Best Places To Kayak In Nevada

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Kayaking in Nevada is an excellent way to spend your weekend reconnecting with nature and paddling down the Silver States’ most breathtaking waterways. From its roaring rivers to its vast lakes, almost everyone can enjoy kayaking in Nevada.

Nevada is known to be an arid State. However, it is still a great place to go kayaking as nearly all bodies of water in Nevada are designated recreation areas. This means there are multiple easy access points for launching your kayak in most waterways.

Kayaking in Nevada will leave you wondering why you never thought about paddling in this State sooner. There are many lakes and rivers for beginners and experts to explore the fantastic scenery and paddle through Nevada’s famous mountainous regions.

Do I Need Experience To Kayak In Nevada?

Whether you have never been out on the water before, or you are an avid kayaking enthusiast who paddles every chance they get, everyone can enjoy kayaking in Nevada. There are numerous lakes and rivers that are suitable for all skill levels.

If you are a beginner, it is best to check the rapid difficulty of the river or lake before you book your kayaking trip. This will ensure you are not paddling through dangerous rapids that require moderate kayaking experience.

The Different Rapid Classifications And Their Difficulty

The American Whitewater Association created the International Scale of River Difficulty as a measurement used to assess every waterway throughout the globe and categorize them according to their different scales of difficulty.

Class A Rapids – These are Stillwater bodies of water with no perceptible movement. Usually, they describe flat lakes.

Class I Rapids – The smallest rapids, perfect for beginners with little or no kayaking experience.

Class II Rapids – Have small waves, fast sections, and rough patches of water. Suitable for kayakers of all skill levels.

Class III Rapids – Have larger waves, fast currents. Some sections may have a drop in the river. Beginners need a guide when attempting these rapids.

Class IV Rapids – There are large waves with substantial vertical drops—obstacles, and rocks in some river sections. Kayakers need an intermediate amount of skill and experience.

Class V Rapids – A team of kayakers is necessary. These rapids are mastered by experts in kayaking and require highly technical maneuvering and physical endurance.

Class VI Rapids – These rapids have massive drops, obstacles, rocks, and huge waves. These rapids are incredibly hazardous and may cause injury and even death. Class IV rapids are generally avoided even by the most experienced kayakers.

Top 5 Kayaking Spots In Nevada

While it’s true that there is a place to kayak on almost every waterway in Nevada, there are a few paddling spots that top the rest.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead is the greatest man-made reservoir in the United States. It is situated just southeast of the city of Las Vegas. This lake is a perfect location for kayakers with little experience, as it only has Class A rapids. It is also ideal for fishing as well as swimming.

Lake Mead spans over 112 miles and is roughly 500 feet deep. Due to this, the water changes in color and ranges from a deep blue in some places to a stunning turquoise in others. The lake is surrounded by rocky, rugged highlands, making for a picturesque paddling adventure.

The Truckee River (Whitewater Park)

The Truckee River spans 121 miles. It begins in Lake Tahoe in California and flows into Pyramid Lake, Nevada. There are multiple access points along this river, making it a popular destination for kayakers.

The rapid classification for this river, specifically in the Truckee River Whitewater Park, is Class II-III rapids. So, even beginners with little experience can enjoy this river. The Park was created to accommodate kayaks and canoes even in periods of low water. However, the best time to visit would be in Spring or Summer.

Black Canyon

The Black Canyon is a part of the Colorado River. There is an access point to start your five-mile journey at the base of the Hoover Dam. The rapid classification is Class I, so this trip is ideal for beginners and entire families.

Paddling down the Black Canyon will ensure you not only have a day filled with watersport fun, but you can see some fantastic scenery as well. Along the way, there are natural hot springs where you can stop and relax any stiff muscles.

Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake is another fantastic destination for kayakers in Nevada. It is named because of its famous pyramid-shaped tufa formations that can be found all along the shoreline. From the lake, you have a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains.

The rapid classification is Class A, which means it has calm and flat water, ideal for a relaxing trip or a nervous beginner who is still learning. The best time to visit Pyramid Lake is in the Summer. However, the scenery and natural pyramid-like structures ensure that it is a major kayaking destination.

Carson River

The Carson River has two main forks. There is a fork to the east, that starts at Sorona Peak, and a west fork that begins at Carson Pass. Both of these forks are in CA. However, most of the Carson Rivers route flows through Nevada, where it spans 180 miles before emptying into the Carson Sink.

The Carson River is an excellent place to go kayaking. You’ll find some sections of the river are more noteworthy than others, such as the Carson River Aquatic Trail. This kayaking trail spans 12.5 miles and passes through unbelievable canyons as well as historic old remains from the Silver mining era.

The rapid classicization for the Carson River varies, as it has so many different sections. You could encounter Class I- III rapids depending on which trail you choose to kayak. If you have never gone paddling before, you may want to stick with Class I-II rapids. However, with a proper guide, there is no reason you cannot conquer Class III rapids as well.

Park Entry Fees In Nevada

So, you’ve planned the perfect kayaking trip, right down to the kayak rental company who assured you there were no hidden costs. Your budget is stretched thin, and suddenly there’s a park entrance fee you were unaware of. To ensure you avoid this, we’ve compiled a list of the Park entry fees for you.

ParkKayaking SpotEntry Fees
Lake Mead National Recreation AreaLake Mead$25/Day
Truckee River Whitewater ParkTruckee RiverNo Fee
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon$25
Rocky Mountain Recreation AreaPyramid Lake$12/vehicle
Lahontan State Recreation AreaCarson River$7/vehicle


Embarking on a kayaking trip through Nevada is undoubtedly be a unique experience. Despite being known as an arid State, some might even say a desert; there are many different waterways in which you could go kayaking on.

With the rugged, rocky mountains as a backdrop against crystal blue and turquoise waters, the various historical sites to bear the tales of a past time, as well as numerous relaxing hot springs that will melt your worries away, kayaking in Nevada is definitely number one on my list.