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“Wonderful, professional tour”

Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Sunset Magazine's #1 Outdoor Day Trip in Albuquerque, and the Rio Grande experience New Mexico Magazine "now rates as my favorite"! Experience the remarkable serenity, breathtaking scenery and diverse wildlife of the historic Rio Grande! Located just minutes from Albuquerque, Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures' kayak, canoe and stand up paddleboard tours of the middle Rio provide family and beginner-friendly paddling adventures which stand in sharp contrast to the wild whitewater rushing through the canyons of northern New Mexico. Guided, Self-guided and Group Adventures (up to 40 adults) are available.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Wonderful, professional tour”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 19, 2011

We have been on two trips down the river with Quiet Waters and are planning more! They are very professional and take the time to patiently answer all questions. Both trips we've been on have had children under 10 in boats and they did very well. The kayaks are very easy to maneuver as long as you follow their instructions. The scenery is BEAUTIFUL and the guides are very knowledgeable about the wildlife, geography and plant life.
I absolutely recommend this trip!

Visited July 2011
1 Thank Ritawoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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51 reviews from our community

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English first
Corrales, NM
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Understaffed, overbooked, poorly organized. They got lucky.”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 17, 2011

Right up front, let me say I was one ot the two who stayed behind, allegedly causing the delay in the trip time. Considering that the guides did not get us into the water until 10:30, I think getting down to our destination by 1:45 would have happened whether anyone had stayed behind or not. And what kind of professional water tour company does not plan for possible bail outs? The guides indicated to us that the kayaking part of the trip itself would take 1 hour 45 minutes. That would have gotten us to the destination site by 12:45 at the earliest. Their time estimate was based on sunset trips - they had never done a moonlight tour before (it took many questions before they admitted that this was the case). The trip was advertised as being from 8 p.m. to midnight, including the ghost stories and s'mores at the end of the river tour. Such as great idea!

Here's what I experienced: We got to their warehouse just before 8, per their recommendation. The trip was described as usually being around 12 people. The staff waited until all 30+ people (!!) showed up to cram us into the warehouse to watch their safety video (suggestion 1: run the safety video continuously so people can watch as they arrive).

They didn't have enough vans to transport their overbooked trip, so they had the overflow people follow the van to the launching point in the dark, which took an extra 45 minutes to an hour (suggestion 2: do not overbook, and have enough vans to do the transport yourselves). The van reeked of fresh pot smoke (suggestion 3: don't get stoned and do midnight tours or if you do, be a little more discreet about it).

We got to the launch point between 9 and 9:30 and stood around until 10:30 while assorted things happened, something to do with going back for more people. The kayak guide, Michelle, is a strong and competent kayaker. However, she, had obviously never trained anyone in the dark, and as I said previously, the company had never done a moonlight tour before. Training was minimal and disorganized. Most of us had not done a trial run before we all got in the water as a group.

The canoe participants had two guides, Mike and Steve. The kayakers had Michelle and her underage son (an experienced kayaker, but not a guide). They had no walkie-talkies, they "forgot" their cell phones (see comment about getting stoned above), they had no flashlights in the participants kayaks, they had no contingency plan for what to do if someone capsized or was unable to handle the river, and god knows what they would have done had there been an actual emergency. The river was higher than it has been in this drought year, probably due to rain this past week, and was running faster than I've seen lately (I'm a local).

There were six incidents over the course of the trip, not counting my sister-in-law and I deciding to stay behind. I opted out because the minute the group got in the water all was chaos - too many inexperienced people, everyone running into each other, one immediate capsize (in the first five minutes), I got smacked in the head by someone's oar.

