22 Best Canoe & Kayak Outfitters In Minnesota

Minnesota is celebrated as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. With such an abundance of water, it’s no wonder it’s atop bucket lists for many of America’s canoe and kayak enthusiasts. You’ll find plenty of options for kayak and canoe rentals in Minnesota for all levels of paddlers.

In addition to highlighting 10 great places to paddle, this article will help you find nearby outfitters for all your rental and guiding needs.

Overlooking wide river with thick forest on both sides
Take it slow on the famed Mississippi River. | Photo: Courtesy Explore Minnesota

Mississippi River

The headwaters of America’s greatest waterway take shape in Minnesota. These Mississippi River canoe outfitters will get you set up for adventures at the source of the river.

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota canoe rentals are offered through the Recreation and Wellness division of the Minneapolis campus. Canoes and canoe-tripping gear (including portage packs and drybags) are available for rent, as are standup paddleboards. The University of Minnesota also rents camping gear, including tents, sleeping bags, water filters and camp kitchen equipment, for multiday trips. Requests can be submitted online and pickups made Monday through Saturday.

Itasca Sports

Itasca Sports caters to paddlers and anglers in Chippewa National Forest and at Itasca State Park, the source of the Mississippi River in central Minnesota. Providing cano,ekayak, paddleboard, pedal boat and bike rentals. In addition rentals, paddle fit classes are also available.

Clear Waters Outfitting

Clear Waters Outfitting is located on the banks of the Mississippi in Clearwater and provides canoe and fishing kayak rentals for single- and multi-day river trips, as well as retail sales and instruction. Clear Waters offers several unique services, including kayak fishing outfitting (with expert guides) and instructional classes such as standup paddleboard basics and yoga.

Twin Cities Kayaking

Twin Cities Kayaking is your go-to source for kayak rentals in Minnesota, especially if you’re looking for an urban paddling experience on the Mississippi River while spending time in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The company rents single and tandem kayaks. It also offers guided day trips.

Kayakers coming down the river beside a massive rock wall.
Find your peace on the St. Croix River. | Photo: Courtesy Explore Minnesota

St. Croix River

The St. Croix is a National Scenic River that flows between Wisconsin and Minnesota, ultimately draining into the Mississippi. This wild river captures all that paddling in Minnesota has to offer, and it’s no surprise there are plenty of outfitters. If you’re searching for canoe rentals on the St. Croix River, look no further.

Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rentals

Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rentals services Interstate State Park and Wildwood RV Park & Campground. Free car shuttles are provided with canoe and kayak rentals.

Man standing up to his waist in water while fishing, with reeds in foreground
At 195 miles long, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on the Red Lake River. | Photo: Courtesy Explore Minnesota

Red Lake River

The Red Lake River is a state water trail in northwestern Minnesota. The landscape here is a mix of wilderness wetlands and farm fields, making it a haven for birds and waterfowl. There are 195 river miles to explore between the Lower Red Lake Dam at Highway 89 and the Red River of the North, near the North Dakota border.

Oliver’s Canoe Outfitters

Oliver’s Canoe Outfitters provides canoe rentals, vehicle shuttles and local knowledge of the Red Lake River in Polk County, from Red Lake Falls to Fisher.

Couple paddling canoe on misty lake.
The iconic Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a canoe tripper’s dream. | Photo: Paul Vincent

Boundary Waters

Northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of the world’s preeminent canoeing destinations. Regardless of where you enter this 1.1-million-acre watery dreamscape you’re sure to find plenty of rental options. Outfitters that offer canoe rentals in the Boundary Waters can also provide you with local knowledge and logistical support to make your trip memorable. Several outfitters also offer kayak rentals for Boundary Waters paddling, too.

Boundary Waters Outfitters

This Ely-based outfitter has offered Boundary Waters canoe rentals and trip planning since 1939. Boundary Waters Outfitters features lightweight canoes and great trip planning advice for all levels of paddlers, whether you’re looking for a short trip or a longer wilderness expedition.

Hungry Jack Outfitters

Hungry Jack Outfitters specializes in the Boundary Waters canoe routes of the Gunflint Trail, west of Grand Marais. Check them out for ultralight Boundary Water canoe rentals, and complete and partial canoe trip outfitting featuring the latest outdoor gear. The company offers rental packages specific to solo paddlers as well as groups. They also rent kayaks.

North Country Canoe Outfitters

This Boundary Waters canoe outfitter is located in Ely, the gateway to the wilderness. North Country Canoe Outfitters provides full outfitting for canoe trippers of all skill and experience levels. You’ll find a range of options, including the Ultralight Gold package which includes the finest in backcountry canoe tripping gear. The company boasts over 35 years experience.

Piragis Northwoods Company

Piragis Northwoods Company is one of the vibrant businesses that makes downtown Ely such a great place to visit. From its Main Street location, Piragis offers canoe and kayak rentals, outfitting and sales—along with an impressive second-story bookstore featuring many outdoor titles. Piragis is popular for its theme-based guided canoe trips, including fishing trips and family trips.

Canoe Country Outfitters

Contact Canoe Country Outfitters for personalized service in Ely. This long-time company provides canoe rentals and full outfitting for the Boundary Waters and neighboring Quetico Provincial Park. The outfitter also operates a campground with cabins on Moose Lake, an access point to the wilderness, providing a convenient way to start and finish your Boundary Waters canoe trip.

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters

Located on the Sawbill Trail, west of Highway 61, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters provides Boundary Waters canoe rentals for the northeastern portion of the wilderness area. The company offers lightweight Kevlar canoes and great camping gear, as well as expert route-planning advice. Sawbill has mapped out 11 suggested itineraries to help you make sense of the overwhelming abundance of Boundary Waters canoe routes.

