The U.S is bursting with beautiful national parks filled with lush, green forests, and of course, plenty of rivers and calm waters. And what better way is there to explore what mother nature has to offer than from the water? Kayaking is an incredibly relaxing experience and gives you a chance to see a place from a different perspective, as well as reach nooks and crannies that you would otherwise not be able to get to on foot. From kayaking through tropical forests in Florida through to exploring Lake Tahoe from the water, we’ve rounded up the top kayaking destinations in the US.
1. Juniper Run, Ocala National Forest
Juniper Run in Ocala National Forest in Florida is a stunning, jungle-like scene with seven miles of river running through a dense, tropical forest. It’s a narrow waterway that’s great fun to kayak down, and along the way, you’ll find a few solid landings where you can hop out of your kayak or canoe and take a break. There’s also a shuttle at the end of the kayak route that can bring you back to the start for a small fee.
2. Boundary Waters, Superior National Forest, Minnesota
Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota has more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes. You can spend weeks exploring the calm water routes, and there are hundreds of campsites you can stop at along the way. From soaring trees, through to tons of flora and fauna, the views are simply spectacular and will leave you feeling like you’ve really managed to get off the grid.
3. Snake River, Grand Teton National Park
Snake River on Jackson Lake is a stunning spot located in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. It’s an incredibly peaceful place where you can find complete solitude. Many people go sea kayaking on Jackson Lake before switching to a raft to go down snake river, which gets its name due to the many twists and turns, resembling that of a slithery snake. Along the way, you have a good chance of seeing animals such as moose, bald eagles, and river otter — so keep your eyes peeled!
4. Wambaw Creek Wilderness, Francis Marion National Forest
The Wambaw Creek Wilderness in Francis Marion National Forest, South Carolina, is a stretch of water where you can hear nothing but the sound of your paddles gently gliding through the water and birds tweeting in the trees. It’s known for its impressive cypress-tupelo trees and there is tons of wildlife along the way, so bring some binoculars.
5. Lake Tahoe, California
It would be hard to miss Lake Tahoe on the list of the best places to kayak in the U.S. The Lake Tahoe basin is a crystal clear body of fresh water that straddles the states of California and Nevada, where you can paddle to your heart’s content. There are several campgrounds surrounding the lake, where you can relax after a busy day on the water. There are also several kayak rental companies around the lake, with some offering kayak tours that include paddling instruction, lunch on one of the river beaches and guides to tell you about interesting ecological, geological, and historical facts along the way.
6. Colorado River
Calling the adventurous kayakers! A trip down Colorado River won’t disappoint you. The 1,450-mile river is known for its adrenaline-inducing curves and rapid waters, with several parts of the river being areas of white water that only experts should pass through. Before you tackle the river, check out which part is the right level for you on the American Whitewater’s International Scale of River Difficulty.