It was immediately obvious that Michelle and Lexi could not control that number of inexperienced kayakers. I was already at low confidence in the situation due to the overall disorganization before we ever got in the water. I called for help when I found that the current was faster than I expected, but Michelle and her son Lexi were trying to help the capsized kayaker and could not get to anyone else.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law found that the chaos and the river itself were scaring the heck out of her and she ran herself to ground in a panic. My sister-in-law is a serious athlete, very strong and extremely fit, although with limited kayaking experience. I joined her as quickly as I could, dumping my kayak as I did so. We dragged the boats to the rocky edge of the river and sat, soaked and shaking, watching the group spin around smacking into each other, completely out of control. My partner joined us shortly thereafter and the three of us sat there for the next hour, until Mike and Steve came back in a canoe to take us back to the launch site. Since they'd forgotten to bring their cell phones, they had to go back to the other site to get them to contact the stoned driver to come pick us up to take us to the desination point.

In the meantime, two canoes had flipped, one got stuck in the weeds, several more kayakers capsized, and the minimal staff had their hands full just trying to get down the river.

My sister-in-law, partner and I got to the desination point at 1:30. The rest of the group got there shortly thereafter. The storytelling group was still there and they made us feel very welcome. They were perfectly willing to give us s'mores and hot chocolate and tell us stories, but everyone was exhuasted. It was 3 a.m. by the time we got home.

Lessons as per the other reviewer: Don't overbook, give adequate training to inexperienced participants, have contingency plans, adequate staffing, keep extra lights available, have communications established. And remember, brownies don't leave clouds of smoke hanging in the air.

I won't do it again and in fact I am very surprised that they didn't offer to give us our money back. I was very surprised that one of the guides actually started to chew us out for getting in the water in the first place. I am not afraid of water, I am not afraid of boats, but I am afraid of poor planning and unnecessary risk.

Visited July 2011
2 Thank tphil00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“The Poseidon Adventure”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2011

Our family went on the full moon canoe and ghost tour trip last night after reading about it in the Albuquerque Journal. The river at night is amazing! We saw many beaver in the moonlight and Canada geese honking and flying directly overhead as we paddled down river. At certain points we caught stunning glimpses of the eerily beautiful Las Conchas fire burning in the distance. What we did not count on was a seven hour boat trip, ending at almost 2 in the morning. It took over two hours to get checked in, outfitted, out to the departure point and into the water. We were 30+ people of varying levels of experience with only three guides on the river in the dark. While I commend the guides, especially Michelle, who remained professional and upbeat despite 5 boat over turnings, the submerging of a canoe which we had to ultimately leave behind, and a lengthy delay due to two frightened participants refusing to continue the trip after the first bend, I think this adventure would have been better capped at about half the participants, especially for the price of $75. My husband was in such a hurry to get our tired and soaking, shivering 9 year old home that we skipped the ghost stories and s'mores (if there were any at that point, it was 1:45 am) and neglected to tip our guides in our rush to get on the road. (My sincere apologies to Michelle who provided her jacket and a trail bar to make the remainder of the trip more comfortable for our son and for others). In my opinion, the lack of organization at the beginning did not inspire confidence, especially in the less experienced, which contributed to the hour long delay as Michael and Steve had to transport two scared participants back upriver with kayaks in tow. It was definitely an adventure, and one that could be truly magical with better planning and fewer people or additional guides. This was a maiden voyage and so subsequent voyages could be wonderful. We won't rule out Quiet Waters in the future, especially if Michelle is our guide, but my advice to the owner based on our experience: Don't compromise safety and efficiency to make an extra buck or to avoid disappointing potential customers. This trip would have been better as a smaller group or with additional and experienced guides. Also, Steve, keep your headlight on next time.

Visited July 2011
5 Thank redwee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
QWPA, Owner at Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures, responded to this review, July 24, 2011
To begin, I would like to thank the reviewer for what is a reasonably balanced review, and for acknowledging the few positives that occurred in what was otherwise a very disappointing evening for everyone involved. Floating a river under a full moon can indeed be a magical experience, but as the president of Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures, I must acknowledge certain mistakes in judgment that ultimately led to the disappointing outing experienced by our participants, staff and our partners for this event.

