Kayaking St Louis: 12 Scenic Places For Kayaking And Canoeing

kayaking destinations

kayaking destinations

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 12/6/2022

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During good weather, there is no better way to take in the sights and sounds of St. Louis than to explore the city on foot. Canoeists and kayakers will find a wealth of stunning locations outside the city boundaries of St. Louis that are ideal for paddling, even though many people associate the city with a bustling nightlife and a thriving business center.

People of all skill levels will find much to enjoy in the city of St. Louis's numerous outdoor spaces, ranging from tranquil lakes surrounded by vegetation to wild rivers. When paddlers are out on the lake, they can witness spectacular vistas of the St. Louis skyline and even paddle past famous sites such as the Gateway Arch. This one-of-a-kind manner of getting to know the city is enjoyable for tourists and natives alike. To assist you in getting started on your paddling excursion, we have included a comprehensive guide detailing the most picturesque locations in St. Louis where you can go canoeing and kayaking st Louis below.

Intex 68310VM Dakota K2 Heavy-Duty Vinyl Inflatable Kayak
Summary
Stability9.2
Stability
Easy to inflate9
Easy to inflate
Sturdiness8.8
Sturdiness
Leg room8.6
Leg room
Comfort8.2
Comfort
Durability8
Durability

Canoeing And Kayaking At Its Finest In St. Louis's Many Beautiful Waterways

State Park Of The Meramec

State Park Of The Meramec

State Park Of The Meramec

  • Location: Sullivan
  • Rentals Available: Yes, at Ozark Outdoors Resort

Canoeists and kayakers of all skill levels will find the Meramec River and Meramec State Park in St. Louis to be a breathtaking site to paddle since the river flows between bluffs and gorgeous forested regions. Meramec State Park, which is located in St. Louis and is well-known for the variety of ecosystems it contains, is an incredible spot to get outside and see the city's natural surroundings.

The Meramec River's mild current makes it an ideal place for novice paddlers and families to enjoy the sport of kayaking. In addition to its relative tranquility, Meramec State Park is known for its relative tranquility, making it an ideal spot for paddlers of all skill levels to float or enjoy a leisurely paddle. Visitors could catch a glimpse of some wild animals as they make their way through the forest. Paddling close to the enormous cave opening is famous for park visitors. Fisher Cave is a spectacular location that may be explored by boat or on one of the park's guided walking excursions. It is a geological wonder that was named after a fisherman. After enjoying the tranquility of a canoe trip down the picturesque Meramec River, tourists frequently go for a trek along with one of the park's 13 miles of trails.

It is no surprise that Meramec State Park is one of the most popular places to go kayaking due to the park's breathtaking surroundings. Meramec River is the best spot to go for a relaxing and fun day on the water, and it's excellent for everything from solitary floats to kayaking adventures with the whole family. You are welcome to launch your boat, such as a kayak, at the park if you have one. You also have the option to rent kayaking equipment at Ozark Outdoors Resort.

Driving is highly recommended as it is the quickest and most convenient method to reach Meramec State Park. Take I-44 to exit 226 to get on MO-185 south toward Sullivan if you are driving. After that, proceed to the park by staying on MO-185 S.

State Park Of The Cuivre River

State Park Of The Cuivre River

State Park Of The Cuivre River

  • The Lincoln Hills are the location.
  • At Cuivre River State Park, there are rentals available for your convenience.

Cuivre River State Park is a true paradise for anyone who enjoys being outside despite its proximity to the metropolitan area of St. Louis. Paddling around this state park near St. Louis, which is excellent for families, is a great way to spend the afternoon, and the park also offers longer float trips. The Cuivre River is a peaceful river bordered on all sides by rough terrain. This river was named after a notable French explorer. Because it is a tamer alternative to the untamed streams of the Ozarks, Cuivre River is sometimes referred to by tourists as the "little Ozarks."

Canoeing and kayaking are two of the most popular things on the North Fork and West Fork of the Cuivre River in Cuivre River State Park. The North Fork is the preferable way to choose if you seek a more difficult paddle, as it presents a greater degree of difficulty. The West Fork's tranquil and shallow waters make it an ideal location for novices and flat outings. No matter which direction you paddle in, the Cuivre River's tree-lined banks provide a perfect route for discovering the natural beauty of St. Louis.

Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set…
Summary
Easy to inflate8.8
Easy to inflate
Leg room8.4
Leg room
Maneuverability8.4
Maneuverability

Activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and floating are available on the Cuivre River in St. Louis. When the dogwood trees that line the riverbank begin to blossom, this river's natural beauty is brought to a new level. If you have your boat, you may use the boat ramp at Old Monroe for free to launch your kayak or other watercraft. You also have the option to hire kayaking equipment at the Cuivre River State Park. Canoeing and kayaking on the Cuivre River in St. Louis this year will take you to some breathtaking scenery, from the river's rocky beaches to its gorgeous cliffs. 

Driving is highly recommended as it is the quickest and most convenient method to reach Cuivre River, State Park. If you travel by car, get on I-64 West and go west. After that, go to the park by staying on MO-147 North.

Creve Coeur Lake

Creve Coeur Lake

Creve Coeur Lake

  • The Maryland Heights neighborhood
  • Rentals Available: Yes, in Creve Coeur Lake Rentals

Canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding on Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis are excellent ways to spend time outside. The lake is a popular destination for people who enjoy the lake lifestyle. Paddleboarders may take advantage of the seclusion and low-key atmosphere offered by Creve Coeur Lake, one of the area's small lakes.

The perimeter of Creve Coeur Lake is approximately 6 kilometers. Visitors may see a large variety of animals in the wetlands while paddling around the lake's shoreline in a canoe or kayak. As the area is a sanctuary for wetland ecosystems, paddlers should use extreme caution so as not to disrupt the stunning natural behaviors.

Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars
Summary
Easy to inflate9
Easy to inflate
Maneuverability8.6
Maneuverability
Leg room8
Leg room
Stability7.8
Stability

The paddle around the lake, which is six miles long, is a magnificent water route that allows paddlers to view wildlife and navigate through parts of the marsh. However, most paddlers choose to kayak along the lake's south end since it offers more transparent and deeper waters. If you want to try out another fantastic area to go kayaking in St. Louis, you may connect to Mallard Lake from this side of the lake.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts in St. Louis are missing out by not going to this peaceful and beautiful location. There are a variety of marsh and lake environments to discover, making this an ideal destination for paddlers of all skill levels. If you have your boat, you may launch your kayak directly from the beaches of Creve Coeur Lake. However, this option is only available to people who have their boats. You also have the opportunity to rent kayaking equipment at Creve Coeur Lake Rentals.

Driving will be your best bet for getting to Creve Coeur Lake as quickly as possible if you are traveling by car, head north on Interstate 270 toward Chicago. Afterward, go to the lake by staying on the Maryland Heights Expressway.

Simpson Lake

Simpson Lake

Simpson Lake

  • Valley Park is the location.
  • Rentals Available: Yes, at SUP St. Louis

Canoeing and kayaking at Simpson Lake, located in Simpson Park and offers a family-friendly environment with over 70 acres of flora to discover, is a great way to spend a day in the park. Simpson Lake offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities. It has been recognized as the "greatest spot to take the kids fishing" by several nature publications in the state of Missouri. Simpson Lake is a beautiful location for various water sports, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The calm waters of Simpson Lake meet acres of lush green area, making it an ideal location for picnics or simply taking in the beauty of nature.

Because Simpson Lake is not as well-known as the Meramec River or the Cuivre River, it is the ideal location for re-establishing a connection with nature. Enjoying the splendor of nature in a more private environment is possible at Simpson Lake, thanks to its tree-lined beaches, numerous little streams, and crystal blue waters.
Off the beaches of Simpson Lake, you can launch your watercraft, such as a kayak, if you have your vessel. You can also use SUP St. Louis to rent kayaking equipment and arrange outings. SUP yoga and kayak fishing are two activities that are perfect for the serene and beautiful atmosphere of Simpson Lake.

Driving is the most convenient kind of transportation when traveling to Simpson Lake. If you travel by car, get on I-44 West and go west. After that, proceed to the park by keeping on Big Bend Road.

Valwix 2 Person Inflatable Kayak for Adults w/ Sun Canopy , Paddles, Seats & Pump, Blow Up Kayak for Recreational Touring, Portable Tandem Kayak 600lbs Capacity…
Summary
Value for money9.4
Value for money
Maneuverability9.2
Maneuverability
Comfort9
Comfort
Easy to inflate9
Easy to inflate
Sturdiness8.4
Sturdiness
Leg room8.4
Leg room

Park Of The State Of Washington

Park Of The State Of Washington

Park Of The State Of Washington

  • Location: Potosi
  • At Missouri Park Adventures, we do offer rentals, so come on by!

You'll find canoeing, kayaking, and hiking among the most incredible outdoor activities in the St. Louis area. Washington State Park is regarded as one of the top locations for these pursuits. All of the beauty St. Louis has to offer is amplified by Washington State Park, which features acres of forested area and Ozark views.

The park provides access to Big River, known across St. Louis as a fantastic location for fishing and canoeing. Big River is a beautiful canal suitable for paddlers of all skill levels, although it is most enjoyable for those with intermediate paddling experience. The park is home to several challenging hiking paths and natural regions worth exploring, in addition to its stunning canal.

In addition, Washington State Park has a significant cultural legacy. The petroglyphs and structures that African American Civilian Conservation Corps stonemasons erected are a popular attraction for many tourists. Washington State Park is a location in St. Louis that is a must-see if you want to see the city's historical attractions and miles of gorgeous rivers.

You are welcome to launch your boat, such as a kayak, at the park if you have one. You also have the option to make reservations for float tours on the Big River and rent kayaking equipment through Missouri Park Adventures. With so much to see and do in St. Louis, going canoeing or kayaking along the Big River and over acres of verdant terrain is an incredible way to spend your time there.

Driving will bring you to Washington State Park the fastest and in the shortest possible time. If you are driving, the best route is MO-21 S. After that, proceed to the park by staying on MO-104 E.

Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak - 2 Person Tandem Kayak
Summary
Easy to inflate9.2
Easy to inflate
Comfort9
Comfort
Durability8.4
Durability
Value for money8.2
Value for money
Sturdiness7.2
Sturdiness

Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park

  • Location: Saint Francois Mountains
  • Rentals Available: Indeed, right here at Explore the Ozarks!

Sam A. Baker State Park is the premier location in the St. Louis area for paddling activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and float trips throughout the year. The park provides visitors with easy access to both Big Creek and the St. Francis River, making it an ideal location for going on an adventure.

Canoeing and kayaking in Sam A. Baker State Park is an experience that will take your breath away thanks to the majestic St. Francois mountains that serve as a background. Paddling through this park, which features a rocky topography that has not been much altered by commercial development, seems like a genuine immersion in the natural world.

Paddlers can explore both Big Creek and the St. Francis River while at the park. Big Creek in St. Louis is an excellent spot for novice paddlers to try out canoeing and kayaking when the water levels are high enough in the spring and fall. This is the case during those seasons. The St. Francis River is where the vast majority of water-based activities take place. At this location, guests can take part in pleasant float cruises and kayaking routes, which are around 4 kilometers long. People of varying abilities may navigate this river, but those looking for an authentic wilderness experience will like it the most. This park not only includes hiking trails but also has miles of equestrian routes so that you can explore the area on horseback.

One of the primary draws that bring hundreds of people to Sam A. Baker State Park each month is the park's natural beauty, which has not been altered in any way. You are welcome to launch your boat, such as a kayak, at the park if you have one. Alternatively, Explore the Ozarks is a great place to rent kayaking equipment and schedule guided trips.

Driving is highly recommended as it is the quickest and most convenient method to reach Sam A. Baker Park. If you are traveling by car, head toward Bonne Terre on US-67 South. After that, go to the park by staying on MO-143 North.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
Summary
Comfort9
Comfort
Maneuverability9
Maneuverability
Durability8.8
Durability

River Of Black

River Of Black

River Of Black

  • Position: in the county of Reynolds
  • Rentals Available: Yes, at Jeff's Canoe Rental

Canoeing and kayaking on the Black River are widely regarded as activities that best showcase St. Louis's natural beauty. This river originates in the Taum Sauk Mountains and is a magnificent method to maneuver over rugged terrain due to its crystal clear water and location in the mountains.

Black River is a vast network of streams traveling throughout southern Missouri and Arkansas, and it passes via Clearwater Lake and Mill Creek on its journey from Missouri into Arkansas. Although a few Class I rapids along this river with flat water, most of the river is calm and flows at a leisurely pace. The clear waters of the Black River are suitable for paddlers of all skill levels as the river meanders through the woodlands, bluffs, and Ozark landscapes.

It is essential to be aware that specific stretches of the Black River consist of expansive gorges or sections that are enclosed. Because of the low water levels, paddlers are not permitted in some regions, and you should steer clear of them. The East Fork of the Black River contains most of the places that have been cut off.

