Well, now that I have a small amount of experience with this topic, I thought I'd start a new page about it. This will be for people who want to get into kayaking but don't know where to start. It took me years to find out all this stuff! In Arizona there are far fewer resources than California or other states!! It would be nice if this could remain a resource page, and people can add information or ask questions about kayaking lessons, gear, etc.
at Lake Mead offers beginner through advanced classes, and also trips. YES, they do teach the Eskimo roll and other more advanced techniques. Cheaper than doing lessons with an individual teacher, at least as far as I can find out: http://www.kayaklakemead.com
Buyer beware if you really want to learn this sport there are a lot of "recreational" teachers out there who do not teach any advanced skills. But you have to start somewhere. I actually had one teacher I called ask me "Why do you want to learn the Eskimo Roll? Why would you want to do whitewater?" Ok... each to his or her own, right?
That being said, FLAT water kayaking is a LOT more fun than I thought it would be. It is peaceful and quiet, if you can find an area with no speedboats! Yuma is very good for that.
YUMA KAYAK TOURS and lessons
: Here is a woman named Sharon in Yuma (but only in winter) who sells Eddyline Kayaks, and does lessons and trips. The lessons are ONLY flatwater recreation info--NO Eskimo Roll is taught. I bought a paddle from her. A friend of mine recently went on a day trip with her, learned a lot about kayaking and saw some gorgeous scenery (Squaw Lake to channels to Colorado River, and down the river back to the lake--$45) Her web address is (dead link removed) 928-503-0537.
Also in Yuma, Arizona Western College
may still offer a weekend beginner kayak and canoe class once a year. I took it Nov 2008, and it was very fun. Piece of cake, I didn't learn that much, but it was fun. I had canoed before, wanted to try kayaking.
Also in Yuma, at Martinez Lake, YUMA RIVER TOURS
still offers a shuttle for canoers and kayakers who want to go upriver and float down. On their website they say they offer canoe trips in conjunction with Jerkwater Canoe Company, but last time I checked it seemed that Jerkwater company may be out of business. I think if you bring your own boat, they put it on their jetboat, so you get to ride upriver on that, which is very fun. Then they drop you off at their private campground called Norton's Landing. Then you float back down to Martinez Lake. NOTE: they will not do this for solo paddlers! They have a policy against that--you must have a small group of people going. (dead link removed) Also if you want to take your grandma to do something fun, try their jetboat ride. They stop twice along the way so you can walk around, and they also feed you lunch. It is very fun, as I said. We did it in 2005. And it is GORGEOUS as it goes through the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge.
fun: In San Diego a woman named Marie who is awesome does some touring lessons and takes people into San Diego Bay to see the turtles! She has other trips as well. http://www.familykayak.com
The first time we tried a tandem boat it was because we had met her at Squaw Lake, and she let us use her boat. Two weeks later we found one just like it on Craig's List and bought it.
CANYONS AND COASTLINES
: An Arizona paddlers resource page. Although no longer teaching except by appointment and you have to have your own pool, Nancy Kanu Wright does still maintain her paddlesports resource page. Be forewarned that some of the links on her page may no longer work: (dead link removed)
SAPC--Southern Arizona Paddlers Club http://www.soazpaddlers.org/
Tucson-based--is a happening club. This club does both flatwater and whitewater trips. A lot of their trips are suitable for beginners. I have a friend that belongs to it so I hear about their trips from time to time, haven't joined yet. In the past two months they have done the upper Salt and also the SF-Gila Box near Safford.
in the Valley come and go, but are sometimes found on Canyons and Coastlines
. You might also ask around, like at Arizona Hiking Shack
. Last time I contacted one of them, he had his own pool but (unlike Lake Mead school) you had to bring your own boat and all your own gear and it was $50 an hour in his pool until you learned enough techniques and then he would take you to the lower Salt tubing area. Even if you have a whitewater boat, like I do, you also need floatation bags, the right kind of paddle, not just any paddle, your own PFD, neoprene skirt (not the nylon one I have) probably a wetsuit and booties. This route is a lot more expensive than going to the school.
I was offered a 2-day 10 hour course for $200, all gear is included, at Lake Mead. This works out to $20 an hour and I don't have to buy all that stuff up front.
, also called RUBBER DUCKIES are a good way to start experiencing whitewater but I'd recommend you do a whitewater rafting trip first to see if you like it. A lot of people are scared by it. http://www.raftthesalt.com
does these trips late in the river season, Salt River Canyon (near Globe). They wait until the water goes down to do the ducky trips.
San Diego always has an astonishing number of yaks for sale every single day. You really have to know what you are looking for. There are sea kayaks, touring kayaks, recreational kayaks, sit-on-tops, surfing kayaks, inflatable kayaks, whitewater kayaks, play boats...etc. etc. etc. We bought our tandem Wilderness Systems recreational boat off San Diego Craigslist.
There are kayaking tours available at Hoover Dam, also, that go down Black Canyon below the dam. If you google Hoover Dam kayaking
you will find a gazillion outfitters.
The San Juan River just north of Arizona, between Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah, has options. You will have to do your own searches on that one.
Do it yourself
: The Gila River Box, and San Francisco Rivers are running right now between Clifton and Safford. Yuma
: The lower Gila River dumps into the Lower Colorado River in Yuma, you can float down the Gila to the Colorado. There are of course hundreds of lakes in Arizona where you can kayak. I like Mittry Lake near Yuma, and Old River near Betty's Kitchen, which is a trapped portion of river between Imperial Dam and Laguna Dam. Winkelman
: The Gila River between Dripping Springs and Winkelman is run when water level allows, usually with rubber duckies. People say to watch for sweepers in that section.
ARIZONA'S LONGEST RIVER TRIP other than Grand Canyon: Ehrenberg, AZ
Put a week's worth of food and gear in your canoe or kayak and float down to Martinez lake in Yuma, over 100 miles!!! You can actually put in upriver from Ehrenberg near Palo Verde Dam. Be careful not to camp on the Indian Reservation!!!! The river is big, but there is no real whitewater. There are several actual BOAT-IN-CAMPGROUNDS!!! Here's an incredible Boy Scout website about how to do that trip: (dead link removed) It has maps, campground info, how to plan your days, etc. I am so happy to have found it! It even has music!
Colorado River in Grand Canyon is a whole 'nother topic. I am not going to attempt it.
Please feel free to add to my info.