Best Places for Canoeing and Kayaking in the USA :: The portal of the largest rankings on the Internet!

Canoeing and kayaking are both wonderful outdoor activities. They combine physical exercise with the tranquility of the outdoors. And they are both wonderful activities for the whole family. If you live in the U.S., or are planning a trip there, consider going for a canoe or kayak trip. The country is full of spectacular locations for you to enjoy these exciting sports. Here’s a list of the top ten.

The 10 Best Places for Canoeing and Kayaking in the U.S.A

1 Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Superior National Forest, Minnesota. Considering it is known as the Land of 10,000 lakes, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the best location for canoeing and kayaking in the United States is in Minnesota. This particular area, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, is particularly beautiful. It was given this name because it refers to a near 1 million acre land area that helps to make the Northern Border of the U.S. to Canada.

Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of this canoe area are the land formations surrounding it. This is an area where the glaciers made their mark, and they did so in the form of rugged cliffs and crags, canyons, gentle hills, large rock formations, rocky shores, sandy beaches, and countless lakes and streams. There are no two routes you could take that would be the same.

Additionally, you will find hidden, secluded islands and thick, dense forests, all of which help make this the most beautiful place in the country to go for a canoe ride. If you want, the possibility exists to do a multi-day trip, spending a night or two camping in the area. However, if you want to do this, then you need to reserve a permit. During the high season, from the beginning of May until the end of September, there is a quota on the number of permits the park will give out, so plan accordingly if you’re thinking of going during this time of year. You can also rent kayaks and canoes from nearby vendors if you want to go out for a trip but do not have your own equipment.

All in all, though, this is an amazing place to spend a few hours, or a few days, canoeing and kayaking with friends or family.
2 Prince William Sound, Chugach National Forest, Alaska When most of us think of Alaska, it’s normal that what first comes to mind is snow, ice and freezing-cold temperatures. But this is not fair to the state. While the season is short, Alaska does indeed have a warm, and bright, summer that allows people to take part in a wide variety of outdoor sports. Canoeing and kayaking are some of the most popular choices.

One of the things that sets Chugach National Forest apart from other parks and sanctuaries is the diversity of land formations. Over one-third of the park is bare rock and ice, but the rest of it is home to a wide range of different habitats and ecosystems, ranging from fiords, glaciers, lakes and rivers to dense forests, wetlands and jagged mountain peaks.

Within the park, there is Prince William Sound, and this is far and away one of the best places to kayak and canoe in the United States. Part of the reason for this is its geographic position. It is located where the forest meets the sea, and this provides for an exciting coastline full of marshes, wetlands, waterways and marine life. Prince William Sound covers more than 3,500 miles, so you can be sure there’s plenty to explore.

One of the really great things about kayaking and canoeing in Prince William Sound is the camping. There are several campsites you can only access by boat, and these give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend some time in nature away from all the noise and distraction of our daily lives.

However, if you do decide to do this, make sure you take the necessary precautions by looking up information about bears and tides. Most campsites and waterways you can access with a kayak are remote and primitive, so make sure you are prepared before you go. However, if you do decide to make this trip, you will not be disappointed. It’s one of the best places for canoeing and kayaking in the U.S., if not the world.
3 Juniper Run, Ocala National Forest, Florida Florida typically conjures up images of white sandy beaches, royal blue waters, South Beach parties and world-class sport fishing. But given the size and climate of the state, we also shouldn’t be surprised that is has some premier canoeing and kayaking locations, specifically, Juniper Run in Ocala National Forest.

What sets this waterway apart from others, and what helps it get onto the list of the top ten places to canoe and kayak in the U.S. is the type of forest that surrounds the river. The waterway is narrow, and surrounding it is an old growth forest that has been there for hundreds of years, if not more. The ecosystem there is essentially pristine, and at times it will feel like you’ve gone and traveled back in time.

The landscape surrounding the river is also decidedly swampy. You most certainly need a canoe or kayak, and there are several places where although it looks like you can stand up and walk around, you won’t be able to get secure footing because of all the mud and loose soil. And considering this area is home to crocodiles, maybe it’s best if you do stay in the boat!

Also, something unique to this kayaking experience is that it is only one way. You start near the beginning of the river and then float seven miles down. At the ends, someone from the park will be waiting for you to shuttle you back to the beginning. If you bring your own canoe or kayak, you may need to pay a small fee. However, the excitement of floating down this waterway into what feels like the unknown is well worth any expense you might incur along the way.

If you’re looking for a great canoe/kayak experience and unique view of Florida’s natural landscapes, then consider checking out the Juniper Run in Ocala National Forest.
4 Eleven Point National Scenic River, Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri Mark Twain is actually from Hartford, Conn. But he spent a considerable amount of time in Missouri and Mississippi, and two of his most famous books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, take place in the region and have helped him gain enough fame to have a park named after him. One of the most iconic scenes from Huck Finn is of the title character rowing down the river as he tries to escape to freedom.

