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“Every detail had been thought of”
Review of Otter Bar Lodge

Otter Bar Lodge
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Otter Bar Lodge
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Forks of Salmon
Reviewed 14 July 2014

I just spent an amazing week at Otter Bar and recommend it highly. It's a kayak school for people who want to learn, fine-tune, or challenge themselves on the river, and the staff is equally adept at teaching the basics to timid newbies as they are refining the skills of advanced whitewater paddlers.

The lodge itself is nice, meticulously maintained, and comfortable. Most rooms have their own bathrooms, while a couple rooms share... no big deal. I shared a bathroom and never gave it a second thought. The equipment is great, and there's a huge variety of kayaks to try... and the staff was very accommodating when people wanted to try out different boats. Meals were terrific, and the chefs went out of their way to offer delicious alternatives to anyone who had dietary requests. Everything was marked, as needed, to indicate whether it was gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, etc. Everyone ate together and shared stories -- I met some wonderful people with whom I hope to stay in touch. All likeminded, enthusiastic about spending a week on the water.

The instruction was superb. We had one instructor per three participants and the instructors rotated between groups, so everyone gets the benefit of each instructor's style. I learned a ton from each of them. The point, as they explained it, wasn't to barrel down the river and "run the rapids", it was to do it well -- with precision, control, true skills. They were patient when they needed to be, and encouraging... and never ever made anyone feel silly or intimidated. The instructors really stood out in my experience with prior lessons at other places. Top notch. Andy, Sophie, Scott -- all first-rate, super experienced, deeply technical kayakers who can also teach (and they're all fun, by the way, really great people).

The schedule each day was simple: breakfast (all together), a "chalk talk" to learn some new skills like how to read the rapids, then paddling on the river. The first day was spent on the pond right in front of the lodge, fine-tuning strokes and starting rolling. After paddling there were snacks at the lodge, free-time to explore, swim, etc., then a group dinner. Fantastic food prepared by hand by their trained chefs. We ate well. :)

No need to bring anything fancy -- we lived in shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, bathing suits, ... super casual.

Also impressive was the way Peter and Kristy have built the lodge -- generates its own power, totally off-the-grid.

All in all a great experience and I can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Helenainakayak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 12 July 2014

If you are interested in learning to whitewater kayak or dramatically improving your skills on the river, this is THE place to go! My husband and I have taken a week-long kayaking course at Otter Bar a few times over the years and the instruction and accommodations are consistently excellent. Peter and Kristi Sturges painstakingly create an amazing experience for each guest based on that guests’ goal for the week.

Overview: Build your understanding of or learn theory and practical skills of whitewater kayaking over a 7-day period. Whether you have been kayaking for years or you have never been in a boat before, you will get significant benefit from a week at Otter Bar.

#1: Location: The lodge is located in Northern California. It is about an 8 hour drive north of San Francisco, CA or about a 7 hour drive south of Portland, OR. It is nestled in the mountains in the heart of the Klamath National Forrest on the banks of the Salmon River, with easy access to bigger water in the Klamath River. It is a beautiful, peaceful place.

#2: Instruction: The instructors are literally the best in the world. They recruit the best of the best professional kayaking instructors from the US, England, New Zealand, etc. The instructor-to-student ratio is about 1:3, which allows each student to make significant progress during their week-long stay. Each instructor brings significant paddling, guiding, and instruction experience. They have different teaching styles, but teach the same kayaking principles and techniques. They have the same beliefs about the importance of safety and building confidence on the water. Advanced kayakers should pick dates earlier in the season (May – June) to catch higher water. Beginner and intermediate kayakers should pick dates later in the season (July – August). Whatever the timing, instructors carefully place students in groups to ensure each students get the most from the course. Each day is designed to address what the group needs to work on, progressing at a rate that is appropriate to them.

#3: Accommodations: The property includes a main lodge with a shared living room and family room, the kitchen and dining room, as well as a few guest rooms. There are also three cabins, each with their own bathroom. The lodge and cabins are comfortable, clean and feels as if you have been invited into a friend’s country home.

