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Kiamichi River - wilderness float trips in Southeastern Oklahoma.
The Kiamichi River in Southeastern Oklahoma.

 

Spring River Near Quapaw in Northern Oklahoma.
Spring River Near Quapaw in Northern Oklahoma

 

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Oklahoma Canoe & Kayak Float Trip Outfitters List

 

 

 

 

Looking for a fun, scenic and exciting  Southern Oklahoma float trip? Paddle the Lower Mountain Fork River!

 WW Canoes offers an 18-Mile float trip mixing rapids, flatwater and canoe camping on the Mt. Fork River!

Enjoy Flatwater Paddling on Oklahoma Lakes

Paddle the beautiful lakes that dot the Oklahoma landscape for fun, for fishing, for photography and for fitness!

  • Since most of Oklahoma communities get their water from a lake, there is sure to be some flatwater paddling that is just a short drive from your home in Oklahoma.
     
  • Oklahoma wildlife abound on our lakes, but they prefer quiet, secluded hiding spots that are not readily available to motor boats. Kayakers see and photograph them with ease.
     
  • A canoe or kayak is an affordable way to get more from the outdoors in Oklahoma. I hope my tips and pictures help you discover the fun of paddle sports in the Ozarks.
     
  • Many lakes and rivers that are near large cities require municipal permits for boating their waters. Most waterways near OKC require special permits, but low cost daily permits are available in most cases.

Enjoy river trips kayaking in the states around Oklahoma like: The Elk River in Missouri, The Kings River, The White River, & The Buffalo River in Arkansas, The Spring River in Kansas and more. We recently traveled to Wichita, Kansas to paddle Santa Fe Lake.

Lake Bixhoma - City Permit Required
Okmulgee Lakes
Lake Eufaula
Lake Tenkiller
New Beggs Lake

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Jim Hall Lake in Henryetta, Oklahoma.
Jim Hall Lake in Henryetta, OK

Dianne's recreational kayak on a small feeder creek on Dripping Springs Lake.
Anderson Creek on Dripping Springs Lake

Do you offer kayak rentals in Oklahoma?  If you are not listed on this website, leave a comment on our blog and let us know!

Find Your Local Lakes

Lake Kayaking near Hickory Point Boat Ramp on Southern Lake Eufaula.No matter where you live these days, I'll bet that you are within a short drive to a reservoir lake.  Some of Oklahoma's lakes are massive like lake Eufaula and others are tiny an relatively unknown like Shell Lake near Tulsa, OK.  Flatwater kayaking on these lakes can be loads of fun.  It may not hold the life-altering excitement of whitewater kayaking, but it can take your fitness, your fishing and your photography to a whole new level.

The tricks to getting the most out of flatwater paddling on Oklahoma lakes are pretty simple: choose a lake that is close by, pick the right hours to paddle, find your way to the tiny coves and scenic feeder creeks.  You just might find that you have a paddler's paradise  or secret fishermen's honey-hole right in your own backyard!


Try It Before Your Buy It

I love my 9.5 foot Perception Swifty recreational kayak.Most kayak and canoe enthusiasts get started by renting a watercraft from a local paddling outfitter. OklahomaRoadTrips.com maintains a large list of kayak outfitters, float trip locations and recreational areas around Oklahoma that offer rentals.  if you like kayaking as much as my wife Dianne and i do, you may want to check out our Buy vs. Rent Kayaks page. Dianne and i enjoyed renting kayaks around Oklahoma and Arkansas for years before we each decided to buy a stable, easy to paddle recreational kayak. You can easily rent a small recreational sit-inside-kayak or sit-on-top kayak from any number of outfitters on the Illinois River in Tahlequah or on the lower Mt. Fork River in Broken Bow.  You can even rent larger, faster touring kayaks from OKC Kayak in Oklahoma City.


Paddle the Magic Hours

My buddy Scott Kayak Fishing at Okmulgee Lake near Hickory Point Boat Ramp.I try to hit the water at least one or two hours before twilight.  I believe that any body of water is beautiful...if you catch it at the right time.  Chasing sunsets across the shining surface of Dripping Springs Lake and Lake Okmulgee has become one of my favorite workouts.  I like to meet with any paddling buddies at Clovis Point Campground Fishing Dock at Dripping Springs Lake.  The campground parking is good and there is good lighting near the fishing dock, just in case I am a bit late paddling home.

