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With some of the best beaches and coastlines in the U.S., it is no wonder that Miami is such a hotspot for water activities. From swimming to sunbathing, Miami’s conditions are perfect for spending the day outdoors. Canoeing and kayaking in Miami offer a unique way to tour these beautiful places! Whether you’re looking for a thrilling ocean adventure or a quiet pond, a day spent kayaking in Miami is an awesome way to explore the outdoors.

Kayaking in Miami is a great activity for all ages and abilities. It’s time to take advantage of the blue waters, beaches and sunshine! Below is our complete guide to the most scenic places to go canoeing and kayaking inMiami.

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in Miami

Beautiful blue waters and sandy beaches make urban living and outdoor activities easy and fun, like kayaking in Miami!
Florida’s natural beauty makes kayaking in Miami an amazing outdoor activity all year-round! Photo Credit: Antonio Cuellar (Pexels)

Crandon Park

A natural beach boasting tons of wildlife, Crandon Park is a family-friendly spot open to canoe and kayakers of all abilities! Crandon Park is divided into North and South Beaches- North Beach offers prime paddling views while South Beach has more challenging waters.

Many paddlers enjoy exploring the nearby mangroves and Rickenbacker Causeway. If you are in the mood for a longer paddle, Crandon Park has a stunning route that reaches the famous Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Known for its relaxing and family-friendly atmosphere, Crandon Park is a wonderful spot for beginners to experience the joys of paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking in Miami. Quaint picnic spots, volleyball nets and scenic bike paths will make Crandon Park your new favorite beach getaway!

Rentals are available on the North Beach side of Crandon Park next to the Marjorie Stoneman Nature Center ($25/hour). Or, you can rent gear from nearby Miami Kiteboarding ($20/hour). If you have your own boat, you can launch anywhere along the sandy coastline.

How to Get There: Take FL-913 S and keep left on the Rickenbacker Causeway until you reach the park.

Virginia Key

A perfect combination of the urban and the outdoors, Miami’s Virginia Key is a must- see island to explore this Summer. With gorgeous skyline views on one side and the scenic Key Biscayne on the other, touring Virginia Key will amaze all paddlers.

Virginia Key has tons of paddling activities for each age and ability level. Intermediate and advanced paddlers can challenge their skills by paddling around the island (six miles total) in the blue waters of Key Biscayne. Families and beginners can easily paddle along the coast and see the Miami skyline.

Special to Virginia Key, visitors really love seeing the historic Miami Marine Stadium. Once an epic concert venue, now the Stadium’s unique architecture draws in admirers and is a nice distance to paddle to from the beaches of Virginia Key.

From the hidden wildlife in Key Biscayne to the urban architecture in the distance, Virginia Key’s diversity makes it a spectacular place to go kayaking in Miami.

Visitors can rent canoe, kayak, paddle board and mountain biking gear from the Virginia Key Outdoor Center ($25/hour). Or, you can launch your own boat from the Miami Rowing Center.

How to Get There: Take FL-913 S and keep left on the Rickenbacker Causeway and exit at Arther Lamb Jr. Rd.

Kayaking in Miami lets you explore countless miles of mangrove forests, a complex and unique ecosystem in Florida.
Kayaking in Miami allows you to explore the unique mangrove ecosystems in a new way. Photo Credit: Tom Fink> (Pexels)

Matheson Hammock Park

Sandy beaches and blue waters make up Matheson Hammock Park! A hidden gem for kayaking in Miami, Matheson Hammock Park’s reasonable size and calm waters are ideal for kids and families.

Designed to showcase all of Miami’s beautiful landscapes, visitors are able to explore swamps, mangroves, and the sparkling Biscayne Bay all in one place!

This man-made atoll is a lovely spot to go swimming and paddling. Skyline views are the backdrop for a small mangrove forest which boasts tons of wildlife! Matheson Hammock Park is the place to go for a quiet, relaxing, short paddle. In addition to these gorgeous views, visitors enjoy going to the nearby Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.

Rentals are available at the Matheson Hammock Marina along with a boating school for young children. Otherwise, you can launch your own boat anywhere along these gorgeous beaches.

How to Get There: Take US-1 S to Matheson Park and continue straight to Matheson Park Rd.

Oleta River State Park

Miami’s Oleta River State Park is an outdoor lover’s dream! White sand beaches and an endless coastline provide the perfect location for any water adventure you could imagine.

The park itself provides tons of awesome programs for paddlers of all abilities and interests. Every Friday, the park has guided sunset paddle tours with views that will take your breath away. Other favorite programs include paddle board yoga on Sundays and Full Moon kayak tours.

If you want to explore the coast on your own, Oleta River State Park will set you up with kayak rentals and start you off in the right direction. During your paddle, you are sure to see tons of wildlife in the mangroves and other beautiful natural landscapes.

Oleta River State Park offers daily canoe, kayak, and SUP rentals ($17/hour). Or, you can bring your own boat and launch off of the park’s beautiful beaches.

How to Get There: Take I-95 N and exit at 10B for FL-916. Then, continue to Interama Blvd. to the park.

A stack of canoes rests on the shore of a beach in Florida. Kayaking in Miami is both a relaxing yet thrilling way to explore the outdoors.
Miami’s beaches are the perfect place to launch your next water adventure! Photo Credit: Sabel Blanco> (Pexels)

Biscayne National Park

From shallow bays teeming with marine wildlife to open fresh waters, kayaking around Biscayne National Park is the private paddling destination you have been looking for!

Shallow clear waters dedicated to non-motorized boats create the perfect atmosphere for paddlers of all abilities. Jones Lagoon and Adams Key are prime launch spots especially for novice paddlers. In these shallow areas, paddlers can spot jellyfish, rays, fish and birds.

Paddlers looking for a more challenging paddle can explore the seven mile expanse of Biscayne Bay to Elliott or Boca Chita Keys. Along the way, visitors can explore mini islands and other hidden gems.

Whether you are looking for a simple afternoon paddle or an exciting water adventure, Biscayne National Park’s diverse waterways provide some of the best kayaking in Miami! Rentals are available at Biscayne National Park from Wednesday to Sunday. Otherwise, you can launch your own boat from Adams Key.

How to Get There: Take US-1 S to FL-874 S. Use the Ronal Reagan Turnpike to to get onto SW 328th St. to get to the park.

Black Point Marina

With picturesque nature trails and calm water, Black Point Marina is an amazing place to begin your kayak journey. A major daytime destination, Black Point Marina is a gathering place for outdoor lovers all year-round.

With a few mapped canoe routes (ranging from 1-3 miles long) Black Point Marina’s mission is to get you on the water in a safe and efficient way so you can explore Miami’s diverse marine ecosystems.

The waterways near Black Point Marina are suitable for all abilities and all routes are relatively short paddles. A quiet, private, and scenic place to paddle, Black Point Marina is perfect for those looking to get away from busy city life.

As Miami’s largest marina, Black Point has all of your canoe and kayak essentials. You can rent gear from Black Point Marina or launch your own boat on their 24-hour open access ramps.

How to Get There: Take US-1 S to Fl-874 S. Then use the Ronald Regan Turnpike to get onto SW 87th Ave to reach the park.

A woman standing on a paddle board enjoys the wide-open waters and beautiful views around her.
Paddle boarding in Miami is another amazing way to enjoy nature’s serenity. Photo Credit: Aviv Perets> (Pexels)

The Everglades

  • Location: Miami
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Ivey House

The third largest wilderness area in the U.S., Everglades National Park is a paddler’s paradise also vital for protecting endangered species like manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida panther.

The Everglades’ winding canoe and kayak trails can last from a few hours to several days. Popular paddle destinations are Flamingo Bay trails (launch from Flamingo Marina 38 miles from south of main park entrance) which include Nine Mile Pond and Hell’s Bay. These trails are famous for covering both mangrove forests and grassy wetlands. 

Backcountry kayaking is also an option near the Florida Bay, where you can explore over 100,000 mini islands along 99 miles waterway. This area of the park is best suited for advanced paddlers.

Kayak and boat rentals are available at Ivey House, but the park also has a list of recommended guides that can help you navigate the extensive trail network that make up the Everglades.

How to Get There: Take I-95 N and take exit 3A toward Jackson. Continue on US-41 W to Shark Valley Loop Rd. reach the visitor’s center.

Loxahatchee River

A full 8.5 miles of rugged scenery, kayaking in Miami’s Loxahatchee River is a wonderful way to explore the untouched beauty of Florida. From twisty and narrow passages to rushing waters, Loxahatchee River is the best river paddling in Miami.

While some paddlers enjoy kayaking the whole 8.5 miles of the river downstream, it is recommended to paddle around the two parks that span the river. About 4 miles of the river are through the majestic cypress forests and mangroves of Riverbend Park. Here, paddlers can enjoy a peaceful paddle among ancient natural landscapes.

The other park, Jonathon Dickinson State Park, offers a more thrilling kayaking experience. Here, paddlers can experience the rushing waters that surround Trapper Nelson’s Cabin. This historic landmark once belonged to a famous fur trapper who developed the area into a zoo and botanical garden. Now, paddlers can kayak the area and see Nelson’s livelihood.

These two sections of the river, both about 4 miles, offer vastly different ways to see Miami’s natural beauty. Returning paddlers love exploring both areas, and Loxahatchee’s stunning landscape keeps visitors coming back.

