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10 Kayaking Adventure Destinations In The US

10 Kayaking Adventure Destinations In The US

Don’t know where you should go for your next kayaking adventure? This list of destinations in the United States is sure to inspire you.

1. Boundary Waters – Minnesota

Nestled in Northern Minnesota, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area boasts over 1,000 lakes and 1,200 miles of water trails. With all that water, there is no shortage of areas to explore. The Boundary Waters is a kayaker’s paradise. The Northern woods area is well-loved for its abundant wildlife. If you are lucky, you might spot loons, wood ducks, owls, deer, or bears.

With so vast an area to explore, you should plan for a multi-day kayaking adventure to The Boundary Waters. Pack your overnight gear and take advantage of one of the hundreds of campsites scattered throughout the area.

2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Michigan

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is perfect for a kayaking day trip. With views of massive rock formations and windswept cliffs, you may wish to stay awhile. The varying landscapes make the Pictured Rocks as fun to explore and paddle through as they are beautiful. Lake Superior can get a little rough at times, particularly when weather rolls in. This trip is best suited for intermediate kayakers.

3. Okefenokee Swamp – Georgia

All levels of paddlers will enjoy a kayaking adventure in Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. You can choose the length of adventure you want to embark upon, from a 1-day trip to a multi-day, 44-mile epic excursion. The campsites in the swamp are raised and feature covered platforms, allowing you to easily pull up in your kayak and set up camp. The mosquitoes can be overwhelming during the hot and humid summer months. So you may want to plan your visit to Okefenokee for the early spring or late fall. Don’t forget your bug repellent.

4. Waccamaw River Blue Trail – South Carolina

The Waccamaw River Blue Trail is an easy and stunning paddle located in South Carolina. The trail winds from the Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve to Winyah Bay, providing miles of scenic views and opportunities for wildlife sightings. Love to fish? The river is a popular destination for fishing, as well.

5. Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails – Washington

Paddlers can explore the Puget Sound region in Washington on the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails. The saltwater trails are particularly unique because the water levels rise and fall with the tide – something kayakers need to consider as they launch. There are dozens of put-in and take-out spots suitable for beginners.

6. Missouri National Recreational River Water Trail – South Dakota to Iowa

Stretching from South Dakota through Nebraska and into Iowa, the Missouri National Recreational River Water Trail offers days of exploration. Follow in the footsteps (or paddle strokes!) of Lewis and Clark as they paddled through this area in the early 1800s. The trip is very scenic and for those interested in history, educational as well.

7. Hudson River Greenway Water Trail – New York

Blending both urban and nature, the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail in New York offers an escape into nature for urban dwellers who are normally caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city. Head out for a day trip, or embark on a multi-day adventure. The river trail is sprinkled with opportunities for camping and hiking, allowing paddlers to soak in the breathtaking views of the surrounding natural and urban areas.

8. Black Canyon Water Trail – Arizona and Nevada

The Black Canyon Water Trail in Arizona and Nevada winds through Lake Mead Recreation Area. It starts at the Hoover Dam and ends in Lake Mohave. Take in the scenery with awe-inspiring views of the Hoover Dam, jaw-dropping red rock formations, and sweeping desert landscapes. This area is a photographer’s paradise.

9. Lake Almanor – California

Do you feel at home among the alpine trees and mountains? If so, head to Lake Almanor in Northern California. Many cities along the lake offer kayak rentals for those who don’t have their own boat. For those trying kayaking for the first time, be warned – Kayaking is addictive! The Lake Almanor area is a birder’s paradise with possible sightings of heron, Bald Eagles, geese, and several species of duck.

10. Clinch River – Tennessee

Normally when you hear rapids, you wouldn’t think a river would be suited to beginner kayakers. However, the Clinch River in Tennessee is a paddling playground for experienced kayakers and novices alike. The river offers a relaxing paddle on long stretches of serene water and then delights the more adventurous with gentle class I and II rapids. No worries though, the rapids are small, short, and sweet.

Bonus Kayaking Adventure Destination: The Thousand Islands

Explore the Thousand Islands the way it was meant to be experienced – by water. This unparalleled stretch of river has over 1,800 islands, beautiful shoreline dotted with welcoming villages, several islands with camping sites, majestic castles, cottages, secluded coves, creeks, and bays. Don’t forget your passport. This stretch of waterway is shared by the United States and Canada.

Kayak On!

These 10 (plus 1!) amazing US destinations should inspire you to pack up the boats and head for water. Pick one (or all eleven!) destinations for your next kayaking adventure.

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Kayaking Adventures in the US


I was first introduced to kayaking as a teenager when I joined a competitive canoe club. It was instant love. But when I went off to school and then got a job, adult responsibilities got in the way. Now approaching retirement, I've rekindled my kayak romance. My husband and I love to throw the kayaks on the trailer and head out on adventures. Maybe you'll join us?!

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