Home Trips Destinations 16 Of The Best Places To Paddle In America

16 Of The Best Places To Paddle In America

Book a canoe, kayak or raft trip in one of these incredibly scenic destinations

a kayaker paddles on a trip through beautiful Oregon scenery in America
Feature photo: Ryan Porter/Unsplash

The United States of America is a paddling hotbed for good reason. From the iconic wilderness of Alaska to the mysterious mangroves of the Florida Everglades, the country features an immense range of destinations to satisfy all types of paddling. In the United States you’ll discover canoe tripping routes on glassy North Woods lakes; float trips on historic waterways and hidden gems; exciting whitewater runs through canyons and over cascades; and world-class sea kayaking on ocean fjords and inland seas.

Working with an American paddling outfitter is a great choice if you’re new to an area, regardless of your experience level. These local experts will handle logistics, route planning, equipment rentals and more. Better yet, sign up for a guided trip for an all-inclusive experience, in which local knowledge joins you on the water and in camp.

We’ve curated a short list of some of the best paddling trips America has to offer. Bear in mind, however, this is just a small glimpse of all that’s here to discover by canoe, kayak or raft.

Alaska

With skyscraping peaks, coastal fjords and countless wild rivers, Alaska easily earns its distinction as the wildest state in the Union. Such rugged, extreme conditions make Alaska a destination for the most hardened adventurers. However, options also exist for mere mortals—including flatwater paddlers and families—to get a taste of this iconic place.

1 Tangle Lakes

If your picture of Alaska includes lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains, wild rivers and tumbling waterfalls, this three-day guided canoe or kayak tour with Alaska Dream Adventures is for you. The itinerary includes a mix of flatwater paddling on the Tangle Lakes, in the heart of the Alaska Range, a quarter-mile portage around amazing waterfalls, and a downriver run with class II to III rapids—all in a landscape abounding with wolves, bald eagles, beavers and other iconic northern wildlife. This all-inclusive adventure is ideal for intermediate paddlers looking for an easy-to-plan Alaskan experience.

United States, Alaska

Kayaking, Canoeing

Paddling Trip

2–3 Days

$450 USD Per Person

Alaska Dream Adventures

Tangle Lakes

Tangle Lakes/Delta River is one of the premier destinations for those who want a taste of what Alaska really has to offer. There is a ¼ mile portage around a beautiful series of waterfalls and the river is rated class II+ to III at high water. Additionally, this trip provides the opportunity to paddle through the heart of the Alaska Range and see various forms of wildlife—moose, ducks of many types, wolf, beaver, bald eagle, river otters (to name a few common sightings).

United States, Alaska

Kayaking, Canoeing

Paddling Trip

2–3 Days

$450 USD Per Person


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2 Prince William Sound

Breakwater Expeditions’ seven-day journey on Puget Sound is customized for families, inviting you to experience wilderness sea kayaking at a classic Alaskan destination in a safe and fun environment. The main goal of this all-inclusive, guided sea kayak trip isn’t to cover immense distances, but rather to allow time for families to reconnect and experience the rugged Pacific coast up close, including glaciers and incredible wildlife like bears, salmon, bald eagles and more.

United States, Alaska

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$3350 USD Per Person

Breakwater Expeditions

Family Journey in Alaska

The Family Journey expedition is uniquely choreographed to assist families in finding rejuvenation through connection with self, loved ones, and nature. Our intention is to give everyone the opportunity to spend meaningful time together while experiencing the beauty of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Sea kayaking is a beautiful, fun, and exciting way to explore the area, see glaciers calve and witness wildlife in their natural habitat.

United States, Alaska

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$3350 USD Per Person


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Washington

Washington state boasts an awe-inspiring landscape of exposed Pacific coastline, tide-washed islands and wild rivers tumbling off the Cascade Range. Washington is the birthplace of modern North American sea kayaking and it remains a life list destination for kayak touring.

