Oklahoma has over 200 lakes and more than 167,000 miles of rivers and streams. No matter where you are in this great state, you’re never very far away from a body of water. Kayaking is a great way to explore nature, have some fun, and get some time in the fresh air. If you have minimal experience kayaking, don’t fret. You can head out with a guide or take some safety lessons first. There are plenty of excellent places to start your journey. Here are five particularly awesome spots.
The Illinois River is a good place for beginners for a lot of reasons. There are many places to rent a kayak along Highway 10, and a lot of public access points to the river. It’s fairly easy to paddle, but does have some rapids that will challenge beginners. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the area, including bald eagles. Most of the rentals are only open May to October, but private boaters get on the river all year long. Just make sure your kayak is registered with the state!
Although Lake Eufaula isn’t a river, it’s still a nice place to kayak. It’s fed by three rivers, and features miles and miles of shoreline. As you go from north to south, terrain changes. The lake has been flooded for quite a while thanks to spring rains, but some say it’s easier to kayak when the lake is higher. The state park has some nice launch sites, but practically anywhere there is a boat ramp, you can drop your kayak in the water. Lake Eufaula is home to many species of flora and fauna, making it ideal for a float trip.
Mountain Fork River is probably the best whitewater stream in Oklahoma. You might want to call one of the local outfitters before making your trip to find out what the paddling conditions are. Below the hydroelectric dam, the river is rated as a Class II Whitewater, which might be a challenge for newer kayakers, but exciting and fun. You’ll find many places where you can rent a kayak close to the river, and there are a lot of places to put your kayak into the water.
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The best stretch of river for kayaking is near Turner Falls. It’s rated as a Class II or III Whitewater, depending on the river level and location. The best times for paddling here are in early summer, before the heat of summer evaporates the water. There aren’t many outfitters in this part of the state, but a few have popped up and are open during the summer season. This section is a nice place for novices, because you can spend time outdoors and experience some challenging sections of river.
The Kiamichi River is close to the Mountain Fork River, and offers Class I and II float trips, but after a heavy rain, the river might have some Class III rapids. Although spring and fall are the best times to kayak this river, it’s still a nice place to explore in the summer. K River Campground is a great place to stay and put your kayak in the water. You can even take a full-moon night float, if you’d like. You can call the campground to find out the water level before driving down to this site.