WON Landing Page OCT 2022

11 Cool National Parks to Raft, Kayak, & Canoe

The following blog is an excerpt from 11 Cool National Parks to Raft, Kayak, & Canoe by the National Park Foundation.

Grand Canyon river Cool National Parks national park vacation
(James Kaiser photo)

If it’s an off-the-grid national park vacation – away from the crowds – you’re looking for, then grab a paddle. From the unique vantage point of a raft, kayak, or canoe, you can access and explore the beauty and solitude of some of our most treasured wild places.

Among the countless reacreational activities available in parks, the National Park Foundation proudly supports projects and programs to enable unforgettable paddling experiences. In Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Wild and Scenic Rivers, funds helped clean the area and develop canoe pull-off areas. A grant to Redwood National and State Parks enabled park rangers to lead free kayak tours.

Meanwhile, Missouri National Recreational River received a grant to improve road and boat ramps, and the National Park Foundation helped provide training for community volunteers to learn how to teach others to stand-up paddle board at New River Gorge National River through its Get Active in the Park program.

Need some inspiration to try some of these experiences for yourself? Here are 11 more incredible spots to go paddling in national parks.


Channel Islands National Park is a chain of five islands located off California’s central coast that’s often referred to as the “Galapagos of North America.” While visitors can arrange a visit to any of the islands by boat or plane, many people opt to take the ferry to the largest, Santa Cruz Island. The ferry runs year-round to the island and within an hour, you’ve arrived!

Experienced paddlers can rent a kayak and arrange to have it transported to the islands for exploring solo. Otherwise, Channel Islands Adventure Company is the only outfitter permitted to offer guided tours. From a kayak you can explore the rugged shoreline, disappear in and out of massive sea caves and take in the magnificent wildlife of this marine sanctuary.

Green River Cool National Parks national park vacation
(James Kaiser photo)


Float into the heart of Grand Teton National Park and feel like you have it all to yourself on a Jackson Lake kayaking trip. It’s easy to grab a non-motorized boat permit and launch your boat from the Colter Bay Marina or Signal Mountain Boat Launch on your own. You can also hook up with an authorized outfitter for a multi-day sea kayaking adventure that will give you exclusive access to backcountry campsites, idyllic mountain views, spectacular hiking opportunities, and up-close-and-personal wildlife shows (think bear and moose).

Continue reading 11 Cool National Parks to Raft, Kayak, & Canoe from the National Parks Foundation Blog here.

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.