Rentals are available in Riverbend Park at the Jupiter Outdoor Center. There are also many outfitters that can guide you down the river with shuttles between the two parks. Otherwise, you can launch your own boat along the coastline.

How to Get There: Take I-95 N toward Florid’s Turnpike. Take exit 116 toward Jupiter and continue to River Dr.

Get away from the busy city and escape to the calm rivers hidden in Miami.
Escape busy city life and enjoy a relaxing paddle down one of Miami’s many rivers. Photo Credit: Anne Barca> (Pexels)

Sandlfy Island

The Ten Thousand Islands are home to some of the most vibrant foliage and wildlife in Southern Florida. Although most of these islands are too remote for casual kayaking, Sandfly Island provides to perfect peek into these beautiful tropical islands.

The best place to launch your boats is from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center of Everglades National Park. From there, paddlers can cross the wide-open waters of Chokoloskee Bay and pass many sandy beaches until arriving at Sandly Island.

With a rich pioneer history (with houses you can explore) and tropical wildlife, kayaking around Sandfly Island is one of the most unique paddling experiences around the Miami area. Roundtrip, the paddle is relatively short (about 5 miles) but is packed with stunning views, gorgeous trees, and tons of places to explore.

Rentals and guided expeditions to Sandlfly Island from Everglades Park are available through the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Or, you can launch your own boat and explore this hidden gem at your own pace. Sandfly’s manageable size and flat waters make it an awesome water adventure to try on your own.

How to Get There: Take I-95 N and to exit 3A toward Jackson. Continue on US-41 W to Country Rd. 29 to reach the park.

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park

Previously known as John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is one of Miami’s most beautiful mangrove-lined coastlines. With a rich history in the civil rights movement, visiting Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park offers a unique combination of culture and history in a stunning natural landscape.

Within the park, paddlers can enjoy scenic water routes on Whiskey Creek. This spot is ideal for beginner paddlers looking to spot wildlife on calm, flat waters. Whether you are canoeing, kayaking, floating or paddle boarding, Whiskey Creek is a nice place to get away from the city and reconnect with nature.

Besides paddling, visitors can also relax on pristine sandy beaches or have an active day on the many running and biking trails. Canoe, kayak, and paddle boarding gear are available for rent at the park. Otherwise, you can launch your own boat and explore miles of gorgeous mangrove ecosystems on your own.

How to Get There: Take I-95 N to exit 23 toward Griffin Rd. Continue on US-1 S to Dania Beach Blvd. and take exit FL-A1A S to reach the park.

a family enjoys kayaking in Miami and takes in the cypress forests in the distance.
Kayaking around Miami is a great way to spend time with loved ones outdoors! Photo Credit: eMiL rAjAn> (Pexels)

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

A vibrant center for the community, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has an abundance of water activities and environmental spaces to explore. With access to both the Atlantic Ocean and intercoastal waterways, this park has prime paddling conditions all year -round.

From mangrove-lined coasts to wide-open water, avid canoe and kayakers will love exploring Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Out on the water, kayakers can get a special look at the dune ecosystems on the beach. This beautiful natural landscape is complimented by rare maritime tropical hammock forests. Between leisurely hikes in the forest to epic ocean kayaking, there is no shortage of places to explore here!

Rentals are available in the park. Visitors can also experience guided tours of the coastal area, and many people especially love the Full Moon Paddle. Or, you can launch your own boat at one of the many open access boat ramps in the park.

How to Get There: Take I-95 N to edit 23A toward Sunrise Blvd. Continue to N Birch Rd. to reach the park.

Additional Resources

What to Pack for Kayaking In & Around Miami

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in Charlotte an unforgettable experience!

Related Links to Kayaking in Miami


With lakes, rivers, and streams right outside a lovely urban city, it is no wonder that Denver, Colorado is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. Sunny and warm, Denver is home to some of the most beautiful places to canoe and kayak at year-round- and most of them are free! With snow-capped mountains meeting the edge of crystal clear waters, kayaking in Denver provides an amazing backdrop to explore Colorado’s natural landscape.

Whether you are interested in raging rapids or calm waters, paddlers of all abilities can enjoy canoeing and kayaking in Denver, Below is a list of of some of the most scenic spots for paddling in Denver- take advantage of your summer vacation and get out on the water!

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking Near Denver

Kayaking in Denver has panoramic scenic views of mountains and forests in the distance.
Experience the panoramic views of Colorado while kayaking in Denver

South Platte River

Just minutes from downtown Denver, South Platte River is called the best urban kayaking destination in the state. While views of REI and Starbucks may replace giant cliffs and boulders you may find at other sites, South Platte River is the perfect spot of for all abilities, especially those looking for quick access to water.

The river does have rapids, some that converge into major waterfalls! Please beware of these rapids- scope them out before choosing to paddle through them!! Besides the rapids, calmer sections of the river are often used for floating and tubing. Avid paddlers especially love this river because of its accessibility; launch sites are found throughout the river.

If paddling at a relaxed pace, the main section of the river can be paddles in about 4 hours (5.5. miles). Kayaking is definitely exercise- and food is fuel! There is a put-in at Prince Street Bridge which is full of amazing restaurants.

Rentals are available at Confluence Kayaks, right in downtown Denver. With over two decades of experience, this shop has all the gear necessary to fully prepare you for your water adventure! Bonus: You can set up your personal pick-up and drop-off times for any rental equipment- it is a completely customizable experience ($40)!

How to Get There: If driving, start by heading towards Fort Collins, then take I-76 E toward Fort Morgan to NE-51B Link to  E Roscoe Srv Rd. If not driving, you can get there by train (A) from Denver International Airport or Union Station, or by bus with lines 24, 28, 32, 43.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Paddling through Rocky Mountain National Park on the Upper Colorado River or one of its many lakes is a beautifully serene experience. Home to the headwaters of the Colorado River, the park’s many attractions are perfect for the whole family.

The west side of the park is best for paddling; Estes Park provides lovely pools for beginners to paddle around while the river is better for intermediate kayakers. Both of these bodies of water are near Performance Park Pavilion, a beautiful spot for an afternoon picnic after paddling.

Whether looking to spot trout in the deep, calm water of Lake Estes or experience the rapids in the shallows of the Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park has no shortage of things to explore! Boat rentals are available at Lake Estes Marina for only $15- on of the best deals out there!

How to Get There: If driving, start by heading toward Fort Collins, then take US-36 W towards Boulder. Take CO-7 W to the park. If not driving, there is a bus from Union Station to Estes Park, the nearest place public transportation goes to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Grassy hills and mountains make up the horizon of kayaking in Denver's Rocky Mountain  National Park
Smooth waters meet the edges of the grassy hills and mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: Vijay Chittoor (Flickr CC)

Lake Pueblo State Park

Known as Colorado’s fishing “hot spot” kayaking around Lake Pueblo State Park is known for its abundant fish populations, pristine shorelines, and clean campsites among 10,000 acres of land.

A historical site, paddling through the park is truly a transformative experience. Paddlers looking for long passages (most visitors opt for 7 to 9 mile routes) will absolutely love this park. With steep walls all around, Pueblo Lake has a unique look compared to other lakes in Colorado, and is even said to be a good place to find fossils near the shore!

Because the lake is a considerable size, it is not well-protected from the wind. Visitors should be w ary of weather conditions, like high winds, that might make the lake not safe for paddling.That being said, Pueblo Lake islets suited for paddlers with some experience. When the weather is permitting, the lake is used for both motorized and non-motorized vehicles- it is truly a place enjoyed by all!

Lake Pueblo State Park is a must-see for lovers of history and nature. Rentals are available at the North Shore Marina inside the park for $40/day. If planning to launch your own boat, equipment is required to be checked by park rangers before entering and exiting the water at the launch site.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-25 S and take exit 99 A towards 6th St. Then take CO-96 W to Pueblo Reservoir Access Rd. If not driving, there is a bus from Union Station to Pueblo which requires an extra 30 min drive to the park itself.

Cache La Poudre River

Searching for invigorating and adrenaline-pumping paddling? Look no further- Cache la Poudre is the place for quintessential Colorado terrain. With Class II-V rapids, kayaking in Denver has been elevated to a whole new level.

The Filter Run is 2.5 mile segment of the river that is recommended for beginners nervous about tackling the rapids and advanced paddlers looking to ride the waves. This portion of the river has Class II and III rapids arranged in a loop that kayakers can paddle a few times during one outing.

Besides kayaking, this area is also popular for whitewater rafting. Mishawaka and Pineview Falls are a haven for thrill-seekers, and are best viewed from rafts instead of kayaks. Cache La Poudre is renowned for its wild waters- be sure to wear a lifejacket and buckle in for a guaranteed crazy journey.

Renting equipment at the river is available through Mountain Whitewater. Kayaks can be rented for $50 and rafts for $70, with a discounted price if used two days in a row. Mountain Whitewater also offers tours to help make you experience paddling Cache La Poudre as fun and safe as possible.

How to Get There: If driving, head towards Fort Collins, then take I-76 E toward Fort Morgan to US-34 W to 12th St. If not driving, there are multiple trains a day that leave from Union Station that go to the river, or trains from Greeley Evans Regional Transportation that will also take you there,

Perfectly calm waters reflect the clear blue skies above Lake Pueblo.
Calm waters reflect the blue skies overlooking Lake Pueblo. Photo Credit: jaygannett (Flickr CC)

Evergreen Lake

Only 45 minutes from downtown Denver, Evergreen Lake’s naturally beauty is truly astounding. With pine trees adorning sandy shores, Evergreen Lake’s medium size and remote location makes for the perfect spot for beginners or anyone looking for a leisurely paddle during the day.

