9 Of The Best Places To Kayak In Oklahoma | SeaKayakExplorer (2022) (2023)

With rolling hills and flowing rivers, the possibilities for kayaking are endless in Oklahoma. Known as the Sooner State, this blanket of boundless outdoors is calling for adventure.

When it comes to kayaking, you want variety and, of course, gorgeous scenery. You get both in the many lakes and rivers of Oklahoma. Though land-locked, this state is full of opportunities for water adventure.

In this post, we’re going to look at 9 of the best places to kayak in Oklahoma to help inspire you as you plan your next kayaking trip.

1. The Illinois River, OK

For beginners, the Illinois River is a great option that is full of all that Oklahoma has to offer in terms of nature and wildlife. There are reportedly over 250 species of birds that you can see as you paddle down the Illinois River. If you watch carefully, you may even see a bald eagle.

Running through Cookson Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma, this kayaking spot is nothing short of picturesque. In the spring and fall, you can see blooming redbuds. But, no matter what season you visit the Illinois River, you’ll enjoy tons of gorgeous, bright trees and a variety of wildlife.

There are more than ten resorts and launching locations, and the Illinois River features various water types. So whether you are looking for an easier, calmer route or trying to get an adrenaline rush on Type II rapids, the Illinois River has it.

For launching, there are a number spots you can try: Illinois River at Tahlequah on the southern side of Tahlequah; No Head Hollow Public Access north of Tahlequah along State Highway 10; Edmonson Public Access on State Highway 10 north of Ellerville; Peavine Hollow Public Access on State Highway 10 north of Edmonson Public Access; and Chewey Road Public Access east of State Highway 10 from the intersection of Chewey Road and State Highway 10.

2. Mountain Fork River, Broken Bow, OK

Near the city of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, lies Mountain Fork River. It feeds into Broken Bow Lake and rests in southeastern Oklahoma, reaching south to Arkansas. To locals, the part of the river that lies below the lake is called Lower Mountain Fork River, and it’s a hugely popular kayaking spot.

Particularly in the summer, you’ll see people flocking to Mountain Fork River and Lower Mountain Fork River for water sports and recreation. A trendy spot is a two-mile loop in Beaver Bend State Park north of the Re-Regulation Dam.

This is another decent option for beginners, as the water tends to remain calm in the summer. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t the chance of some adventure. After rainstorms or dam releases, Mountain Fork River can quickly achieve Type II rapids. In fact, some areas of Mountain Fork River are well known as some of the best white water streams in Oklahoma.

When planning a trip to Mountain Fork River, your best bet is to contact a local outfitter to find out the paddling conditions. There are around 15 rental companies along Lower Mountain Fork River, so no need to bring your own kayak. To access Mountain Fork River, try at the Highway 70 bridge south along the river.

3. Lake Eufala, Eufala, OK

Coming in at 41,000 hectares, Lake Eufala is the largest lake in all of Oklahoma. It spreads out through three counties and also includes over 600 miles of shoreline. Along with that picturesque shoreline, there are many marinas, campgrounds, and accommodations if you want to extend your trip a couple of days.

One reason for Lake Eufala’s size is the fact that three different rivers feed it. As you move north to south in the lake, you’ll notice the terrain changing. With that changing terrain comes a wide range of wildlife and vegetation. If you’re new to kayaking, consider waiting until the water level rises. Some say that makes it an easier route. Plan on spring when the rains flood the lake.

There are several launch sites; however, it might be easier to use any one of the many boat ramps to access Lake Eufala.

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4. Boathouse District, Oklahoma City, OK

If you’re looking to visit a spot with a unique personality, try the Boathouse District of Oklahoma City. Not only does it provide views of scenic wilderness, but it’s also home to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site for the rowing and canoeing/kayaking teams.

As you plan a trip to the Boathouse District, make sure you check out OKC Riversport. They offer several classes and trips, including wildlife paddling on Lake Overhulser, flatwater kayaking, and full moon kayaking.

OKC Riversport also offers a membership for those who plan on kayaking the Boathouse District regularly. You get extended access to various activities like cycling, rowing, and stand-up paddleboarding with that membership. The Boathouse District is truly a watersport playground.

5. Skiatook Lake, OK

Skiatook Lake is more accurately described as a reservoir. Measuring at 4,200 hectares, this picture-perfect spot is surrounded by rolling hills, providing a serenity that many of us are craving lately.

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The 15th largest lake in Oklahoma, Skiatook Lake is located in the Osage Reservation northwest of Tulsa. With over 160 miles of shoreline, there is no shortage of places to stop and take a break during your kayaking trip. There you can enjoy the view of the deep green bluffs mirrored in the deep, crystal water.

For a launch site, you can try Crystal Bay Marina and Resort, Zink Ranch Road Lake Access, Crosstimbers Marina, Highway 20 Lake Access, or North Access.

6. Arcadia Lake, Edmond, OK

Located just east of Edmonton, Arcadia Lake is the place to be if you love a good time. It has a reputation for being social and loud, though you can still find some peace and quiet in the small coves around the lake.

Because it’s a no-pull lake, you won’t have to worry about fighting skiers for space on the lake. Instead, you can paddle around and enjoy the views of coves and hills, as well as the uniquely stunning orange sands along the shoreline.

To access the lake, try the boat ramp on the south side of the lake of the bay on the north side. For a more private experience, turn to UCO. They offer a small boathouse off one of the small coves so you can go exploring in peace away from any of the motorboats.

7. Grand Lake of the Cherokees, OK

Nestled in the rolling slopes of the Ozark Mountain Range, sitting comfortably in the northeast corner of Oklahoma, is Grand Lake of the Cherokees. It’s not only a large reservoir by Oklahoma standards; it’s actually one of the biggest reservoirs in the country. Measuring 36,000 hectares, it’s also the most developed lake in the region.

Lying at the confluence of Washita and Red Rivers along the border of Oklahoma and Texas, Grand Lake of the Cherokees is also one of the most popular lakes in the region. More than 6 million people visit the lake every year.

Grand Lake of the Cherokees also provides incredible scenery. It flows through two state parks and two wildlife refuges, meaning you’ll get some of the best views of Oklahoma as you paddle around the large reservoir.

It’s described as quite open yet remarkably shallow. It also has a significant number of small inlets and coves, perfect for side tripos, though you’ll need to watch out for larger craft.

8. Lake Hefner, OKC, OK

Located on the northeast side of Oklahoma City and northeast of Lake Overholser is Lake Hefner. Though it’s bordered by a dam on one side and residential areas around the rest of it, it provides many opportunities for recreation, including kayaking. Aside from that, you can enjoy golfing, boating, fishing, and hiking.

When Lake Hefner was built, in 1947, it was intended to provide water for the nearby city. Today, it’s not only a great kayaking spot but also well-known for its fishing. There is a wide variety of gamefish in the lake, like walleye, channel catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass.

As rich as the wildlife is on Lake Hefner, it’s also a popular spot for motorboats, so keep a watchful eye as you explore the 1,000-hectare lake. On the entire north end is Lake Hefner Dam. Your best bet for a launch site is on the south side of the lake near the northwest expressway. There’s a sandy beach area called Lake Hefner River Sport Sailing Center. It’ll be the most accessible launch you’ve ever had.

9. Lake of the Arbuckles, Sulphur, OK

Just south of Sulphur, Oklahoma is Lake of the Arbuckles. Built-in 1966, it boasts 36 miles of incredibly scenic shoreline that includes camping spots, boat docks, boat ramps, and picnic areas.

Lake of the Arbuckles in the pretty girl at the dance: it’s known for being gorgeous. Chickasaw National Recreation Area lies on the north side, while the rest of it takes you through prairie and woodlands. If you need a break from kayaking, try any one of the many hiking trails nearby. You could also try your hand at fishing. You might catch a catfish, perch, crappie, or bass.

Connected to Lake of the Arbuckles is another popular kayaking spot: Washita River. It’s closer to Davis, Oklahoma, and known more for tubing, but it’s still worth visiting. The best stretch of the river for kayaking is near Turner Falls, where there are Class II and III white water rapids. Your best bet will be to visit during early summer.

Another side trip to take when visiting Lake of the Arbuckles is Veteran’s Lake. It’s north of Lake of the Arbuckle’s and smaller, but it’s ideal for new kayakers and families. It features well-kept walkways and even has a fully equipped playground for the kids.

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To access Lake of the Arbuckles, try the east side of the lake, one of the most popular launch areas. You can also launch along Buckhorn Road, from Buckhorn Campground Loops C and D, or Buckhorn Boat Landing.

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak in Oklahoma

As you can see, Oklahoma has plenty of places to kayak and paddle, no matter what you’re looking for. Whether you want a serene stretch of water with just the wildlife as your company or an adrenaline-fueled adventure through whitewater rapids, there is something out there for every level of experience and interest.

