The United States is home to more than 10,000 lakes and rivers, so you needn’t look farther than your backyard to find a perfect spot for an afternoon kayaking excursion.
Indeed, not all of the best places to kayak in the US are easy to access, but once you find a few gems close by, it makes planning future DIY trips much more accessible.
Places To Kayak In Michigan
Lake Michigan Kayaking
Kayaking is one of the best ways to experience Lake Michigan, and finding a reputable local kayak rental company is essential.
A car is needed for this trip because the rental’s drop-off location is usually 20 miles away or more. There are several areas to kayak on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the water is generally warm.
Lake St. Clair Kayaking
A car is also needed for this trip, and the drop-off location is 25 to 30 miles from your starting point.
This lake offers many beautiful sights, including residential areas with manicured lawns in waterfront estates, historic lighthouses, and mausoleums of military officers. St. Clair and St. Clair River offer a world of diversity with its wildlife, water, and shoreline scenery.
Best Places To Kayak In Wisconsin
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
One of Wisconsin’s best places to kayak is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, located on Lake Superior and spanning miles of the undeveloped North Shore, features “a variety of wildlife habitats and communities and a wealth of ecological values, including some habitat for threatened or endangered species.
Other places include:
- Bayfield County
- Carnation Point
- Egg Harbor Road
- High Cliff State Park
Best Places To Kayak In Rhode Island
Narragansett Bay, RI
A short drive from Providence, Narragansett Bay is one of our favorite kayaking spots. The bay offers spectacular views of the surrounding islands, including Block Island, located just off the coast. The waters are filled with local fish, making a day on the water perfect for fishing enthusiasts.
East Matunuck State Beach, RI
East Matunuck State Beach is a great place to kayak if you’re looking for a quick paddle with plenty of perks. The beach boasts beautiful views of both Block Island and Point Judith Pond, as well as a boardwalk and observation tower close by.
Best Places To Kayak In Minnesota
Ribbon Mill County Park
The park has a short course and a slow-moving stream. The great thing about this place is that if you’re looking for something intensive, you can go out on Snail Lake, which is suitable to the west.
The lake itself has a good bit of nature and wildlife to explore. So if you have time, take it slow on the Ribbon Mill River and enjoy a beautiful day in Minnesota.
This is another excellent place for more of an intimate experience. The park is small, but it’s a perfect opportunity to test your kayaking abilities in a safe environment. The water is beautiful, as well as the land around you. If you’re starting, this is a great place to do so.
Best Place To Kayak In Oahu
Starting at the Waimea Town center, take your vehicle to the end of Waimea Canyon road. Park near the entrance to Makapu’u point and hike up Fern, Tantalus, or Punchbowl trails to reach Makapu’u lighthouse trailhead.
You can also walk down from a street above Nanakuli Beach Park. This route is relatively easy and takes about 3 hours (one way).
Starting at the Waimea Town center, take your vehicle to the end of Waimea Canyon road. Park near Hanauma Bay and hike down the Makapu’u point trailhead to reach Makapu’u point headlands trail. You can also walk down from a street above Nanakuli Beach Park.
Best Places To Kayak Fish In Oklahoma
Lake Murray in Hominy, Oklahoma
This lake features some of the best bass fishing in the state and a huge “bass festival” that takes place each year. Lake Murray is home to many different types of fish, including catfish, largemouth bass, white bass, and crappie. Another one-of-a-kind feature at Lake Murray is the floating islands in the middle of the lake.
The Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge
The Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. It is located on the shores of northeastern Oklahoma’s Lake Texoma.
It contains over fifty thousand acres of outdoor recreation possibilities, including hiking trails, camping, picnic shelters, and wildlife observation areas. This region provides prime fishing opportunities in addition to its exciting recreational opportunities.
Best Places To Kayak On Outer Banks
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
This is the largest living dune on the east coast and the only one open to the public. The highest point is 75 feet, with a gradual slope to the ocean. The spectacular view will leave you feeling like you’re on top of the world.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse
This lighthouse is our oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina, and it’s located right on the beach. It’s a great walk to the lighthouse, and you can have the tower all to yourself.
