Ultimate Kayaking Adventures in the US: Top Spots You Must Visit

Plan your next kayaking trip to one of the top US destinations. Paddle among glaciers, through mountain ranges, and down iconic rivers for an adventure-filled experience with breathtaking scenery.
Harrison Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kayaking offers a unique way to explore the diverse landscapes and waterways of the United States. Here are six of the best destinations for kayaking in the US, each offering its own unique experiences and breathtaking views.

1. Glacier Bay, Alaska

A stunning mountain scene in the background with water in the front.
Beartrack Mountain in Glacier Bay / National Park Service

Kayaking in Glacier Bay feels like stepping back in time. The sheer silence and majesty of the glaciers make it an unforgettable experience.

Highlights: Glacier Bay is a kayaker’s dream, offering a chance to paddle among towering glaciers, floating icebergs, and pristine wilderness. The area is rich in wildlife, with frequent sightings of whales, seals, and sea otters.

Best For: Experienced kayakers seeking remote and awe-inspiring natural beauty.

2. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

A stream running through green lucious grass with beautiful mountains in the background.
Grand Teton National Park / National Park Service

Paddling on Jackson Lake with the Tetons in the background is an experience like no other. The calm waters and incredible scenery make it perfect for families.

Highlights: This park features serene lakes and winding rivers set against the backdrop of the majestic Teton Range. Jackson Lake and the Snake River are popular spots for kayaking, offering stunning vistas and wildlife encounters.

Best For: Both beginners and experienced kayakers looking for scenic beauty and diverse wildlife.

3. Everglades National Park, Florida

A picture of several canals with a green island in the middle.
Homestead Canal in the Everglades. / National Park Service

Kayaking through the Everglades is like entering another world. The diversity of wildlife and the serene environment make it a paddler’s paradise.

Highlights: The Everglades is a unique ecosystem with mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and abundant wildlife, including alligators and birds. Kayaking here offers an adventurous and educational experience.

Best For: Nature enthusiasts and adventurous paddlers.

4. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe with a beautiful mountain scene in the background.
Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe are seen on Jan. 26, 2022. / JASON BEAN/RGJ / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s nothing like paddling on Lake Tahoe. The water is so clear you can see straight to the bottom, and the mountain views are just spectacular.

Highlights: Known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning alpine scenery, Lake Tahoe offers numerous access points and paddling experiences. The lake is perfect for exploring coves and beaches.

Best For: Families, beginners, and experienced paddlers seeking clear waters and picturesque surroundings.

5. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

Two fisherman in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Two paddles fish in a canoe on Boot Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in September 2023. The wilderness area is a popular spot for canoe trips as well as other forms of recreation that bring in more than 150,000 visitors each year. / Caitlin Looby / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Boundary Waters offer a sense of solitude and adventure that’s hard to find elsewhere. It’s perfect for those looking to truly disconnect and immerse themselves in nature.

Highlights: This area features over a million acres of interconnected waterways, lakes, and forest. It’s a haven for long-distance paddling, offering a true wilderness experience with ample camping opportunities.

Best For: Long-distance paddling and wilderness enthusiasts.

6. Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Arizona

A river in the distance through the beautiful Grand Canyon.
The Colorado River as seen from Desert View, Grand Canyon National Park, on Oct. 25, 2022. / Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic / USA

Kayaking through the Grand Canyon is the ultimate adventure. The rapids are exhilarating, and the views are simply out of this world

Highlights: Paddling the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is an iconic experience, combining thrilling whitewater rapids with serene stretches of water. The dramatic canyon walls provide a breathtaking backdrop.

Best For: Experienced kayakers and adventure seekers looking for a mix of adrenaline and awe-inspiring scenery.


These six kayaking destinations offer a blend of tranquility, adventure, and natural beauty, making them ideal for kayakers of all levels. Whether you’re navigating the serene waters of Lake Tahoe or tackling the rapids of the Colorado River, these locations promise unforgettable experiences and breathtaking vistas.

Laura Lambert