3 San Juan Islands

Perched in a temperate, sun-splashed rain shadow at the edge of the continent, the San Juan Islands are a bucolic sea kayaking destination in the Pacific Northwest. Discovery Sea Kayaks’ three-day kayak and camping tour is a perfect introduction to Washington’s Pacific coast. This novice-friendly guided trip includes all gear and meals, as well as expert instruction along the way. You’ll travel with a small group of like-minded paddlers, getting an intimate glimpse of the marine environment. Keep your eyes peeled for orca whales throughout your journey.

United States, Pacific Northwest

Kayaking

Guide Service

2–3 Days

$825 USD Per Person

Discovery Sea Kayaks

3 Day Kayak and Camping Tour

Paddling the San Juan Islands of Washington State should be on every sea paddler’s bucket list. We make the experience seamless, providing all the equipment for kayaking and camping as well as all the food. Show up with your basic necessities and we take care of the rest. The kayak routes travel waterways known for wildlife and whale encounters. Our guides lead you to some of the most beautiful campsites in the area. Each trip has a custom-tailored feel.

United States, Pacific Northwest

Kayaking

Guide Service

2–3 Days

$825 USD Per Person


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Oregon

Oregon shares the Wild and Scenic Snake River with neighboring Idaho. The state features some of the wildest country in the Lower 48—a classic mix of mountain scenery, ancient forest and big, powerful rivers.

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4 Snake River

According to the Indigenous Nez Perce, Hells Canyon on the Snake River was dug by a giant coyote to protect the people from the “Seven Devils” that resided across the gorge in present-day Idaho. A rafting trip through Hells Canyon with ROW Adventures is a bucket-list experience for wild river enthusiasts. The five-day trip includes meals and full outfitting, along with expert interpretation of the area’s dynamic geology and Native American history.

United States, Pacific Northwest, Rockies

Rafting

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$1820 USD Package Price

ROW Adventures

Rafting the Snake River Through Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon straddles the borders of Idaho and Oregon and is the deepest river gorge in North America. According to Nez Perce tribal legend, the mythical figure “coyote” dug Hells Canyon with a big stick to protect the tribe’s ancestors in the Blue Mountains of Oregon from the “Seven Devils” across the gorge in Idaho. Our Snake River Rafting adventures through Hells Canyon are journeys through a land rich in myth and geologic wonder. Big rapids, good hiking and camping.

United States, Pacific Northwest, Rockies

Rafting

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$1820 USD Package Price


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Idaho

Whitewater rivers and deep wilderness are hallmarks of Idaho. The state is home to dozens of waterways, including two Wild and Scenic Rivers, making it a great destination for adventurous rafters, whitewater kayakers and experienced canoeists. Go guided for an immersive and safe experience.

5 Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon is one of the original American rivers awarded Wild and Scenic status in 1968. There’s good reason: this free-flowing waterway bisects the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, dropping 3,000 feet in elevation across 106 miles.

Join ROW Adventures for a guided six-day raft trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for the ultimate wilderness whitewater experience. You’ll enjoy exciting class III to IV rapids, hot springs, blue-ribbon fishing and great hiking while you explore some of the deepest wilderness in the Lower 48.

United States, Pacific Northwest

Rafting

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$2840 USD Package Price

ROW Adventures

Middle Fork Salmon River Rafting

Among whitewater enthusiasts, The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is second to none. Raft 105 miles of free-flowing river that drops 3000 feet through Idaho’s remote and extraordinary Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the largest designated wilderness area in the entire lower 48 U.S. States. Fun rapids, hot springs, Native rock art, superb hiking trails, blue-ribbon fishing and spectacular mountain scenery all combine for a magical, life-changing journey.

United States, Pacific Northwest

Rafting

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$2840 USD Package Price


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Utah

Utah’s Canyon Country abounds with opportunities for paddlers looking for trips of a lifetime on big western rivers. The state straddles the divide between the mountains and arid country, offering stunningly austere scenery, mind-blowing geology and rich Native American heritage.

