How to Find Places to Paddle

As spring approaches and water levels rise, many kayakers and paddleboarders are getting the itch to paddle. Although hometown favorite stretches are on the must-paddle hit list, the warmer weather brings the urge for something new. Here’s a round up of resources to help you find fresh hydro-scenery to explore.

Books & Literature

Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die

Epic bucket-list destinations like the Grand Canyon, Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Baja California, Indonesia’s Komodo Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and more are noted in this book. Photographs, travelogues and tips to help readers deepen their experience when traveling to these locals are included.

Mountaineers Books Publishing

Mountaineers Books is an independent, nonprofit publisher covering regions all over the United States. Here is just a sampling of some of their titles…

Paddling Southern Maine; Paddling Washington; Northwest Oregon; Kayaking Puget Sound & the San Juan Islands

Mountaineers Books also publishes a four star how-to guide to paddle boarding called Stand Up Paddling - Flatwater to Surf and Rivers.

Paddle Magazine & Paddle World Magazine

Both of these magazines will give you ideas of where to paddle, tips on gear to bring depending on the type of water and location, and keep you current with paddle news. 


Forums are a great place to ask questions and get ideas for places to paddle. Here are some of the more popular forums to check out…

West Coast Paddler Forum


Trailspace for Paddling

Stand Up Zone 

Another good resource is Facebook. There are tons of kayaking and paddleboarding meetup groups where people organize outings and discuss locations. For best results, use search terms like “paddling, kayaking and paddle borading,” followed by your city, town or state. You usually have to answer a couple screening questions before you’ll get admitted. Here’s are some favorite Facebook paddle groups…

Flatwater Kayak Paddling Oregon

Church of the double-bladed paddle

Stand Up Paddle Board Newbies Group 

Local Paddle Shops

Oftentimes your local paddle shop will have great recommendations on where to paddle. It’s likely they will also sell books and maps that can give you ideas of what local water to explore. 

Online resources 

American Whitewater

American Whitewater is a non-profit that catalogs all sections of navigable rivers in the U.S. and advocates for dam removals and other river protections. Use this website to look up river sections and see information on the waterways character and descriptions of rapids and hazards. This site is considered the gold standard for at home, off the couch river scouting. 

Public Lands Resources 

Many river sections are managed by the National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management and other public organizations. Use these governing bodies to look up access information, hazard updates and permitting. 

Wild and Scenic Rivers

Lots of states have designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Because these rivers are allocated special protections, they are some of the most beautiful places to paddle. Check out the Wild and Scenic Rivers site for listings in your state.

Paddle Trails 

At your local tourism bureau look for pamphlets or literature on established paddle trails. These exist near and around metropolitan centers all over the United States. Here are some links to paddle trails...

Northern Forest Canoe Trail

The Best Stand up Paddle Trails in the United States

Willamette river water trail

Ask a Friend

One last idea is to ask fellow kayaking and paddle boarding buddies where they like to paddle. Even striking up a conversation with a fellow boater at the ramp and asking where else they like to paddle is totally in bounds and will help give you inspiration as you look for new spots to explore.

Get out there and find some new haunts. Happy paddling!

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