Whether you’re in a canoe or a kayak, taking a long trip down a gorgeous river can be a fantastic way to spend a day, or longer, if you’re ready to attempt a multi-day trip. Whether you’re a beginner ready to plan your first trip or you’re ready to tackle something a little more adventurous, the following 7 paddling trips are a fantastic place to start. Choose one to plan for right now or create a plan to try each of them when you have time so you can see the gorgeous scenery of the United States by paddling.
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1. Loxahatchee River, Florida
A designated paddling trail, the Loxahatchee River trail is 8.5 miles long and provides an easy, scenic tour for those who are new to paddling or who want something short and relaxing. You can choose to paddle out and back from either entrance or go one way and take a shuttle back to the beginning, depending on how much you want to do in a day. While you’re coasting down the river, keep an eye out for alligators. The beautiful landscape and abundance of animals will make this a fantastic paddling trip you can do in a day.
2. Klamath River, California
Picturesque scenery and an easy tour make this the perfect place to go paddling for beginners or families. Depending on which part of the river you take, you could experience rapids or a smooth river past plenty of wildlife. If you’re bringing kids along, there is a short part of the river with kid-friendly rapids. They’re just enough to add a little excitement to your adventure. Shuttles are available in some locations along the river.
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3. Buffalo River, Arkansas
If you’re looking for a calm trip with plenty to see, check out Buffalo River in Arkansas. For a weekend trip, do the 24 miles from Ponca to Pruitt. Calm waters make this an excellent place to paddle for beginners and those who have more experience, and the views as you travel down the river will enchant anyone who goes paddling. There’s also places to stop along the river, such as the Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls or the Indian Rockhouse.
4. John Day River, Oregon
A stunning view and a leisurely pace make the John Day River perfect for anyone. Since this is a longer trip, plan to camp along the river at nights. Most of the river is smooth and easy to paddle on, but there are some rapids between Clarno and Cottonwood. Most are class I and II but be aware that there are some faster rapids on short portions of the river. You’ll get the chance to paddle through canyons and see plenty of amazing wildlife like deer, river otters, hawks and more along this journey.
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5. Missouri River, Montana
Ready for an extended yet epic river tour? The entire 149-mile trip will take you around 10 days to complete, though there are shorter portions you can do if you just don’t want to do a longer trip yet or if you don’t have the time. On the trip, you’ll go through different types of scenery and have the chance to spot all different types of wildlife. Always keep an eye out because you’ll never know what you might spot flying above the river or getting something to eat from the river. While you’re on the Missouri River, you can even camp at one of the Lewis and Clark campsites.
6. Tuolumne River, California
If you’re ready for something a bit more adventurous, try out Tuolumne River in California. Class III and IV rapids, as well as calmer spots where you can swim or fish, are scattered along the river, making for a fantastic adventure. This can be a longer trip, as you can camp by the river and spend three to four days going down the river. Plan on going in the summer for a fantastic view throughout your trip as well as warm weather perfect for paddling or swimming.
7. Noatak River, Alaska
Though it’s harder to get to than the other rivers on this list, if you’re looking for an amazing adventure, check out the Noatak River in Alaska. You’ll need to take a plane to the beginning of a short trail that leads to the river. Watch out for wolves, grizzly bears, caribou and more while you’re heading down the river. Late summer is the perfect time to see amazing fall colors in along the river as well as the chance to view the aurora borealis.