6 Green River

Looking for a new perspective on an iconic western river? Join Breakwater Expeditions for a guided SUP tour on Utah’s Green River. Custom six- and seven-day guided trips are available, complete with all equipment, logistics support and gourmet meals. Besides outstanding hiking and opportunities for photography, Breakwater can customize packages for yoga enthusiasts, families and fitness paddlers.

United States

Paddleboarding

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$2895 USD Per Person

Breakwater Expeditions

S.U.P. River Expeditions

Interested in stand up paddle-boarding (SUP)? Whether you want to start or experience more, Breakwater Expeditions can design a SUP trip to support any level of paddle-boarders, with customizable itineraries to fit your dream vacation. Think gourmet meals, yoga and stretch sessions, day hikes, long stretches of beautiful rivers with campsites and views guaranteed to take your breath…let nature relax you as our adventures inspire you!

United States

Paddleboarding

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$2895 USD Per Person


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Montana

Montana is home to more than just big skies. The state bridges the gap between the Rockies and the Great Plains, and it earns its recognition as a mecca for outdoor adventure with legendary waterways like the Missouri River and countless others, which served as travelways for Native Americans and explorers like Lewis and Clark.

7 Upper Missouri River

This weeklong float trip by canoe takes in the incredible scenery of one of America’s greatest waterways. The Upper Missouri River is enveloped by towering white cliffs and austere badlands as it cuts its way across the northern plains. Join Upper Missouri River Guides for an immersive wilderness canoeing experience on this great American river. Your small-group, fully guided adventure includes gourmet meals and all equipment.

United States

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$1595 USD Per Person

Upper Missouri River Guides

White Cliffs & Badlands Guided River Trip

Float the famous Upper Missouri River White Cliffs and the less-traveled and wilder Badlands. The White Cliffs are magnificent, and it only gets better. The most popular and immersive option—this canoeing adventure is absolutely the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy the immeasurable benefits of being very far from noise, lights, technology and crowds for an extended period of time.

United States

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$1595 USD Per Person


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Minnesota

It’s no surprise that the Land of 10,000 Lakes is a paddler’s paradise. Minnesota is famously home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the most popular canoe tripping destinations in the world, as well as the majestic Lake Superior coastline and the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Simply put, the state has something for every type of paddler.

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8 Boundary Waters

With 1,200 miles of backcountry canoe routes and 2,000 wilderness campsites, you could spend a lifetime exploring the North Woods of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply will whet your appetite for more with a guided day trip, including all gear and transportation from their base in Grand Marais. The company also offers full outfitting, trip planning advice and rental canoes, kayaks and SUPs for do-it-yourself adventures.

United States, Great Lakes, Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA)

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

Full Day

$150 USD Per Person

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

BWCAW Canoe Day Trips

This guided day trip is suitable for all skill levels as we paddle and portage in one of the the most pristine wilderness areas in the country. All necessary gear, lunch and transportation from our shop are included.

United States, Great Lakes, Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA)

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

Full Day

$150 USD Per Person


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9 Lake Superior

Discover why Duluth consistently ranks amongst America’s most outdoorsy communities when you take a guided sea kayak journey on Lake Superior’s scenic north shore with Day Tripper Duluth. You’ll paddle crystalline waters beneath towering cliffs, admiring a historic lighthouse and mysterious shipwreck. Day Tripper Duluth customizes its guided day trips to a wide variety of participants, including fun and easy family trips, more challenging adventures for intermediate and advanced sea kayakers, and everything in between.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

$74 USD Per Person

Day Tripper Duluth

North Shore Kayak Tours

Kayak beneath the towering cliffs and over the deep clear water of the world’s largest lake from Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. With our tours you’ll get magnificent views of the iconic lighthouse. Paddle a bit further and you’ll get a chance to spot the Madeira, wrecked on November 28th, 1905.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

$74 USD Per Person


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10 Isle Royale National Park

