewater kayaking, these strokes, rescues, concepts and maneuvers should be introduced and refined on flatwater before moving out to whitewater. For those interested in recreational kayaking on easy rivers and small lakes, this introductory course will provide you with a solid foundation of strokes and rescues.

Here's a few things you'll learn:

  • 5 misunderstood concepts to effortless paddling (here's a hint - if you're like most self-taught paddlers, and use your arms to power your kayak, you'll lose over 90% of your power through your shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. Paddle smarter, not harder!)
  • 6 simple rescues that anyone can do in deep-water
  • 4 myths to an effortless roll (Rolling is effortless without a paddle, even with a boat full of water, but 95% of paddlers fail because of one common mistake -- they try to get on top of the boat!)
  • 9 essential strokes and skills you should master before learning the Kayak Roll, Whitewater or Touring classes

You'll also learn the most stable ways to enter and exit the kayak from shore, as well as how to quickly exit and re-enter a capsized kayak in deep water. A variety of self-rescues, including the Kayak Roll and assisted rescues are demonstrated throughout the class. You'll learn the basic strokes and body mechanics to paddle efficiently, comfortably and confidently in any direction on lakes and easy flat water rivers.

Accident reports studied by the American Canoe Association indicate the vicitms had little or no formal training in kayaking.  70% of all accidents happen on flat water, with no current. It appears that the simplicity of the design is often misinterpreted as an indication that the boats are simple to operate and inherently safe.  Most victims probably would not consider themselves as a "kayaker" and therefore do not seek out kayaking-specific instruction, such as how to do smooth and controlled wet exits, simple rescues that anyone can perform, reading the river or dressing appropriately for kayaking.

We believe kayaking can be fun and easy if you learn the right techniques.  It has little to do with strength or age, and much more to do with finesse, techique, and confidence learned through formal training in incremental steps. 


Succeeding courses: 
Essentials of Recreational Kayaking (level 2)
The Kayak Roll (level 2)

2-day Whitewater Weekend (level 3)
2-day Coastal Kayaking on Inland Waters (level 3)

Note: Level 2 is not required for Level 3, but may be beneficial for those wanting to start out at a slower pace, those simply interested in recreational kayaking, or those wanting to truly master the Level 3 course. The Level 2 course will help refine strokes and concepts in moving water and give you a significant head-start in the Level 3 Weekend course.

Meet the Instructors:
Our instructors are our greatest assets. Each of our instructors are certified by the American Canoe Association (ACA). Founded in 1880, and funded largely by the US Coast Guard, the ACA is a nation-wide not for profit organization whose role is to make paddling education and instruction standardized and more accessible to the public. Our instructors are certified to the highest levels, up to and including:

Level 2 Stand Up Paddling (or SUP'ing) Instructor
Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor
Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor
Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor-Trainer
Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor-Trainer
Level 4 Whitewater Paddle Raft Instructor-Trainer
Level 5 Advanced Swift Water Rescue Instructor

Instructors who work with kids are required to pass the same background and fingerprinting checks as required by Albuquerque Public Schools.

Our instructors are also leaders in their communities, and in their professions. 

View Instructor Credentials here

Our Guarantee:
You'll learn more in this 4-hour class than most people would learn in several seasons of informal training. We're so confident your skills will increase, that we'll guarantee it! If you don't feel more confident, more in control and more excited about paddling, we'll donate your course fees to your favorite charity, in your name!

$85.00 Before Tax

Payment in full is due within 24 hours of registration.  No spot is reserved until full payment is received.


Your payment is a reservation for an event with limited capacity.  Cancellations or rescheduling request 4 or more days before the scheduled event are entitled to receive a refund, less a $25 cancellation fee.  We're sorry, but cancellations or no-shows within 3 days of the event are non-refundable, and non-transferrable. 

I like the emphasis on kayaking as a positive experience.  After taking the classes, you realize that you can have a very fun time, even before mastering the roll.  Other classes I've taken make the roll seem like a necessity, and learning to roll (or not), becomes the focus, which eclipses the fun of kayaking.

Betsy Glenn

Kelly has a way of transferring his passion for kayaking to everyone who attends a talk, lesson or paddles with him.  A very patient and conscientious instructor, I always feel safe during lessons on and off the river.  Not only does Kelly teach the sport, he finds ways to help you find your niche and meet others who share the same interest.  In addition, the other instructors he brings along are equally as knowledgeable and helpful.  If you haven't tried kayaking or want to hone your skills, this is a great place to start.

Susan Brockway  -  Los Alamos National Laboratory
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