The United States has long been considered the home of some of the world’s best kayaking trips. And it’s no wonder—with its numerous wild rivers and breathtaking landscapes, the country’s a natural playground for daredevil adventurers.
However, even as kayaking has a reputation for being slightly dangerous, it’s hardly reserved for only those with expert knowledge of the sport. Nowadays, rookies and complete novices alike can enjoy the thrill of paddling through rushing waters all across the US. Here’s a breakdown of the best kayaking trips for beginners.
For the inside scoop on some of America’s best kayaking trips for beginners, check out our roundup below.
1. San Juan Islands – Washington
Nothing’s better for a kayaking newbie than a peaceful paddle through the San Juan Islands in Washington. This tree-covered archipelago features a number of charming coastal towns and tranquil coves for kayakers to explore. For complete beginners, check out the tour of the region offered by Outdoor Odysseys, which features a slow, gentle rowing pace, comfortable camping sites and plenty of opportunities for whale watching.
2. Snake River – Idaho
For the beginner who doesn’t want to sacrifice excitement for their relative lack of kayaking expertise, an adventure down Snake River in Idaho is the perfect option. The river features a number of thrilling rapids as well as several sites to observe local wildlife, including moose, deer and even the odd pelican. To help newbies navigate the somewhat challenging waters of Snake River, guides at Western River Expeditions provide excellent training to ensure a safe and fun journey.
3. Youghiogheny River – Maryland
The Youghiogheny River, or “Yough” as the locals call it, is a 134-mile-long tributary that cuts through West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. While parts of the river feature turbulent rapids and dramatic waterfalls, the middle section of the Yough is known for its serene waters and gorgeous forests. Beginners can try their hand at kayaking alongside experts from the Wilderness Voyageurs, who offer regular lessons on paddling and navigating in the river’s calm waters.
4. Colorado River – Arizona
There’s no kayaking destination more iconic than the Colorado River. Stretching for 1,450 miles through the most beautiful desert canyons in the world, the Colorado offers some of the best kayaking trips for experts and novices alike. Though there are plenty of opportunities for thrill-seeking on this trip, beginners will also find a plethora of relaxing stretches in which they can guide through clear waters while taking in the grandeur of the Southwest. The guides at Arizona River Runners are trained to lead all skill levels and will provide an excellent experience for first-timers.
5. Rio Chama – New Mexico
One of the best kayaking trips for novices in the United States begins at the mouth of Rio Chama in New Mexico. This wild river offers kayaking beginners an exciting tour through the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest. While the waters here can be choppy, the expert guides of Los Rios River Runners are well equipped at adventuring with newbies and providing them with excellent knowledge of the area’s surrounding pine forests and wildflower meadows.