With millions of miles of rivers and tens of thousands of lakes across the country, America is a kayaker’s paradise. Whether you’re an extreme whitewater paddler or a recreational kayaker who’s just in it for the scenery, this country’s got something for everyone of every skill level. If you are wondering where the best canoe trips near me are, then look no further! We know all about the best kayaking trips!
If you’ve ever wondered where best places to kayak in the US, prepare to wonder no more - we’ve got you covered with this list of the top nine kayaking destinations in the nation. We’ll show you where to kayak in the US if you’re an absolute beginner, where to go to find the craziest currents, and where to see the most amazing views.
Explore the mangroves and glide alongside gentle giants like the West Indian manatee and bottlenose dolphins when you paddle down the Indian River on Florida’s east coast. During the less buggy winter months, the Indian River Lagoon is the perfect place to reel in some trout or sneak up on a giant snook.
Paddlers can also enjoy breathtaking bioluminescent tours, where special fish light up the water beneath you at night and leave a glowing trail behind your kayak. With calm tranqill waters on offer, there’s no better place or better way to experience the incredible biodiversity Florida has to offer - and with the calm waters on offer, using an inflatable canoe is perfectly fine for this kayaking trip.
As the name suggests, Devils River isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Adventure seekers come here to get off the grid and take on the nearly 50-mile river over the course of four or five days, camping out on islands along the way.
Slow moving pools provide excellent opportunities for fishing, while scattered Class I and II rapids keep things interesting. Due to the nature more extreme nature of the Class I + II rapids, these waterways are not particularly suited to inflatable fishing kayaks. As a whole, Devils River is best suited for intermediate and advanced paddlers, but there are plenty of calm areas where beginners will feel comfortable as well. Check out this link for further info.
Alabama’s largest lake is also an amazing flat water kayaking destination. Beginners can enjoy stress-free paddling away from boat traffic in one of the lake’s many coves, while more advanced kayakers can take on the clear open water. If you’re into kayak fishing, the lake offers excellent bass fishing all year long. Rentals are available from these guys.
Spanning nearly 1,500 miles from the Grand Canyon in the west to the state of Arkansas in the east, the Arkansas River has everything from relaxing float trips to crazy Class IV rapids. If you find yourself far out west, you’ll have an amazing view of the Rocky Mountains surrounding the river. The highlight is a deep canyon known as the Royal Gorge, where Class IV rapids take you on a wild ride through the narrow rocks until you come out at Canon City.
Toward the east, the waters are much calmer, and there are plenty of slow spots where kayakers can float and relax or test their angling skills.
With its wild Class V rapids, Gauley River has definitely earned its reputation as the most extreme whitewater kayaking destination on the East Coast. In the upper river, you’ll plunge down a 12-foot drop known as Sweet’s Falls, get swirled around by the Toilet Bowl, and hang on to your paddle for dear life in a rapid aptly named Lost Paddle.
If you haven’t realized it yet, Gauley River is not for the faint of heart. Inexperienced paddlers would do well to leave this one to the more advanced crowd. We recommend not taking this rapid alone, maybe consider a two person kayak so you have some backup. But if you’ve got what it takes, the rapids at Gauley are a heart-pounding adventure you won’t soon forget.
Beginners, rejoice – Lake Tahoe is the safe learning environment you’ve been looking for. The crystal clear water that lies between California and Nevada is massive and calm, giving you plenty of room to learn the ropes.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains, the view from Lake Tahoe is stunning during the day, but it’s even better at night during a full moon. Illuminated by the stars and moon overhead, the sparkling lake feels like something out of a dream as you paddle across it.
If you were wondering where to kayak in the US to experience the most extreme white water thrills, here’s your answer. Starting in Yosemite National Park, the Tuolumne River is made up almost entirely of intense Class IV and V rapids. This spot is considered to be one of the best places to kayak in the US.
One of these rapids, lovingly named Pinball, has you slamming into rocks with no way of avoiding them – another is called Hell’s Kitchen, which is pretty self-explanatory. If it’s adrenaline you’re after, there’s no doubt that the Tuolumne River’s got it.
Kayakers flock to the Tyger River to enjoy its natural beauty and fun, easy rapids. The Class I and II whitewater sections are perfect for families, and allow plenty of time to appreciate the surrounding scenery and wildlife.
If you’ve got a competitive side, you can join in the annual paddling celebration known as the Tame the Tyger River Race and Float that’s held each spring.
Pere Marquette is a must-paddle for anyone in the Midwest. Kayakers will find clear, shallow water that’s just the right speed for beginners to handle and intermediate paddlers to enjoy. In the summer months, the high waters are swift and obstacle-free, making them a lot of fun to paddle no matter your skill level. This is a perfect spot to take the family or new paddlers, with potential to use a 3 person kayak to take out some friends.
If you want to kayak down the entire 64-mile river, you can cruise along in just three or four days. The river itself is easy to navigate, just watch out for anglers – the Pere Marquette is another popular fishing spot, with plenty of steelhead and trout to go around.
Whether you kayak for exercise, to relax, or to spend some time in nature with friends and family, we can all agree that the right setting can make all of the difference. Knowing where to kayak in the US is the first step – the next step is to pick up your paddle and get out on the water! No matter where you choose to launch your kayak, you’re sure to have an amazing time.
Just remember not to do this: