The Best Kayaking In Alabama

Kayaking In Alabama

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 9/29/2022

Alabama has something to offer everyone, whether you are a beginner, intermediate paddler, advanced kayaker, fisherman, camper, hunter, or even an amateur kayaker. There is nothing like this experience, and every kayaker should experience it at least once. Alabama has many impressive waterways and Kayaking locations, a state you might know for its southern hospitality and peanuts. This state is becoming more popular for its kayaking opportunities and many other water-based sports.

There is something for every paddler in Alabama when it comes to kayaking. There are tranquil rivers, scenic lakes, and even rapids for those who want to experience them. Each kayaker must experience one-of-a-kind locations, as well as see stunning wildlife. There are many kayaking options in Alabama.

Despite Alabama being known for so many other things, paddlers often find it surprising that this state is one of the best states for kayaking, but the truth is that there is almost no better place to go kayaking. Here are some of the top kayaking locations in Alabama to learn more about kayaking in this state.

Are there any kayaking opportunities in Alabama?

The state of Alabama is known for many reasons. In addition to NASA, intense football rivalries, and natural resources like steel and iron, what else can you find in Alabama?

Alabama has a diverse and abundant water supply. Alabama offers kayakers peaceful, calm, and tranquil water on artificial lakes, thrilling whitewater adventures, miles of beautiful scenery, and incredible coastal adventures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alabama's waterways provide kayakers with a playground, and the state has something for every paddler. There are two types of rivers in Alabama: gentle, flatwater rivers with Class I rapids and intense, fast-moving rivers with Class V whitewater rapids.

In Alabama, some sections of rivers remain calm and gentle for hundreds of miles, but rivers here often turn from tranquil to intimidating quickly.

Many paddlers agree that Alabama whitewater is among the most difficult to navigate.


There are many calm rivers with occasional obstacles that can be avoided by portaging the kayak and re-entering the river after removing the obstacle. This kind of river is a good place for beginning paddlers to practice.

Paddlers can kayak on the rivers in Alabama, but there are also several lakes and dams to choose from. The lakes and dams in Alabama are flatwater lakes, which means there are fewer dangers, and they're perfect for beginners or those who have never kayaked before. 

Whether you are a kayaking beginner or an experienced paddler, these lakes and dams are perfect for a day out with the family. 

A large part of Alabama's coastline is also suitable for saltwater kayaking, which is 53 miles long. Mobile Bay, an ideal kayaking location by itself, or Gulf State Park, which is the preferred entry point for kayakers, line the coastal shores of Alabama, which forms a small section of the Gulf of Mexico. 

It is time that kayaking is included on Alabama's list of favorite things. You can kayak in Alabama at any level, and there is something for every kayaker in this state.

Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate paddler, or a hardcore veteran kayaker, you can enjoy the waters of Alabama.

What Is the Safety of Kayaking in Alabama?

There are so many kayaking spots in Alabama that it has been said that a person could kayak for 200 consecutive days without stopping and never cover the same area twice. Is kayaking in Alabama safe given the vast amount of water and diversity of waterways?

It is safe to kayak in Alabama. There are a few safety protocols to follow while kayaking in Alabama and general safety must be observed, but there is no reason to feel unsafe. One of the world's most efficient Coast Guard detachments is located in this state.

It is essential to follow basic safety guidelines and protocols when kayaking in Alabama due to the number of waterways, dams, lakes, and long stretches of coastline you can explore. 

If you are going on a multi-day kayaking trip and following your float plan, it is good to leave a float plan with a friend, family member, or the Coast Guard before you start.

If you plan to be out on the water for longer than you expected, others can find you by knowing how long you intend to stay. 

If you kayak in the river in Alabama, be careful because there is a lot of wilderness. When kayaking here, make sure you know your way around, understand your maps, and always know how to return. 

Mobile is the headquarters of the National Coast Guard, which is one of the best coast guard units in the world. These people maintain waterways and coastal areas of Alabama, and they are the main reason kayaking in Alabama is so safe.

If you plan on kayaking in Alabama, you will have to follow specific regulations. Some of these regulations are important for your safety, so you must comply with them.

Learn the most essential rules and regulations for kayaking in Alabama and other critical things to remember if you are paddling here. 

Kayaking In Alabama: Things To Remember

Although kayaking in Alabama is a unique experience, and there is so much to do and explore on this state, there are some essential things to remember before heading out on the water in your Kayak.

