Kayaking In Oklahoma – Guide To Paddling The Sooner State

There are many awesome places to go kayaking in Oklahoma. The state is filled with rivers and lakes that make for scenic multi-day trips or just a relaxing few hours.

With four mountain ranges to be found in the state, as well as many forests and the Great Plains, you can expect to discover a variety of different landscapes on your paddling adventures. We’ve made a list of some of the best spots to check out in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma city's lake Hefner surrounded by forest in fall colorsPin

11 Best Places To Kayak In Oklahoma

1: Mountain Fork River

Dangerous water adventures on the rapids of Mountain Fork riverPin

The Mountain Fork River can be a popular summer paddling spot, with several outfitters located along the banks, including at Beavers Bend State Park. You’ll also find many places to launch.

The river features up to Class II rapids but the conditions are dependent on dam releases and rainfall. Around Beavers Bend, it tends to be calm and can usually be paddled in both directions.

Class of Rapids rating:
Up to Class II (easy to moderate)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
17 OK-259A, Broken Bow, OK 74728.

2: Illinois River

Beautiful fall day for paddling down the Illinois riverPin

The Illinois River is a scenic waterway, with nature and wildlife all around, including resident bald eagles. There are many places to launch and several outfitters, with some located along Highway 10 near Tahlequah.

The river is generally calm, with some mild rapids up to Class II, but it can usually be easily managed by beginners.

Here's more on the Illinois River, in... Illinois

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/II (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
No Head Hollow, 14624 OK-10, Tahlequah, OK 74464.

3: Lake Hefner

Lake Hefner is located in Oklahoma City, so it’s easily accessible. There are a few places to rent kayaks, including next to the marina on the southern shores of the lake. You can also launch next to the marina.

This flatwater lake can be great for all levels and can also be ideal for kayak fishing. Walleye, catfish and bass can be found. However, you will need an Oklahoma City fishing license as well as a state fishing license.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
4407 S Lake Hefner Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73116.

4: Lake Eufaula

 Paddling on a muddy water of the Eufaula lakePin

Lake Eufaula is the largest lake in Oklahoma. It can be a great spot for paddling, swimming and fishing, with many annual fishing tournaments held on the lake.

There are many marinas and boat ramps around the lake, with lots of amenities and lodgings. Some of the marinas and resorts may offer kayak rentals but it can be more convenient to bring your own.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Peter’s Point, Eufaula, OK 74432.

5: Lake Overholser

Lake Overholser can be found just north of Lake Hefner, in Oklahoma City. This flatwater lake can be great for beginners and families. You can also access the North Canadian River, which can be a quiet spot to kayak on calm water.

Kayaks and canoes can be rented from the boathouse on the eastern shores of the lake. The lake can be a nice spot to watch sunsets and you can also paddle into the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge at the northern end of the lake.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Boathouse, 3115 E Overholser Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73127.

6: Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles is in Chickasaw National Recreation Area and can be great for kayak fishing and wildlife viewing.

There are miles of shoreline to paddle along and the lake is surrounded by forests and the Arbuckle Mountains. There are a few launches, including Buckhorn Ramp. And kayaks can be rented from Shady Oaks near The Point Campground.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Buckhorn Boat Ramp, Sulphur, OK 73086.

7: Oklahoma River

The Oklahoma River can offer fantastic views of the Oklahoma City skyline. This can generally be a quiet place to paddle despite being urban and flowing through the center of the city.

Outfitters with kayak rentals can be found at Chesapeake Boathouse. A good place to launch is at the Oklahoma River Trails Access. There’s also a launch on the southside of the river opposite Chesapeake Boathouse.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
SW 15th St. & S Portland Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73108.

8: Watonga Lake

Watonga Lake features clear blue water and is surrounded by picturesque scenery, including a canyon, cliffs and natural springs. This can be a scenic place to kayak on flatwater, so it’s ideal for families and beginners. It also offers good fishing for bass and catfish.

Roman Nose State Park can be a good place to launch, with campsites and restrooms on-site. The park also offers canoe and kayak rentals.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
2738 Lot 301, OK-8A, Watonga, OK 73772.

9: Kiamichi River

Peaceful spring day for kayaking on the river KiamichiPin

The Kiamichi River can be a scenic trip through the Kiamichi Mountains, on the western edge of the Ouachita Range. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, this could be the place for you.

There is very little in the way of development so it has a natural appearance, making it great for spotting wildlife on the banks and above your head. K River Campground is the only outfitter on the river, offering rentals, shuttles and a place to launch.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/II+ (easy to moderate)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
415209 E 1842 Road, Moyers, OK 74557.

10: Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma lies on the Oklahoma/Texas border and is one of the largest reservoirs in the US. This large lake is known for its excellent fishing, with naturally reproducing striped bass, as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass, and catfish.

The lake can be ideal for a few hours or several days, with plenty of paddling miles and campgrounds. Lake Texoma State Park can be a good place to begin, with kayak rentals available at the marina and a boat ramp.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Catfish Bay Boat Ramp, Park Ramp 200, Kingston, OK 73439.

11: Lake Lawtonka

Lake Lawtonka is surrounded by beautiful scenery, including fantastic views of Mount Scott and the Wichita Mountains. The lake has beaches and campgrounds dotted around its 21-mile shoreline.

There’s a boat ramp just off of Highway 58 and kayak rentals are available on the northern shores of the lake, at Robinson’s Landing. You can also kayak in Elmer Thomas Lake, which is just south of Lake Lawtonka.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Lawton, OK 73507.

Oklahoma Kayak Laws & Rentals

You’re required to have a PFD on board for each person in your kayak. All children under 13 must wear theirs at all times. Remember, boating under the influence is illegal in OK. 

Check out our in-depth guide: Oklahoma kayaking laws.

US Coast GuardPin

●    Beavers Bend State Park (Mountain Fork River - rentals)
●    Illinois River Outfitters (Illinois River - rentals)
●    Riversport Lake Hefner Boathouse (Lake Hefner - rentals)
●    Lake Overholser Boathouse (Lake Overholser - rentals)
●    Shady Oaks Boat Rental (Lake of the Arbuckles - rentals)
●    Chesapeake Boathouse (Oklahoma River - rentals)
●    Roman Nose State Park (Lake Watonga - rentals)
●    K River Campground (Kiamichi River - rentals)
●    Catfish Bay Marina (Lake Texoma - rentals)
●    Robinson’s Landing (Lake Lawtonka - rentals)

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Michael Jones

Good info. Surprised not to see Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge/Norh Canadian River at Lake Overholser on the list. I drive by Lake Hefner going there weekly. Much better place. Lots of kayaks, saw over 30 a week ago on the water. Beautiful scenery and wildlife.


Thanks for all the information. One correction to #5 Lake Overholser. It is actually SW of Lake Hefner, not “just North.”


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