Gunflint Northwoods Outfitters

As its name suggests, this canoe rental company services the Gunflint Trail portion of the BWCAW. Gunflint Northwoods Outfitters offers canoe rentals and canoe trip outfitting as well as lodging in Minnesota’s quiet North Woods.

Ely Outfitting Company

The Ely Outfitting Company provides a wide range of services, including canoe rentals and guided canoe trips, as well as wilderness outfitting and vehicle shuttles for self-guided adventures in the Boundary Waters. Two- to eight-day guided trips are offered, with many custom route options available to cater to long-distance trippers, families, anglers and more.

Two sea kayakers and lighthouse perched on rocky cliff in background.
Behold awe-inspiring sights on Lake Superior. | Photo: Courtesy Explore Minnesota

Lake Superior

Travelers get a glimpse of Minnesota’s spectacular Lake Superior coastline while driving Highway 61 north of Duluth. But to truly experience the Inland Sea, you’re best to get on the water. Go with a professional guide, or make sure you have the skills, knowledge and equipment to paddle safely.

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Based in Grand Marais, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply offers Lake Superior sea kayak rentals for single and tandem paddlers. The company also provides canoe rentals for those planning to explore the Boundary Waters and guided trips throughout the region. Lake Superior guided day trips begin at Stone Harbor. Options include half- and full-day tours, as well as a sunset paddle to capture the magical moments when the sky flares and the sun dips below Minnesota’s Sawtooth Mountains.

Day Tripper of Duluth

Looking for a fun way to experience the Lake Superior waterfront in Duluth? Day Tripper of Duluth provides kayak day tours throughout the Duluth and North Shore region, including the Two Harbors Tour, evening paddles in Duluth’s historic Glensheen neighborhood and even (conditions permitting) a unique iceberg kayak tour.

Person stands beside canoe on shore and looks down river.
The journey begins on the Rum River. | Photo: Chris Gibbs // @cgibbsphoto

Rum River

The Rum River flows gently between Lake Mille Lacs and the Mississippi River at Anoka, just northwest of Minneapolis. The river provides several options for easy float trips for canoeists and kayakers of all levels.

Country Camping Canoe & Tube

Country Camping in Isanti is your go-to outfitter for a fun and easy outing on the Rum River. Tours are open to the public Sunday through Friday—but you must register online in advance. You can rent a canoe or a single or tandem sit-on-top kayak with all the necessary safety gear and embark on a two-hour Rum River tour. On-site camping is also available.

Looking out over lake framed by trees.
What wildlife will you discover on the Crow Wing River? | Photo: Courtesy Explore Minnesota

Crow Wing River

The Crow Wing is another tributary of the mighty Mississippi River, offering canoeing and kayaking opportunities in central Minnesota. The Crow Wing is an outstanding waterway for viewing wildlife ranging from turtles and bobcats to beaver and black bear, all of which enjoy the peaceful calm of the river valley. This crystal-clear waterway joins the Mississippi at Crow Wing State Park.

Easy Riders Bicycle and Sportshop

Easy Riders Bicycle and Sportshop in Brainerd provides canoe and kayak rentals for the Crow Wing River. Make sure to bring your own PFD.

Gloege’s Canoe & Kayak Outfitting

Based in Sebeka, Gloege’s Canoe & Kayak Outfitting services the Crow Wing River with canoe and kayak rentals and local knowledge. Gloege’s provides several recommended routes, ranging from a fast and fun day trip to multiday canoe camping trips on both the Crow Wing and the nearby Shell River.

Bridge over river through the forest
Find solitude where you least expect it on the Cannon River. | Photo: Courtesy Cannon Valley Trail

Cannon River

The Cannon River flows over 100 miles from Shields Lake to the Mississippi River at Red Wing. It offers a diversity of paddling opportunities, flowing through a landscape of bluffs, farmland and wooded areas. The river includes a few rapids as well as low-head dams, which paddlers must approach cautiously and portage around.

Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike Rental

Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike Rental provides canoe and kayak rentals for a great eight-mile section of the Cannon River, from Cannon Falls to Miesville Ravine Park. This section of smooth-flowing river takes about two hours to paddle, and includes secluded sandbars for swimming and picnic lunches. The company provides pick-ups as late as 7 p.m.

Looking out over wide river at sunset.
Peace abounds on the Minnesota River. | Photo: Courtesy Explore Minnesota

Minnesota River

This 332-mile-long waterway drains a large chunk of central Minnesota west of the Twin Cities, ultimately feeding into the Mississippi River. Like many Midwest rivers, the Minnesota carves a green corridor of lush forests through the quintessential farmscape of the American Midwest.

Bent River Outfitter

Bent River Outfitter in Mankato offers kayak and SUP float trips on the Minnesota River for paddlers of all levels. Check out their full moon tours for a unique experience. Bent River also provides a full-service outdoors store on the waterfront in Mankato’s historic downtown.

Man stands in ankle-deep water and casts fishing line.
Enter a natural oasis on the Root River. | Photo: Ryan Taylor

Root River

The Root River flows through the rocky landscape of southeastern Minnesota’s Driftless Area, before draining into the Mississippi River. The Driftless Area missed out on the scouring effects of the Ice Age and features prominent limestone geology and cold-water springs, which create perfect conditions for trout species. The Root River valley is also an oasis for wildlife, including deer and bald eagles.

River Rats Outfitters

River Rats Outfitters provides friendly services for paddlers along the entire Root River in southeastern Minnesota. The company offers canoe and kayak rentals with 2.5- and four-hour itineraries on the Root River, near its base in Lanesboro. Guiding services are also available for anglers who wish to cast for trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and sauger.

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here