The ride from shore to the sea is fantastic, as you’ll experience winds and waves. Don’t forget your camera for some great pictures.
Best Places To Kayak In San Diego
The Mission Bay Kayaking Trail is one of the most popular kayaking locations in San Diego. It offers easy access to both fetching and ocean waters and low-traffic zones.
Many mangroves on the island provide a haven for different types of marine life. These include birds, fish, and other aquatic species.
Big Rainbow Falls Park
Big Rainbow Falls Park is a favorite spot for kayakers in San Diego. It’s a park that offers excellent access to the water bodies surrounding it, with tremendous mountain views and easy parking.
Best Places To Kayak In Utah
Emery County Reservoir
The Emery County Reservoir is 72 square miles and supports approximately 200 campsites. The Emery County Reservoir offers a boat launch and parking for campers. It is open year-round, with no fees or reservations.
In the summer (June-Sept), field shelters can be reserved free of charge from the Forest Service Ranger Station in Leeds.
Bulloch County Park
This part of the state has beautiful scenery and pleasant weather year-round. The Bulloch County Park offers parking, a boat launch, and seasonal restrooms. The park provides free primitive camping, so you could camp on the shoreline if you don’t have a car.
Best Places To Kayak Near Houston
Cypress Watershed is well-known as an area for kayak beginners or those who want to go out on their own. It has a sheltered bayou surrounded by live oak trees and wetlands that are home to many kinds of wildlife, including turtles, otters, ducks, and alligators.
Brazos Bend State Park
Brazos Bend State Park, a two-hour drive north of Houston, offers a variety of areas to train and explore. Rolling hillsides and prairie creeks offer a flatwater experience with wildlife watching.
You will be greeted by abundant wildlife and birding opportunities regardless of which size you choose to paddle in.
Best Place To Kayak In Maui
Two of the best places to kayak in Maui are Lanai and Molokini, which both have unique beauty and nature. Lanai is an island near Maui with a different look than its neighbor.
On Lanai, you will find some brilliant white sand beaches which stretch along the coast, there are even some small caves that can be explored.
Molokini is located on Maui and is home to the world’s most famous crater known as ‘The Window of Heaven’, which formed due to an eruption from a volcano. Exploring the Molokini crater is an unforgettable experience and should be added to your must-do list in Maui.
Best Place To Kayak On Beaver Lake
South of the Highway 87 bridge
The first great place to go is just south of the Highway 87 bridge on the southeast side of the lake. It’s in a small cove, with cliffs towering above it on three sides.
In most places in this area, you can see for miles and miles without seeing another person or structure of any kind.
North of the Highway 87 bridge
And just to the north of this spot is another great place. The only downside is that it’s very close to Highway 87, which means you must cross on foot or by boat if you want to get there. But, if you’ve got your kayak with you, it can be done safely and efficiently and is one of my favorite spots in the area.
Best Places To Kayak In Central Massachusetts
Mill Pond is located in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood and is one of the most popular locations for kayakers.
The pond is a fresh drinking water reservoir with a surface area of 29 acres and is surrounded by many beautiful green meadows. You will also notice the beauty of Boston’s natural landscape.
Bennett is the second most popular place to kayak in central Massachusetts. Located northeast of Boston, Bennett Park is home to the Pond, a freshwater lake full of cattails and a great place to play.
Bennett is a great spot because it’s close to downtown Boston without being too crowded and has plenty of amenities.
Best Places To Kayak In Idaho
The Lochsa River
This calm and serene river outside of Sun Valley offers some of the best views around the country. Few people know about this river, and even fewer have explored it!
You can find it by driving on highway 93 south out of town until you come across a signpost for Lake Taneycomo.
Best known for its silvery fish populations and beautiful turquoise waters, Bear Lake, is one of the most popular destinations to go kayaking in Idaho.
They have an annual event featuring boat races, food, entertainment, and other activities that draw tourists worldwide. This lake can get crowded on the weekends because it is so popular.
