Kayaking Hot Spots

The cool, blue waters of North Dakota's lakes and rivers attract more than just anglers looking for fish. They're also some of the best kayaking waters around. From steady flowing rivers like the Missouri, to tranquil lakes and streams, here are some of the best kayaking areas in North Dakota. The following state parks offer canoe and/or kayak rentals: Cross Ranch, Fort Ransom, Fort Stevenson, Icelandic, Lake Metigoshe, Lewis and Clark and Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area.

Missouri River
Missouri River

The Missouri river is cool, clear and free-flowing around Bismarck-Mandan. There are many different places to rent kayaks, including Missouri Kayak Adventures, Missouri River Kayak Rentals and Paddle On North Dakota.

Sheyenne River
Sheyenne River

The Sheyenne River from Northern Lake Ashtabula to the Sheyenne National Grasslands encompasses the 199 mile Sheyenne River Water Trail.  The gently flowing scenic river valley leads to camping, cabins and kayak rentals at Fort Ransom State Park.

Kayaking on Lake Sakakawea
Lake Sakakawea

Lake Sakakawea, at 368,000 acres, has more surface area than any reservoir in the United States and more miles of shoreline than the California coast! All of that water makes for endless opportunities for paddlers. Facilities, camping, cabins and rentals are available at Fort Stevenson State ParkIndian Hills, Lake Sakakawea State Park, and Lewis and Clark State Park.

Pembina River
Pembina River Trail

The Pembina River twists and turns through the scenic Pembina Gorge. The Gorge is one of the only places in the state where kayakers can experience Class 1 rapids. The spring and early summer are the best time to paddle the area. Facilities and rentals are available at the Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area office.

Lake Metigoshe State Park
Lake Metigoshe State Park

Lake Metigoshe is North Dakota’s lake in the middle of the woods. School Section Lake is a non-motorized lake within Lake Metigoshe State Park. A canoe/kayak trail starts and ends on School Section Lake. To complete the entire path, some portaging is required. Facilities, camping, cabins and rentals are available in the state park.

Red River
Red River - Grand Forks Area

The Boathouse on the Red makes Grand Forks an easy place to slip into the Red River and enjoy the Greenway right in the heart of north Dakota’s third-largest city. Check out Ground Up Adventures at the Boathouse on the Red for rental information.

Red River
Red River - Fargo Area

Paddle leisurely on the Red River between Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., on a kayak from Riverkeepers Kayak and Canoe Rentals

Harmon Lake

Harmon Lake north of Mandan is one of the newer impoundment lakes in North Dakota, dating to 2009. The 145-acre lake is nice for families and day trips. Paddle On North Dakota is based at the lake's swimming beach so renting a kayak, paddleboard or canoe is a breeze. Check out the SUP Yoga classes in the summer.

kayaking on Devils Lake
Devils Lake

Looking for a place to do some angling while paddling, Devils Lake is ideal for long-distance and angling kayakers. This lake has varied significantly in size throughout the years but is currently the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. Facilities are located at Grahams Island State ParkEastbay Campground and Woodland Resort.