The Lower 48’s least-visited federally designated wilderness area features over 100 miles of rockbound coastline, perfect for sea kayaking. Join Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply for a six-day guided tour of Isle Royale’s secret coves, historic lighthouses and abandoned fishing villages. This all-inclusive sea kayak adventure includes ferry transportation to and from Isle Royale from Grand Marais, all meals and equipment provided.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$2000 USD Package Price

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Isle Royale Sea Kayaking Adventure

In the middle of the world’s largest lake, Isle Royale is the most remote and spectacular sea kayaking destination in the Midwest. This 22-mile sea kayaking journey explores the wild beauty of the island’s southern shore: protected coves, nearby smaller islands, abandoned fishing villages and restored lighthouses. You will also have time to relax and explore some of the hiking trails found within this incredible National Park. Custom trips available.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

4–7 Days

$2000 USD Package Price


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Michigan

Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula is far removed from the state’s urban south. The “UP” embraces its rugged Lake Superior shore, offering plenty of options for kayakers to explore the cliffs, beaches and wilderness islands of an inland sea.

11 Pictured Rocks

Minerals in the sandstone cliffs near Munising have turned the Lake Superior shoreline into a colorful canvas, complete with towering arches, caves and waterfalls. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an incredible destination for nature lovers and sea kayaking is the best way to see this natural phenomenon. Sign up for a mothership-supported guided trip with Pictured Rocks Kayaking to experience 13 points of interest in a single day. Lunch is included.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

Half Day

$168 USD Per Person

Pictured Rocks Kayaking

Pictured Rocks – Ultimate Lake Superior Kayak Tour

We are a boat and kayak tour all in one! Launch safely and conveniently from our boat, not from shore. We bring you to the best 13 points of interest along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for a guided kayak tour to get up close and personal with the beautiful colors and history of this magnificent lakeshore.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

Half Day

$168 USD Per Person


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12 Agate Harbor

Lake Superior is renowned for its diverse and spectacular geology. In particular, the Keweenaw Peninsula features native copper, unique volcanic formations and agates, making it a dreamy destination for rockhounds. You’ll discover untouched agate beaches on this four- to five-hour sea kayaking tour with Keweenaw Adventure Company. Each outing begins with basic strokes and rescue training before you take to the water, exploring the incredible shoreline where you’ll encounter a unique rock arch and the shipwreck of the City of St. Joseph barge just offshore.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

Half Day

$159 USD

Keweenaw Adventure Company

Agate Harbor Kayaking Tour

After a short drive along the Lakeshore Drive, the tour begins with about 30 minutes of basic, on-land instruction with our professional guides. Instruction includes an overview of the sea kayak, gear and equipment, some basic paddle strokes and techniques and safety awareness relevant for this Lake Superior sea kayak tour. We’ll then launch from a rocky beach and will explore this area that most closely resembles the scenery of Isle Royal National Park.

United States, Great Lakes

Kayaking

Paddling Trip

Half Day

$159 USD


Leave a rating / review

New York

The contrast between metropolitan New York and the alpine hinterlands of the northern reaches of the state is decidedly stark. Paddling and portaging amidst the gem-like lakes of the Adirondacks is an ancient tradition, with plenty of options available for backcountry adventures for all levels of paddlers.

13 The Adirondacks

Based on Saranac Lake, Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters will help you plan everything from basic day trips to multiday expeditions by SUP, kayak or canoe in the scenic wilds of upper New York state. The company offers full outfitting, including rental equipment and trip planning advice, as well as all-inclusive guided trips—all backed by over 20 years of Adirondacks experience.

United States

Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding

Paddling Trip

Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters

Guided Adirondack Paddling Trips

The waterways of the Adirondacks are as diverse as the species that inhabit their shorelines. From large open lakes and small hidden ponds, to thundering waterfalls and wandering flows, the Adirondacks offer a unique paddling experience for everyone. Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters has been guiding the waterways of northern New York for over 20 years. Let us make your Adirondack trip memorable through our love of paddling and the Adirondacks.

