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From coast to coast, America has some incredible spots to kayak that let adventurers escape to the secluded outdoors. Kayaking gives people the opportunity to experience roaring rapids, still rivers, and beautiful coastlines in beautiful solitude. Let's look at some of the best places to kayak in America.
Home of the 1849 California Gold Rush, the American River boasts three unique legs that flow through the scenic Sierra foothills and converge into Folsom Lake just east of Sacramento. Whether you are a whitewater enthusiast or a scenic recreational paddler, there is fun to be had for everyone.
Kayakers are surrounded by towering cliffs broken by majestic waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers, and the dark evergreens of the Tahoe and El Dorado National Forests. Numerous hiking trails and campgrounds sit beside the cascading waters to allow paddlers to extend their stay for as long as they please.
Thrill-seekers flock to the North Fork for 35 miles of Class IV to V rapids. The Middle Fork has mostly Class III rapids and over 100 miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, hunters, and equestrians looking for a well-rounded recreational experience.
The South Fork is the home of Sutter's Mill and the site of the first gold discovery that fueled the dreams of the '49ers. It also features perfect water for beginner and intermediate kayakers with 20 miles of Class II and III named rapids and numerous commercial outfitters that provide gear and guides.
If you are looking for a serene escape into nature, whether you prefer a heart-pounding race over rapids, a wilderness trek through evergreen-filtered sunlight, or a family fun paddling adventure tinged with history that shaped our nation, the American River in sunny California is the place for you.
With over 475 miles of coastline, the San Juan Islands offer a nearly endless supply of fresh air, beautiful vistas, and diverse wildlife. You can paddle for hours or days as you explore waters teeming with lazy sea lions, furry river otters, inquisitive minke whales, and playful porpoises.
Stare in awe as you paddle amongst one of three resident pods of orcas as they hunt for fish or playfully leap through the water. Haul your kayak out of the water at the end of the day and sit on the beach by your campfire as you stare at millions of twinkling stars.
Fall asleep to the sound of barred owls hooting and wake again the next day to explore a land filled with the nation's largest concentration of bald eagles, as well as peregrine falcons, great blue herons, and black oystercatchers.
Whether you're paddling through the calm protected waters of Orcas Island, venturing over to spy on Canadians off the west coast of San Juan Island, or paddling silently along the shores of the national wildlife refuges on Lopez Island, you can always find a place to lay your head at night.
Each of the three largest islands offer lodging from primitive campsites and private cabins to bed and breakfasts and hotels. A myriad of commercial outfitters are available for the novice kayaker looking for a three hour tour or even a three day excursion. Or tailor your own experience to include any of the inland hiking trails and deep forest nature parks scattered over the area. The world is your oyster in the San Juan Islands!
You can kayak along rivers banked by forests, you can hike through forests thick with tree trunks, but did you know you can float along beneath them? You can! The Everglades are famous for their proliferation of mangroves and all the wildlife that live within their exposed root systems.
Kayak along mirror smooth waters through tightly woven tunnels of mangrove roots, at times simply pulling yourself along from root to root with your paddle. Sixty miles wide and 100 miles long, the Everglades are home to alligators, roseate spoonbills, egrets, manatees, wood storks, anhinga, sea turtles, osprey, and so many plants and fish that you will never see the same creatures twice. You can also paddle through thick sawgrass marshes or cypress groves.
Paddle the Turner River to see the wonders of all three environments in one fell swoop. Even beginner kayakers can enjoy a visit to the Ten Thousand Islands area for open sea paddling to Sandfly Island and a chance to camp on wild beaches. Rest your upper body and stretch your legs on the Park's numerous nature trails.
Visit the Gulf Coast Visitors Center near the Big Cypress National Reserve or the Ernest F. Coe Visitor's Center just outside Homestead to learn more about the ecosystems you will find and plan your excursion to make sure you get the most out of your visit.
Information about guided tours and gear rentals is available as well. Shuttles to launch and landing sites are available in some areas.
Come beat the winter doldrums with this wonder-filled, exotic getaway. The Everglades are chock full of new experiences for all ages. The vast diversity will always have you coming back for more, and each time you will discover a new world.
A kayaking vacation to any of these spots will fill visitors with a new appreciation and love for nature. If you are looking to take a break in the outdoors and want to spend some time traveling on the water while still seeing untouched landscapes, these three incredible kayaking spots are fantastic places to start.
Where are some of your favorite places to kayak or canoe?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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