We hope this list has helped you find someplace new that will inspire you to get outside and go exploring! Have any favorite spots we didn’t mention? Get in touch and let us know.

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What color kayak is most visible? ›

According to nautical safety experts, the most visible color is yellow, followed by orange and reddish tones, white, light green.

Do you need a permit to kayak in Oklahoma? ›

Do you need a license to kayak in Oklahoma? You do not need a license to operate a non-motorized kayak or canoe in Oklahoma. Kayaks and canoes with no attached motor do not require operator licensing or education.

What are the 3 Golden Rules of recreational kayaking? ›

You need to let your upper. And lower bodies work cooperatively. But independently from each other.

Which location is best for kayaking *? ›

Top 10 Amazing Places to Go Kayaking
  • Maldives. People go to Maldives to have their dream vacations: white soft sandy beaches, crystal clear water and sumptuous hotels. ...
  • Menorca, Spain. ...
  • Soča River, Slovenia. ...
  • Geirangerfjorden, Norway. ...
  • Hawaii. ...
  • Moraine Lake, Canada. ...
  • Milford Sound, New Zealand.

What do you call a group of kayakers? ›

Pods, Swarms, Flocks.

How long does a kayak last? ›

Kayaks are designed for durability and will last many years with proper care and maintenance. However, the average lifespan of a kayak can range anywhere from 8-14 years. With proper care, your kayak will last much longer and provide you with years of enjoyment on the water.

What color is easiest on water? ›

On water, testing found that the green and orange colors were the most conspicuous at larger distances under any illumination intensity.

Do red kayaks scare fish? ›

The answer is no. The color of the kayak does not appear to matter to the fish. Bear in mind that your kayak will look like a dark shadow from under the water even if it is a bright color – so you don't need to worry about scaring away fish with a bright kayak.

Can you kayak the Canadian river in Oklahoma? ›

However, most of the river through Oklahoma is navigable in canoes and kayaks from the Texas-Oklahoma border in the Antelope Hills north of the Black Kettle National Grasslands between IH 40 to the south and US Highway 60 to the north all the way to Lake Eufaula.

Do I need a river Licence for an inflatable kayak? ›

If you're paddling on the sea, estuaries or tidal water, or on a river or canal which doesn't require a licence, then that's fine, you don't need one. There are also options to purchase a day licence.

Can you kayak on Oklahoma River? ›

The Oklahoma River section along Oklahoma City, Oklahoma's Downtown area has some great kayaking opportunities. The calm water is perfect for beginners and families just wanting to enjoy the water the Boathouse District of Oklahoma City.

Do kayaks flip easily? ›

There's many ways your kayak can flip, but the most common ones are big waves, strong currents and excessive weight. Although kayaks are designed for maximum stability no matter the conditions, accidents happen and knowing what to do can help you avoid an unpleasant experience.

Is kayaking a good workout? ›

Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Specific health benefits include: Improved cardiovascular fitness. Increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders and chest, from moving the paddle.

What do you kayak with? ›

Kayak Gear
  1. Kayak.
  2. Paddle (1 per paddler), plus spare.
  3. Personal flotation device (1 per paddler)
  4. Bilge pump.
  5. Spray skirt (for cold weather/water)
  6. Dry bag for personal items.
  7. Headlamp/light with extra batteries (in case you're out after dusk)
  8. Signaling whistle.

What is the history of kayaking? ›

The first kayaks were rudimentary designs built approximately 5,000 years ago by the Inuit and Aleut people to travel swiftly across the water. Located in the Artic North America, these tribes would construct the kayaks out of whatever types of material they could find, including animal skins, bones and wood.

What is a kayak chine? ›

Chine: The line where the boat's bottom and sides join is called the chine. Described as either hard or soft, chines define the shape of the hull as either boxy or rounded.

What is kayak Creeking? ›

Creeking (sometimes called steep creeking or treetop boating or creekboating) is a branch of canoeing and kayaking that involves descending very steep low-volume whitewater.

What is rocker in a kayak? ›

ROCKER. The degree of curvature in the hull from bow to stern defines the rocker. More rocker improves the ability to maneuver the kayak, especially in rough water. A kayak with little or no rocker will track very well and travel efficiently, but may be more difficult to maneuver.

Is it OK to drag a kayak? ›

If you have a plastic boat, you can drag your kayak to the water. Just grab the handle at the bow and drag the boat. You should only do this on grass or sand to avoid damaging the keel. A skid plate or keel guard can help protect the keel of the kayak when dragging it to and from the water.

