At Canyon River Instruction we are dedicated to bringing you the best in customized whitewater instruction. Whether you are new to the river and excited to learn a new sport, want a better understanding of river safety, need a Swiftwater Rescue certification, are looking to brush up on old skills or are ready to step up your game and tackle bigger rapids, we are here to help you achieve the whitewater skills you need.

We offer one to three day clinics in rowing, paddling rafting and kayaking for beginner through advanced, as well as river safety courses and Swiftwater Rescue certifications.

Our mission is to make whitewater rafting & kayaking safer and more accessible for private boaters.

All of our instructors are ACA certified and all of our courses are taught to the ACA curriculum. Why ACA? The American Canoe Association was stared in 1880 and is the nations recognized leader in paddle sport instruction, it sets the industry standard in paddle sports safety and education, as well as core skill sets. The ACA's rigorous training and high standards ensure the finest caliber instructors anywhere on the water, and we are proud to be an ACA affiliated company.


Please contact us to arrange one or more days of private rowing or paddle rafting instruction on the Arkansas River near Salida, CO.

Course Descriptions


Rowing Clinics

Learn the basics of rowing your own raft! Whether you want to catch every golden eddy on your favorite fishing stretch, take your family on a multi day float trip or tackle the notorious rapids of the Grand Canyon, we can help you gain and hone the skills you need to feel comfortable and confidant rowing your raft. We cover everything from the basics of reading water and scouting rapids to the physics of how your raft works, river safety and advanced maneuvering. We offer one to three day clinics, and beginner to advanced courses are available.  Instructor ratio is 1-3 students to one instructor and one raft.

$300 Full Day Private Rowing Clinic + $50 additional person

4 person max, recommended 3 or less for maximum oar time.


Paddle RaftING

Learn the basics of captaining a paddle raft so that you can take your friends down your favorite local stretch of river any time! We cover everything from the basics of reading water and scouting rapids, to the essentials of each paddle stroke, river safety and advanced maneuvering. Beginner to Advanced courses available. One to three day clinics. Instructor ratio is 2-6 students to one instructor, one raft.

$300 Full Day Private Paddle Rafting Clinic + $50 additional person  2 Person Minimum.

6 person max


Kayak Clinics

Whether you are new to kayaking or looking to refine some concepts that you've been working on for years, a CRI instructor can help you get to where you want to be.  All kayak instructors with CRI are certified through the American Canoe Association and offer private or small group size classes.  We teach on the Arkansas River right here in Salida, CO where we have some ideal learning environments ranging from easy eddy turns in the town park, Class II & III downriver sections, and the beautiful Browns Canyon National Monument.

$300 Full Day, $175 Half Day for One on One private instruction.  Please contact us for group rates and more information.


River Safety

Want to feel a little more comfortable in a whitewater situation? Whether you are tackling high water and big rapids or taking your kids out on the float stretch, having a basic set of river safety skills makes any day on the water safer and more enjoyable. We'll cover all the basics from safe wading and swimming, to rescuing a swimmer, even flip and recovery. One day clinics.


Swiftwater Rescue Certifications

These three day intensive clinics go over all aspects of advanced swifter rescue techniques as well as the basics. Upon completion of the course you receive an ACA Swiftwater Rescue certification that satisfies the requirements of commercial outfitter needs for guides. Swiftwater rescue skills are also just super handy to have in your back pocket, especially if you have a tendency to fire up the gnar with your crew. Because, hey, I mean, you know what's funny about safety, right? Nothing! ;) Seriously though, having serious safety skills on the water leads to a funner time for everyone every time!


Women's Specific Clinics

Because sometimes it's just that much more fun to learn on a girls day out! In a classroom environment of women only with women instructors, the energy runs high, the fun is epic and it's just a safe space for women to practice skills in an otherwise male dominated sport. In these clinics, muscles are not our biggest asset, we learn the secrets of "finesse," share all those "tips & tricks" for girls only, and have twice as much fun as the boys! We offer women's specific clinics in all or our disciplines and abilities, because- Awesome.


Multi Day Logistics

 We take the mystery out of National Park Service regulations, rigging, camp kitchen, everything multi day trip related! Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Chama River in Northern New Mexico while honing the skills of your craft and learning all the ins and outs of putting together and leading your own multi day river trip. Two to three day clinics, available in all disciplines and abilities.


Other Classes

Don't see what you're looking for? Do you paddle a different craft? Or want learn how to paddle a different craft? Give us a call and we'll do our best to find the paddling instructor that's right for you! Whether it's SUP, C1, OC1, river board or any other river craft, we'll do our best to accommodate your passion for paddling and find the right instructor to make your day on the water the learning experience you need!

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For outfitters

Canyon River Instruction offers ACA skill based guide schools for outfitters needing to train new guides. In utilizing CRI to run your guide school, you not only free up your early season guides to be running the early season trips that you need them for, you also ensure that your new guides have a solid foundation of necessary paddling skills that build upon step by step essentials of paddling, maneuvering, reading water and river safety.




  • PFD

  • River Helmet

  • non-cotton sun protection

  • Fleece or Wool warm layers

  • Wetsuit or drysuit

  • Dry or splash wear

  • River Shoes

  • Rescue knife with locking sheath and whistle

  • Hat

  • Sunglasses with retainer strap

  • Water bottle

  • Dry bag


  • Backpacking tent, Sleeping bag, Ground pad

  • Headlamp

  • Dry shoes

  • Dry clothing

  • Rain gear

  • Warm jacket

  • Camp chair

  • Non-breakable mug for coffee or other hot drink (we'll bring the kitchen)