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Great Waterways for Rafting, Kayaking, Tubing and Canoeing
Summertime is a great time to explore America’s beautiful waterways. Whether it’s a leisurely float down a peaceful river that’s calling out to you or you can’t wait to experience the heart-pounding thrill of navigating whitewater rapids, there’s a destination that’s right for you. Here are a few great picks:
The Big River stretches for more than 40 miles and is the longest undeveloped estuary in northern California. Those who come to kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board in the gentle tidal flows of this river are treated to views of a wide variety of wildlife as well as coastal redwoods, marshes and riparian forests. The river’s headwaters are located 30 miles inland in the Mendocino Range, and it meets the Pacific just south of the picturesque town of Mendocino.
Utah’s scenic Colorado Riverway is well known for its colorful red cliffs, sandstone spires and magnificent canyons. The area’s rafting adventures run the gamut from “mild to wild,” ranging from family-friendly trips through the gentler Class 2 rapids of the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River to the adrenaline-infused experience of navigating the Class 4 rapids in Westwater or Cataract Canyons. There are also segments of the Colorado that are calm enough for canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Equipment rentals and guided river trips are readily available from the area’s many outfitters.
Kayakers have a couple of choices here. Lake Taneycomo has a gentle current that helps move kayaks along, while the calm, smooth waters of Table Rock Lake are also easy to navigate, but don’t have a current. Table Rock is better suited for those who want to go kayak fishing, though, since the calm waters make it easier to maintain a steady position. Stand-up paddle boarding is another popular way to explore both lakes.
The region around Chattanooga is a paddler’s paradise, offering everything from flat water canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding on the Tennessee River Blueway system to white water kayaking and rafting on two of the nation’s most scenic whitewater streams, the Ocoee and Hiwasssee. The area’s commercial outfitters also offer Class 1 and 2 tubing trips for adults and kids.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Designated as a National Wilderness Area, Cumberland Island is the southernmost barrier island on the Georgia coast. Its beautiful natural setting features a maritime forest with live oaks draped with Spanish moss, and the island is home to over 200 species of birds as well as many other forms of wildlife, including dolphins, armadillos and wild horses. Since the sea kayaking available here requires an understanding of tidal patterns on the open ocean, it is better suited for experienced kayakers.