With paddling season fast approaching (not that it ever really left some states this “winter”), we thought it’d be handy to have a one-stop shop post on information about the best places to kayak in the US. We browsed the web for a variety of resources, so whether you’re looking to take in some beautiful scenery, introduce the family to a leisurely paddle, or face new challenges as an more experienced kayaker, here’s your ultimate paddling destination bucket list.

Of course, “best” is subjective. Don’t see your favorite spot mentioned in any of the lists? Add it in a comment – the more inspiration, the better. 🙂

Top Picks For Texas Summer Paddling, No Experience Required 

Nichol’s Landing Paddling Trail on the Upper Guadalupe (Texas)

All right, we’ll start with one of our own! We aggregated this list from ACK employee suggestions last summer about favorite regional spots made up of runs that are great for paddlers of all experience levels.

Fourteen Best Places To Canoe And Kayak On National Forests

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Superior National Forest, Minnesota

From ocean to forest to desert, I’m always amazed at the diversity of landscape in this country. If you’re a forest lover, consider taking a trip to these destinations to paddle among the beautiful pines. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to live near one of these areas! 

Best National Parks For Kayaking

Acadia National Park, Maine

Want to exercise your wildlife photography skills? Try sea kayaking? Paddle by glaciers? Explore caves? From Alaska to Florida, you’ve got options.

7 Exciting Places To Kayak With The Family

New York City Downtown Boathouse, New York

Recreational kayaking is a family-friendly activity! If you’re in Texas, drop by our upcoming Demo Days to experience the fun of tandem kayaks and introduce your family to a hobby that could turn into some of your kids’ treasured childhood memories.

Six Best Cities To Kayak

Paddlers on the Tennessee River head toward the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga. (Photograph by Andrew Kornylak, Getty Images)

Oh hey, Austin, Texas! 😉  It’s great to live in a city with a lot of green space and water; our best view of the cityscape is from Lake Bird Lake (or Town Lake as locals call it), an extension of the Colorado River. Check out this list for other urban kayaking spots.

10 Most Dangerous Rivers To Kayak In The USA

We can’t forget the adrenaline junkies! This one’s for you. Note: Some rivers mentioned have sections with slower rapids that cater to intermediate kayakers as well. While the wording of the article is a little bit sensationalist (we don’t want to glorify an activity that has a risk of serious injury and the word “death” comes up frequently), this is a comprehensive list for experienced whitewater kayakers who know what they’re doing and have prepared well.


Putting this list together, I discovered that Chattanooga, Tennessee is a great all-around paddling destination (you learn something new every day).

Where else? We want to know! Mention your top picks in a comment!