Canoeing and Kayaking in the West

The Western United States offer some of the most satisfying canoeing and kayaking experiences in the nation. Stick with these spots, which are off the beaten trail, to make the most of your outdoor adventure.

Emerald Bay State Park: El Dorado, CA
With its rugged shoreline and blue-green water, Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed places in the world. Vikingsholm, a replica of a Scandinavian castle (800 A.D.), is part of the park and is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the Western Hemisphere. The park's natural beauty, geology, and history make it one of the highlights of any visit to the Lake Tahoe area. Many will leisurely canoe or kayak around Lake Tahoe. The more athletically-inclined canoeist will paddle approximately four miles to the park's Boat Camp located on the north side of Emerald Bay, which can accommodate motorboats as well as canoes, kayaks, and sailboats. 

Green River State Park: Green River, UT
A trip through Labyrinth Canyon may be enjoyed almost any time of year. River runners from Green River State Park float through an open valley on a long stretch of smooth water before being engulfed by the sheer rock walls of Labyrinth Canyon. There are no rapids, only a few riffles below the town of Green River. This flat-water stretch is suitable for canoes, kayaks and rafts of all types. It is also suitable for motorized crafts. A minimum of three to four days should be allowed to navigate the 68 river miles from Green River to Mineral Bottom, though more time is suggested to explore the many sites along the way. The area is remote and services are non-existent. Permits are required for all boating trips in the canyon and must be in the trip leader's possession. All boating and fishing regulations apply and all permit stipulations must be followed.  

Nehalem Bay State Park: Nehalem, OR
Wake up to the song of the seagull, spend an afternoon kayaking around Nehalem Bay and then take a short walk over the dunes to the beach to watch the sun set over the ocean. The serenity of Nehalem Bay draws people in, but once there, activity abounds. Located on the north Oregon coast, the park is in a prime spot for crabbing and fishing, and nearby communities offer fine dining and local boutiques. The park also features breathtaking scenery, biking trails, hiking trails, wildlife viewing and a horse concession in the day-use area.

This park is open year-round and offers a variety of campsites. Yurts are always a great and memorable option. These dome shaped structures include electricity, a heater, a skylight and lockable doors. Nehalem Bay also has electrical RV sites, primitive campsites and a hiker/biker camp.

Pearl Lake: Clark, CO
Pristine and quiet with great fishing and wake less boating, it's what a mountain lake should be. There's an excellent fly and lure fishing for native cutthroat trout who flash their red throats when pulled from the water.

St. Mary/ E. Glacier KOA: St.Mary, MT
Stay here and you're just a mile from Glacier National Park and the entrance to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the 52 mile highway that climbs across the park's spectacular alpine spine. But the view is almost as good from your campsite at Glacier's eastern edge, where towering granite peaks frame the St. Mary River and Lake.

Pick up lunch fixings at the KOA grocery store and gift shop, then board a Glacier tour bus at the campground entrance. If you want to give your dog a day off while you explore, your hosts offer pet sitting. Or stick close to camp, where you can rent kayaks as well as mountain bikes for exploring trails. The AOK Barbeque serves up hearty breakfasts and barbeque dinners from mid-June to mid-August.

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