Photo: Jim Mallouk/Shutterstock

11 Incredible National Park Paddling Spots

National Parks
by Cari Morgan Apr 16, 2017

If it’s off the grid and away from people you’re looking for when it comes to an outdoor vacation, then you might be prone to skip our National Parks. But don’t do that. Instead, grab a paddle to avoid the crowds and explore some of the best parts of these breathtaking parks. Need some inspiration? Here are 11 incredible national park paddling spots across the country.

Channel Islands National Park, California

Photo: Asif Islam/Shutterstock

Between Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, two of the five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park off of California’s southern coast, there are 200 sea caves that can be explored by kayak.

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Photo: JWCohen/Shutterstock

Kayaking on Jackson Lake is a way to travel into the heart of Grand Teton National Park, but have it all to yourself. Want to camp under the stars? O.A.R.S. is the only outfitted paddler authorized to spend the night at the idyllic beach camp on Grassy Island.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Photo: Francisco Blanco/Shutterstock

It’s the third largest wilderness area in the United States and with countless opportunities to snake through mangrove islands, grassy marshes, and incredible wildlife sanctuaries, Everglades National Park is a canoeing/kayaking paradise. 

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah/Colorado

Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

Green River rafting trips through Dinosaur National Monument wind through three distinct and breathtaking canyons: Lodore, Whirlpool and Split Mountain. Here, rafters get fun paddling, plus stunning scenery, geological curiosities and rich human history.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Photo: Dean Fikar/Shutterstock

While paddling is popular on Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Lake, you can have the waters of Lake Josephine all to yourself if you make a simple 200-yard portage.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Not only is it considered the Grand Canyon’s little sister, but when you raft the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon you get incredible access to Canyonlands National Park’s remote Maze and Island in the Sky Districts. 

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Apostle Islands

Photo: Jean Faucett/Shutterstock

With its stunning rock formations and cool sea caves, Devils Island may be the most-visited of Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, but with 20 other islands (19 of which have camping), paddlers can find plenty of solitude.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Photo: Kit Leong/Shutterstock

The endless shores of Yellowstone Lake, the continent’s largest mountain lake, have steamed and simmered in a geothermal flux for thousands of years in Yellowstone National Park. So, sure, you could battle the crowds to see Old Faithful blow. Or, you could watch steamy geysers gush, mud pots bubble and hot springs sear from the unique perspective of a sea kayak.

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Glacier kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Photo: Sergey Yechikov/Shutterstock

For a one-of-a-kind perspective of Margerie Glacier, paddlers can tackle the waters of Glacier Bay, part of Glacier National Park & Preserve.

Voyageur National Park, Minnesota

Photo: George Burba/Shutterstock

With nearly 40 percent of Voyageur National Park covered by water, you know it’s got to be prime for paddling. Add to that hundreds of miles of shoreline via interconnected waterways, and guaranteed you’ll be able to find your very own piece of lakeside paradise.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Photo: Jim Mallouk/Shutterstock

We couldn’t leave Grand Canyon National Park off of a best paddling in the parks list. To say a few of you would have been mad would be an understatement. A Grand Canyon rafting or dory trip is one one of the best paddling trips on the planet, period. 


This article originally appeared on O.A.R.S. and is republished here with permission.

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