United States

Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding

Paddling Trip


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Virginia

Set in the heart of Appalachia, Virginia abounds with hardwood forests and tumbling rivers. The state offers extreme paddlers some of the best whitewater in the Southeast. For others, it’s a great destination for recreational paddling in quintessential rural America.

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14 Upper James River

The scenic Upper James River provides a family-friendly introduction to the wilds of Virginia. The 10.5-mile section from Buchanan to Alpine features stunning mountain scenery, great fishing and easy class I and II rapids. The experts at Twin River Outfitters provide all the equipment and logistics for self-guided overnight excursions.

United States

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

2–3 Days

$89 USD Per Person

Twin River Outfitters

2-Day/1 Night Buchanan to Alpine

This trip is ideal for fisherman wanting to take their time fishing each rapid or for a family group with younger kids that want to take it easy their first trip. Day one paddle length is just six miles down to Arcadia (2-3 hours of paddling), day two paddle is about 4.5 miles down to the Alpine Take out (1 to 1 1/2 hours paddle). This trip includes an interesting section of water with plenty of rapids 5 rated class II, great mountain views, and a remote wilderness feel.

United States

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

2–3 Days

$89 USD Per Person


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Missouri

America’s heartlands are home to the continent’s greatest river, the Mississippi. Modern-day paddlers can still discover the scenes of early America on the Big Muddy, with remote shores and hidden backwaters cast throughout the Show Me state.

15 French Corridor

The historic French Corridor of the Mississippi River stretches from St. Louis to St. Genevieve. Paddle with Big Muddy Adventures in a 29-foot voyageur canoe to get an intimate glimpse of this historic waterway. The three-day, all-inclusive tour is suitable for all levels of paddlers, and includes backcountry camping and gourmet meals from Chef Josh Galliano.

United States, Central

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

2–3 Days

$500 USD Package Price

Big Muddy Adventures

French Corridor Canoe Expedition

Join Big Muddy Adventures and guest Chef Josh Galliano on an amazing culinary journey through the historic Middle Mississippi River Valley! Experience a fully guided canoe trip from St. Louis to St. Genevieve in one of our voyageur canoes. Our journey will highlight the historic connection between river travel, food, and the great cultures that have explored, inhabited, and settled in the valleys of the Great Rivers.

United States, Central

Canoeing

Paddling Trip

2–3 Days

$500 USD Package Price


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Florida

There’s more than theme parks, condos and snowbirds in Florida. The state is an incredible destination for sea kayakers and canoeists, boasting countless spring-fed rivers, open coastlines and the remarkable Everglades. Florida’s vast network of parks and water trails offers great access to routes for all levels of paddlers, whether you’re looking for a scenic day trip or a multiday adventure.

16 The Everglades

The Florida Everglades are truly otherworldly, featuring unique mangrove scenery, sweeping beaches and diverse wildlife. Breakwater Expeditions’ three- to 12-day canoe or sea kayak tours take in the best of the 1.5-million-acre Everglades, with fully guided, all-inclusive tours departing November through March. Options are available for all levels of paddlers.

United States, Florida

Kayaking, Canoeing

Custom Trip

4–7 Days

$2075 USD Per Person

Breakwater Expeditions

Everglades National Park Canoe and Kayak Expeditions

The mysterious and ancient Everglades National Park in Florida covers 1.5 million acres of Florida’s landscape. Explore the many waterways and white sand beaches of 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Reserve by kayak or canoe. The salt marshes, estuaries, and mangrove forests are unique coastal ecosystems that are the nursing grounds for young marine life and great areas for exploration. Join us November through March and escape your winter blues.

United States, Florida

Kayaking, Canoeing

Custom Trip

4–7 Days

$2075 USD Per Person


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Feature photo: Ryan Porter/Unsplash

 

 

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