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Kayaking In Alaska – 7 BEAUTIFUL Sea Kayak Locations Around AK

Mark Armstrong
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Kayaking in Alaska is a bucket-list activity for many people.

The Last Frontier is filled with remote wilderness areas providing the chance for epic adventures through stunning landscapes.

As well as great scenery, Alaska can be one of the best places to kayak with orcas and view bears in their natural habitat. To give you a few tips on some of the best places to go we’ve put together this short guide.

Then you can decide if Alaska be on your kayak bucket-list, or if you should look elsewhere…

A couple kayaking in Alaska surrounded by icePin

7 Best Places To Kayak In Alaska (at sea, on rivers, or lakes)

1: Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National ParkPin
Courtesy: NAParish on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Kenai Fjords National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Alaska and, arguably, the world. Kayaking can be one of the best ways to experience the glaciers and marine environment up close.

Aialik Bay can be a great spot to kayak, with plenty of coves and landing beaches for rest-stops and overnight stays, as well as views of Aialik Glacier. Remember to use a Bear Resistant Food Canister (BRFC) if you’re camping. Some landing sites have metal food storage lockers for you to use or you can rent BFRCs from kayak rental companies.

There are opportunities to see whales and orcas in this area. Kayak tours generally depart from Seward, where kayak rentals are also available.

How to get there:

Seward can be reached by cruise ship, plane, road, or rail. To reach Aialik Bay you can take a water taxi from Seward Harbor. Most kayak tours will usually include water taxi transportation to Aialik Bay.

2: Eklutna Lake

If you’re looking for stunning mountain scenery and calm flatwater, free from motorized boats, Eklutna Lake can be the ideal place. This long turquoise lake features 15 miles of shoreline and lots of wildlife, including moose, bears, and bald eagles.

This can be a peaceful place to paddle and is within easy reach of Anchorage. It can also be ideal for beginners.

The lake is located in Chugach State Park and is named after the nearby Eklutna Glacier. The glacier is at the southern end of the lake, past Serenity Falls. You can hike there from the lake but it can be quite a trek and may require mountaineering skills in places, as the glacier is retreating.

You can rent kayaks from the visitor center near the beach at the northern end of the lake.

How to get there:

Head north on the Glenn Highway from Anchorage until you reach the Eklutna exit. From there, follow signs for Eklutna Lake. There’s parking near the campground.

3: Seymour Canal

Seymour Canal and Admiralty Island can be great locations for extended kayaking trips. There are lots of opportunities for wildlife viewing, with many bears and marine life to be seen.

One of the highlights in the area is Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island. Admiralty Island has one of the world’s highest population densities of brown bears and Pack Creek can be one of the best places to view them in their natural habitat.

There are plenty of landing beaches for camping along Seymour Canal and on Admiralty Island. Some of the islands in the canal can be better for camping since there tend to be fewer bears.

You can rent kayaks or arrange a guided tour from ABAK  in Juneau.

How to get there:

You can kayak to Seymour Canal from Juneau. You can launch from Sheep Creek or across the channel at Savikko Park Beach in Douglas. From there you can paddle across to Oliver Inlet where you can make use of the rail to portage your kayak and belongings to Seymour Canal. Pack Creek is around 20 miles south of this point.

4: Glacier Bay National Park

Kayaking In Glacier Bay National ParkPin
Courtesy: Matt Zimmerman on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Glacier Bay can be a fantastic area to explore Alaska’s wilderness and glaciers with plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. There is also some spectacular scenery and remote landing beaches which can make it the ideal place for kayak camping.

A good spot to launch is at the visitor center at Bartlett Cove, where you can also rent kayaks or arrange a guided tour. If you want to camp overnight during your paddling trip you’ll need to register for a permit at Bartlett Cove – permits are free.

There are also tour boats that can ferry you and your kayak closer to the glaciers.