Protected and calm waters offer a great place for learning how to kayak and paddle board for all ages. However, swimming is not permitted in the lake as it acts as a water supply for nearby towns.

With hiking trails and picnic areas surrounding the lake, Evergreen Lake is an ideal day trip away from the city. Evergreen Park & Recreational District offers boat rentals for $17/hour. Whether you’re looking for kayaks, canoes, paddleboat or paddle boards, the boathouse has tons of equipment ready to help you make the most of your trip.

Gore Canyon

When it comes to adventure kayaking and rafting near Denver, the headwaters of the Colorado River is the place to be. Flowing around Gore Canyon and Hot Sulphur Springs, paddlers seeking out adventure should definitely check out Gore Canyon.

The area surrounding Gore Canyon has Class IV and V rapids ready for advanced paddlers tackle. However if visiting with novice paddlers, stretches of the Colorado River below Gore Canyon offer calmer waters for them to enjoy.

River rafting is the most popular way to explore these Class V rapids, although inflatable kayaks can also be used. Before heading out, know that kayaking around Gore Canyon is challenging and best suited for experienced kayakers. Said to be some of the wildest river terrain in the U.S., kayaking Denver’s Gore Canyon will no doubt be an adventure!

Pumphouse Whitewater Park is the ideal launch site for this area. With camping grounds and picnic areas, it is a great starting point for this epic journey. Rentals and guided tours of the river are offered by Colorado River Rentals (kayaks $49/day).

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to !-70 W towards Grand Jct. Then take C0-74 S and exit towards Evergreen Parkway. If not driving, there are multiple trains a day that leave from Civic Center Station that will take you to Evergreen Park.

Boulder Reservoir

Owned and maintained by the city of Boulder, the Boulder Reservoir guarantees clean water and beaches for all visitors to enjoy. With calm waters and camping grounds, the Boulder Reservoir is ideal for families and beginners looking to spend an afternoon out in nature.

Called the “Dream Cove” in the otherwise dry Boulder area, the Boulder Reservoir provides a water oasis for flat water kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing. On this 700 acre recreational site, it is best to launch your kayak from the southeast or southwest beaches and to paddle near the shoreline (motorized boats are allowed).

Bonus- dogs are allowed after labor day; enjoy the beauty of the Boulder Reservoir with your furry friends! Rentals are available through Rocky Mountain Paddleboard for $25/hour. Of course, bringing your own boat is always welcome, but you must acquire a permit before your trip.

How to Get There: If driving, head towards Fort Collins then take US-36 W towards Boulder. Then take CO-157 N to Reservoir Rd. If not driving, you can take the Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus from Denver International Airport to Boulder (Route AB). Buses leave every hour.

Denver's dry and arid climate meets the water at the sandy Boulder Reservior. Shallow waters make Boulder Reservior an ideal choice for beginners looking to kayak in Denver.
Denver’s dry climate meets the water at the beautiful Boulder Reservoir. Photo Credit: Jeremy (Flickr CC)

Arkansas River

This stretch of the Arkansas River provides calm waters for kayakers, cancers, and river rafters looking to experience the beauty of pure nature.

Major canyons and valleys offer a variety of routes for different ability levels. The most popular, and most challenging, sections of the river include Pine Creek (class V), the Numbers (class IV-V), the Narrows (class III-IV), Browns Canyon (class III-IV), Bighorn Sheep Canyon (class II, III-IV) and the Royal Gorge (class IV-V). Paddlers can enjoy these sites year-round, or choose to kayak through calmer waters too.

Kayaking the Arkansas River is also extremely popular because of its proximity to hotspots Buena Vista, Salida and Cañon City. With the river flowing right alongside these cities, it has never been easier to take a pitstop at these quaint cities and explore their restaurants and shops.

Recently named the best place for whitewater rafting and kayaking in the U.S., kayaking in Colorado will not disappoint! Rentals and tours are available through Arkansas River Tours. Not only do they have tours that pass through some of the most challenging rapids, but also have tours specially catered towards families, scenic tours, and yoga retreats.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Jct. Then take Co-91 S to Poplar St. If not driving, there is a bus from Denver International Airport that goes to Leadville, but it costs about $60.

Horsetooth Reservoir

With several little inlets boasting jagged cliffs and sandy shores, the Horsetooth Reservoir is the best spot near Denver to paddle near mountain goats while improving your kayaking skills. Located alongside Fort Colins, CO, the Horsetooth Reservoir is loved by locals and visitors alike for its accessibility and convenient campgrounds.

Most people paddling around the Horesetooth Reservoir recommend spending at least one to two days in the area to fully experience all it has to offer. With campgrounds along the South Shore, paddlers often start at the North Shore and end up at the South Shore for an overnight trip.

Because motorized boats are allowed on the lake, the lake can get a bit choppy; therefore, this paddling is best suited for people with some experience paddling. Besides the choppy waves, Horestooth Reservoir is truly a great place to bring the family- it’s close to city but feels like worlds away!

If bringing your own boats, there are launch sites on both the North and South Shores of the reservoir. Otherwise, rentals can be purchased near the reservoir at Inlet Bay Marina for $20/hour. Only 7 miles long, Horsetooth Reservoir is the perfect place to start you paddle journey without being too overwhelmed (and again- look for the mountain goats!).

How to Get There: If driving, head towards Fort Collins then take I-25 N to E Harmony Rd. Take CO Rd. 23 to the reservoir. If not driving, there are buses from Union Station and Denver International Airport that drop you about 15 minutes away from the reservoir.

Experience paddling through rapids in the Arkansas River. Lush green scenery surrounds the river.
Adventure awaits on the Arkansas River paddling through intense rapids! Photo Credit: VisitCOS (Flickr CC)

Eben G. Fine Park

  • Location: Boulder
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Whitewater Tubing & Recreation

Nicknamed “Mr. Boulder” for his passion and enthusiasm for the city, Eben G. Fine was elected secretary of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce in 1927 and held this position for many years. His love for Boulder culminated into this park, where playgrounds, campgrounds, and access to the Boulder Creek are visited by thousands each year.

Eben G. Fine Park’s access to Boulder Creek is perfect for new kayakers looking to build their skills! The park has an awesome ½ mile slalom course with purpose built obstacles and some exciting drops and slides. Because this part of the course is pretty short, paddlers can do a few laps or choose to kepp paddling down the Creek for about another mile.

Boulder Creek itself is pretty shallow and rocky, so make sure to wear water shoes and be prepared to walk your boat through extremely shallow areas. Because it is so shallow, Boulder Creek is easy to navigate and an ideal place for novice paddlers and little kids. Therefore, families will especially love paddling in Eben G. Fine Park because of its numerous play areas and picnic tables.

Visitors can launch their boats at Eben G. Fine Park’s access point, and can get out of the creek at any point. If looking to rent kayaks or tubes (Boulder Creek is also known for being an awesome lazy river) Whitewater Tubing & Recreation has you covered. Eben G. Fine Park is truly a great place for families and novices to experience kayaking in Boulder.

How to Get There: If driving, head towards Fort Collins, then take US-36 W towards Boulder. Then take the Baseline Rd. exit towards Broadway  Arapahoe Ave. If not driving, bus lines AB1, Dash, Bolt, Hop, and N will take you to the park.

Chatfield Reservoir

Bordered by wide-open prairies and grasslands, Chatefield Reservoir in Chatfield State Park is a beautiful mountain-clad setting for a tranquil paddle near Denver. Close to the city but still teeming with wildlife, Chatfield Reservoir is an ideal destination for someone looking to relax and enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty.

Paddlers are recommended to explore the southwest section of the reservoir because it is shallow enough that it does not attract many motorized boats. This area ends up connecting to Platte River (can paddle about a mile upstream before the current gets too strong) and Plum Creek as well as several other small ponds.

Many visitors enjoy paddling and portaging between Chatfield’s many small ponds- you can basically forge you own path anywhere in the park! However, the best put-in is Eagle Cove on the main portion of the reservoir.

Renting equipment to enjoy these breathtaking views from the water is offered by Colorado Water Sports for $30/hour. Colorado Water Sports also rents SUPs and paddleboat which are great alternatives for experiencing Chatfield Sate Park.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-25 S towards Santa Fe Dr., then US-85 S towards Titan Parkway to Titan Rd. If not driving, bus 402L passes by the park or you can get there from the Denver International Airport’s train to Arapahoe, 20 min away from the park itself.

Blooming trees stand on the shore of the Chatfield Reservoir, a relaxing spot to kayak in Denver for all ability levels.
The Chatfield Marina perches on the calm waters of the Chatfield Reservoir. Photo Credit: Cathy McCray (Flickr CC)

Lake Dillon

Originally built in 1965 to supply Denver’s growing water needs, Lake Dillon– also called Dillon Reservoir- is now one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in Colorado. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, paddlers can enjoy activities on Lake Dillon year-round.

A small lake with calm waters, Lake Dillon is an ideal spot for novice paddlers or those looking for a quaint vacation getaway. Its recommended to start you paddle early in the morning to catch flat waters before the winds pick up- then you cain sail!

Lake Dillon is usually a full-day or weekend destination with cute towns of Silverthorne and Dillon on the edge of the lake to provide the perfect bed-and-breakfast small town experience. Local farmers markets and blooming scenery make paddling on Lake Dillon truly an intimate and fun getaway.

