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20 Great Places to Kayak in the United States

Are you looking to find some great places to kayak in the United States? Well, here is a list to help you find some of the best paddling destinations. When it comes to great spots to get the boat in the water and enjoy the sunny weather, all destinations are not equal. So have that in the back of your mind as we unleash some awesome kayaking destinations to you, while you make the decision of which to visit for your next paddling adventure.

Great Places to Kayak in the United States

1. Tyger River, South Carolina

This river is in the state of South Carolina. It flows through Sumter National Forest at a depth of 2 to 6 ft. It is the largest river system flowing through Spartanburg County, and densely wooded areas flouring with cedars, pines, hemlocks, oaks, birch, and elms border parts of it. The wildlife loaded waterway is a great place for your kayaking adventure.

2. Eleven Point National Scenic River, Missouri

The Eleven Point River is a moderate whitewater paradise rising in the Mark Twain National Forest near Willow Springs, Missouri. It derives 70% of its flow from some of the wildest springs in Missouri. The mostly paddled section is from Thomasville down to Missouri State Highway UU, which is about 48 miles. Rich in both flora and fauna with a beautiful landscape, the river is exciting enough to offer some fun.

3. Prince William Sound, Alaskachu

Filled with glaciers and wildlife, the Prince William Sound is one of the best places to kayak in Alaska. The nearby Chugach Mountains has loads of glaciers and ice fields, making it a majestic background as you paddle along. The abundant wildlife and dynamic scenery are enough to draw in those who seek a kayaking adventure.

4. Indian River Lagoon, Florida

With its unique geographical location, both temperate and tropical, this shallow river hosts thousands of fish, marine and avian species. No wonder Florida’s Indian River Lagoon is regarded as the “most biologically diverse estuary in North America.” There is no better way to enjoy the vast array of life here than a sneaky, unobtrusive kayak.

5. Lake Guntersville, Alabama

Any list of the best places to kayak will never be complete without a mention of Lake Guntersville. This lake is the biggest in Alabama with more than 69,000 acres of water. Located in north Alabama between Guntersville and Bridgeport, Lake Guntersville offers something for the whole family to enjoy; fishing, sightseeing, or ducking hunting.

6. Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Located in Maryland, the shallow protected waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are great for kayaking. Perhaps one of the most complicated water body to maneuver, the bay provides jagged shorelines, deep pockets, and plenty room to catch a trophy. Many kayakers take to the Chesapeake Bay, which allows them to get close to nature and enjoy a great kayaking adventure.

7. Devils River, Texas

This Texas River may be the best kayaking spot you will ever see. Engulfed by natural beauty, the 100% spring fed river flows through solid rock, has a good variety of vegetation, good fishing, and various water features. This river will provide you with a kayaking adventure you will never forget.

8. Arkansas River, Arkansas

The Arkansas River, the number six longest river in the United States, offers you more thrill out of whitewater adventure; from class II to class IV rapids. Beginning in Colorado, the meandering waterway finishes in its Arkansas. The river has a lot of spots where you can stop and test your angling skills.

9. Gauley River, West Virginia

Located in West Virginia, a state renowned for its beauty and endless mountains with fierce waterways nestled in the rolling hills, the Gauley River is perfect for kayaking. Kayaking in the river during September and October can be challenging but it’s worth the adventure.

10. Colorado River, Colorado

The Colorado River is popular because of its incredible rapids, legendary river winds via three states and it offers great adventure. The 297 miles river is surrounded by awesome scenery. As you wind through Arizona and Utah, you will find different spots for angling activities.

11. Marblehead Harbor, Massachusetts

Marblehead Harbor is located in Marblehead, Massachusetts. This place is great for kayaking. While paddling, you can view some of the region’s most beautiful yachts in the harbor. Paddling and reading boat’s names and home ports offer a different level of fun. The harbor is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by Marblehead Neck.

12. Plum Island Sound, Massachusetts

Plum Island Kayak spot is located just 40 minutes north of Boston in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Big boats and water fowls are some of the major features of Plum Island Sound.

13. Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts

Located on the southern shore of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Waquoit Bay is narrow and shallow, rich in wildlife ranging from quahogs clams to osprey. While enjoying a great kayaking adventure in this bay, you can stop at Dead Neck Beach or paddle into the surrounding ponds, such as Eel or Sage Lot Hamblin.

14. Charles River, Boston

Enjoy a great kayaking experience on one of the most scenic rivers in the country. You can find parkland on both shores and rowers plying the waters. Paddling down the river, you will encounter local colleges like M.I.T., Harvard, and B.U., the Esplanade, which is a great place for a picnic, and the unforgettable Boston skyline.

15. Salmon River, Idaho

The Salmon River is a tributary to the Connecticut River, stretching down to the Leeville Dam is a flat-water paddling covering a distance of about 4 miles. The bottom end, which is a low freshwater tidal swamp, opens up into a broad cove surrounded by forested hills.

16. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

This large expanse of water is suitable for kayaking and camping. Since it is a Wilderness Area, the options here are limitless. You can camp anywhere and also enjoy a great kayaking experience till you’re tired.

17. James River, Virginia

Located in Richmond, Virginia, James River offers opportunities for exploring and enjoying the scenic James by kayak. It is a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy the beauty of nature.

18. Hood River, Oregon

Hood River offers plenty of gnarly paddling adventure without much effort. Get in the water and experience high adrenaline paddling that will put your skills to the test.

19. Lake Placid, New York

The flat water paddling in Lake Placid is one of the best in the United States. It’s a great place to kayak, especially if you want to get away from the 9 to 5 rush hour traffic, enjoy the pristine water, and take in the fresh mountain air, wildlife, and the sound of water as you paddle.

20.  Great Kayaking Locations for Beginners

Are you a beginning kayaker and want to start out with a some destinations that will be a bit easier to get started with?  Check out these locations:

  • San Juan Islands – Washington – This beautiful tree heavy archipelago features wonderful coastal towns to explore and a fun and easy kayaking experience.
  • Snake River – Idaho – If your new to kayaking but still want excitement the Snake River is a good option to consider. It does have some rapids as well as many locations where you can see local wildlife such as deer, moose and more.
  • Youghiogheny River – Maryland – Also known as the “Yough” river this 130+ mile long tributary also goes through parts of Pennsylvania as well as West Virginia. There are some sections that have more turbulent rapids and challenging waterfalls, there are many sections that have very tame waters for the beginner along with great scenic views.
  • Rio Chama – New Mexico – One of the best kayaking trips for novices in the United States begins at the mouth of Rio Chama. This wild river is perfect for kayaking beginners and provides a spectacular scenery of the American Southwest.

There you have it, some of the great places to kayak in the United States. Remember that the best kayaking doesn’t always have to be the most challenging, you can enjoy the lazy flat water just as much as the hardcore whitewater.

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