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5 Kayaking Desinations

That Will Give You One-Of-A-Kind Paddling Experiences

Best Options and Reviews

Published March 3, 2018 | Updated April 10, 2022

Kayaking will start out as a recreational activity. But as you discover the joy of paddling, you should upgrade not just your equipment but also the sites where you launch your kayak. The U.S. is surrounded by many bodies of water that picking one for your kayaking getaway could be a challenge. Gone are the days when you’re just stuck on the nearest beach as you can plan for either of the five best places to kayak I listed here.

Some could be far from you but if you’re into a kayaking of a lifetime, these five spots would be unforgettable. Check each one out and see where your kayaker’s heart will fall in love with.

5 Kayaking Destinations That Will Give You One-Of-A-Kind Paddling Experiences

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1. Colorado River, for a blend of rapid and scenic views

Whatever skill level you have in kayaking, you’ll surely find a portion of the Colorado River to suit yourself. From a scale of I to VI, you should specifically identify your level to ensure your safety. Afterward, you’ll have to secure a permit to go paddling.

For those with the skill level of at least IV, they can enjoy the rapids of the Grand Canyon. There’s a weighted lottery here every February where you can join but you’ll have to pay a $700 deposit. If you don’t have the money, I suggest that you discover other parts of the river that only needs permits to access.

There’s a pilot channel here that caters those with lower skill levels and you can also check out the pulse flow that peaks during the months of March and subsides by May. If you’re worried about going by yourself on these best places to kayak, you can join a tour for less than $200 that includes hotel pick-ups, a kayaking guide, and kayaks so you no longer have to bring one.

If you choose the spot carefully, you can find a peaceful site where you can stare at the mountains and hear the gushing water of the rapids. The months of May to September are the best months to catch the rapids if you want a quick adventure.

2. Devils River, for a heavenly kayaking weekend

devils river

That may sound contradicting, but the Devils River in Texas is far from the evil name it bears. It’s one of the pristine and best places to kayak on the state but dangerous for those who aren’t skilled enough – the possible reason behind the name. This river is initially named as the San Pedro river but a Texas Ranger in the 1840s had joked about it as a “devil’s river” when viewed from the cliff. As you know, it possesses the name until now.

Before you reach the river, you’ll have to go through different obstructions. Even if it’s quite a challenge to reach, the view of the place is one for the books. It’s like a hidden oasis secluded through the lush foliage and land formations. But once you’re there completely set on your kayak, you’re up for an unforgettable experience.

This river is a hidden flow running through Texas and Mexico. Some parts could be full of rapids but there are parts so calm you can enjoy a day of fishing and looking at the surrounding expanse of beauty. As far as I can research, this place doesn’t require any permits but you have to be careful. It’s best to tag someone out to kayak with you.

One thing you shouldn’t miss here is the view of the Dolan Falls. The water is clear and the surrounding rocks and foliage paints a beautiful picture.

3. Arkansas River, for your fix of adrenaline

The Arkansas River is by no means hidden. This is a favorite spot for paddlers who want to try inflatable kayaking on its waters. There are tour packages here that include everything you need for your adventure. The best part is that someone can advise you on where your skill level is suited. Most of Arkansas River is calm but it always has its rapids as the best places to kayak.

The locals here discourage kayaking alone to prevent any untoward incident. If you’re going here in private, you should check the weather and the spots prone to water rises. Camping out would be safer and less hassle this way.

If you’re availing the tour package, take note that the minimum age allowed to hop in the kayak is 13 years old. Each participating adult or teenager should be a strong swimmer so self-rescue would be possible should the kayak capsize. Also, you’ll be encountering Class II to III rapids which are relatively safe for a paddler that’s knowledgeable of doing Eskimo rolls.

Take note that there are many starting points on the Arkansas River and your guide will be the one to advise you. If you’re a local, you might probably have a clue about these spots. You can actually do a kayak hopping in the Colorado and Arkansas Rivers during your vacation.

4. Indian River Lagoon, for the ultimate fisherman

Indian River Lagoon

If you’re from the sultry state of Florida, water activities is probably a staple of your weekends. Most of the time, the humid weather, slight breeze, and calm waters cooperate for a wonderful kayaking experience. You should secure a spot here the moment you arrive during a peak season as the place tends to get swarmed by paddlers, what else can you expect from best places to kayak?

The Indian River Lagoon is the best choice if you’re looking for a serene place to go paddling. Most of the parts of the river are calm with the exception of minimal rapids. The best thing about this kayaking spot is the presence of picnic tables and bathrooms. You can bring the whole family here on a vacation since it’s adjacent to the Florida beach.

There are kayak rentals here so you no longer have to transport your own equipment. It will cost you about $20 to rent a kayak for two hours that’s already a cheap offer.

If you’re planning to go here, I highly suggest that you book a kayaking tour during the night on the Banana River or Mosquito Lagoon. You might get the chance to see the bioluminescent algae blooms that give a bluish glow to the water. There’s no specific time of the year when these organisms show up but it was spotted in July last year.

5. Prince William Sound, for someone braving the ice

Ready to brave the ice? Head to the Arctic Ocean and kayak on the waters near Alaska! The Prince William Sound is one of the best places to kayak for those who can stand the cold waters. You can avail a tour here that will start on a water taxi trip going to the Blackstone Bay. After a stop by the bay for lunch and a short hike, the water taxi will bring you back to Whittier where all the kayaking fun will take place.

Once you hop in your kayak, you’ll be treated to the breathtaking view of snow-covered mountains mirrored on the glass-like waters. It’s a very calm destination that you can’t find in any other part of the U.S. The Sound is dotted with glaciers, icebergs, lakes, rainforests, and beautiful shorelines.

The kayaking tours here are always more than a day and only costs less than 100 bucks even for tandem kayaks. Besides, there’s no need to rush on such a spectacular panorama. Aside from the paddling, you can shell out another $30 so you can secure a fishing permit and catch the wild salmons. It’s not every day that you get to taste organic fish!

The Prince William Sound is also a great spot to watch sea lions, bald eagles, kittiwakes, and other wildlife species you can only see in Alaska. Most of these animals aren’t aggressive as long as you don’t disturb their living space.

The best places to kayak I included here are just some of the spectacular spots you can find. You can always save up to have your well-deserved vacation in any of these water worlds. Each one offers a different kind of experience that not every paddler will get to experience in a typical lake or river. Where are you planning to bring your paddles next? I’ll be glad to know your kayaking plans in the comment section!

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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