#4: Food: Creative and healthy meals are carefully prepared by trained chefs each breakfast, lunch and dinner. The chefs happily accommodate various individuals’ food preferences (in our group, for example, someone ate Paleo). Meals are served family style, so guests and staff can share stories from the day and get to know each other better.

Wrap up: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! If you have ever wondered if whitewater kayaking is for you… go to Otter Bar – you will love it! If you have spent a lot of time kayaking, but want to take your skills to the next level… go to Otter Bar!

Room Tip: Small cabins and room in front of main lodge give you the most privacy.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
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Thank trhay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2013

Otter Bar is a kayak school in Forks of the Salmon, Northern California. We just returned from a week there and it was incredible.

The school is off the grid and generates all its own power. There is no cell service but they do have wifi. Sessions run from Saturday to Saturday. The setting is beautiful but if you are there it is for kayak instruction.

Classes range from expert to beginner depending upon the river flow which is in turn dependent on the time of year. Beginner/Intermediate classes usually start in late June or early July. There is a 1 to 4 instructor to student ratio so you get lots of hands on instruction. Everyone stays on site and all meals are provided. The food is great and they will accommodate any dietary needs.

Once a year they also do a one week kids camp with a minimum age of 10.

If you want to be a better kayaker or even try the sport for the first time this is the place to go.

Stayed: July 2013, travelled with family
3  Thank pjbphd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2011

This was our third trip to Otter Bar and we are already planning to go back next year! Otter Bar is a kayak school and lodge. Everything is included (kayak instruction, food and lodging). All the staff go out of their way to make sure you are having a good time and all your needs are met. We had fantastic instructors (Daan, Jess, P.K. and Graham) for our group of 12 people. They easily accommodated all skill levels in their teaching. Chalk talks were interesting and informative. The food was fantastic, served buffet style. Everyone eats at one table together. Lots of fun discussing the days kayaking with everyone around the table. Kendra creates fantastic dishes keeping everyone's dietary needs in mind. We had one person with special dietary needs and if there was something she couldn't eat, Kendra would have a special dish set aside made so she could eat the same types of dishes. The grounds are beautiful at Otter Bar, located on the Salmon River. There are plenty of hiking trails, mountain bikes you can use for free and a swim beach at the river. The lodging is very comfortable. There are rooms in the main lodge plus three cabins with views of the ponds. The whole facility is off the grid, they generate their own electricity so there are no air conditioners but it does cool down at night and with the windows open, it is very comfortable. The lodge has a fireplace and a wood burning stove. They also have a sauna and jacuzzi to use after a day on the river. The kayak classes begin on a Saturday evening and end the following Saturday morning. It is such a relaxing, fun place to be.

Room Tip: All rooms have free wi-fi.
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  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank 1Dopeygirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2007

Oh, My..... where to begin?

Food - the best! For a place so far from "normal" civilization, they manage to keep all their guests very happy. In the week I was there, we had a vegan, a lactose-intolerant, a vegetarian, and a wheat-intolerant guest. Whew! As a cook for a small group (14 guests), I thought the cooks would go crazy - NO! With ease, they managed to cater to all the guests, with subtle variations to the main course to accommodate all the little needs. And, they never made a big deal of it, very graceful. And the food was always wonderful - after a long day on the water, I always felt coddled.

The lodge - Wow!! Off-the-grid, and eco-conscious, we still enjoyed all the creature comforts (except for telephone - which was a relief!). Down quilts on the beds, a warm fire in the mornings, and hot coffee for the chalk-talks by the fire. Mmmmm. I felt like a baby swaddled.

The hosts - accommodating. Friendly, and warm . i love them.

The kayak instruction - hooo wee!... I want to come back. They accomodated all the varying skills that we brought, and managed to work through our fears and push us just enough.

  • Stayed: June 2004, travelled solo
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4  Thank kayakcanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Otter Bar Lodge

Address: Post Office Box 210, Forks of Salmon, CA
Region: United States > California > Forks of Salmon
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Forks of Salmon
Number of rooms: 7

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