After some time to reflect, it seems quite obvious to me that the greatest single mistake we made was in failing to anticipate how novices would react to actually paddling a canoe or kayak in the dark. From the moment we've opened our doors, we have hosted literally hundreds of beginners to paddling. And we have become accustomed to seeing people start out with varying degrees of of apprehension, then acclimate to the experience and learn intuitively, with a little guidance from their guide, how to control their boat within a relatively short period of time – in most cases within 10 – 15 minutes.

What I failed to anticipate was the extent to which the apprehension and uncertainty that is common to beginners would be amplified by being on the river in the dark. Until this outing, we had never seen anyone so paralyzed by fear that they refused to continue, yet on this evening we had three do so, which I deeply regret, as these three individuals will likely never be willing to attempt the activity again. Which is sad, because although I'm obviously less than objective in this matter, I honestly believe that there is not a single outdoor activity quite as serene and relaxing as paddling a canoe or kayak down a gentle, Class I river. Especially a river that offers the spectacular scenery and wildlife of the Middle Rio Grande.

It's also true that by having three participants quit less than 200 yards downstream of the launch, the other 30 plus guests had to wait for at least an hour and a half while myself and another of our guides paddled over a half-mile upstream, then patiently ferried the three women across the river and escorted them to an area where our driver could pick them up.

I also believe that the high level of mishaps and capsizes that occurred on this evening were also a direct result of the elevated apprehension levels of the novices involved. On our guided tours prior to this evening, we had seen less than 1% of our guests capsize. On this evening, we had over 20%. I can only attribute this to novice paddlers putting additional pressure on themselves as a consequence of being on the river at night, which led to mistakes that in turn led to mishaps that would otherwise not have occurred.

The only thing that I would take issue with in this review is the suggestion that safety was compromised or that there were an insufficient number of guides involved for the size of the group. We've entertained large groups (25+) before, and find that one guide per dozen participants is more than sufficient for a trip on a gentle, Class I river. (That an outfitter offers guided tours of Class I water is highly unusual in the first place). Our safety record is perfect, and no one has ever experienced anything beyond getting wet unintentionally. As I mentioned above, the number of mishaps that occurred on this evening were way beyond what could reasonably be expected, yet still, in every case, a guide was immediately present to lend assistance. It's also true that no one was in any danger at any time.

Regardless, this was a definite learning experience for us. We will offer full moon tours in the future, but we will limit participation to those who have been out with us at least once previously on other tours. This is definitely not an appropriate event for novices, and our failure to anticipate that led directly to the ridiculously long duration of the tour.

This whole event was hugely disappointing to me personally, as I had truly looked forward to providing a genuinely positive and memorable experience for our guests. Until this event we have enjoyed virtually nothing but positive feedback from the hundreds of people we've been honored to entertain. Unfortunately, on this evening, several went away deeply unhappy with us, which isn't entirely undeserved. We will be sending each guest involved a gift certificate equivalent to the size of their party, valid throughout the 2012 season for any standard daytime or sunset guided tour. Additionally, Tours of Old Town is offering a complimentary History Tour or 8 PM Ghost Tour to all participants, as the ghost stories planned for after the trip were canceled by mutual agreement among our guests due to the late arrival. I can only hope that this will alleviate at least some of the disappointment experienced by our guests on this evening. This was certainly not our best moment, and we deeply regret that several guests left so unhappy.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Simeon, California
Level Contributor
97 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Peaceful trip, great time- will be back!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 5, 2010

We rented a canoe for an afternoon float down the Rio Grande. The staff was great and the facility and boats were very clean. They have guided trips too, but we opted for a solo trip that was about three hours long. The river was very gentle and slow, but had a few tame "rapids" that were fun. Next year we plan to take a guided trip with them during the morning ascension of the Balloon Fiesta.

2 Thank omazing
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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