How to get there:

Bartlett Cove launch is located around 10 miles northwest of Gustavus. Gustavus can be reached only by air or sea. There are air taxis available from Juneau, Haines, and Skagway.

5: Prince William Sound

Man kayaking in Prince William SoundPin
Courtesy: Matt Zimmerman on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Prince William Sound is filled with coves and islands that can be best explored by kayak. This can be a great place for kayaking with orcas, whales, and various other marine animals. There are also opportunities to spot moose, bears, and bald eagles, as well as hundreds of thousands of seabirds.

A good place to launch is at the harbor in Whittier. There are also several kayak outfitters in the town where you can rent a kayak or head off on a guided tour. The outfitters can give you advice on the best spots to camp if you’re looking to embark on a multi-day trip.

Paddling out of Whittier, if you head along the northern coast of Passage Canal, you can see large populations of kittiwake gulls, as well as waterfalls cascading down the mountains.

If you have two weeks, you can paddle across to Valdez and catch the ferry back to Whittier.

How to get there:

From Anchorage head south on the Seward Highway until you reach Portage Glacier Road that runs to Whittier.

6: Eagle River

Eagle River is easily accessible from Anchorage with a good launch spot at Chugach State Park North Fork, around a 30-minute drive from the city. From this river access point, it can be a leisurely paddle through wild forests and rugged mountain peaks.

The river is generally Class I and can be ideal for families and beginners, with an easy eight-mile trip to the take-out just before Briggs Bridge. After the bridge, there are Class III rapids.

Wildlife is abundant along the river, with chances to see moose, eagles, and bears. Kayak rentals are available in Anchorage with self-transportation.

How to get there:

Head north from Anchorage on the Glenn Highway (AK-1) until you reach Eagle River Loop Road. Take a right at the traffic lights beside Walmart and head along Eagle River Road until you reach Chugach State Park North Fork Eagle River (on your right).

7: Lake Clark

Lake Clark is a 45-mile long lake inside Lake Clark National Park with beautiful mountain backdrops and turquoise water.

This large lake can also be a great area for fishing, particularly for salmon. However, remember you’re in bear country, so it can be important to keep any food or fish inside bear-proof containers and keep your distance.

Lake Clark can also be a good place for kayak camping trips, as there are plenty of beaches where you can land. There are also public use cabins available.

You can launch from Port Alsworth, where you can also rent a kayak. Or you can arrange a water taxi from Port Alsworth to take you and your kayak across the lake to one of the cabins.

How to get there:

Lake Clark can only be reached by air, as there are no roads. Air taxis land in Port Alsworth and fly from various places in Alaska, including Anchorage.

What Are The Kayak Laws?

US Coast GuardPin

You should follow Alaska state laws, rules, and regulations when kayaking in state waters.

  • Registration is not required for non-motorized kayaks and canoes
  • PFD is required for each person on board a kayak. This must be US Coast Guard approved, be in a suitable size and condition, and be easily accessible.
  • Children under 13 must wear a US Coast Guard-approved PFD at all times
  • whistle or other sound-producing device is required for all kayaks on Alaska waters
  • VDS (Visual Distress Signals) for night use are required when kayaking on coastal waters in Alaska between sunset and sunrise. This can be an electric distress light. An all-around white light is also required for night paddling.
  • Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Alaska. The blood alcohol limit is 0.08% and a conviction could impact your driving privileges – a BUI is the same as a DUI.

Tips for kayaking safety

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around Alaska

Because of some of the remote locations in Alaska, it can sometimes be easier to rent a kayak or take a tour, so we’ve included a few outfitters here to help you out.

Alaska Kayaking: The End. What About You?

Now that you’ve seen some of the spectacular places you can kayak in Alaska, it might be time to start planning your future trip.

With pristine waters, glaciers, and some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, Alaska can be an amazing place to kayak. And many of these places are even accessible to beginners.

Let us know some of your favorite Alaska paddling spots. Feel free to share this to inspire others.

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