13 Amazing Adventures

From Alabama to Alaska, Tahoe to Potomac, we have an adventure for everyone. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or intrepid adventurer, these 13 amazing outings won’t let you down. Take on mountains, bayou, tundra and tropics, paddle in hand, discovering some of the best canoeing in North America.

St. Regis Canoe Area

New York

The Adirondacks have a rich history of pack canoes—the small boats used to explore the endless lakes and rivers of northern New York. St. Regis is the only designated canoeing zone in the entire state. There are 75 marked tent sites and three lean-tos along the shores of its 58 interior lakes, with access limited to human-powered watercraft. Alternatively, stay at one of the many historical inns and lodges that served as hotspots for big-city vacationers around the turn of the 20th century. dec.ny.gov/lands/70572.html

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

British Columbia

Named after a gold rush pioneer and located in the Cariboo Mountains of central B.C.’s Rockies, the Bowron is known around the world for its paddling. Take six to 10 days to paddle the 116-kilometer loop through everything from swifts to large lakewater. Less intrepid adventurers can stay at one of the local resorts or the in-park car camping facility and day-use area. Reserve a spot—only 50 people are allowed on the circuit daily, ensuring a quiet getaway. env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/bowron_lk

Allagash Wilderness Waterway


Paddle among the lush conifers and majestic hardwoods of the northeast in this remote wilderness waterway enjoyed by the likes of Henry David Thoreau. With Mount Katahdin in the distance to the south, 92 miles of waterway stretches north, with the protected area reaching almost to the Canadian border. The diversity of this section of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail is its greatest asset. Swampy forests, swift currents and ancient volcanic rock support an array of plant and animal species. mainerec.com/allabook.asp

Everglades National Park


Tropical hardwood hammocks, exotic birdwatching, alligator spotting and meandering mangroves make the Everglades a bucket-list-worthy paddling paradise. Move from freshwater streams to brackish bays to salty coastal flats. Camp on a floating site. Swim with dolphins and manatees. Save this trip for the winter months when mosquitoes are manageable and stiflingly muggy summer days are months away. nps.gov/ever

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Canoe System


Brazen trippers can get the full northern experience without risking whitewater in this 1.3-millon-acre park, located about 150 miles south of Anchorage. Fish for rainbow trout and spot grizzly, moose and bald eagles. Try the Swan Lake Route, covering 60 miles and 30 lakes, linked by short portages. The more challenging and isolated Swanson River Canoe Route travels 80 miles through some 40 lakes and rivers, providing an even better shot at viewing elusive wildlife. fws.gov/refuge/Kenai

Voyageurs National Park


Hundreds of years ago, lakes and rivers were the only highways and the area now known as Voyageurs National Park was at the heart of the transportation network that kept the fur trade alive. Today, the area remains accessible only by boat—there are no roads in the park. It’s free to camp at the park’s backcountry sites and with 84,000 acres of water, 655 miles of shoreline and over 500 islands, there’s a lifetime of exploration to be done. nps.gov/voya/index.html



You’ll find some of the province’s highest ridgelines and oldest forests in this swath of quintessential canoe country. Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park is at the heart of the Temagami wilderness. Over 4,700 kilometers of canoe routes have been identified in the region—equal to the distance between New York and Los Angeles. Regional First Nations know the thousand-year-old network of portages, trails and waterways as Nastawgan. ottertooth.com/temagami.htm

Lake Tahoe Water Trail

Nevada and California

Tahoe isn’t just for getting pampered after a windfall in Reno. The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a 72-mile route around the shoreline of the Jewel of the Sierra. Snow-capped mountains serve as a surreal backdrop for Tahoe’s azure-blue waters. The circuit has been divided up into seven different day trips which can be combined for multi-day options, with overnighting opportunities at any of the 11 campgrounds around the lakeshore. laketahoewatertrail.org

Upper Missouri River National Wild and Scenic River


Float some of the most picturesque grasslands, white cliffs and badlands in all of Montana. Following the paddle strokes of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the class I section of the river moves at about 3.5 miles per hour, allowing even the most relaxed paddlers to cover 15 to 20 miles a day. Inside the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, there are no motels or service stations, keeping crowds at bay and offering a true wilderness experience. blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/umrbnm.html

Wind River


Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime northern mountain river experience? Learn to negotiate chutes, bends and currents on this novice-to-intermediate whitewater trip. The Wind is turquoise, wide, shallow and gravelly as it braids its way to its confluence with the mighty Peel River. You’ll need to book an outfitter to help arrange shuttles, boat rentals, and float plane logistics for a 10- to 14-day expedition. Side hikes through the Rackla Range offer incredible vistas and excellent mountain wildlife sighting opportunities. upnorthadventures.com; blackfeather.com

Willamette River Water Trail


The Willamette River Water Trail was established to provide the public with access points to the river valley, lined by wildflowers, gravel bars and grassy beaches. Set up a shuttle and take a day trip between well-marked launch points or stay overnight at one
of the dozens of campsites that dot the trail, stretching from north of Portland to south of Eugene. willamettewatertrail.org

Bartram Canoe Trail


A part of the second largest river delta in the U.S., Alabama’s Bartram Canoe Trail takes paddlers through moss-laden cypress-tupelo swamps that can only be found in the deep south. The delta is home to more than 50 rare and endangered plants and animals, but perhaps the most unique part of this trail are its floating campsites. Accessible only by boat, paddlers can spend days exploring creeks and lakes without ever stepping on dry land. outdooralabama.com/outdoor-adventures/bartram

Potomac River Water Trail

West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

This trail traverses three states and the U.S. capitol. Start at Jennings Randolph Lake in West Virginia and paddle all the way to Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, or choose a smaller section of the 350-mile waterway, like the secluded Paw Paw Bends section or the exhilarating whitewater of the middle section through Harpers Ferry. Spend a night in a historic lockhouse, combine paddling with pedaling or visit a winery en route. nps.gov/pohe

This article was originally published in the Early Summer 2013 issue of CanoerootsThis article first appeared in the Early Summer 2013 issue of Canoeroots Magazine. For more articles, subscribe to Canoeroots’s print and digital editions here.


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