Despite being one of the more central states in the US without any bays or beaches, Tennessee has a lot to offer kayak enthusiasts. In fact, many seasoned kayakers tend to agree that Tennessee is one of the best states for kayaking overall, with a very wide range of options to suit every kind of kayaker.
The rivers in the central part of the state provide a true spectrum of kayaking possibilities, with places like Duck River offering smooth, easy-going waters for calm kayaking, while locations like Rock Island or the Ocoee River offers some major rapids and whitewater kayaking options. This all means that both newbies and highly experienced kayakers can find a lot to love around Tennessee.
In terms of the sorts of things you can see along the way, Tennessee also offers major variety for kayakers. The Cumberland River flows right through Nashville and lets kayakers enjoy urban exploration and sights like the famous city skyline, while other areas like the Clinch River or Buffalo River provide more natural environments, with all sorts of vegetation and wildlife in every direction.
Kayak rentals and services are also available all around the state, and kayaking in Tennessee is a super way to spend some time outdoors with friends and family, especially when the weather starts to heat up and everyone is eager to get outside and cool off on the water. Things to Do in Tennessee
Best Kayaking Locations in Tennessee
There are so many great kayaking locations to choose from all around the great state of Tennessee, and it’s not surprising to find kayakers paddling along many of the state’s rivers, both large and small, at almost any time of year. Here are some of the top Tennessee kayaking spots for you to enjoy on your next visit to the state, as well as the contact details of kayak rental and tour outfitters in each respective area.
· Duck River
The longest river to be situated entirely in the state of Tennessee, the Duck River runs for almost 300 miles in total and provides some stunning scenery, with gravel bars and little secluded spots perfect for picnics and photoshoots. Since this river is located in the Duck River State Natural Area, it's almost entirely green and natural, with barely any manmade monuments or buildings along the way, so it's a really great place to get away from the hustle and bustle or urban life and feel at one with nature.
The River Rat's Canoe Rental - 4361 US-431, Columbia, TN 38401 (931 381-2278)
· Ocoee River
Perhaps best-suited to experienced kayakers, the Ocoee River features some truly intense class III and IV rapids, with over 20 continued rapids in total, and is a prime spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Located in the picturesque Cherokee National Forest, this river was actually once used in the 1996 Olympics for a kayak/canoe event and can pose a real challenge to even the most skilled kayaker. In short, this is the place to be if you want to take your kayaking to a new level in Tennessee.
Raft One - 4599 US-64, Copperhill, TN 37317 (888 723-8663)
· Cumberland River
One of the biggest waterways in the southern half of the United States, the Cumberland River is simply huge. It runs for almost 700 miles in total from the Appalachian Mountains until meeting up with the Ohio River in Kentucky. There are many great kayaking spots along this river, with both rural and urban kayaking opportunities.
Many people like to kayak through Nashville via the Cumberland River in order to see the city from a new angle, while many parks and campgrounds can be found along the river's banks. The majority of the river is quite calm and flat, perfect for inexperienced kayakers, but some sections, like the area near Cumberland Falls, contain some choppy rapids for more of a challenging kayaking session.
Cumberland Kayak - 2 Victory Ave, Nashville, TN 37213 (615 800-7321)
· Buffalo River
With more than 120 miles of crystal clear water to enjoy, the Buffalo River is one of Tennessee's most visually striking kayaking locations. The waters are clean and beautiful all year long and the surrounding forests and scenery provide a magnificent backdrop for extended kayaking adventures. Kayak fishing for bass and other species is also possible along this river and all sorts of wildlife from beavers to deer can be spotted along the banks.
Bone’s Canoe and Campgrounds - 16520 Bakerville Rd, Hurricane Mills, TN 37078 (931 209-5908)