Kayaking in and Around Oklahoma City: The 10 Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

By James @ Sea Kayak Explorer

Oklahoma is home to over 200 lakes and over 160,000 miles of streams and rivers. So regardless of your location in the great Sooner State, you are always likely close to a water body. Oklahoma is also home to the Famous Boathouse district and lots of fun places to enjoy the outdoors. 

Plus, the city has in the past been home to national and international paddling competitions. So, Kayaking and outdoor activities are the norm for most locals in the area. But don’t fret if you are new to Kayaking, as the city is home to various kayaking spots for beginners or families. 

For more kayaking destinations check out our post on the best places to kayak in Oklahoma State here.

1. Oklahoma River, OK

The Oklahoma River is a 7-mile section of the North Canadian River. It’s a section of the river which has nowadays transformed into several river lakes where you can go Kayaking. There, you will find several landscaped areas, recreational facilities, and more. 

People also love to visit the Boathouse District and the MAPS 3 RIVERSPORT Rapids for kayaking activities. The rapids are famous for hosting one of the world’s first fully lit kayaking events.

However, you may have to get a permit before fishing in the river. For safety, it’s recommended that you stay at least 100 feet from places such as locks and dams. An excellent place to access the park would be Regatta Park off Byers Avenue, just west of the Byers Avenue Bridge.

2. Boathouse District, OK

The Boathouse started back in 2006 and is another excellent place for Kayaking in Oklahoma. It sits at the intersection of I35 and I40. Aside from being perfect for families and novices, the Boathouse District is also ideal for athletes. 

If you need a kayak, you can rent one from the Boathouse District. It has a 4,000 m race and training course, where you can go to flex your kayaking muscles. The boathouse district is also famous for hosting the U.S Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.

The most notable attraction would be the RIVERSPORT Rapids, which is among the world’s few white water locations. The Boathouse features over six pumps that help circulate treated water and create different types of water rapids. 

3. Lake Hefner, OK

You will find Lake Hefner on route 74 north of Oklahoma City, and it was built early in the 1940s to help boost the water supply for residents. Nowadays, it has become a popular destination for various types of outdoor enthusiasts, including kayakers. The water around the lake is generally calm throughout the year, making it perfect for families or novices.

Furthermore, the area around the lake is home to various beaches and parks. Another popular attraction spot would be the parks with a lighthouse in the eastern section of Lake Hefner. With an excellent 18 mile shoreline, Lake Hefner offers plenty of unique spots to go Kayaking. 

If you are looking for a perfect place to rent Kayaking gear, consider getting them from OKC Riversport. The best and recommended site to access the area would be City Boat Harbor. 

4. Lake Overholser, OK

Lake Overholser is a small reservoir that sits a few miles south of Lake Hefner and provides an excellent place to have fun kayaking. The location of the lake is south of Route 66 and North of I-440. The entry points to the lake would include the NW 39th Expressway and NW 10th.

Furthermore, the famous Overholser Dam can be found in the city, and with easy access through Route 66. The lake also offers a unique wealth of outdoor resources, including recreation facilities, a picnic area, and hiking trails.

The best place to rent boats would be through OKC Riversport. The other notable aspect of the lake would be the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. It’s home to an expansive marsh area, ideal for Kayaking, bird watching, and fishing.

5. Little River Park, OK

Little River Canyon offers a diverse array of locations that are perfect for Kayaking. The park sits on the shores of Pine creek lake and provides excellent views of the outdoors. While the 2013 EF5 tornado left the park unrecognizable, it has been refurbished and is an excellent outdoor destination.

It’s mostly a rain-fed river, with November through April being the best time to access the area. The park sits on the Northwest section of Pine Creek Lake, with a total of 55 campsites which are perfect for any kayaker. Raymond Gary State Park and Beavers Bend are close to the river park.

The famous Fort Townson is also within the park, having been built in 1824. Beavers Bend and Raymond Gary State Parks are within driving distance. 

6. Lake Thunderbird State Park, OK

Even if it’s not technically in Oklahoma City, Lake Thunderbird is an expansive reservoir that sits a few minutes south of the city. It’s one of the best places to go Kayaking in the city, and it’s home to a diverse range of fish species.

The park sits close to several rolling hills and incredible valleys, which dominate most of its landscape. So, you are never short of things to do at the lake any time of the year. Also close to the lake would be Miller Anderson Woods Preserve and Senachwine Lake. These are also excellent destinations for any outdoor enthusiast.

It’s also close to Lake Thunderbird State Park, where you can find over 400 primitive campsites. Finally, you can head over to Calypso Cove Marina if you need kayaking gear and advice on the best places to kayak in the city. 

Just recently, a local swimmer Piers Hale swam across the lake in 6 hours, meaning this site should be safe even for novice swimmers.

7. Lake of the Arbuckles, OK

Remember the Lake of Arbuckles, where you can have fun Kayaking, and enjoy fishing while you are at it. The lake was created in 1966 and is home to fishing activities, with species such as bass and crappie being expected in the area. Also, the Lake of Arbuckles sits between Guy Sandy, Rock Creeks, and Buckhorn. 

Boat launch permits are required to use the boat ramps. The lake features 36 miles of shoreline, and it also ranks high up among the best places for fishing in Oklahoma. If you want to rent a watercraft, consider visiting the Shady Oaks RV Park for kayaks. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area also offers over 3,4000 acres of land for recreation activities.

8. Spring Creek, OK

Spring Creek is perfect if you want a scenic environment or an excellent place to enjoy paddling. You can access the creek through Marianna in Jackson County and enjoy Kayaking through Spring Creek. 

While it’s a reasonably shallow creek, it provides many wildlife viewing spots and is a feast for any outdoor enthusiast. The immense trees in the area offer an excellent shade canopy as you make your way through the natural habitat.

 A few common tree species in the area include Sweet Bay, Tupelo Gum, and Loblolly Bay. The creek also features a 4-mile trek to make it suited for people with a large family or novices.

9. Stanley Draper Lake, OK

Lake Stanley Draper is an expansive lake with a history dating back to over five decades. It was initially created to provide water to the city but has converted to a great recreation area over the years. More so, the lake covers over 2,900 acres of space, and it gets its name from the famous Chamber of Commerce Director

The lake sits Southeast of Oklahoma City, just off I-240. Once you are through Kayaking, you can go bird viewing. The most common bird types include the Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned & Cooper’s Hawks. The several improvements at the lake have also been thanks to the Atoka Pump Station Rehabilitation Project. 

These initiatives have included working on the natural environment in the area to make it more suitable for outdoor enthusiasts. A good example would be incorporating resources such as pumps to create water rapids.

10. Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge, OK

The Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife preserve that sits on the left section of OKC. The refuge is also close to the North of the Canadian River. Its primary put-in would be on 39th and Lake Overholser Drive. 

If you plan on going there in your car, there is plenty of parking space and boat ramps. Plus, the refuge is home to a SUP rental truck service, where you can get high-quality kayaks. From there, you can take your kayak south or under the bridge as you get a glimpse of the ambient environment around. 

Or, you can also take time to paddle through the tall grass areas that sit on the north area of the bridge. Remember that the usability of the water bodies in the refuge will also be poor during the dry seasons.

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak Near Oklahoma City

There are various places you can enjoy having fun kayaking in Oklahoma. It’s highly populated with countless water bodies, making it popular among outdoor enthusiasts. So plan your adventure to any of the previously mentioned locations, and expect to enjoy the time of your life.