On the shores of Lake Dillon Frisco Bay Marina rents all equipment necessary for a great kayak trip and also offers lessons. Kayak rental rates are $45/2 hours with 5% off if booked online in more than 24hours in advance.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Jct. Then, take US- 6 E to Dillon Dam Rd. If not driving, there are shuttles to Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon from Denver International Airport.

Green Mountain Reservoir

  • Location: Lower Blue River Valley
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Heeney Marina

Just a quick hour and a half from Denver, Green Mountain Reservoir is a beautiful high-altitude lake surrounded by mountains and sandy beaches. Green Mountain Reservoir itself is a relatively calm lake with wide-open waters perfect for any ability.

Vistors also enjoy scenic hikes around the Blue River, famous for its trout. Although this part of the reservoir cannot be paddled, it is still a nice afternoon activity. The Lower Cataract Lake next to the reservoir is another favorite of visitors, and gets less boat traffic than Green Mountain.

This area is definitely meant for paddling and swimming! Picnic tables and campgrounds make it a perfect day-trip, and with no cell reception, you will get the much needed break from social media you deserve.

Large boat and paddleboard rentals ($15/hour) are available at the Heeney Marina right on Green Mountain Reservoir (note that kayaks are NOT available).Whether you are renting from the marina or bringing your own boat, you must launch from the Heeney Marina’s access point.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Jct. Then, take CO-9 to Heeney Rd to Co Rd. 1775. If not driving, there is a Greyhound shuttle departing twice a day to Kremmling, 20 min from the reservoir.

A lone paddle boarder stands in the middle of mountain-lake looking at a green mountain near Denver.
Paddle boarding is another great way to explore Denver’s natural beauty!

Guernsey State Park

  • Location: Platte County, Wyoming
  • Cost: $9
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Bellwood Boats

This 6,000 acre state park is known for its scenic overlooks and rugged terrain. While the park has numerous hiking, biking, and rock climbing trails, its real treasure is the Guernsey Reservoir.

The Guernsey Reservoir is a haven for kayakers and paddle boarders. There are tons of launch points along the reservoir; visitors especially enjoy launching from and kayaking around Sandy Beach on the southeast side of the lake and Long Canyon area on the north side of the lake. IF lake paddling gets tiring, there is also access to a small river just below the dam at Spillway Day Use Area.

Wyoming’s Guernsey State Park supports its mission to preserve history through engaging with the community by opening the Guernsey museum and castle, two historical sites that all visitors can enjoy.

Although this park is a bit of a drive from Denver, paddling around jagged cliffs and pure natural landscape is the perfect opportunity to explore Wyoming and improve your skills. The park rents water toys like wakeboards and paddle boards, but kayaks can be rented at Bellwood Boats.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-25 N and take exit US-26 E towards Guernsey, then take WY-317N all of the way to the park. If not driving, there is a bus from Denver to Wheatland once a day that brings you 30 min away from the park.

Tarryall Reservoir

  • Location: South Park
  • Rentals Available: No

A wildlife refugee for numerous Colorado animals, Tarryall Reservoir is the perfect place to get up close and personal with Colorado wildlife and nature.

Known for its excellent fishing and free campgrounds (first-come-first-serve basis), Tarryall Reservoir is a hotspot for kayakers living in Denver. A dry and often arid terrain, paddling around Tarryall Reservoir is a refreshing twist for this area.

Paddling the reservoir is accessible for all ability levels, and there is a small waterfall that borders the entrance into Tarryall Creek (a popular spot of fly fishing). Tarryall Reservoir is an isolated area surrounded by mountains and grasslands and is a fisherman’s dream!

This hidden gem is ideal for a relaxing morning paddle and fishing. Because it is tucked away between mountains, there are no rental shops nearby.However, there are tons of launch sites around the lake to put-in your own boats.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Junct. Then, take US-285 S towards Colorado Springs to Co Rd. 77. If not driving, there are multiple buses a day from Union Station to FairPlay, CO, which brings you 30 min away from the reservoir.

Mountains and stony arches are reflected in the calm waters of the Tarryall Reservoir. These wide-open waters are perfect for beginners looking to kayak in Denver.
Mountains and stony arches are reflected in the calm waters of the Tarryall Reservoir. Photo Credit: Circled Thrice (Flickr CC)

Twins Lake Reservoir

Nestled under Colorado’s tallest mountains, Twins Lake Reservoir is named for the two glaciers that formed the lakes on the valley floor. With crystal clean alpine waters, Twins Lake Reservoir is known for its colorful trout and abundant mountain views.

Visitors are able to launch boats from two sites on the east and west sides of the lake. Paddling here is accessible to all, and other activities are a big draw to the area as well. Trailheads for Mt. Elbert and LaPlata Peak start here and the lake borders a 1880s abandoned lakeside resort. Rock climbing alcoves and inlet bays offer a private outdoor experience.

Twins Lake Reservoir is a unique place to kayak in Denver; its glacial waters provide activities year-round from ice fishing to paddle boarding. Said to be one of the most majestical places to visit in Colorado, Twins Lake should be on every paddlers’ bucket list.

Canoe and kayak rentals are available through Twins Lake Canoe and Kayak Adventures. Equipment, lessons, and guided tours of the area are all offered through this company, and will ensure that your time there is full of adventure!

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Junction. Then, take CO-91 S towards Leadville. Continue to CO-82 W to Country Rd. 25. If not driving, Denver International Airport provides a bus and train to Frisco, one of the towns bordering the lakes,

Grand Lake

Located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake certainly lives up to its name. With pine tree forests and snow-capped mountains in the distance, Grand lake has beautiful panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and smooth waters enjoyed by all.

With a public dock on the lake, it is easy to enter the water. Grand Lake’s neighbor Shadow Mountain Lake is another place paddlers can explore, This lake and some small islands on the eastern side of Grand Lake have shallow clear waters that boast tons of wildlife- you can even spot moose!

The east bank is they place to paddle for scenery and wildlife! Since the west side is bordered by the highway it is a bit loud and not as scenic. Next to historic Grand City, Colorado’s largest and deepest lake is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

Right on the edge of the lake, Mountain Paddlers Kayak Shak has many types of kayaks for rent ($26/hour). It is a first-come-first-serve basis for rentals, and since Grand Lake is a very popular spot for paddling near Denver, kayaks go quickly! Be sure to get up early and have the lake to yourself to experience one of Colorado’s most beautiful places to paddle.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Junction. Then, take exit 232 towards U.S. 40 E. Take US-40 W to US-34 E to W Portal Rd to Grand Ave. If not driving, there is a train from Union Station to Granby, CO, which leaves you about 20 min from the lake.

Kayakers paddle in front of snow-capped mountains around Grand Lake.
Snow-capped mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for kayaking around Grand Lake. Photo Credit: Ben_D (Flickr CC)

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Although Colorado is a land-locked state, the many lakes carving through Colorado’s mountains provide the perfect oasis for those who love to kayak. Blue Mesa Reservoir sits near the headwaters of Gunnison River and is said to be the largest body of water in Colorado.

Sparkling waters and sloping hills offer a stunning backdrop for kayaking and relaxing beaches. Although most of the shoreline is rocky, there are some reprieves of sandy shores great for swimming and launching boats near bay of Chickens, Dry Creek and Old Highway 50 beach.

A huge body of water, this lake has enough space to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of visitors that flock to Blue Mesa’s natural scenery annually. The waters stay relatively calm, but it is best suited for intermediate paddlers.

Blue Mesa Reservoir has two full service marinas and esteemed Poppy’s Restaurant overlooking the lake. Elk Creek Marina and Lake Fort Marina both have kayak and other boat rentals ($16/hour) and relocated on opposite sides of the lake. Blue Mesa is definitely a beach vacation destination that is loved by all in the area.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-6 W to I-70 W towards Grand Junction. Then, CO-470E towards Fairplay, then US-50 W to the lake. If not driving, there are multiple buses a day leaving from Union Station that go to Gunnison, CO, the town where the reservoir is.

Cotton-candy sunsets set behind mountains and lakes making Denver a premier kayaking destination.
Sunset paddles make kayaking in Denver an awe-inspiring experience.

Additional Resources

What to Pack for Canoeing and Kayaking in Denver

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in Charlotte an unforgettable experience!

Related Links to Kayaking and Canoeing in Denver


What is the best way to show someone you care about them? Buying them a gift for their favorite water activities, of course! While a paddle and boat are the essentials for a paddling trip, there are tons of kayaking gifts that can enhance the experience. This guide has 20 awesome gifts for kayakers and canoers so they can be fully prepared for this paddle season!

Whether paddling is a new hobby or a favorite pastime, it is always generous to show support for your friends’ interests (in the form of gift-giving)! Below are our recommendations of clever yet affordable kayaking gifts.

Best Gifts for Canoe and Kayak Enthusiasts

Most Practical Gifts for Kayakers

Yakpad Gel Saddle Paddle

  • Cost: $54.95

We all know the uncomfortable feeling after sitting in a canoe or kayak seat for too long. Your back hurts, your bum is numb, and you have to cut short an amazing paddle.

All of these problems are solved with Yakpad’s Gel Saddle Paddle! This cushioned seat provides full lumbar support and relieves pressure points in the body while paddling. This insulated, gender-neutral seat cushion is adjustable for any boat size and is among the most useful kayaking gifts.

