Kayaking offers an intimate way to explore the natural beauty of rivers, lakes, and coastlines. The United States, with its diverse landscapes and waterways, presents countless opportunities for kayakers of all skill levels. From serene lake paddles to challenging river rapids, here are six of the best kayaking trips in the US that deserve a spot on your bucket list.
6 Most Beautiful Places to Kayak in The US
1. Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
The Na Pali Coast, located on the northwest shore of Kauai, offers some of the most stunning ocean kayaking in the world. This 17-mile paddle takes you along towering sea cliffs, through sea caves, and past waterfalls plunging directly into the Pacific Ocean. The journey offers a unique perspective of this inaccessible and rugged coastline, famous for its emerald-hued cliffs and secluded beaches. Summer months are the best time for this trip when the ocean is calmer, making it suitable for experienced sea kayakers.
2. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
For a remote and awe-inspiring kayaking experience, Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is unparalleled. Paddlers can navigate through icy waters surrounded by towering glaciers, watching as chunks of ice calve into the sea. The park is also a haven for wildlife, including humpback whales, sea otters, seals, and bald eagles. Due to its remote location and challenging conditions, this trip is recommended for more experienced kayakers or those who join guided tours.
3. The Everglades, Florida
Kayaking in the Everglades offers a completely different experience, where you can paddle through mangrove tunnels, open bays, and freshwater marshes. This vast network of waterways is home to a rich array of wildlife, including alligators, manatees, and countless bird species. The Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile route from Everglades City to Flamingo, provides an immersive way to experience this unique ecosystem, with options for both day trips and extended camping expeditions.
4. Green River, Utah
The Green River through Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons in Utah is a must-do for those seeking a desert paddling adventure. This 120-mile journey takes you through stunning red rock canyons, with calm waters suitable for beginners and families. Along the way, you can explore ancient Native American rock art, abandoned ranches, and natural arches. The trip can take between 5 to 9 days, offering a peaceful escape into the wilderness.
5. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in northern Minnesota is a paradise for freshwater kayakers. With over 1,000 pristine lakes and streams spread across a million acres, the BWCAW offers endless routes for paddlers of all skill levels. The area is known for its crystal-clear waters, dense forests, and abundant wildlife. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely day paddle or a multi-day expedition, the Boundary Waters provide a serene back-to-nature experience.
6. Salmon River, Idaho
The Salmon River, known as “The River of No Return,” offers some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. With sections suitable for both beginners and experienced thrill-seekers, the Salmon River winds through the remote Idaho wilderness, offering stunning views of deep canyons and rugged mountain landscapes. Multi-day trips allow for camping along sandy riverbanks under starlit skies, making it an unforgettable adventure.
What Is Better For Long Distance Trips, A Kayak Or Canoe?
The choice between a kayak and a canoe for long-distance trips depends on various factors, including personal preferences, the type of water you’ll be navigating, and the specific requirements of your trip. Here are some considerations for both:
- Speed and Efficiency: Kayaks are generally faster and more efficient than canoes, making them a good choice for covering long distances quickly.
- Solo Paddling: If you’re planning to paddle alone, kayaks are often easier to handle solo due to their design and the use of a double-bladed paddle.
- Stability: Sea kayaks, in particular, are designed for stability in open water, which can be advantageous for long-distance trips on larger bodies of water.
- Storage Capacity: Canoes typically have more storage space, making them suitable for carrying larger loads and camping gear on extended trips.
- Versatility: Canoes are versatile and can be paddled solo or with a partner. This flexibility can be advantageous depending on the dynamics of your group.
- Comfort: Canoes often have more room to move around and are considered by some to be more comfortable for long journeys, especially if you need to change positions frequently.
Considerations for Both:
- Skill Level: Your paddling skill and experience may influence your choice. Some people find kayaks more challenging to paddle, especially in terms of stability.
- Water Conditions: Consider the type of water you’ll be paddling on. Kayaks may be preferable for open water like lakes and oceans, while canoes can be suitable for rivers and streams.
- Portaging: If your trip involves portaging (carrying your boat and gear over land between bodies of water), the weight and ease of carrying the vessel should be considered.
The Benefits Of Using A Short Kayak As Opposed To A Long Kayak
Using a short kayak versus a long kayak each comes with its own set of benefits, and the choice depends on the specific preferences and needs of the paddler. Here are some advantages of using a short kayak:
Short kayaks are generally more maneuverable than longer ones. They respond quickly to paddle strokes, making them ideal for navigating through tight spaces, narrow waterways, or around obstacles such as rocks and logs.
2. Ease of Transport and Storage
Short kayaks are typically lighter and easier to transport, both on and off the water. They are more manageable for solo paddlers to load onto roof racks, carry short distances, and store in smaller spaces.
Short kayaks are often associated with a playful and dynamic paddling experience. They are popular among whitewater enthusiasts and those who enjoy surfing or playing in dynamic water conditions.
4. Skill Development
Short kayaks can be great for developing paddling skills, especially for beginners. They provide a more responsive feel, allowing paddlers to quickly learn and adapt to different strokes and maneuvers.
5. Versatility in Water Conditions
Short kayaks can perform well in various water conditions, including rivers, creeks, and smaller lakes. They are agile and responsive, making them suitable for dynamic environments.
6. Accessibility for Beginners
Beginners may find shorter kayaks more accessible and less intimidating. The stability and responsiveness of a shorter kayak can provide a more comfortable learning experience for those new to paddling.
It’s essential to note that the choice between a short and a long kayak ultimately depends on the individual’s preferences, skill level, and the type of paddling they intend to do. While short kayaks excel in certain aspects, long kayaks have their own advantages, such as better tracking and higher speed, particularly in open water.