Remember to consider the weather first. When checking kayaking near me on google, it's essential to check the weather. The summer months are ideal for kayaking in Alabama because the climate is very temperate, and there isn't much rain.

Kayaking can, however, be extremely dangerous in the winter, when temperatures can drop significantly. When kayaking in Alabama, be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.

Paddling on the water is another consideration. Be sure to scout the river and ask the locals what you may encounter on the water before you kayak on a river in Alabama. 

Alabama's rivers encompass a variety of surprises, such as whitewater, obstacles, sandbanks, and shallow spots only local paddlers are aware of. Because of these reasons, you should always be sure of your route and be sure you can handle the water you paddle in.

Alabama has many forests and state parks, making it ideal for kayakers and hunters. Kayaking during hunting season should always be avoided, and camping outside designated campsites should never be done.

The waters of Alabama have several laws and regulations that kayakers must adhere to when exploring them. Here is a simple breakdown of what kayakers need to know:

  • It is not necessary to register a kayak in Alabama unless it is motorized.
  • Motorized kayaks require a license in Alabama, but non-motorized kayaks do not.
  • A person under the age of 12 may not operate a motorized kayak without supervision.
  • Boaters' safety courses are required for anyone piloting a motorized kayak.
  • If a person has the proper certification, a motorized kayak can be operated by 14 or older without supervision.
  • When a person's blood alcohol content is 0.08% or higher, kayaking in Alabama is illegal.
  • A life jacket must be worn at all times by anyone under eight who is in a kayak.
  • A visual distress signaling device is required onboard all kayaks paddling in coastal waters.
  • Kayaks must be equipped with adequate lighting whenever kayaking after sunset and before sunrise.
  • A kayak longer than 16 feet must always have a sounding device onboard, such as a whistle.

These are all laws that apply to any kayak being used in Alabama, and they must be followed by every person using one. It is imperative that everyone kayaking in Alabama remembers these laws and takes them into account when planning a trip, regardless of where, when, and how long it will be.

Kayaking in Alabama: The Best Places

Even though there are so many beautiful kayaking spots in Alabama that any paddler can spend months paddling, there are some that stand out as the best.

Please take a moment to explore some of Alabama's very best kayaking spots and why they are so special.

The Sipsey River

Bankhead National Forest lies in Northwest Alabama, along the Sipsey River. There are a few calmer rivers in Alabama, but this one is one of the most beautiful.

In the national forest, the Sipsey River winds through a sandstone canyon surrounded by crystal clear water. A trip along the Sipsey River offers breathtaking views of the canyon. 

Sipsey River has two areas to keep an eye on. This area is known as the Land of 1000 Waterfalls since it has a significant number of cascades that wind their way down the canyon walls and over the canyon walls until they reach the river. There are very few places as beautiful as this in Alabama.

It would help if you kept an eye out for the 100-yard dash section of the Sipsey. The river gets a little more intense here, but not to the point where an intermediate paddler can't enjoy it.

The Sipsey is great for paddlers of all levels, and the full-day trips offered here are sure to please anyone who visits.

Orange Beach, Cotton Bayou 

You can enjoy a great day out kayaking at Cotton Bayou. The bayou provides so much for such a small area, so it is a great place for kayakers.

In this area of the country, kayakers can traverse a vast area, moving through the Bayous near Orange Beach, into National Parks, and even out into the open water if they wish.

Cotton Bayou has several excellent restaurants, exciting locations such as islands, and even spectacular wildlife sightings such as dolphins.

In such busy waters that can lead out to sea, intermediate or advanced kayakers should avoid this location. You will not be disappointed if you take your time and explore Cotton Bayou.

The Cahaba River

Kayaking on this river is a unique experience because of the natural diversity found here, especially for kayak fishers. More than 130 species of fish live in this long river in Alabama, the longest in the state.

In addition to fishing from a kayak, the Cahaba river offers excellent natural views and plenty of wildlife to see. 

This river is mostly calm and is suitable for kayakers of all skill levels. Some Class I and Class II rapids may keep beginners on their toes, but it is not very rough.

In addition to camping and kayaking expeditions, you can also enjoy multi-day trips along this river.


In conclusion, Alabama is one of the best places to kayak. Visit the state and see the calm and still lakes, the gently flowing rivers, the scenic views, the raging rapids, and the unique sea kayaking experiences this state has to offer.

Alabama has something to offer everyone, whether you are a beginner, intermediate paddler, advanced kayaker, fisherman, camper, hunter, or even an amateur kayaker. There is nothing like this experience, and every kayaker should experience it at least once.