Canoe and kayak lovers will love this gift because it allows them to paddle comfortably and with ease.

You can order this item on Amazon.

Osprey Hydration Pack

  • Cost: $55

Even though you are surrounded by water when in a boat, being active out on the water is super dehydrating. Osprey’s Hydration Pack is one of the most practical, yet enjoyable, canoeing and kayaking gifts.

This water bladder and backpack are lightweight and durable. With this top of the line hydration pack, paddlers no longer have to worry about warm water bottles, carrying extra cargo, and being dehydrated out on the water.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

UST Kayak Light

  • Cost: $10

When your friends who love to kayak want to start exploring after dark, you can make their day with UST’s Kayak Light. With up to 100 hours of bright LED light, this portable kayak light is perfect for late-night adventures.

Navigating dark waterways is made so much easier with this practical gift. In the professional paddling community, a kayak light like this is seen as an essential piece of gear for epic canoe and kayaking adventures.

You can order this item on Amazon or REI.

NRS Kayak Knife

  • Cost: $59.99

You never know what could happen out on the water – it’s always best to be prepared! A kayak knife is an important safety tool for any longer paddling excursion, and is one of the most practical gifts for kayakers out there.

Ideal for cutting rope, camping, and any other outdoor need, this NRS Knife is the perfect practical gift for anyone who is planning an outdoor adventure.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Neoprene Socks

  • Cost: $14.99

There is nothing worse than wet socks, but not when it comes to canoeing and kayaking. These “water socks” will transform any water experience! Paddlers who do not want to get their feet wet during a paddle or want an alternative to water shoes should definitely purchase a pair of Neoprene socks.

These super soft and stretchy socks have a great fit and are most often used for paddle boarding, kayaking, and sandy beach sports. Neoprene socks are a versatile product that will keep your feet dry and happy all day long!

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Waterproof Dry Bag

  • Cost: $13.99

When you are going on a long paddle or camping trip, it is crucial to keep your clothes and supplies nice and dry! These waterproof dry bags are a practical gift for canoe and kayak lovers.

Waterproof dry bags can fit a surprisingly large amount of gear and have easy roll-down tops to block out any moisture. Needless to say, dry bags are a paddle essential.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker

  • Cost: $49

A water resistant bluetooth speaker is the perfect gift to add a little party to any kayak trip. Whether you need motivation to paddle or just want to have fun, music is an awesome way to liven up long paddles.

As long as it is fully charged, this water resistant bluetooth speaker is up for any water adventure! Speakers range in price, but it is easy to find an affordable speaker to bring to any lakeside event.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Kayak Magazine Subscription

  • Cost: $18.95

A thoughtful and practical gift for canoe and kayak lovers is a subscription to an outdoors magazine. Not only does this show that you support their interests, but may inspire them to start planning their next outdoor adventure.

There are tons of outdoors magazines that offer monthly subscriptions. Canoe and kayak enthusiasts will definitely want to get their hands on some of this reading!

There are tons of kayaking and outdoors magazines. You can order REI’s outdoor magazine here.

Monocular Telescope

  • Cost: $23- $39.95

One of the best parts of canoeing and kayaking is spotting wildlife and seeing beautiful flora. With this monocular telescope, paddlers can get up close and personal with wildlife without disturbing them.

Best of all, this telescope is hand-held, waterproof, and is compatible with the latest iPhones so you can connect it to your phone! This is cool gadget for any outdoor lover that has a special interest in wildlife and nature.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

YETI Roadie Cooler

  • Cost: $34.99-$249

No trip is complete without cool drinks and snacks! There are a variety of YETI coolers that can make paddling more enjoyable.

Price depends on the size of the cooler, but there are decent- size coolers that are the perfect size to bring along in a canoe! This practical gift is perfect for summer paddles or anytime you want to bring food or drinks for the journey.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Kayak Cart

  • Cost: $48-$110

Carrying kayaks to and fro can be quite exhausting. For safe and easy transport, canoe and kayak lovers should test out these kayak carts.

This cart folds up nice and small so you can just keep it in the trunk of your car. It has an adjustable strap and wheels so that you can drop your boats anywhere you please. This is a super practical gift if you know any avid paddlers!

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Seattle Sports Kayak Compass

  • Cost: $44

Out on the water, directions can get a little confusing (especially when waterways are unlabeled on camping maps). Therefore, a waterproof compass is an awesome gift for any avid kayaker.

Adding a kayak compass to your outdoor equipment may be the final piece of gear needed to plan a brand new expedition. This gift is great for any canoe, kayak, or outdoor lover.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Inexpensive Kayaking Gifts

High UV Protection Buff

  • Cost: $14

While my knowledge about these buffs mostly comes from the show Survivor, there is no doubt that this accessory is a total game changer. Not only does it make one of the best gifts for kayakers and canoers, but it also works well for other activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing.

High UV Protection Buffs can be worn around your face, neck, torso, head, or arms to protect you from the sun during a long day of paddling. This is an awesome gift for your kayak friends because you can customize their look and get them something that is actually helpful for a pretty fair price. Who says a kayaking trip can’t also be a fashion show?

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Paddle Keeper

  • Cost: $11

This inexpensive tool is one of the most perfect kayaking gifts for families with young paddlers or whitewater paddling trips! Believe me, once you drop your paddle you are out of luck- its not coming back.

These paddle leashes are great for novices and easily loop over your paddle to keep it connected to the boat. If your friend is just breaking into the paddle game, this is a great gift to support their new endeavor.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

WITZ See it Safe Sport Case

  • Cost: $7.95

When you want to bring your phone, keys, or ID with you on a paddle, a protective waterproof case is one of the most affordable and useful kayaking gifts you can give.

This inexpensive gift is great for kayak and canoe lovers who want to explore the outdoors but keep their personal items safe.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

UV Protectant Spray

  • Cost: $6.96

This UV Protectant Spray is like sunscreen for all of your outdoor gear. It’ll make your boats, paddles, and other gear last much longer so you can keep on exploring.

Canoe and kayak lovers will definitely appreciate this gift, especially if they have invested in quality gear. With this UV Protectant Spray, you won’t have to worry about worn gear for a very long time.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Kayak Decals and Stickers

  • Cost: $2-$7

If you or your friend has their own boat, stickers and decals are a great way to decorate! This is a very popular and inexpensive way to customize your boats and show off your personality.

Stickers and decals are easy to apply to any type of boat and usually last for a few years. The key is to make sure that they are water resistant! From sea creatures to breakfast foods, there are no shortage of designs that can add some flavor to your gear.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Croakies Bottle Opener Belt

  • Cost: $25

Croakies reigns supreme over the intersectionality of fashion and outdoor adventure. These bottle opener belts are useful and durable. With tons of patterns to choose from, these belts make great kayaking gifts!

With this belt in tow, you will always be prepared to open any bottle while camping. Specially made for the outdoors, this piece of gear is great for all types of outdoor activities.

You can order this item on Amazon.

Seattle Sports Paddle Grips

  • Cost: $6

We all know that gripping a paddle for hours on end can make fingers feel a little funky. Seattle Sports’ Paddle Grips are a squishy sheath that go over your paddle to make your journey much more comfortable.

This inexpensive gift is perfect for novice and experienced paddlers- we can all feel that pain! This is a simple product that totally changes the paddling experience. Any adventurer that enjoys long paddles would love this gift.

You can order this item on Amazon or from REI.

Portable Fish Finder

  • Cost: $16-$40

Fishing out of canoe or kayak has become an increasingly popular outdoor activity. Help your friend have an easier time hooking their line with a portable fish finder! This is one of the best gifts for kayakers who also enjoy fishing.

This hand held device will bring you to a nearby hub of fish. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and cast a line. This device is an awesome gift for kayak and canoe lovers who want to try fishing from right off their own boat.

You can order this item on Amazon.

Hopefully, these recommendations help you find the perfect gifts for kayakers and outdoor lovers. With all of this swanky gear, there are endless adventures out there waiting for you! Feel free to check out our destination guides to help plan your next outdoor adventure.

Additional Resources

What to Pack for Kayaking Trips

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in Charlotte an unforgettable experience!

Related Links


It’s no secret that San Francisco is one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S. With ocean views and trendy shops, San Francisco is quickly becoming one of the top places to live in California. While many activities in the Bay Area can be expensive, kayaking in San Francisco is one activity that you can try for little to no cost, and it is a great way to explore the city!

Whether you are looking to kayak under the Golden Gate Bridge or paddle beside sea lions in the ocean, kayaking in San Francisco is an awesome water sport for beginners and experts alike. Below is a complete guide to the most beautiful places to canoe and kayak in San Francisco- between urban settings and scenic coves, San Francisco has something for everybody!

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in San Francisco

kayakers prepare to head out onto the calm waters Tomales  Bay to kayak around san Francisco's beautiful  landscape.
Sunset paddles on Tomales Bay provide a beautiful backdrop to explore the Bay Area. Photo Credit: Kevin Lam (Flickr CC)

Sausalito

  • Location: Marin
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Sea Trek $25/hour

From views of the Golden Gate Bridge to the rocky coasts of the Pacific Ocean, kayaking in Sausalito has dozens of places to explore! Kayaking under the Golden Gate Bridge offers a unique look at one of San Francisco’s well-known landmarks, and the channel’s calm waters make it a great spot for beginners.

Other spots in Sausalito, like the Sausalito Houseboats Area and Angel Island, are better suited for more advanced kayakers. As you paddlele further from the Sausalito shoreline, the water becomes much more rough and challenging to paddle.