After launching my From Clovis Point, I either paddle South toward upper Salt Creek or straight across Dripping Springs Lake and then West toward the lakes other feeder creek (my Dad calls it Anderson Creek).  Both offer narrow sheltered passages across seldom visited parts of the lake.  Upper Salt Creek stretches west a short distance across Dripping Springs Lake and then turns South and stretches into Okfuskee County.

 

Fishing Dock photo at sunset, Dripping Springs Lake offers fine tent and RV camping at Clovis Point Campground in the State Park near Okmulgee Oklahoma.
Clovis Point Fishing Dock at Okmulgee State Park


Oklahoma Offers More Paddling Than You Might Think

Oklahoma has around 78,578 miles of rivers and streams, but many only offer unpredictable seasonal flows. You may not be able to kayak them all without the help of a powerful social network reporting river levels and replica watches sale conditions to you. Average annual lake evaporation in Oklahoma ranges from 48 inches in the extreme east to 65 inches in the southwest. Unfortunately, that far exceeds the average yearly rainfall in those parts of the state. Enthusiastic Oklahoma paddlers usually take to our 1,120 square miles of lake and pond water, when river don't abide. Naturally, Oklahoma's largest lake in surface area is Lake Eufaula, but that is only the beginning of the story when it comes to Sooner State lakes. A swift and silent touring kayak or user-friendly recreational kayak can open this world up to you in ways you never imagined.

Paddling up on whitetail deer at Dripping Springs Lake is easy in a kayak!

Since Okmulgee State Park is practically in my backyard, I spend a lot of my paddling time on Okmulgee Lake and Dripping Springs Lake.  Tulsa paddlers frequent Keystone Lake, Shell Lake, Bixhoma Lake and Pretty Water Lake in Sapulpa, OK.  In Oklahoma City flatwater paddlers enjoy kayaking on windy old Lake Hefner when the North Canadian River (AKA: Oklahoma River) is running too low.  If you don't like sharing the lake with fast moving wake riders, consider on of Oklahoma's smaller low wake lakes like Bixhoma or Henryetta's two small lakes.

Get A Water Atlas When They Are Available

When I am looking for local lakes to paddle, I go first to my Oklahoma Water Atlas, it is often available for FREE from the ODWC. It includes a great little map of just about every public lake in the state of Oklahoma. These maps are so detailed that you can find all of the boat ramps.  The small feeder creeks that are the best for kayak paddling are easy to find using your water atlas! They sent me mine merely for paying the price of postage. This fine Paddler's Tome was created in 2007 through a partnership between the Oklahoma Water Resource Board, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, The Kerr Foundation and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. 

Although it was out-of-print when I wrote this, they are working on getting funds for a New Oklahoma Water Atlas, watch this page for details or to view the electronic version.


Escape the Speeding Bass Boats and Jet Skis

Narrow creeks feed just about every Oklahoma lake I have ever paddled. When you find these creeks they are often backed up for miles along narrow, curvy channels.  They are full of fish, secluded and safe from fast boats.  Their meandering curves will provide you and your kayak some welcome shade and the ability to slip silently and stealthily up on all manner of local flora and fauna. 

Use your Oklahoma Water Atlas to plot the quickest routes across the lake to these scenic waterways.  When you find an especially cool one, drop me a comment on my blog or look me up on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook etc., my username is FreeWine. You will find that most boaters have little use for low wake lakes and reservoirs that don't allow loud, smelly motor boats. Kayak paddlers seek out this tiny jewels to enjoy a peaceful day of kayak fishing or sunset chasing.

 

Choose A Kayak for Oklahoma Lake Paddling

Seventeen Foot Pygmy Coho Plywood Kit Kayak on Dripping Springs Lake.There an an almost endless variety of choices when it comes to kayaks.  New paddlers usually start with wide, stable, easy-to-paddle recreational kayaks. Folks who travel often may prefer folding kayaks, river runners buy whitewater boats and many manufactures produce hybrid boats that cross multiple genres.  River outfitters and kayak fishermen that frequent the oceans, tend to choose Sit-On-Top kayaks because they are nearly unsinkable.  Sea kayakers choose long touring kayaks for their straight tracking and easy speed.