And if you have the chance to canoe or kayak down Eleven Point National Scenic River in Mark Tawin National Forest, Missouri, you’ll see why. It’s truly a stunning part of the country and it’s a place that’s well deserving of making the list of best places to canoe and kayak in the United States.

The entire river stretches 44 miles through the Ozark hills of Southern Missouri. The vast majority of this area is scenic. There are no impoundments, and most of the shoreline and watershed are undeveloped. This combines with steep bluffs, sloping forested valleys and low-lying riparian ecosystems to make a truly stunning trip down the river in a canoe or kayak.

One of the most interesting things about this canoe and kayak location is how much it changes as you go. If you were to start from the beginning, you’d be surprised at how small the river is. In the beginning, it looks like nothing more than a small stream. However, as you go along, the river combines with springs pouring from nearby bluffs, and it also receives water from underground reserves that help widen and deepen the river, enhancing its beauty.

If you’re looking for one of the best canoe or kayak experiences in the United States, then look no further than Eleven Point National Scenic River in Southern Missouri.
5 Ausable, Manistee, Pere Marquette and Pine, White River Huron-Manistee National Forest, Michigan Surrounded by the Great Lakes, some of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, it shouldn’t be much of a shock that Michigan has some of the U.S. most premier and pristine areas for canoeing and kayaking. The Huron-Manistee National Forest is a large, expansive park that features over 1,800 miles of rivers and some 17,000 acres of lakes. With this much water, it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever get bored exploring Ausable-Manistee National Forest.

One particularly nice part of this forest for kayaking and canoeing is the Ausable National Scenic River. This is a 23-mile stretch of the AuSable River that stretches from Mio to Alcona Pond. Because motorized boars are restricted on this part of the river, this is a really nice part on which to take your canoe or kayak.

However, if you’re looking for something even more remote, you could go for the 65-mile stretch that goes from Grayling to the Alcona Dam. This part is unrestricted to canoes and kayaks and offers some truly beautiful landscapes and wildlife for you to enjoy. Another great option is the section from Alcona Dam to Loud Pond. What sets this apart is the narrowness of the river. This gives you an intimate experience with nature that’s hard to match on other parts of the river, or even on other rivers in the country.

If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting, then consider spending some time on the Pere Marquette and Pine Rivers. The water moves much more quickly and therefore gives you a level of excitement you won’t find on other rivers in the park. These are actually the fastest rapids in Lower Michigan. However, be aware that you do need permits to canoe and kayak in this part of the park, so make sure you plan accordingly if you want to go.
6 Indian River Canoe Trail, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan The Indian River Canoe Trail in Hiawatha National Forest reminds us of how valuable rivers are to helping a diverse range of plant and animal life coexist. The Indian River stretches along 51-miles, and because of its clean, unpolluted waters, it is the central component of ecosystems that support such endangered or sensitive animals as the bald eagle, American marten, wold, common loon, osprey and wood turtle. This is one of the main reasons why this river has made it onto the list of best places to canoe and kayak in the U.S.

One of the other reasons that this trail makes it onto this list is the history of the river. It was a major transportation waterway in the log driving era, and there are several places where you can stop and learn about this industry and the role it played in helping to shape the Michigan we see today.

For those interested in really getting to know the area, you can spend multiple days on the river, stopping to camp in one of the many different remote campsites available along the river. A trip like this will bring you deep into Hiawatha National Forest, and it will allow you to enjoy the rich and diverse scenery of this area. Specifically, you’ll see forests made up of northern hardwoods and mixed conifers along with rolling hills and marshlands. It’s truly a unique landscape that is worth the time to see. And on a canoe or kayak, you really get the chance to experience of one of the country’s most beautiful areas.

Swimming is also a great option when on the Indian River. The current is moderately paced, and the water is not deep, making it safe and ideal. However, if you go in June, know that due to rains and thaws, the water will be deeper and move more swiftly than in other months. But still, this is an exciting way to enjoy your trip and soak up the natural beauty of the Indian River.
7 Wambaw Creek Wilderness Canoe Trail, Francis Marion National Forest, South Carolina Francis Marion was the Swamp Fox, a figure from the revolutionary war who became famous for his guerrilla-style attacks on the British regulars in the swamps of South Carolina. The efforts of people like this were integral to the American victory and hold a significant place in the country’s history. So if you want to combine natural beauty with some history, than Wambaw Creek Wilderness Canoe Trail is a choice for you.

But even if you don’t like history, or aren’t all that interested in the historical significance of the area, Wambaw Creek Wilderness Canoe trail is still one of the best places to kayak and canoe in the U.S. It’s a peaceful, wilderness blackwater creek that flows through beautiful cypress-tupelo stands that you are not likely to find elsewhere in the country.

