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Ultimate list of kayaking spots in the US

Written by Fiona

October 10 2019

Kayaking is one of the best ways to enjoy all the natural beauty that the United States has to offer and with an adventurous soul, a lust for life, sturdy kayak and a good kayak roof rack on your car, you can easily reach some great spots.

Lake Tahoe

Located on the borders of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a popular vacation destination. The area is known for many incredible water sports, including kayaking. The water here is very calm, so it’s an appropriate kayaking destination for families and people of all ability levels. You’ll be blown away by the stunning mountain scenery – it’s a jaw-dropping view.

Keep in mind that this area gets very cold in the fall and winter, and the most optimal time to visit is in late spring and early summer.

The lake is a relatively short drive from both Reno and Sacramento, and there are plenty of resorts and cabin rentals around the lake for comfortable lodging.

Colorado River

True outdoor lovers should not miss kayaking on the Colorado River. Although the river is a huge 226 miles long, its most exciting point is in Arizona, where it runs through the Grand Canyon.

While there are many ways to explore this incredible part of the country, it’s hard to beat the incredible views you’ll see while kayaking.

The Colorado River has some rough sections, so if you’re a beginner kayaker, you may want to hire a guide to go with you on this adventure. Keep in mind that your kayaking adventure here may also involve some hiking or camping – it’s a complete outdoor experience.

Chesapeake Bay

This huge estuary sits on the eastern coast of Maryland and Virginia and that makes it a great place for a multi-day kayaking trip. The water is relatively calm, and you’ll likely catch some beautiful sunrises and sunsets while you’re out on the water.

If you like to fish, you’ll be able to enjoy that here as well. The Chesapeake Bay is home to a wide range of fish species, including rockfish, trout, flounder, bluefish, and more. If you plan to fish during your kayak trip, be sure to check local fishing regulations before you get started.

Prince William Sound

Go truly off the grid and kayak the Prince William Sound. It’s located off Alaska’s southern coast, not far from Anchorage, the state’s largest city.

The sound is surrounded by stunning mountains, forests, and icebergs. This is not a kayak trip for the faint of heart – the waters are rougher here than in many other popular kayaking destinations, and temperatures can get very cold.

However, for the experienced kayaker, this is an incredibly rewarding place to visit. You may even see some impressive wildlife while you’re kayaking here, such whales, sea lions, bears and more.

Arkansas River

Colorado is an incredibly popular destination for many outdoor activities, including kayaking. Arguably the best kayaking spot in Colorado is along the Arkansas River, through the Royal Gorge. The river starts in the town of Leadville and weaves its way through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, with some of the tallest peaks in the United States forming a scenic background.

The Arkansas River is also just a two-hour drive from Denver, so it’s relatively easy to get to. This is an ideal day for thrilling whitewater kayaking, but there are some calmer spots along the river as well. Since the river changes in intensity at various points, you may want to go with a tour guide to help you find the best rapids for your ability level.

Clearwater Canoe Trail

This easy, relaxing kayak trip in northern Montana is ideal for families and complete bigger kayakers. You’ll float through the gentle waters with minimal effort, gliding through the town of Missoula and into the stunning beauty of Lolo National Forest.

The entire trip takes around two hours, and you can also opt to enjoy incredible fishing and hiking while you are there. Since this is a more relaxed kayaking destination, many people will be able to enjoy it without a guide.

Mulberry River

There are plenty of incredible places to kayak in the southeast and Arkansas’s Mulberry River doesn’t disappoint. This river stretches for 55 miles and is full of exciting rapids that will challenge the experienced kayaker.

The water is higher and more challenging in the spring, and calms down later in the summer and fall. The river takes you through the lush Ozark National Forest, which is located northwest of Little Rock.

There’s great fishing along this river as well, so be sure to bring your rod. While this area of the country gets warm during the summer, it cools off quickly at night and in the winter, so dress appropriately. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for black bears as this is their natural habitat.

Devils River

As the name suggests, this is not a kayaking trip for the inexperienced. Set in southwestern Texas along the national border, this river is one of the best places to kayak through the desert. However, the river’s current is incredibly strong and it takes about three days to kayak the whole thing.

If you have outdoor experience and are looking for a challenge, the Devils River may be the perfect kayaking destination for you.

These are just a few of the many amazing kayaking destinations in the United States. Whether you’re a complete beginner or have been kayaking for years, there are plenty of incredible places in the US to explore. If you’re new to kayaking, don’t hesitate to hire a guide to help you navigate the river. If you’re more experienced, investing in your own gear will give you more flexibility to explore rivers and lakes throughout the country.

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