Sausalito’s shoreline brings California’s natural beauty to an urban setting like San Francisco. Because it is so close to downtown, heading out to go kayaking can be the best last-minute decision you ever make!

Horseshoe Cove in Fort Baker is a hidden gem of Sausalito that doubles as a great launch spot for kayakers bringing their own boats. Otherwise, you can rent gear from Sea Trek for $25/hour.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take exit 444 for Rodeo Ave. to Bridgeway. If not driving, there are multiple trains a day leaving from Mission St. & 5th that will take you to Bridgeway (Golden Gate Bridge Transit).

Monterey Bay

Kayaking in San Francisco is known for its natural beauty and diverse wildlife. Monterey Bay is the epitome of this description; visitors can paddle beside adorable sea lions, otters, loons, and even leopard sharks!

Recognized for its diverse wildlife, Monterey Bay is a sanctuary for tons of animals. Kayaking Monterey Bay and its neighbor wetland Elkhorn Slough (more info below) are the best places to view these animals safely.

Monetary Bay’s sheltered and calm waters make it an ideal spot for beginners. Because of all the amazing activities visitors can do at Monterey Bay (inlcuding scuba diving, sailing, surfing, and more) it is a very popular destination for water activities. That being said, if you want to kayak the Bay it is recommended to get an early start!

Launching your own boat from any of Monetery Bay’s beaches is free and easy. However, if you need to rent gear, Monterey Bay Kayaks ($30/use) has kayaks for rent and offers tours of the area so you won’t miss one thing.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-101 S towards San Jose and take exit 336 onto CA-156 W toward Monterey Peninsula to Del Monte Blvd. If not driving, there is a bus to Monterey Bay that leaves from San Francisco Salesforce Plaza.

Tomales Bay

Only an hour from downtown San Francisco, Tomales Bay is a wonderful place for kayaking and camping year-round. With over 1,000 species of wildlife that call the Bay home, you are sure to see some awesome creatures while paddling around!

Grassy hills surround this natural bay, sheltering it from the elements and making it an excellent spot for beginner paddlers. Besides these scenic views, Tomales Bay provides 40% of the oyster population collected in California- if there is ever a place to eat oysters, it is here!

Tomales Bay is a part of the larger Point Reyes National Seashore (more info below) and also has an elk reserve on shore! As a quieter spot of Point Reyes, Tomales Bay is ideal for a relaxing afternoon paddle, novices, and families.

Visitors love kayaking Tomales Bay because of its accessibility. Kayakers bringing their own boats can launch from four spots: Marin County Parks Miller Boat Launch, Tomales Bay State Park, Tomales Bay Resort, and Lawson’s Landing. Otherwise, you can rent your gear from Blue Waters Kayaking

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take exit 456 toward Lucas Valley Rd. to CA-1 N. Driving is the best way to get to Tomales Bay. If you need to rent a car, Avis has got you covered.

When kayaking in San Francisco you can explore famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge!
When kayaking in San Francisco you can explore famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge! Photo Credit: Brad (Flickr CC)

Alameda

Fishing and canoe/kayaking is an epic duo, but how about crabbing and kayaking? Alameda is known to be the premier spot for catching crabs while kayaking- an outdoor activity I didn’t even know was possible!

Besides Alameda’s renowned crabbing, visitors can also explore tiny islands with rich wildlife and history out in the ocean, or enjoy an easier paddle along waterfront restaurants. Families looking to kayak together should try out the Oakland Estuary; its calm waters are perfect for easy navigation and exploration. Whatever water adventure you are looking for, kayaking in San Francisco’s Alameda County has it all!

Stacked Adventures’ Tours has kayak rentals and also offers epic tours covering the different areas of Alameda (including a crabbing/kayaking tour)! If looking to forge your own path, launching your own boat off of the shores of Alameda is no problem.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-880 S and take exit 42 toward Alameda then CA-61 S to Webster St. If not driving, the San Francisco Bay Ferry will take you to Alameda.

McCovey Cove (China Basin)

  • Location: Oracle Park
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at City Kayak

No matter the time of year, McCovey Cove in San Francisco Bay is flooded with kayakers trying to catch a Giants game or listening to concerts performing at AT&T Park.

Kayaking into this inlet may not provide San Francisco’s most scenic views, but is definitely an experience anyone traveling through the Bay Area should try. All you need is your radio to hear concerts and games, and some may even return home with “splash hits”- home run balls that reach McCovey Cove!

This area is easy to paddle for all, and is such a unique way for sports fans to experience San Francisco’s games. Kayaking around San Francisco’s McCovey Cove (officially named China Basin) is a high-energy adventure that will not disappoint!

City Kayak has walk-up kayak rentals if you want to explore McCovey Cove and the San Francisco Bay as a whole, or they offer an exclusive McCovey Cove package that leaves right before game time to get prime-time water seats.

How to Get There: If driving, take 10th St. to Townsend St. to Channel St. If not driving, there is a SFMTA bus that departs from Montgomery St. many times per day that will drop you near McCovey Cove.

Beautiful blue waters surround Tiburon's Angel Island, a California State park that is perfect spot for kayaking in San Francisco
Angel Island is a unique spot to explore by boat! Photo Credit: kirkkohler (Flickr CC)

Elkhorn Slough

Praised as one of the top ten wildlife viewing destinations in the U.S., the Elkhorn Slough‘s six miles of navigable waterways allows for an up close look at San Francisco’s diverse ecosystems.

Besides the San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough is the largest tidal saltwater marsh in California, making it a premier spot for kayakers looking to spot sea otters, migratory birds, and more. This marsh is easy water for paddling and navigating, making it an ideal spot for novices, kids, and families.

Early Spring and Summer is the best time to paddle the Elkhorn Slough for people who want to spot baby sea otters! For those who enjoy birdwatching, Fall is a better time to kayak here.

Monterey Bay Kayaks offers rentals for the Elkhorn Slough area, and also has guided tours to help you properly navigate the channels and see the wildlife ($30/use).

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 S toward San Jose, then take CA-1 S toward Watsonville. If not driving, there is an Amtrak train that leaves from Caltrain Station that will take you to Elkhorn Slough.

Tiburon

This vibrant and active coastal city is just 15 minutes north of San Francisco, but seems like a world away. Kayaking around Tiburon offers spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz and Angel Island.

Adventuring to Tiburon is best suited for intermediate kayakers and those looking for adventure. The left side of the coast boasts tons of wildlife and more rugged terrain, like the Raccoon Straits, and eventually leads to Angel Island, a California State Park. Full circumnavigation of Tiburon (5+ miles) offers beautiful panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline, and is great goal for more seasoned paddlers.

The town of Tiburon itself is full of Civil War-era history and quaint shops and restaurants. Most visitors can fill a full day or two exploring Tiburon’s shores, and note that Tiburon’s Peninsula is especially scenic.

Sea Trek Kayak and Stand Up Paddling Center rents kayaks and offers guided tours of the area for $25/hour. Otherwise, Tiburon has miles of coastline where you are free to launch your own boat. Kayaking in San Francisco, especially in Tiburon, is where urban settings meet the natural wild.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take exit 447 toward Tiburon Blvd. If not driving, the Blue and Gold Fleet or Marin Transit Route 219 will take you to Tiburon.

kayakers paddle by Point reyes national Seashore and explore its rocky coats and green grassy hills.
Kayakers explore the rocky shores and green hills of Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo Credit: Lyrinda Snyderman (Flickr CC)

Half Moon Bay

Sea kayaking in San Francisco is an epic activity to try, especially at Half Moon Bay. This expansive coastline meets the sandy shores of many beaches along the coast, and is close to tons of iconic San Francisco sites.

Half Moon Bay and Half Moon Bay Beach are apart of a larger string of connected beaches that make up the coast of Northern California. The ocean can have some rough waves, so having some paddling experience before coming to Half Moon Bay is recommenced. Pro Tip- if you have a wet suit, now would be the time to use it! Ocean waves can be cold!

Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. offers tons of unique sea kayaking trips including expeditions to nearby Pillar Point Harbor and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. These spots, and others, offer a unique look at San Francisco’s diverse marine life. Their guided tours are great for beginners or groups, but they also have individual kayaks for rent too.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 S and take exit 34 for CA-35W to Half Moon Bay. If not driving, there is a train that leaves from Caltrain Station that will drop you near Half Moon Bay.

Point Reyes National Seashore

With a mission to protect the marine wildlife that make Point Reyes National Seashore their home, this National Park is especially dedicated to serving nature. That being said, kayaking is only allowed from July 1 through February 28 in order to give necessary space to seal pups in the area.

This limited time is even more reason to make it out to see the amazing views of Point Reyes! Most popular paddling spots include Tomales Bay (where you can most likely spot seals!), Drakes Estero and Limantour Estero. As the largest unspoiled coastal embayment in California, this seashore is perfect for paddlers looking to explore the natural beauty hidden in CA.

The areas previously mentioned are highly recommended for all levels of paddlers. Ocean kayaking is also possible, but it is better to stay closer to the coast which is sheltered from harsh tides and winds. There are six different launch sites at the park, so there is no problem bringing your own boats into the water.

