Nevada, The Silver State, is home to more than just stretches of hot sandy deserts and the grand casinos of Las Vegas. It’s open waterways offer some of the best kayaking in the US and are a great way to reconnect with nature and explore some of the beautiful yet wild mountainous regions of Nevada.
In this post, we’ve put together a list of some of the destinations that we think are the best places to kayak in Nevada.
1. Lake Mead, NV
Located southeast of the city of Las Vegas, the man made Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and a great location for swimming, fishing, and kayakers who prefer calm, still waters. The lake ranges in color from turquoise to a deep blue, surrounded by rugged, rocky highlands that make it a very picturesque location for paddlers.
Lake Mead is over five hundred feet deep and covers over a million acres! It also stretches across state borders, connecting Nevada and Arizona. Due to its sheer size, it may even have different weather between the north and southern portions of the lake.
One particular paddle we enjoy is visiting Boulder Island in the middle of Lake Mead. After kayaking three miles to the island, get your hiking shoes ready for a relaxing hike to the top of the island where you’ll find a historical memorial, and breath-taking views. To put the cherry on top, America’s national bird, the bald eagle, can often be spotted floating through the skies, greeting visitors with their presence.
2. Colorado River, NV
The Colorado River connects the western United States to our neighbor Mexico to the south. It’s of course known for The Grand Canyon, a stretch of the river in Arizona, but, as it flows through Nevada there are also some must kayak spots to check out.
Formed millions of years ago and given its name from the black volcanic rocks throughout the canyon, Black Canyon is one particular stretch along the Colorado that is a great tourist attraction and kayaking location. As well as that, the beautiful and popular Sauna Cave lies south of the Hoover Dam. This cave’s deep walls are covered with shimmering calcium carbonate crystals, perfect for mineral experts and enthusiasts.
If the crystal-covered walls aren’t enough to excite you, a welcoming hot spring awaits you at the end of the cave, with natural temperatures around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Be prepared to melt your worries away!
3. Pyramid Lake, NV
Named in honor of the famous pyramid-shaped tufa formations found along the shore, Pyramid Lake is another great destination for kayaking and sight-seeing. It’s very calm and flat water so is an ideal location for beginners to try kayaking for the first time to learn the ropes. Couple that with the amazing scenery and view of the rocky mountains and you have one of the top places for kayaking in Nevada.
The best time to visit is during the summer, but it still serves as one of the state’s major kayaking attractions. Not only is this lake the remains of ancient icebergs from the ice age, the pyramid-like structures give it an all around ancient feel. Dive into history at this great body of water, you’ll be glad you did!
4. The Truckee River, NV
Up next we have the Truckee River, A 121 mile long river that flows from Lake Tahoe in California into Pyramid Lake, Nevada. It has a number of different spots along its long route that make it a very popular river for kayaking.
While technically in California, River Ranch Run just over the border is a good section for kayakers looking for some light class I – II rapids. But, sticking to Nevada, there is a section in downtown Reno where the river has been made into a whitewater park.
Truckee River Whitewater Park waters are classified as class two and three rapids, ranging from small to medium waves between two and three feet high. Some obstacles can get in the way of smooth sailing, making this a more challenging kayaking experience, but non-overwhelming and still very enjoyable nonetheless!
The best time of year to visit the water park is between Spring and Summer, but it is open year round for your enjoyment! The park is engineered to be kayak and canoe ready even during low flow periods.
5. Walker Lake, NV
Walker Lake, like many of the lakes in Nevada, is a remnant of Lake Lahontan, an ancient body of water that covered a large area in Nevada. Walker Lake is 11 miles long, 5 mile wild lake with sections being as deep as 80 feet. It’s also a salt water lake, being about half as salty as the sea.
It’s very popular destination for water sports with wind surfing, canoeing, boating, and of course kayaking. If you do visit, be sure to keep a look out for Cecil, a large reptile creature that is said to inhabit the lake by local tribal lore!
6. Carson River, NV
The Carson River, is made up of two main forks, the east fork that begins up at Sorona Peak and that west fork that forms at Carson Pass, both in CA. Most of its route however is in Nevada where it flows for 180 miles until it empties into the Carson Sink
When it comes to kayaking though, the Carson excels with so many sections worth exploring that we can’t list them all. Some notable runs though were the 12.6 mile run on the Carson River Aquatic Trail. It passes through incredible canyons and passes old remnants from the Silver mining era. Another run for those who want more rapids is the stretch between Carson River Park and Morgan Mill Road. The just over 3 mile paddle has, depending on the river level, class I-II rapids and so is good for those new to whitewater kayaking.
For the more adventurous of you, keep going another 9 miles from Morgan Mill and carry on down to Dayton where you’ll find class III rapids and historic sites.
7. Lake Las Vegas, NV
Another location that’s very family friendly, and located on the southern tip of the Silver State. Lake Las Vegas is housed inside of an earthen dam that stands nearly five thousand feet high and is over seven hundred feet wide, giving you and your family plenty of space to float around on your kayaks.
Las Vegas Lake is also home to three well known resorts. The Aston MonteLago Village Resort gives a uniquely west coast feel, great for taking a break between kayaking sessions. Recharge and relax your mind and body in the four-star hotels, take a dip in the pool if you haven’t gotten your fix of water for the day, do a little yoga, or some retail therapy at one of the gift shops. There are plenty of great eateries and pubs, and the South Shore Golf Club is available for your pleasure. It is easy to spend hours each day kayaking and enjoying other activities you and your family are sure to love!
8. Lake Tahoe, NV
One of our favorite destinations in all of the US is Lake Tahoe, a freshwater lake in Sierra, located right on Nevada’s border with California, the Golden State. If you haven’t been Surrounded by mountains with dense forests, the hues of green coupled with the blue waters are sure to dazzle you.
The lake is generally calm and still, with a crystal clear quality allowing you to see directly to the rocky, mossy bottom. This is a great spot for beginner kayakers, or those looking for more of a serene time instead of the thrill of rushing waters.
9. Marlette Lake, NV
Another location on the list worth exploring is more historical. Located in Virginia City, Marlette Lake was created during the silver mining boom in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, you may not be lucky enough to find any of the silver that attracted many of the state’s original settlers, this one hundred and thirty five acre lake will still make you feel like you have.
It is a wonderful place to kayak, as well as connect with the great past of the indigenous Americans who first inhabited the region and the western settlers of the nineteen century.
10. Lake Mohave, NV
And finally we have Lake Mohave, a beautiful reservoir that was created in 1951. Named after the Mohave Indians who used to reside in the area, it’s 67 miles long and stretches all the way from the Hoover Dam down to Davis Dam.
Home to three popular resorts and many beautiful species of fish, this reservoir is sure to please, offering year round opportunities to kayak, scuba dive, fish, and soak in soothing hot springs. If the sandy shore isn’t enough to excite you, the rust-colored rocky surroundings offer a serene paddling experience to help you escape the day and get back to nature.
Summing Up Kayaking In Nevada
So that about sums up some of our favorite places for kayaking in Nevada although there are lots more that we haven’t listed. We love how diverse Nevada is and on first thought you’d think it’s just deserts but that couldn’t be further from the truth as it’s full of amazing locations that are calling out to be explored by kayak.
We hope our list has helped inspire you for your next trip and let us know how you get on kayaking around Nevada.