Dianne in her Old Town Vapor 12 XT Angler Kayak Recreational Kayak (Sit-Inside) - Made for novices paddlers, these kayaks are wide enough to be very stable, but short enough to be easy to haul.  Recreational kayaks come in two major styles: SINK or SOT. The Sit-Inside Kayaks (SINK's) are preferred for three-season paddlers.  Sit-On-Top Kayaks (SOT's) are primarily summer-time boats that offer maximum stability, payload capacity and are unsinkable.  All Recreational kayaks offer large cockpits for easy entry and access to gear like fishing rods & cameras. They cost between $300-$1200 and are usually between 9 and 13 feet long. I paddle a recreational kayak made by Perception Kayak.

Many Sit-Inside 'Rec Kayaks' are rigged for fishing, like Dianne's Heritage Featherlite Angler Kayak or her Old Town Vapor 12 Kayak. You will pay extra for fishing rig features, so don't pay for it if you don't plan to use it.  Although I don't do much kayak fishing, I really like the enormous cockpit on the Old Town Vapor for kayak photography where room for a tripod is important.

Recreational Kayak (Sit-on-Top) - SOT kayaks are unsinkable, due to scupper holes that drain the deck and a fully sealed hull. A SOT kayak offers the a better chance of self-rescue, since you can simply climb back on. However, they tend to be somewhat slower and you are more exposed to wind, sun, mosquitoes, water, cold etc. Wilderness Systems makes some fine SOT kayaks that are great for fishing. Don't let the unsinkable nature of a SOT kayak lull you into a false sense of security. It is just as easy to fall off of a SOT kayak as it is to capsize a traditional Sit-Inside kayak. This is why you rarely see Sit-On-Top kayaks in extreme whitewater. One very unique SOT kayak is the Hobie Mirage kayak. We recently rented some of these 'pedal-powered' kayaks on Santa Fe Lake near Wichita, Kansas this year. You can read our review of the Hobie Mirage kayak on our Kansas Kayaking page.

Touring Kayak - Touring Kayaks are sit-Inside kayaks longer than 13 feet.  They are more narrow which makes them faster, but less stable than recreational kayaks. Built for sea kayaking, they offer sealed bulkheads and hatches for keeping camping gear dry. These boats handle waves well and they paddle straight and fast. You do sacrifice the ability to turn very quickly, which can be a problem in whitewater. Touring kayaks like the Necky Eliza tend to be more costly than recreational kayaks, but if you make long journeys the extra speed of a longer kayak may be worth the expense.

Folding Kayak - If you travel far and wide, you may be considering a folding kayak. Folding kayaks breakdown for storage in bags. Companies like Advanced Elements, Feathercraft and Folbot make both touring and recreational kayaks that are highly mobile. However, Folding Kayaks require more 'care & feeding' than rugged little plastic boats. If you live near any major mass transit system, you may find that one of these 'boat-in-a-bag' kayaks are worth the extra upkeep trouble OR if you simply don't have room to store a ten foot recreational kayak.

Whitewater Kayak - Whitewater kayaks are Sit-Inside Kayaks built to change course on a dime.  They are short and tend to track poorly on flatwater.  The small cockpit on a whitewater kayak helps to keep it from sinking, but can make it uncomfortable for larger-framed paddlers. The smaller cockpit on a whitewater kayak makes them harder to enter and exit. The Wavesport Diesel kayak is an excellent example of a whitewater boat. DO NOT buy a whitewater boat for lake kayaking unless you are willing to put a great deal of muscle into you paddling journeys.  The poor tracking on such a short kayak makes paddling them in so-called 'flatwater' a real chore.

Hauling Your Kayak

Whatever type of kayaks you choose, make sure you have a way to get them to the  water.  This usually means roof racks, pickup trucks or kayak trailers.  We haul our recreational kayaks in the back of our Chevy Silverado, we an fit four of them in at once!

In addition to a shuttle method, you will need a place to store your kayaks. If you are short of garage space try using an Overhead Storage Kit hoist your kayak and free up valuable garage space. Constant sunshine can kill a plastic kayak long before its time.

Oklahoma Boat Stickers For Kayaks

Registering canoes and kayaks in Oklahoma is required. The OKC Outdoor Network keeps a very helpful page on Oklahoma Canoe and Kayak Registration - check it out! Hardline Products SIBLK320 LETTER AND NUMBER KIT REGISTRATION KITS

Your local lakes and river may have additional permit requirements that go beyond state boat stickers and boat registration numbers.

 

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