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Kayaking In Kansas State – REVEALED: The Top Places To Go Paddling

Kayaking in Kansas State can let you discover the Midwest from a new perspective. There are many great waterways to explore, whether you’re after meandering rivers or tranquil lakes.

With prairies, the Great Plains, woodlands, and the Flint Hills, there’s a variety of landscapes to check out while you’re paddling. We’ve made a list of some of our favorite Sunflower State locations for you to get to know.

Cliffs reflection on the Arkansas river surfacePin

11 Best Places To Kayak In Kansas State

1: Kansas River, KS

The Kansas River is generally slow-moving and features a 173-mile paddling trail that stretches from Junction City to Kansas City. This can be an ideal multi-day paddling trip but there are multiple access points if you want to paddle shorter sections.

This can be a scenic trip, with tree-lined banks and sandbars to stop for picnics. Wildlife can also be spotted along the river. Kayak rentals are available near Manhattan and Topeka.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/II - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Custer Road, Junction City, KS 66441


2: Fall River, KS

The Fall River can be a picturesque paddle along slow-moving water with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities as you head closer to Fall River Lake. The lake also offers good paddling opportunities.

It can be roughly a 12-mile paddle from Eureka to the Fall River Wildlife Area near the lake. Kayaks and canoes can be rented in Eureka.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/II - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
US-54, Eureka, KS 67045. Launch is under the 54 bridge.


3: Tuttle Creek Lake, KS

Tuttle Creek Lake can be an ideal spot for a weekend trip as it’s surrounded by the five park areas that make up Tuttle Creek State Park. There are numerous coves to explore on this flatwater lake, offering plenty of paddling miles with the Flint Hills as a backdrop. You’ll also find campgrounds and primitive campsites in the area.

Kayak rentals are available at the marina in Cedar Ridge State Park, where there’s also parking and a boat ramp.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
8220 Spillway Marina Road, Manhattan, KS 66502


4: Arkansas River

Regatta across the Arkansas River on a sunny November dayPin
Courtesy: Eric Wittman on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Paddling the Arkansas River can be a fantastic way to discover Kansas, as the river winds its way through the state. A 192-mile National Water Trail stretches from Great Bend to the Oklahoma border southeast of Arkansas City.

There are a few places to launch, with more expected. Launching near Wichita can be a good idea, giving you the choice to paddle either short or long distances. Kayak rentals are available in Hutchinson and Wichita.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/II - easy to moderate

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Wichita, KS 67216


5: Little Arkansas River

The Little Arkansas River can be an easy to access river, flowing through Wichita before joining the National Water Trail of the Arkansas River. Launching at Woodland Park in Wichita, you can paddle through an urban landscape, passing various parks as you head toward the confluence.

There are kayak rentals available in Wichita, as well as various amenities. This can be a good spot for a short paddle or you can continue on the Arkansas River for longer trips.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/II - easy to moderate

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Woodland Park, Wichita, KS 67203


6: Pillsbury Crossing

Pillsbury Crossing can be a great spot to paddle if you’re looking for wildlife. The area is a protected wildlife refuge and features shallow water that can be ideal for families. A ford crosses the river at the launch site.

There’s a small waterfall at Deep Creek that you can paddle close to and the area can be a great place for a picnic too. Paddling is only allowed inside the wildlife area. However, there are no kayak rentals on-site.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
2464-2484 Pillsbury Crossing Lane, Manhattan, KS 66502


7: Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake is a relatively large flatwater reservoir that has lots of coves and interesting rock formations that can be best explored by kayak. There are shallow shorelines with beaches that can make for great resting spots, and campgrounds for overnight stays.

Much of the lake is surrounded by parklands and natural landscapes, making it a relaxing place to paddle and ideal for families. There are several launch ramps, with one being at Wilson State Park. You can also rent kayaks at the bait shop on the eastern shores of the reservoir.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Sylvan Grove, KS 67481


8: Cheney Reservoir

Cheney Reservoir offers flatwater paddling surrounded by riparian woodland and prairies. There are several lakeside campgrounds and a wildlife area.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Unnamed Road, Cheney, KS 67025

9: Melvern Lake

Melvern Lake can be an ideal spot for beginners and families, with sheltered coves and beaches to stop for rest. The almost 7,000-acre lake is surrounded by prairies and woodlands, with camping available for weekend trips.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
31271 Marina Parkway, Melvern KS 66510

10: Perry Lake

Perry Lake is a scenic lake with forested hillsides, beaches, and several recreation areas offering boat ramps and camping. There are 160 miles of shoreline and various coves.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
Ozawkie, KS 66070

11: Lake Shawnee

Lake Shawnee is a picturesque urban lake with calm flatwater and nearby amenities, making it ideal for all skill levels. The lake has a tree-lined shoreline with golf courses and parks offering a leafy backdrop.

Class of Rapids rating:
Class I/Flatwater - easy

Where to Launch & How to get there:
3320 SE Dock Drive, Topeka, KS 66605

Kansas State Kayak Laws & Regulations

US Coast GuardPin

Do You Need To Register A Kayak In Kansas?
No. Only boats with motors need to be registered.

It can be important to be aware of state laws and regulations before you jump in your kayak. These are just some of the rules you should know before paddling in Kansas. But this is merely a guide and not legal advice. You should always check the local laws yourself.

●    A PFD must be readily available for each person on any vessel, including kayaks and canoes.
●    All children under the age of 13 must wear a PFD while kayaking.
●    Registration is not required for non-motorized kayaks. If you add a trolling motor then your boat will need to be registered.
●    Boating Under the Influence of alcohol is illegal in Kansas. This means a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.
●    A whistle is required for kayaking on Kansas waters.
●    A white light or flashlight is required for paddling between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around Kansas State

Many of our favorite Kansas paddling spots have kayak rentals available nearby. However, for Pillsbury Crossing, you should bring your own vessel, as there are no outfitters at this location.

●    KAW Valley Canoe Rental (Kansas River - rentals)
●    Fall River Boat & Canoe Rental (Fall River - rentals)
●    Wildcat Marina (Tuttle Creek Lake - rentals)
●    Arkanoe (Arkansas River - rentals)
●    Boats & Bikes (Little Arkansas River - rentals)
●    Knotheads (Wilson Lake - rentals)
●    Melvern Lake Marina (Melvern Lake - rentals)
●    Dirty Girl Adventures (Perry Lake - tours)
●    Lake Shawnee Adventure Cove (Lake Shawnee - rentals)

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