Whether your looking for a nice Sunday paddle or an overnight adventure, Point Reyes offers it all! Imagine going to work on Monday and saying a seal swam next to your kayak- what an amazing experience to wow all of your co-workers! Rentals available at Blue Waters Kayaking.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take exit 450B toward San Anselmo, then CA-1 to Bear Valley Rd. If not driving, there is a bus from Mission St. & 5th that will drop you .3 miles from the shore (Golden Gate Bridge Transit). Or, you can rent a car from Avis.

A kayaker gets ready to paddle around Lake  Chabot in San Francisco. Blue waters surround densely forested mini islands.
Lake Chabot’s lush coastlines are beautiful to explore by boat! Photo Credit: coreyc23 (Flickr CC)

Lake Chabot

  • Location: Oakland/Alameda
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Lake Chabot Marina $27/hour
  • Cost: $5

Opened for recreational use in the 60s, Lake Chabot is now one of the most treasured pieces of historical land in San Francisco. Stocked with catfish, bass, and other types of fish, Lake Chabot is a premier fishing spot.

This 315-acre lake, originally a water source for East Bay, is a great place for paddlers of all abilities, especially those interested in history. Visitors can enjoy scenic walks on the 280-acre Fairmont Ridge and take Lake Chabot history tours, or spend time exercising in an interactive garden.

But, of course, the main gem of this park is the lake itself. Coming to Lake Chabot is sure to be a relaxing getaway from the city; sparkling blue waters and tree-lined coasts make a beautiful backdrop for your water adventures.

Rentals are available at the Lake Chabot Marina for $27/hour. Launching your own craft is allowed, but there is a $2 fee and a $5/vehicle fee.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 S and take exit 32 toward Fairmont Dr. to Lake Chabot Rd. If not driving, there is a bus that leaves from Montgomery St. that will drop you a mile from the lake (Bay Area Rapid Transit).

Shoreline Lake

Originally over 600 acres of junkyards and wastelands, building Shoreline Lake Regional Park transformed this space by taking advantage of the area’s potential beauty. Now, it is one of the most visited parks for kayaking in San Francisco.

Shoreline Lake is a 50 mile-long saltwater lake and circulates water to and from the San Francisco Bay. Shoreline Lake’s vast waters are perfect for beginners and experts looking to explore San Francisco. Mornings are best for beginners as later in the day the wind picks up, making it an ideal place to learn how to sail too. Bonus- because of its location, the water here is considerable warmer than the Bay!

If journeying to Shoreline Lake, make sure to check out the Shoreline Amphitheater, Sillicon Valley’s premier concert venue. Paddling during the day and going to a concert at night seems like a pretty awesome trip to me!

Renting canoes, kayaks and more is available at the Shoreline Lake Marina. If traveling with a large group, consider going on a non-profit paddle day, where your flat fee goes towards charity.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 S and take exit 399 toward Shoreline Blvd. If not driving, there is a train that departs from Caltrain Station and then you can transfer to the Shoreline Amphitheater Shuttle to take you the rest of the way.

Pillar Point marina in Half moon Bay is a great spot to kayak in San Francisco for paddlers  in an urban setting.
Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay combines nature and an urban paddling experience! Photo Credit: Justine Jablonska (Flickr CC)

Johnson’s Beach

Just 90 minutes north of San Francisco, the quaint town of Guerneville sits in the Russian River Valley as one of the top summer getaway spots. Close to many of Sonoma’s renowned wineries and small town shops, taking a trip to Johnson’s Beach is well worth the journey.

Redwood forests make Johnson’s Beach feel like a secluded vacation spot with activities for the whole family. There are marked off swimming spots on the beach for younger kids, and intermediate kayakers can enjoy the pull of the Russian River’s current downstream.

Johnson’s Beach has an all-inclusive resort type of vibe- if looking for a truly remote place to paddle Johnson’s Beach is probably not you spot. However, because of the family-friendly accommodations, Johnson’s Beach is a prime spot on the Russian River for families and groups to enjoy.

Canoes, kayaks and other water toys can be rented at the boathouse on the beach ($20/hour or $50/day). There is no admission fee to the beach so you can launch your own boats, but parking costs $7.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take exit 494 toward Guerneville, then to First St. If not driving, there is a bus from Mission St. & 5th that will take you to Johnson’s Beach (Golden Gate Bridge Transit).

Spring Lake Regional Park

Located in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, Spring Lake Regional Park is an amazing place to kayak in San Francisco for intermediate paddlers. Because the lake is shared with motorized boats, it is best to stick near the shoreline.

Boasting 72 acres of beautiful oak woodlands with campgrounds, hiking trials, and lakes, Spring Lake Regional Park is full of opportunities to get in touch with nature. Visitors and locals alike love spending the day on Spring Lake because of the stunning vineyard views (which are close enough to be toured in the same day).

Renting kayaks is available near the swimming lagoon at the Violetti Road entrance for $12/hour. If planning to launch your own boat, use the boat ramp at the Newanga Avenue entrance.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take exit 488B toward Sonoma, then Newanga Ave. If not driving, transit from Mission St. & 5th and Montgomery St. both will drop you at Summerfield Rd., 1 mile from the park. Or, you can rent a car from Avis.

Lake Sonoma

With over 50 miles of coastline and surrounded by beautiful vineyards, kayaking in San Francisco doesn’t get much better than paddling around Lake Sonoma.

Lake Sonoma’s rich history as one of the first areas restored under the federal preservation act in the 60s makes it the perfect area for water recreation. This man-made lake is surrounded by grassy hillsides, providing a beautiful backdrop for novice paddlers or those looking for a relaxing day trip (campgrounds on site).

Many paddlers enjoy making the trip to Lake Sonoma a full weekend trip. The Thumb campsite is a three mile paddle from the boat launch, a doable distance for paddlers of any ability. From there, the other 11 miles of the lake have many coves to discover and explore.

Canoe, kayak, paddleboat, and jetski rentals can all be purchased at the Lake Sonoma Recreational Area Marina right on the lake ($30/hour). Launching your own boat is also an option.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-101 and take the Dry Creek Rd. exit toward Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Rd. The best way to get to Lake Sonoma is by car. If you need to rent a car, check out Avis.

Additional Resources for Canoeing and Kayaking in San Francisco

What to Pack for Kayaking in San Francisco

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in Charlotte an unforgettable experience!

Related Links to Kayaking in San Francisco


From Dealey Plaza to the Arts District, Dallas’ rich history and contemporary living makes it a wonderful place to visit and explore. While these landmarks provide a taste of Dallas, the best way to get to know the city is from the water! From small creeks to sparkling blue lakes, a day spent kayaking in Dallas is full of adventure and fun!

Although Dallas is known for its giant skyscrapers, there are tons of hidden waterways that provide a beautiful getaway from the busy downtown. Below is a complete guide to the most scenic places to go kayaking in Dallas. Paddling around Dallas offers a unique view of the city and is a great way to enjoy the outdoors!

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking Near Dallas

Yellow and orange fall foliage make kayaking in Dallas absolutely beautiful!
Fall foliage makes kayaking in Dallas absolutely beautiful! Photo Credit: Skeeze (Pixabay)

White Rock Lake

Called the “outdoor gem” of the city by many, kayaking on White Rock Lake is the peaceful and calm paddling experience you have always wanted! A motor free lake, White Rock is dedicated to maintaining a clean and relaxing environment for all of their paddlers.

Because of its calm waters and relatively small size, White Rock Lake is a wonderful place for beginners to learn how to canoe and kayak and improve their skills. With 9 miles of hiking trails, biking trails and picnic areas around the lake, this park is the perfect spot for families looking to enjoy a beautiful day in Dallas on the water.

Only 5 miles northeast from downtown Dallas, this urban park is a convenient and beautiful place to kayak in Dallas. There are numerous launch sites around the lake if you plan to bring your own kayak. Otherwise, you can rent gear and take lessons from White Rock Paddle Co..

How to Get There: If driving, take I-30 E and take exit 49A towards Winslow St. to White Rock Rd. If not driving, the DART Blue line will take you to White Rock Park.

Trinity River

Beginning on the west side of downtown Dallas, Trinity River truly connects the metropolitan areas of Dallas to the untouched beauty of Great Trinity River Forest a few miles away.

Intermediate and experienced paddlers will love exploring the different factions of the Trinity River. Starting at the Trammell Crow Public Boat Ramp to the Dallas Wave water feature, this portion of the river flows straight through the city, offering stunning views of the Dallas skyline.

After that 4 mile industrial stretch, paddlers can continue passed Miller’s Bend and the Loop 12 Bridge to enter the beautiful channels of Great Trinity River Forest. Completely different from the earlier skyscraper views, this stretch of Trinity River is full of wildlife and undeveloped natural beauty.

Since navigating the different portions of the river can be challenging at times- and portaging the Dallas Wave feature may be neccessary- it is recommended to have some paddling experience before taking on this trip.

There are tons of canoe and kayak launch sites along both the industrial and more natural parts of the river. Rentals are also available through Trinity River Kayak Co.. With views of Dallas’ skyline and lush forests, kayaking down Trinity River is the best of both worlds!

How to Get There: If driving, take Commerce St. to Riverfront Blvd. to get to the Trammell Crow Public Boat Ramp (at Trammell Crow Park). Only 9 minutes from downtown, you can easily walk or drive to the riverfront.

Dallas offers an urban kayaking experience that makes kayaking in Dallas super convenient and fun!
Urban kayaking on the Trinity River is a great way to explore the city! Photo Credit: Justin Terveen (Flickr CC)

Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve

Open from dawn to dusk, the recent addition of kayaking to Oak Point Park has everyone very excited! A small pond inside the park is open to kayakers and stand up paddle boarders free of charge.

