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Kayaking in Nevada – The BEST Places to Paddle, Rent Kayaks, Tours & more

Mark Armstrong
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Nevada is probably best known for its casinos, desert landscapes, and its history of gold and silver mining. But it’s also home to some fantastic paddling locations. From mighty rivers to vast lakes, the Silver State can offer a variety of adventures on famous waterways.

To give you a taste of this diverse landscape, we have put together some of the top places to go kayaking in Nevada.

Trees and rocks on Lake Tahoe NevadaPin

5 Best Places To Kayak In Nevada

1: Colorado River

Three kayakers paddling on Colorado river on a sunny dayPin
Courtesy: Lake Mead NRA Public Affairs on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The famous Colorado River has scenic coves and canyons that can make it an exciting place to paddle, with opportunities to see eagles and other birds of prey soaring above you. The Black Canyon National Water Trail is a 26-mile stretch of the river running from the Hoover Dam to Eldorado Canyon.

Because the water is so calm, you can paddle in either direction. You can launch at the access point just below the Hoover Dam but you need a permit due to it being a security area. Alternatively, you can launch 12-miles downstream at Willow Beach, on the Arizona side of the river, where you’ll also find kayak rentals. More on kayaing Arizona here.

You can also launch or take-out at Placer Cove, 14 miles downstream from Willow Beach.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I (easy)

Where to Launch & How to Get There:

25660 Willow Beach Road, White Hills, AZ 86445.

2: Pyramid Lake

Camping at Lake Pyramid in NevadaPin
Courtesy: Sachet Dube on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Pyramid Lake is one of Nevada’s largest natural lakes, covering around 125,000 acres, and is located within the Paiute Reservation. It’s known for its pyramid rock formation and its unique fish, including the Cui-ui fish and the Lahontan cutthroat trout.

This desert lake has calm water and can be a good place for beginners and families. You can launch at the marina in Sutcliffe, where you can also rent kayaks from the outfitter on the beach.

A good place to explore is the Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to a variety of birds, including over 10,000 white pelicans.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to Get There:

Pyramid Lake Marina, 2500 Sutcliffe Loop Road, Reno, NV 89510.

3: Lake Mead, Las Vegas

Lake Mead can be an easy trip from Las Vegas and has several places to launch. The lake can be a busy place for watersports, including paddleboarding and motorized vessels. But there are many coves and shallow areas that can be quieter for kayaking.

A good place to launch is at the paddlesports beach just next to the Hemenway Fishing Pier. This lets you park close to the water for easy launching. From here you can paddle across to the Boulder Islands and around the Boulder Basin.

There are kayak rentals and tour outfitters located in Boulder City and Las Vegas.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to Get There:

Boulder Beach Fishing Pier Road, Lake Mead, Boulder City, NV 89005.

4: Carson River

A view at the shallows of Carson riverPin
Courtesy: David~O on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Carson River can be a great spot to see wildlife, including wild horses and bald eagles. The 14-mile section on the Carson River Aquatic Trail can be a scenic trip through a canyon and past old mills and mines.

The paddling trail begins at Carson River Park in Carson City and ends at Santa Maria Ranch.

The first three-and-a-half miles can be easily paddled and ideal for beginners, with Class I water. After your short trip, you can take-out at Morgen Mill Park.

If you prefer a little more action on your river trips, you can continue nine miles to the take-out at Santa Maria Ranch. However, this lower section begins with a Class III rapid followed by several Class II rapids before you reach the take-out.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I to III depending on the location (easy to moderate)

Where to Launch & How to Get There:

5013 Carson River Road, Carson City, NV 89701.

5: Lake Tahoe

Two kayaks headed out to enjoy the first row of the day at lake TahoePin
Courtesy: Don Graham on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Lake Tahoe shares its beautiful shores with California and can be one of the most scenic spots to kayak in Nevada. This large alpine lake features clear blue water and is surrounded by green forests and mountain peaks.

There are several places to launch along the eastern shores of the lake, with one being at Sand Harbor State Park. At Sand Harbor, you’ll find a boat launch, kayak rentals, a beach, and a visitor center.

Lake Tahoe has many coves to explore, including the clear, shallow waters of Emerald Cove which is just north of Sand Harbor. You can also paddle south to Chimney Beach.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I/Flatwater (easy)

Where to Launch & How to Get There:

Sand Harbor, 2005 NV-28, New Washoe City, NV 89704.

What Are The Kayak Laws?

US Coast GuardPin

These are just some of the state kayaking laws for Nevada. You should always do your own research, as rules may vary for specific bodies of water or local areas.

  • PFDs are required to be on board each kayak – one for each person and easily accessible.
  • Children under 13 must wear a USCG-approved PFD while on any vessel.
  • Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or any other substance is illegal.
  • Registration is not required for non-motorized kayaks.
  • white light is required for paddling at night.
  • VDS signals for night use are required for kayaks at night on Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead, and the Colorado River.
  • whistle or sound-producing device is required.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around Nevada

You can rent kayaks or take a tour at many of our favorite locations but some may require you to bring your own, for example, Carson River.

Final Words

While it’s probably not a state you associate with a lot of water, Nevada has plenty to offer when it comes to paddlesports. From alpine lakes to desert reservoirs and even a portion of the longest rivers in the United States; the Silver State can be a diverse place.

Check out these great paddling spots and tell us what you think. And if you want to inspire other paddlers, share this.

2 thoughts on “Kayaking in Nevada – The BEST Places to Paddle, Rent Kayaks, Tours & more”

  1. I absolutely found your blog useful. thank you very much. We cannot wait to try out our new kayak in Pyramid Lake and Willow Beach, and Tahoe Lake. We will try Lake mead too, but liked the others to try first.


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