Best Places to Kayak in the USA
Kayaking offers many great opportunities in the US. From mountains and forests, lakes and rivers – kayakers have access to an incredible diversity of landscapes to explore.
Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald, with its striking alpine scenery and unique fjord-like environment, provides breathtaking alpine scenery and is also an excellent spot for beginner paddlers to learn and hone their paddling skills.
1. Lake Tahoe
Kayaking is an exciting way to experience nature close-up and discover picturesque landscapes. America boasts hundreds of lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water that offer plenty of options for novice and expert kayakers alike.
Lake Tahoe is an idyllic California dream, boasting paddleboarding, kayaking and boat rental opportunities alongside breathtaking landscapes and scenic hikes. For an extra memorable experience, book one of the outfitters around the lake for a full moon paddle or sunset tour for an unforgettable adventure.
For an adventuresome paddle, Idaho’s Salmon River provides an exciting challenge. Dubbed “River of No Return”, its Class IV whitewater river offers advanced kayakers an exceptional paddling experience. Along its banks are stunning landscapes and charming towns; kayakers will experience mountains, canyons, forests, wildlife like seals, sea lions and otters while kayaking. June is ideal time to visit.
2. Salmon River
The Salmon River offers spectacular multi-day kayaking. Cutting through the heart of Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area, its jagged Sawtooth Mountains rise majestically out of the water like giant blades slicing into the night sky when paddling to its end point.
The River of No Return is a Class III river and requires some skill to navigate safely. Along the river are numerous hiking trails, wildlife viewing spots and camping spots that you will discover along its length.
Kayaking offers an ideal way to experience nature from a new vantage point, offering access to areas difficult to access by foot. From tropical forests in Florida to serene lakes in California, kayaking provides a fun and rewarding activity suitable for people of all skill levels.
3. Chesapeake Bay
Kayaking offers an unparalleled view of nature. Not only can you take in stunning vistas from above or navigate challenging rapids, kayaking provides an exclusive perspective of its own! Kayaking also allows access to areas which would otherwise be difficult or impossible to access by foot alone.
For an easier paddling experience, visit the Chesapeake Bay to take in historic ports, charming small towns, and stunning waterfront scenery. Beginner paddlers will appreciate paddling on forgiving marshes filled with herons, egrets and diamondback terrapin while more experienced paddlers may challenge themselves by testing themselves against powerful surf break near Ross Island.
Before setting out on your kayaking expedition, make sure you download Deckee, a free boating app designed to keep you safe and informed. With features such as marine weather forecasts, maps and points of interest – Deckee is a must! It will prepare you for what could be an incredible kayak journey!
4. Lake Powell
While novice kayakers may wish to avoid river rapids altogether, experienced paddlers will find class IV rivers thrilling. You will need superior skills to paddle these rapids safely; make sure your chosen river has been classified and that you are properly equipped before embarking.
Lake Powell is an aquatic kayaker’s dream, featuring stunning side canyons made of sandstone and natural features such as Cathedral in the Desert (formerly a natural pilgrimage site). Unfortunately, due to invasive quagga mussels this stunning natural feature now lies beneath Lake Powell waters and cannot be seen.
Kayak enthusiasts in the Eastern U.S. can find no shortage of great white water kayaking opportunities ranging from North Carolina’s Nantahala River and Tennessee’s Ocoee Rapids, providing plenty of kayaking fun for everyone from youth groups to Olympic athletes.
5. Colorado River
Colorado River kayaking is a premier whitewater adventure for both experts and beginners alike, providing exciting whitewater adventures along both its Lower Browns Canyon section for families or those just getting started, and Gore Canyon for experienced paddlers with its class V rapids that offer more challenging rafting adventures.
Kayakers in Colorado can also find enjoyment at Rifle Gap Reservoir, which offers stunning views of Western Colorado. Unlike many lakes, this reservoir doesn’t see as many motorized boats and therefore allows you to relax away from crowds and get some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Pearl Lake, an exquisite mountain reservoir situated near Hahn’s Peak, provides stunning scenery and fresh mountain air that make for the ideal setting to unwind after an eventful day of kayaking or camping. Furthermore, you could explore Navajo State Park’s expansive reservoir which also makes for excellent paddling conditions.
6. Lake Adirondacks
When it comes to kayaking, America boasts no shortage of beautiful waterways to explore – however deciding on one may prove challenging. From whitewater rapids to peaceful canals – America offers something suitable for every paddler!
Adirondack Park lakes in New York’s Adirondacks offer beautiful scenery and provide ample opportunities for exploration. Covering six million acres, there’s six million acres of public and private land waiting to be discovered by car, foot or bike, kayak or any other means possible.
Asheville is an ideal spot for kayakers looking to explore the surrounding mountains. This world-class destination town provides numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, climbing and kayaking – not to mention an array of dining and bar options – ideal for an enjoyable vacation experience.
7. Mississippi River
No matter your level of experience or ability as a kayaker, there’s something special about paddling across a smooth stretch of water with your paddle knifing through misty waters with each bend and turn of adventure awaiting! Kayaking can be found across America in lakes, rivers and oceans alike – this activity makes for the ultimate way to discover this country!
For an exhilarating kayaking experience, look no further than Arkansas’ Mulberry River. This wild river offers kayakers who seek an extra challenge an exciting kayaking adventure; especially after heavy rainfall or when snow melts. No wonder kayakers flock here in order to put their skills through their paces on this wild river with stunning blue water that has spectacular scenery such as grizzly bears and humpback whales in sight!
8. Oklahoma River
Kayaking on this picturesque river offers paddlers of all levels an enjoyable, tranquil experience. The river features stunning bluffs, deep clear pools and mossy boulders for paddling enthusiasts to discover and admire.
This river forms part of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area and boasts incredible red rock canyons that make kayaking through it an absolute must. Don’t miss this magnificent natural wonder on your kayaking expeditions!
Asheville is known for its award-winning brewery town and world-class paddling spots like Green River Narrows. This stretch of river has become known as an outstanding whitewater mecca; three-time Olympian and four-time World Champion Scott Shipley has even tested his skills here!
9. Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake is an aquatic adventurer’s dream. Carved out by glaciers calving off Glacier National Park, this picturesque body of water boasts one of the best kayaking experiences in America – featuring tidewater glaciers, fjords, tidewater fjords, tidewater fjords, tidewater glaciers, as well as wildlife such as moose, bears, puffins, humpback whales and bald eagles – kayakers will love this adventure
Though there are many excellent places to kayak in the US, these top kayaking destinations provide some of the most spectacular scenery, challenging rapids and tranquil lakes to paddle on. No matter your experience level or whether this is your first kayaking expedition ever, these lakes have something special for all kayakers to enjoy – start planning your kayaking adventure today!
10. Juniper Run
This river is an adventurer’s delight with Class IV to VI rapids that offer both excitement and challenge for kayakers of all skill levels. Kayakers immerse themselves in stunning canyons, forests, and mountains that span across this magnificent river’s multiple segments that cater to beginners as well as advanced kayakers alike.
The Salmon River in Idaho provides kayakers with numerous multi-day kayaking trips. Both the Lower Salmon and Middle Salmon rivers offer relaxing paddles while offering thrilling expeditions – both offering stunning scenery with various challenges suitable for all skill levels of kayakers. Situated within Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area and boasting incredible jagged peak views as well as many lodges and campgrounds to accommodate paddlers, it provides kayakers a wonderful kayaking experience.