We know you’ve seen the photos. Sinewy canoeists navigating first descents down Arctic rivers. Paddlers loading into Beaver floatplanes for journeys over tundra. Folding canoes brought on flights and unpacked thousands of miles away from the paddler’s home.
These once in a lifetime trips to remote destinations are amazing, but you can have equally as memorable paddling journeys just hours from where you live. If you reside in a major city and want to get on the water in a stunning place, read on to find the adventures that are closer than you think.
1. Five Day Whitewater Course in Kananaskis, Alberta
Distance from Calgary: 1 hour
If you want to hone your whitewater skills, but aren’t quite sure where to start, a five day course with Aquabatics Calgary is a great option. You will polish existing skills, learn new ones, experience exciting new rivers and grow your passion for whitewater. Exposure to river safety techniques, communication and scouting skills will increase your confidence when paddling with a group. The best part? The five day course takes place in the gorgeous Kananaskis Country in the foothills and front ranges of the towering Rocky Mountains. Learn more here.
2. Five day canoe course on the Madawaska River
Distance from Ottawa: 2 hours
The Madawaska River is home to amazing whitewater and a vibrant paddling community. Just a two hour drive from Ottawa, the Madawaska Kanu Centre offers a five day canoeing course to improve technical and river running skills in tandem or solo canoes. In addition, participants will learn the basics of river reading and river safety. The week comes complete with video analysis and gates. A bonus? The mid-week water releases at the front door of MKC mean a great variety of Class I-IV rapids. See more here.
3. Canoeing Maine’s Flagstaff Lake
Distance from Portland: 3 hours
This canoe trip with Maine Huts and Trails offers a variety of settings, including two nights at their beautiful Flagstaff Hut and an overnight camp out. You will explore the points and coves of Flagstaff Lake with a Registered Maine Guide, delicious backcountry food and endless views. See more here.
4. Paddling the Yukon River from Whitehorse
Distance from Whitehorse: 0 hours
Paddling the Yukon River is a classic northern canoe trip, and for good reasons. Canoeing for 16 days with Up North Adventures, you will be in grizzly bear, wold, moose, caribou and bald eagle territory. The scenery will be enhanced by famous landmarks and history, including old settler cabins, gold dredges and the relics of steamships. Starting in the city of Whitehorse, the journey is perfect for all levels of paddler and ends in historic Dawson City. See more here.
5. Canoeing Utah’s San Juan River
Distance from Albuquerque: 4 hours
Canoeing the San Juan River with Black Feather means an eight day adventure through dramatic red rock canyons. The San Juan twists and turns through convoluted goosenecks as it drains from southern Utah and flows into the Colorado River. The majority of the river is gentle current and simple rapids, but whitewater skills can be developed with a few more challenging sets. The trip is full of history of the ancient peoples who inhabited the area a thousand years ago, including cliff dwellings, rock art, ruins and stairways carved into the stone. Great days paddling are broken up with hiking to breathtaking lookouts and archeological sites. Learn more here.
6. Kayaking British Columbia’s Desolation Sound
Distance from Vancouver: 5.5 hours
Desolation Sound is regarded as one of the most striking areas in British Columbia. The deep-water sound is a favorite for paddlers because of its spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife. This trip with Spirit of the West Adventures is four-to-seven-days in length, fully outfitted and will expose paddlers of all levels to spectacular vistas, warm water and accessible freshwater lakes for swimming. See more here.