Should you wax your kayak? ›

Wax On, Wax Off - Why Waxing Your Kayak Is Important

Applying a kayak wax to your vessel can give it that extra layer of protection against damage. This means it could boost the durability of the hull, helping to protect it from the sun's harmful rays, as well as scratches or dents.

What is the best material for a kayak? ›

Aramid Composites (Kevlar)

Kevlar is slightly stronger than Carbon Fiber (depending on the grade of Aramid and binding agent used). Kevlar is used for top end kayak construction. It is the strongest construction material of the three listed here.

What color disappears first underwater? ›

Red is the first to be absorbed, followed by orange & yellow. The colors disappear underwater in the same order as they appear in the color spectrum. Even water at 5ft depth will have a noticeable loss of red. For this reason, strobes are usually used to add color back to subjects.

What is the hardest color to see underwater? ›

Blue light penetrates best, green light is second, yellow light is third, followed by orange light and red light. Red light is quickly filtered from water as depth increases and red light effectively never reaches the deep ocean.

At what depth underwater does color disappear? ›

That's right – red is the first to go. It disappears at depths as shallow as 15 feet (5 meters). The next to follow is orange, which starts to fade at 25 feet (7 meters). Yellow is next, disappearing at 35 feet (10 meters) followed by green at 70 feet (20 meters).

Does color matter in a kayak? ›

Fish do not pay attention to the color of your kayak so it will not affect how many you catch. Kayaks come in vibrant colors and patterns to increase visibility and safety. Since kayaks have a very low profile, larger vessels would have a much more difficult time spotting a kayak if they weren't highly visible colors.

What color fishing kayak should I get? ›

Kayaks come in many different colors, and the good news is fish don't care and will not be spooked. However, if you fish on water crisscrossed by fast-moving powerboats, a brightly colored kayak will keep you safer than a camouflage pattern. If this is a concern, yellow, lime and green colors are the most visible.

Why are kayaks bright colors? ›

Bright colors make your kayak more visible and safer on the water. It is especially important for anglers who fish in areas where marine mammals could be present, such as near large bodies of water or where there are lots of boats around.

How deep is the OKC river? ›

Oklahoma Flow Report
LocationStreamflowGage Height
DEEP FORK AT WARWICK USGS 07242380384 cfs5.52ft
DEEP FORK NEAR BEGGS USGS 072435006700 cfs14.94ft
112 more rows

Can you kayak at Turner Falls Oklahoma? ›

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.

Can you swim in the Canadian River in Oklahoma? ›

The river provides approximately half of the drinking water for Oklahoma City. In addition, the river hosts boating and swimming events.

What side of the river do you kayak on? ›

as a general rule you should pass left hand side to left hand side. i.e. aim to the right of the boat coming towards you, thereby going between it and the rhs bank.

Can I use my kayak anywhere? ›

To get to the water, you have a legal right to carry your kayak along any public highway such as a public road or footpath. You may have a legal right to carry kayaks over private land to get to the beach, even if there is no footpath, but don't expect the landowner to be happy about it.

How far can you sea kayak in a day? ›

I generally like to paddle 15 to 20 miles a day in a kayak, which gives plenty of time to mess around. Most people I know plan 15 or so mile days, although on motivated trips 25 miles seems the norm.

Do you need a boat license in Oklahoma? ›

All boaters between 12 and 15 years of age must have an Oklahoma Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP or sailboat 16 feet or longer. BOATERexam.com® is a delegated provider for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Section.

What rivers do you float in Oklahoma? ›

The Illinois River in Tahlequah is a 145-mile-long tributary of the Arkansas River in northeast Oklahoma. It's a gentle flowing river with scenic banks, making it perfect for float trips. There are several outfitters along the river offering float trips. One of our favorites is All American Floats in Tahlequah.

Can you kayak on Grand Lake Oklahoma? ›

Kayaking is common in the area as well as swimming. Bird watching is also a favorite recreation at this Grand Lake Ok location. Hiking is also prevalent and enjoyed by many who visit the park.

Which is safer sit in or sit on kayak? ›

The greatest advantage of a sit-inside kayak is that they have a much lower center of gravity than a sit-on-top design and thus, they have a much higher degree of secondary stability which enables the paddler to lean the kayak on its side for more efficient turning and to remain upright when paddling in rough seas.

