From awe-inspiring mountains to mirror-like waters and lush forests, the USA serves up amazing national parks for kayaking through incredible scenery. There are so many, in fact, that choosing which one to paddle through is the only problem you’ll have! Here’s a guide to some of the top spots to launch your yak in the heart of nature.
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National Parks for Kayaking
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Snake River winds through the Grand Teton National Park, where you’re sure to spot wildlife, like Moose, hanging out along the banks. The area is renowned for fantastic fishing and mild whitewater kayaking is possible too.
Jackson Lake is another great spot for a paddle. It’s one of the largest high altitude lakes in the country and surrounded by striking, mountainous landscapes. To make the most of it, stay at one of the campgrounds at Signal Mountain, Colter Bay and Lizard Creek.
Glacier National Park, Montana
The world-famous waters of shimmering lakes in the Glacier National Park attract paddlers from across the globe. As the snow melts in spring and summer, pack up your Intex Challenger K2 inflatable and head to Lake McDonald. It’s the largest lake and the water is so pristine, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s a reflection.
Paddle around Swiftcurrent lake and gaze in awe at Little Chief Mountain from St. Mary Lake. Make sure your camera is ready for kayaking on Two Medicine Lake, with awesome views of Rising Wolf Mountain. Don’t forget to pack a waterproof bag and if you haven’t got one, check out Earth Pak.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
In terms of amazing kayaking in National Parks, Glacier Bay offers everything you need to feel like you’re truly on an epic adventure. Glacial fjords soar high, mysterious coves await and, as a marine park, incredible wildlife encounters are common. From the water, you’ll kayak on a backdrop of snowy mountains and untouched forests that feel more like a movie set than reality.
You can launch your touring kayak from Bartlett Cove. It’s also possible to use a drop-off service from Glacier Bay Lodge, to start the exciting journey closer to the glaciers. First though, to kayak here you’ll need to attend an orientation session and pick up a permit. If you decide to camp, make sure you brush up on your bear-safety skills.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Voyageurs National Park is a watery haven for paddlers and simply made for kayaking. There are four big lakes and 26 smaller ones to choose from, along with a wealth of accommodation options including waterfront cabins, houseboats and luxury resorts.
Expect to greet a host of wildlife, including bald eagles, and fishing for smallmouth bass and northern pike is popular. The access points to the park are at Rainy Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Crane Lake and Ash River. The park is open year-round, however, fall is a magical season to visit.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is a coastal paradise, with the Atlantic and spectacular woods competing with each other for a natural beauty award. In terms of National Parks for kayaking, this one offers so many choices it’s best to stay for a while and try them all! Launch your yak at the freshwater Jordan Pond for staggering views of the granite peaks called The Bubbles.
Somes Sound is a beautiful bay for ocean kayaking and Bass Harbor Marsh is the place for bird watchers, so don’t forget your binoculars. For more kayaking in open seas, discover the Porcupine Islands of Frenchman Bay, which are protected by a breakwater. If you don’t have a touring kayak, check out the Malibu Kayaks X-13 Fishing and Diving Kayak.