If you’re a kayaker, you know that kayaking is not just about being out and on the water. It’s the trips where you are surrounded by beautiful scenery that make an ordinary kayak trip extraordinary.
But with all the rivers, lakes, and oceans in the United States, how do you find the truly breathtaking kayaking spots? We’ve taken the guesswork out of it.
Here are the top ten kayak trips in the United States!
Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah and Arizona
Nestled within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area that straddles the border of Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell is truly one of the most stunning locations to kayak in the United States.
This high desert kayak spot has views of beautiful and ancient red rock canyons and mesas. Worthy stops include the Rainbow Bridge and Lower Antelope Canyon. Don’t forget your camera for this trip; it’s a photographer’s dream.
Try kayaking here in the fall when the weather is cooler and it’s not peak tourist season.
Prince William Sound, Chugach National Forest, Alaska
Prince William Sound is within the Gulf of Alaska, just east of the Kenai Peninsula. If you love to see wildlife on your kayaking trips, this is the destination for you. You’ll find 220 species of birds, including lots of bald eagles, black and brown bears, moose and mountain goats, humpback whales, killer whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters!
For those more interested in beautiful landscapes, Prince William Sound has that in spades. It’s home to numerous tidal glaciers, fjords, and gorgeous mountains.
Head up here in the summer or early fall to keep from freezing.
Be sure to know everything about flying with your kayak before you head up north!
Devils River, Texas
Devils River is in Del Rio, Texas, approximately 2.5 hours southwest of San Antonio, and just across the border from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico.
It’s a rugged one-mile hike down to the water from the parking area, and you’ll need to be sure to pack everything you need for your journey since this is a true wilderness area.
If you’re up for a challenge, or an adrenaline rush, this is the place to go. The gorgeous scenery makes for a remarkable reward.
Due to the strenuousness of the river, this not a trip for beginners.
Tyger River, Sumter National Forest, South Carolina
The Tyger River is part of a large river system in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.
This is a great trip to take if you love to kayak in forest areas. The banks of the river are loaded with pines, cedars, hemlocks, birch, oaks, and elms.
It’s also a great trip for birders. You’ll see blue herons, ospreys, and bald eagles, among several other species of waterfowl.
Juniper Run, Ocala National Forest, Florida
Situated in the Ocala National Forest, this seven-mile kayak trip starts below the springs and ends before the waterway empties into the St. Johns River.
The water is crystal clear, and the banks of the run are densely wooded with palm trees, cypress and other southern hardwoods. Wildlife include: deer, otters, raccoons, alligators, birds, and black bears.
This kayak trip is accessible year-round thanks to Florida’s warm climate.
Indian River Canoe Trail, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
This is an excellent kayak trip for those who are looking for extended journeys. The Hiawatha National Forest is located on the upper peninsula area of Michigan, and the Indian River is 51 miles long with an average depth of 1 to 3 feet.
Conditions are best during the summer, after mid-June when the flow of the water is much more gentle. Look for beautiful rolling hills along the river, covered with northern hardwoods and mixed conifers.
Clearwater Canoe Trail, Lolo National Forest, Montana
Located within the Lolo National Forest on the western border of Montana, the Clearwater Canoe Trail is easily one of the most beautiful spots for kayaking.
When taken at a leisurely pace, this two hour journey is a birder’s dream. Look out for warblers, nesting common loons, bitterns, great blue herons, and belted kingfishers, among many other species of birds.
The trail is bookended by two parking areas, and has a return hiking trail that will have you back at your car within 30 minutes. The trail also features a wildlife viewing blind to see even more species of birds.
Lake Chelan, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
Located within the Northern Cascades region of Washington, Lake Chelan has plenty of options available for kayakers. Here you’ll find stunning views of the Cascades, which are covered in dense pine forests.
Lake Chelan itself is 50.5 miles long, and the region is full of smaller lakes and waterways, including the Columbia River. The area is fairly remote, and you won’t see a lot of other people around, making is a great location for those looking for quiet and solitude.
There are plenty of campgrounds along the shore of the lake that allow you to make this trip as short or as long as you like.
Upper Sacramento, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California
Any outdoor activity that gets you a view of Mount Shasta is an activity worth doing, but there’s plenty of other reasons to kayak the Upper Sacramento River in California. The number one reason is that this area is so incredibly beautiful with its tall mountains and evergreen tree-lined banks.
This 12 mile portion of the Sacramento River, one of California’s largest rivers, is a relatively easy trip that is great for those who aren’t quite intermediate level kayakers, but aren’t a beginner, either.
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
This alpine lake on the border of California and Nevada, is a place that everyone should visit in their lifetime. The lake is surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains and beautiful evergreen trees and vegetation.
At 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, Lake Tahoe is a great spot for a multi-day trip. One glance at the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevadas will have you wishing to never go home.
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Kayaking is all about the experience, and a huge part of that is the nature that surrounds you. We know you’ll love all these kayak trips.
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