Best Places To Kayak In Maine
People come for the beaches but stay for the rich history at this coastal town popularly known as American Royalty’s summer destination.
Famous as a vacation destination since Dutch settlers first established themselves here in 1635, Kennebunkport offers plenty of seaside activities such as swimming, kayaking, and fishing to appeal to any traveler.
The Allagash is a 44-mile stretch of the North American continent’s oldest wild river, where the water is rich with history and home to abundant wildlife.
The uppermost third of this iconic waterway is ideal for paddling with many rapids and falls to explore. In contrast, the lower two-thirds are perfect for those who prefer calmer waters or beginner kayakers.
Best Places To Kayak In Nebraska
The Platte is one of the most well-known rivers in Nebraska, forming the eastern boundary of the state with Iowa and Missouri.
It’s a great kayaking spot for beginners or families because it’s so calm but can also be enjoyable for enthusiasts thanks to its beautiful sunsets and plentiful wildlife – Look for deer, otters, hawks, sandpipers, and songbirds.
The wild Elkhorn River
The river is parallel to the Missouri River, providing an exciting, dramatic trip for kayakers of all abilities. While there are spots with little current and slow transitions between calm and rapids, there are also spots that will push kayakers to their limits.
Best Places To Kayak In Pensacola
The beach has been improved through its strategic private investment, so it’s the perfect spot for kayakers to practice their skills and have fun on the water.
Further north on Pensacola Beach is Sexton Cove, serving a unique Kayak/Stand up paddle board (SUP) experience.
Tates Hell State Forest
Tate’s Hell State Forest provides everything nature lovers crave, with plenty of places to camp or hike and some fun kayaking spots.
It is located on U.S. Highway 129 and FL-98, which allows visitors to experience Florida’s beautiful panoramic subtropical forest habitat by canoeing, kayaking, or hiking while also taking in a spectacular view of scenic Quintana Bay.
Best Places To Kayak In Rochester NY
While it’s a great place to go sailing, it attracts plenty of kayakers. The reason is pretty clear when you look at the bay’s scenic beauty.
It’s surrounded by upscale homes and is filled with islands perfect for exploring, plus there are plenty of birds, beavers, and ducks to observe while paddling around.
Richfield Lake State Park
If you’re looking for something a little more rugged, consider Richfield Lake State Park. Located in the middle of the town of East Rochester, this park is where many local kayakers head when they want to make the most of their experiences on the water. It’s also home to three excellent waterfalls that can be seen from your kayak.
Best Places To Kayak In South Dakota
Minnehaha Falls, located along Minnehaha Creek and the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls, is considered one of the world’s most beautiful and unique waterfalls.
The Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department has created a small kayak launch that fits canoes and kayaks. From here, visitors can put out into the calm waters of Minnehaha Creek or on the river, enjoying a closer look at the falls.
The Vermillion Cliffs
The Vermillion Cliffs are located along the Snake River in southern South Dakota and offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.
The cliffs are made of sedimentary rock that has been formed over thousands of years by weather and erosion.
The cliffs, extending from Argalia Lake to Piedmont Park, offer visitors a 5-mile trek with approximately 1,000 feet of elevation change.
Best Places To Kayak In Tampa
Pinellas County Park Swimming Pool
Located just west of Tampa, this public pool is on a natural peninsula surrounded by mangroves. The waters of Tampa Bay are just a short paddle away, and the park offers kayaking and canoeing classes.
Nestled in the heart of Tampa, this small river offers a perfect paddle trip with various scenery. You’ll paddle under bridges and see rolling hills and wide-open space along the water’s edge. The Trip Takes About One Hour To Complete One Way.
Places To Kayak In Little Lake Sunapee
A little lake in New Hampshire, near the southern border of Maine, Sunapee is a beautiful place to spend a day on the water.
Covering approximately 78 square miles and is located close to the state’s namesake town of Meredith, Massachusetts.
Its scenic shoreline extends all along Little Beach along 3 miles of sandy beach that presents multiple opportunities for visitors to enjoy it from different angles.
There are many places to kayak in little lake Sunapee, such as the best spots for shorebirds.