Best National Parks for Kayaking
Now is the time to plan adventurous trips for the summer. Don’t forget to include paddling a kayak as you jot down outdoor activities you want to try.
The reasons are endless – it’s exhilarating; you access certain places you won’t be able to see otherwise; the serenity and peace is relaxing; you’re also working out because you’re strenuously using your core and upper body; it’s awesome for stress relief; and, of course, it keeps you cool in the hot summer days.
You also have many options in terms of what kind of kayaking you want to try. Whitewater kayaking is about navigating swift rivers; flatwater kayaking is usually in big but calm waters; you can also go fishing with a kayak.
Whatever your preference is, America’s 59 “national treasures” offer many locations. Some are better than others.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Kayaking here will give you a chance to witness the unique beauty of this Alaskan national park. There is no better view than from the water. The National Park Service warns that kayaking there is not for beginners. Exploring the more than 750 miles of shoreline is not a laid-back adventure. Exploring the caves and coves takes some skills. “Landings often involve surf, particularly when afternoon breezes kick up from the south,” according to the NPS. “Wind and rainfall can be excessive, and summer storms often push an ocean swell of three feet or more into the fjords.”
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia is one of the most beautiful national parks, a must-visit in the spring. Its stunningly rugged natural coastline is the best way to soak up the spectacular scenery. Enthusiasts who have recently taken up kayaking are recommended to go with a guide because the ocean can create difficult conditions such as tides and rough seas. Mount Desert Island is a great location for ocean kayaking. There are public boat ramps in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor, in addition to other access sites.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
You will be surrounded by mounts from Glacier as you float by and enjoy one of the most scenic places in all of the U.S. Sea kayaking is a popular way to experience the wilderness of Glacier Bay, according to NPS. Trips can start from Bartlett Cove. Making reservations for a rental kayak is highly recommended. Explore the renowned West Arm of Glacier Bay, which is often called the premier sea kayak destination in the state.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
This lesser-known national park is a secret gem for kayaking. It has many lakes, bays, and islands waiting to be explored. Isle Royale is one of the best inland sea kayaking haunts in the country. Isle Royale is the largest island in the largest fresh water lake in the world. Canoes should be at least 15' long to navigate waters in large bays and not swamp in rough water.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Imagine kayaking against the splendor of the Teton Range? If you happen to be in the Oxbow Dam in the Snake River, bring a fishing rod. You will also get a chance to view unparalleled wildlife – moose, elk, bear, bison, eagles, osprey and more. Afternoon winds can be an issue, so aim to go in the morning. Kayaking on Jackson Lake will pull you away from crowds in a way that you can experience the solitude of nature.
Everglades National Park, Florida
The Everglades are probably one of the best places to kayak because it offers so many different opportunity; the options are practically endless. The most popular spots for kayaking through freshwater marsh, mangrove forests are Florida Bay, the Turner River, Flamingo and Halfway Creek. It’s very possible that you will get up close to alligators and crocodiles. You may even see dolphins along the way. Enthusiasts also love the Nine Mile Pond, which is easily accessible off the main park road, and Hell's Bay, which is a favorite for paddling through the mangroves.