The Upper Black River is a favorite destination for kayakers worldwide. The area's different ecosystems support an abundant fish population, reflected in the crystal clear waterways. Black River is an outdoor location that everyone can go to and enjoy for various reasons, including its outstanding freshwater fishing. You can launch your kayak along the Black River as long as you have access to your watercraft. You may also rent kayaking equipment from Jeff's Canoe Rental and arrange for guided kayaking trips via them.

Driving is the recommended mode of transportation since it offers the most convenient route to the Black River. If you travel by car, go on I-67 South to get started. After then, proceed farther along with Madison 517 until you reach the river.

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak Blue, 8'7" x 3'
Summary
Easy to inflate9
Easy to inflate
Stability8.2
Stability
Maneuverability7.8
Maneuverability

Things we like

  • A Quick setup
  • It can be carried around with ease, and it weighs less than 20 pounds.
  • The bottom, which is made of 21-gauge PVC tarpaulin, is resistant to punctures.
  • The backrest makes your riding incredibly pleasant.

Things we don't like

  • The accompanying paddle is not very long-lasting.

State Park Of The Current River

State Park Of The Current River

State Park Of The Current River

  • Place: in the county of Shannon
  • Rentals: Yes, at Current River Canoe Rental

Current River State Park is home to not one but two breathtaking lakes, making it an ideal destination for various outdoor activities. Spring and fall are the best times to visit Current River State Park because of its densely forested regions, which are known for their beauty.

Paddlesport enthusiasts interested in canoeing and kayaking in the St. Louis area will find this park an excellent destination. The smaller of the two lakes is the only one that allows non-motorized boats, making it the ideal location to launch your kayaks and go on an excellent paddle because it is the only lake that allows non-motorized boats. Paddlesport enthusiasts also have the option of kayaking along the section of the Current River that is fed by Montauk Spring. The rivers current is sluggish and winding as it passes limestone cliffs and Ozark landscapes to the Black River, into which it empties.

Pulltite Campsite is highly recommended by paddlers who are serious about their sport if you are considering camping at Current River State Park. The campgrounds of Current River State Park are always kept in pristine condition, making it an ideal destination for multi-day float or paddle excursions on freshwater rivers and streams.

You are welcome to launch your boat, such as a kayak, at the park if you have one. Because there are no boat ramps around the lakes, guests will need to launch their boats from the beach. This is an important fact to keep in mind. You can also use Current River Canoe Rental to rent kayaking equipment and schedule guided trips. Visitors will never get bored of canoeing and wandering around the natural beauty of St. Louis because there are so many sites to discover in the region.

Driving is highly recommended as it is the quickest and most convenient method to reach Current River, State Park. If you are traveling by car, head toward St. James on Interstate 44. Then. Keep going east on MO-68 until you reach the park.

The River That Is Roaring

The River That Is Roaring

The River That Is Roaring

  • The county of Barry is the location.
  • Rentals Available: Yes, at Big Muddy Adventures

Paddling down Roaring River in a kayak is one of the most enjoyable ways to see the Ozarks and provides a real Ozarks experience. This extraordinary terrain, which is best seen from the perspective of a boat because it winds through congested valleys,

The section of the canal between the park's launch location and Highway 86 is considered the most beautiful inside Roaring River State Park (about 6 miles). Kayakers who choose to take this route will have the opportunity to experience the park's famed Deep Blue Spring and paddling through rocky terrain and canyons. Paddlers of all skill levels may kayak the Roaring River. However, certain portions of the river have Class I and Class II rapids. Canoeing and kayaking on the Roaring River are among the most picturesque things in the St. Louis area since the river is home to a diverse collection of natural features that come together in one spot.

After a strenuous day spent on the water, many Roaring River State Park guests opt to spend the night in one of the park's primitive campsites. Roaring River is seen in its entirety from various vantage points, including campgrounds, hotels, and cottages located directly on its banks. Roaring River provides all you want for a memorable experience in the great outdoors, whether you are looking to get away for the weekend or many days.

You may select whatever river fork you wish to explore if you have your boat, and you can launch it in Roaring River State Park. The park is open year-round, and you can rent kayaking equipment from Big Muddy Adventures.

Driving is the most convenient mode of transportation to the Roaring River. If you are traveling by car, head toward Bois D'Arc on Interstate 44. After that, keep going west on State Highway 248 until you reach the park.

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

  • Willow Springs is the location.
  • At Hufstedler's Canoe Rental, you can rent canoes and kayaks.