And this is also a perfect location for nature lovers. Because of the remote and peaceful nature of the river, there will be multiple opportunities for wildlife viewing. There’s a good chance you will be able to see river dwellers such as prothonotary warblers, swallow-tailed kites and river otters, as well as many different types of fish, such as large mouth bass. For those looking for a nice combination of natural beauty and wildlife, this is truly one of the best options in all the United States.

However, to enjoy this location for the amazing canoe and kayak spot that it is, make sure you go prepared. During the summer months, temperatures can be very hot and humid—it is, after all, South Carolina. And biting insects can be a problem, so make sure you have all the necessary repellents and protections. However, if you take the time to properly prepare yourself, it won’t be hard to enjoy the Wambaw River as one of the best canoe and kayak locations in the country.
8 Tyger River Canoe Trail, Sumter National Forest, South Carolina To get the next best canoe and kayak location in the United States, you do not need to leave the state of South Carolina. The slow and long Tyger River that flows through the scenic Piedmont section of Sumter National Forest is truly a one-of-a-kind location for this type of water sport.

Also, if you are interested in primitive camping, this is one of the best places to combine kayaking and canoeing with camping. You do need a permit to camp along the river inside the national forest, but these can be obtained easily and are well worth it. With a permit, you can head out for several days of boating, camping and fishing in one of the country’s most pristine natural environments.

Another thing that makes this spot so great is the fishing. The river is full of fish such as trout and large mouth bass, and as long as you have a valid South Carolina fishing license, you can make the most of your time on the river trying to catch the day’s lunch or dinner.

The river’s depth also helps this location get onto the list of best canoe and kayak locations in the United States. It ranges from two to six feet deep and is between 40 and 70 feet wide. This, plus it’s slow but steady current, make it a great option for swimming. And considering how hot it can get in South Carolina in the summer, this is a good thing. Make sure to bring your swimming trunks so you can take a dip when the heat starts to get to you.

The combination of activities you can do along with the wonderful natural beauty and rare wildlife help to make the Tyger River in Sumter National Forest, South Carolina one of the top ten canoe and kayak locations in the United States.
9 Clearwater Canoe Trail, Lolo National forest, Montana Montana, also known as Big Sky Country, is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Between the Rocky Mountains, the large, expansive plains, and clear rivers, it has all the natural beauty that so many of us have come to expect from the American West. In Lolo National Forest, you’ll find one of the best places to canoe and kayak in the United States.

One of the reasons why this is such a great area to boat is that it allows you the opportunity to do more than just sit on your kayak. The canoe or kayak route is only a couple of miles long, and most people can navigate it in about three hours. But once you finish, you have the option of taking a 1.5 mile hike that will bring you back to the beginning. This is nice because it gives you the chance to take in the natural beauty of the area in two ways: by boat and by land.

Motorized boats are not allowed on the canoe trail, so you can be sure that when you’re out on the water it’ll be just you and nature, nothing else. You won’t need to worry about boats whizzing by you and scaring off any wildlife that might be hanging out in the area.

In the same area, you can find some beautiful hikes and swimming holes, meaning you can easily spend a few days canoeing, hiking and camping, which will give you enough time to really enjoy the entire region. Montana might be known for its cattle ranches and rodeo, but the Clearwater Canoe Trail in Lolo National Forest puts the state on the map as one of the country’s best canoe and kayak spots.
10 Mulberry River, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas The Mulberry River in Ozark National Forest, Arkansas is 55-miles long and is considered to be one of the wildest rivers in Arkansas. It starts deep in the Ozarks and eventually meets up with the Arkansas River. But along the way, it flows over ledges, passes through thick willows, and flies around tight corners. Because of all this, the Mulberry River has received a Class II/III rating.

But the river is really only like this in the Spring and during times of heavy rain. At other times of the year, it’s a great place for swimming, wading, rock skipping and fishing. This combination between thrill and tranquility is one of the reasons why the Mulberry River has made it onto the list of best canoe and kayak locations in the country.

It also stands out because of its pristine natural beauty. The Ozark Mountain Range is known as one of the most beautiful in the country, and the Mulberry River gives you the chance to see it first hand. While floating down the river, you’ll see narrow canyons, tree-lined bluffs and dense woods. Nearby is the state’s largest concentration of black bears, so if you’re lucky (or perhaps unlucky, depending on your perspective), you might come across one of these rare yet beautiful creatures.

The excitement of the rapids combined with the natural beauty, tranquility and wildlife help make the Mulberry River, a waterway in one of the country’s most beautiful regions, one of the best places to canoe or kayak in all of the United States. If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing adventure, then consider heading down to Arkansas to check out this truly beautiful location.


Grab Your Kayak or Canoe

Now that you know the ten best places in the United States for canoeing and kayaking, there’s nothing left to do except grab your canoe or kayak and head out there. There’s lots of nature to enjoy, so why not start today.