What is the safest type of kayak? ›

Sit-on-tops are the most user-friendly. They're very stable, easy to get in and out of and there is no feeling of confinement on them. They're also self-bailing, which means they have small holes (called "scupper holes") that allow the water to drain right through them.

How do you not tip a kayak? ›

A kayaker must either push off of the bottom of the body of water they find themselves in or make a large circular gesture under the water with their oar in order to right their boat. Repeated proactive sessions of both of these tactics are a kayaker's best chance of staying safe.

Does kayaking burn belly fat? ›

Yes, kayaking can help you lose belly fat and build firm abs. The proper form of paddling involves rotational movements that are very taxing on your core muscles. With each stroke of the paddle, you will contract your abdominal and oblique muscles, which helps build core strength.

How long does a 10 mile kayak trip take? ›

A 10 mile kayak adventure will require about 5 hours to complete. But that's not the entire picture. On any kayak trip over an hour, you're not going to maintain a steady pace of 2 to 2.5 knots for 5 hours straight! You'll take breaks, get a drink of water, and maybe just stretch your shoulders and legs a bit.

Why do my legs hurt after kayaking? ›

Therefore when we sit slumped in a kayak with our feet up against the foot-rest we are tensioning the sciatic nerves in each leg. Continuous tensioning of the nerve can cause irritation and nerve pain anywhere along the course of the nerve.

Should I shower after kayaking? ›

This is because showering with warm water and soap immediately after recreational water activities helps remove bacteria from your skin's surface and your hair. Even if you are participating in a secondary recreational water activity such as paddling, boating or fishing it is important to shower.

How do seniors get out of a kayak? ›

One of the most clever tricks for easy entry & exit from a kayak for seniors is to find an ADA-accessible dock in your area. This can come in handy even if you don't have a specific handicap and many locations will allow seniors to launch from their docks for little or no charge.

Do kayak paddles make a difference? ›

Next to the kayak itself, your paddle has the biggest impact on your performance on the water. Even a short tour involves thousands of strokes, so a proper paddle can make all the difference.

Is kayaking popular in Canada? ›

Canada is the ultimate destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. However, the most genuine way to experience a country which is home to more than two million lakes and rivers is by kayaking or canoeing. The sheer number and variety of rivers and lakes in Canada can be overwhelming.

Where did the kayak originate from? ›

The first kayaks were rudimentary designs built approximately 5,000 years ago by the Inuit and Aleut people to travel swiftly across the water. Located in the Artic North America, these tribes would construct the kayaks out of whatever types of material they could find, including animal skins, bones and wood.

Can you kayak anywhere in UK? ›

The sea surrounding the UK is free to Kayak except for a few off-limits areas as stipulated by the Ministry of Defence. This includes any estuaries and tidal rivers. Many rivers have tides that extend far inland so keep that in mind when researching your preferred paddling destination.

What do you call a person who kayaks? ›

(ˈkaɪˌækə) n. a person who uses a kayak.

What are the benefits of kayaking? ›

Along with simply being a fun and enjoyable activity, kayaking has numerous health and physical benefits.
  • Weight Management. ...
  • Increased Upper-Body Strength. ...
  • Toned Legs. ...
  • More Core Strength. ...
  • Improved Cardiac Health. ...
  • Better Endurance. ...
  • Mood Boost. ...
  • Improved Focus.
27 Mar 2021

Do you need a life jacket for kayaking? ›

A life jacket must be on board at all times of year. All canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards must have on board one USCG approved wearable PFD for each person on board. All canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards must have on board one USCG approved wearable PFD for each person.

How deep is a kayak? ›

A depth of 13″ to 15″ is common for quality recreational & touring kayaks.

How far can you sea kayak in a day? ›

I generally like to paddle 15 to 20 miles a day in a kayak, which gives plenty of time to mess around. Most people I know plan 15 or so mile days, although on motivated trips 25 miles seems the norm.

What do you kayak with? ›

Kayak Gear
  1. Kayak.
  2. Paddle (1 per paddler), plus spare.
  3. Personal flotation device (1 per paddler)
  4. Bilge pump.
  5. Spray skirt (for cold weather/water)
  6. Dry bag for personal items.
  7. Headlamp/light with extra batteries (in case you're out after dusk)
  8. Signaling whistle.

What is difference between canoeing and kayaking? ›

In a kayak, the paddler is seated and uses a double-bladed paddle pulling the blade through the water on alternate sides to move forward. In a canoe, the paddler kneels and uses a single-bladed paddle to propel the boat forward.

What kayaking means? ›

Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving over water. It is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle.


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