Known for its trails along Rowlett Creek and community programs, Oak Point Park is a beloved community center with a great outdoor space. Oak Point Park’s small lake is a perfect place for beginners to hone their skills or for a quick paddle during the day.

As the largest green space in Plano, Oak Point Park & Preserve is a great resource to explore the outdoors. During the Summer, the park has kayak classes and will rent boats on Wednesdays for $5/hour- the most affordable price for kayaking in Dallas! Or, you can rent gear from Kayak Instruction Inc. for $25/hour.

How to Get There: If driving, take US-75 N toward McKinney and take exit 31 toward Spring Creek Parkway. If not driving, you can take the DART Red line to Jupiter, a mile from the park.

Joe Pool Lake

  • Location: Southern Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Loyd Park $30/half day

Launching off the shores of tree-lined Loyd Park, visitors paddling on Joe Pool Lake will see white sand beaches and tons of wildlife while exploring this special spot. About 5 miles long, Joe Pool Creek makes kayaking in Dallas truly an adventure- with islands and creeks to explore, you won’t run out of activities!

Joe Pool Lake itself is a wide-open space best suited for kayakers with some paddling experience. About halfway downstream, you will come across beautiful Walnut Creek. These shallower waters are family friendly and is a recommended turn-around spot for novice paddlers.

On the lake’s northwest shore paddlers can enjoy Lynn Creek Park. With white sand beaches and a small picnic area, Lynn Creek Park is a wonderful spot to aim for during a longer paddle.

Launching your own boat at Joe Pool Lake is free, or you can rent gear at Loyd Park for $30/half day. With so many areas to explore, time will fly kayaking around Joe Pool Lake.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-35E to Farm to Market Rd. 1382 to W Spine Rd. If not driving, Bus lines 446, 415, and 404 will drop you near Joe Pool Lake.

Lush trees and blooming forests surround Joe Pool Lake in Cedar Hill State Park.
Cedar Hill State Park overlooks the peaceful Joe Pool Lake in Dallas. Photo Credit: MisterDavidC (Flickr CC)

Viridian Lake

  • Location: Arlington
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at DFW SURF $20/hour

Just north of Cowboy Stadium lies Arlington’s newly developed area of lakefront property, including gorgeous Viridian Lake. Seen as the hidden gem of Arlington, Viridian Lake is a fresh and new place to try kayaking in Dallas this Summer.

This large lake has room for paddlers of all abilities and beautiful beaches line the shores for a relaxing nap after! Kayaking on Viridian Lake is made easy with DFW SURF. Not only do they offer rentals, but also have tons of classes for every age and ability level (and Women’s Wednesday!).

Besides DFW SURF, there are not really other places to rent kayaking gear in the area. The prestigious Viridian Lake Club shares the beaches and water with individual paddlers, and its luxury homes make for a nice backdrop while paddling!

Because Viridian Lake is such new development, not many people know about it! Be one of the first to test its waters and enjoy having the whole lake to yourself!

How to Get There: If driving, take I-30 W and exit at 28B towards Collins St. to Viridian Park Ln. If not driving, you can take the DART Tre route from Victory Station to Centreport Station in Arlington.

Lake Arlington

  • Location: West Arlington
  • Rentals Available:Yes- at Flatwater Kayak $20/day
  • Cost: $5

Known as the first flat water paddling trail in Texas, Lake Arlington is the spot for outdoor enthusiasts to kayak this Summer. Only 20 minutes from downtown, Lake Arlington is the most convenient place to paddle for this type of open flat water in the Dallas area.

Paddlers can get some serious mileage in on Lake Arlington- the trail spans 11 miles with 3 put-in spots along the way. Surrounded by lush greenery, Lake Arlington is a beautiful place to kayak in Dallas for all ability levels. From the first put-in to the second it is about 3 miles, a nice distance for beginners to paddle.

Many visitors spend up to a whole day exploring Lake Arlington and the surrounding area. With golf, jet skiing, pools, and other outdoor activities, Lake Arlington has all you need to have an active day on the water.

Launching your own boat is totally acceptable at any of the three launch sites along the lake, but you must have a permit if using your own boat. Click here to obtain your permit. Otherwise, you can rent kayaks from Flatwater Kayak ($20/day or $30/day to deliver your kayak directly to the lake).

How to Get There: If driving, take I-30 W and exit at 24 Eastchase Parkway for W Pioneer Parkway. If not driving, you can take the DART Tre route from Victory Station to Centreport Station in Arlington.

A single kayaker floats down a river in Dallas exploring the natural beauty of Texas.
Kayaking down rivers and streams in Dallas is a great outdoor activity for all ages and abilities! Photo Credit: Patrick Lewis (Flickr CC)

Grapevine Lake

Kayaking at Grapevine Lake is full of history and adventure! From the historic town of Grapevine to the tasting vineyards, coming to Grapevine Lake can be a full-day experience!

Left to its natural beauty, Grapevine Lake has kept its undeveloped charm and is surrounded by trees and rocky shores. While paddling near the shoreline, make sure to look for fossils! The rocks of Grapevine Lake are known to have awesome fossils.

Grapvine’s waters are best for kayaking in the morning; once the wind picks up the lake gets pretty busy with sailboats. Pro Tip- enter the lake from the Merrel Park entrance at the north end of the lake for free entry! Otherwise, it is $5/car and $1 for pedestrians and bikers.

You can launch your own boat or feel free to rent gear from Lonestar Adventure Sports ($25/hour). A quaint town bursting with history, Grapevine is a wonderful destination for kayaking in Dallas and exploring Texas’ gardens and vineyards.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-35E N to Grapevine Mills Parkway and exit towards Flower Mound to Railroad 1. If not driving, you can take the DART Orange line to the lake.

Lake Lewisville

  • Location: Denton County
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at DFW SURF
  • Cost: $5/person

Just 15 minutes from downtown Dallas, Lake Lewisville is one of the largest lakes in Texas and is known for its excellent kayak, SUP, and boating conditions. With over 230 miles of shoreline and loads of coves to explore, you will not run out of space paddling around this scenic lake!

Lake Lewisville’s shoreline contains many different parks and inlets. The “party cove” is an awesome place to paddle to on the weekend. Kayakers meet up, tie up their boats, and throw down (this is legitimate spot and tradition).

Because of the lake’s large size and popularity, it is best to stick to the shore and have some paddling experience before trying to tackle Lake Lewisville.

You can launch from the shores of any of the parks surrounding Lake Lewisville if you bring your own boat, or you can rent gear from DFW SURF.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-35E N towards Swisher Rd. toward Eldorado Parkway. If not driving, you can take the DART Green line to the lake.

Rocky shores and tree-lined shores make up the rugged terrain of Village Creek while kayaking in Dallas.
The rugged terrain of Village Creek is an awesome kayak adventure! Photo Credit: Jeff Moore (Flickr CC)

Lake Ray Hubbard

Named after the president of Dallas’ Parks & Recreational System from 1943 to 1972, Lake Ray Hubbard is a staple for fishing and recreational water activities in Dallas.

Beautifully maintained parks and clear blue waters make up Lake Ray Hubbard- it is a kayaker’s dream! Big enough to not get overly crowded, kayaking around Lake Ray Hubbard is perfect for an afternoon getaway.

Besides a peaceful place for fishing, visitors coming to Lake Ray Hubbard are drawn to the Harbor at Rockwall. Located on the eastern shore of the lake, quaint boutiques, restaurants, and live music all come together to make an adorable place to visit while kayaking in Dallas.

If you do not have your own kayak, you can rent gear from Lakeside Paddlesports ($20/hour). A peaceful lake with a beautiful little town on the shore makes Lake Ray Hubbard a perfect trip for adventurous outdoor lovers!

How to Get There: If driving, take I-30 E and take exit 62 toward Bass Pro Dr. to Lake Hubbard Parkway. If not driving, bus lines 283, 378, and 385 will take you Lake Ray Hubbard Transit Center.

Village Creek

A 21 mile-long stream untouched by human industrialization has kept Village Creek in a glorious state for paddlers of all abilities to enjoy. Flowing into various other streams and sloughs, kayaking Village Creek offers a special look into Texas’ nature and wildlife.

Located within Big Thicket National Preserve, kayakers are bound to see tons of wildlife that make Village Creek their home. This preserve, along with Village Creek State Park, have protected this area for decades to ensure people kayaking in Dallas have a chance to explore Texas’ natural beauty.

The ideal time to paddle down Village Creek is during early Spring to catch the dense forest of trees starting to bloom, but paddling in Fall will also be an explosion of colors. While Summer temperatures will be hot, Village Creek is one of the best spots for kayaking because the forest-lined banks will provide shade for your path.

There are numerous launch spots if you plan on bringing your own boat. Or, you can rent from Sharp’s Canoe & Kayak Rental for $30/day. Village Creek’s rugged terrain will transport you away from the busy city for a day of scenic kayaking in Dallas.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-30 W to Loop 820 S to Briery St. Driving is the best way to get to Village Creek. If you do not have a car, you can rent from Avis.

Trees and rolling hills reflect in the calm waters of lakes in Dallas.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Texas by boat! Photo Credit: Joe Snowman (Flickr CC)

Additional Resources for Canoeing and Kayaking in Dallas

What to Pack for Kayaking in Dallas

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing in Charlotte an unforgettable experience!

Related Links