The Eleven Point River winds its way through some of the most picturesque areas of Missouri as it winds through nearly 40 miles of nationally protected scenic waterway. Eleven Point River's environment is mainly undeveloped and harsh, consisting of anything from high cliffs to Ozark vistas.

A beautiful and well-protected river close to St. Louis is the Eleven Point River, which flows through Mark Twain National Forest. You can get an up-close look at the many marine habitats along the river path, thanks to the enormous networks of streams and channels that are there. Many tourists enjoy fishing on the Eleven Point River and setting up tents on the riverbanks during excursions that last several days.

Because of its calm waters, the Eleven Point River is suitable for paddlers of all skill levels, including inexperienced kayakers interested in trying out the sport in St. Louis. During your travels, you will come across a wide variety of flora and wildlife because of the Ozarks' distinctive topography and the presence of the Mark Twain National Forest. It is essential to remember that water coming from springs in other areas can dramatically raise the river's water level. As a result, certain river sections may have a quicker current than others.

You can put in or take off from any point along the Eleven Point River in your boat if you have one. In Gatewood, near the Highway 142 bridge, is where most people begin their kayaking adventures. You also have the option to hire kayaking equipment at Hufstedler's Canoe Rental.

Driving is the recommended mode of transportation since it offers the most convenient route to Eleven Point River. If you are traveling by car, head south on US-67 to get started. After there, keep going west on MO-142 until you reach the river.

Aquaglide Deschutes Inflatable Kayak
Summary
Sturdiness10
Sturdiness
Light weight9.6
Light weight
Comfort9.6
Comfort
Easy to inflate9.4
Easy to inflate

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

  • Location: Gasconade
  • Rentals Available: Yes, at Gasconade Hills Resort.

Near St. Louis, the Gasconade River is the ideal location for a tranquil float or paddle excursion because of its surroundings, including bluffs, hardwood hickory woods, and the Ozark hills. Like the river that flows the furthest and longest through Missouri, there is no shortage of places to visit along its course.

This river is perfect for families since it moves at a leisurely pace, allowing people of varying abilities to appreciate its stunning splendor. The Gasconade River, which originates in the Ozark Mountains' northern foothills and flows throughout the state of Missouri, is an expansive waterway that is cherished by canoeists and kayakers alike. Furthermore, it is not as popular as other paddle locations, so you can completely appreciate everything the river offers without being interrupted by other paddlers or other noise. The section of the Upper Gasconade River's water path is by far the most popular. Paddlers have the opportunity to go through valleys and discover enormous caverns in this area.

The Gasconade River is breathtaking every season, earning it the nickname "the dream of photographers." The Gasconade River should be at the top of your list of potential locations to go canoeing or kayaking in St. Louis if you are interested in nature photography or take pleasure in the unspoiled splendor of the great outdoors.

Paddling along the Gasconade will be enjoyable for paddlers of all skill levels because the river stretches on for miles and offers plenty of exploration opportunities. You are free to launch your kayak from any point along the river so long as you have your watercraft. You also have the option to rent kayaking equipment and organize guided trips through the Gasconade Hills Resort.

Driving is the most convenient kind of transportation when traveling to the Gasconade River. If you drive, you should get on the I-44 first. Afterward, proceed toward Buckhorn on MO-17 South until you reach the river.

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

Huzzah Creek

  • Steelville serves as the location.
  • Rentals Available: Yes, in Huzzah Valley Resort

Floating down Huzzah Creek is an exhilarating experience since it is full of twists and turns. This winding creek may not be more than 20 miles long, yet every section of the stream is encircled by a breathtaking landscape and an abundance of species. Huzzah Creek, located in Missouri and flows through the Mark Twain National Forest, is a fantastic spot to take in the state's natural splendor. Visitors may observe a wide variety of birds flying to and from the hardwood trees surrounding the creek's banks while out on the water kayaking.

The Huzzah Creek ultimately meets up with the Courtois Creek, which continues to the Meramec River. Paddling along this water route is a pleasant and straightforward way to explore the outdoors, with beautiful Ozark scenery as a backdrop the whole time. Even though there are several turns throughout the route, the water in Huzzah Creek is flat and calm enough for paddlers of all skill levels to enjoy.

This undiscovered treasure is brimming with all the splendor nature offers—the power of a small package. Huzzah Creek is a great area to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and take in the beauty of nature. If you have your boat, you may put your kayak in the water at Scotia or along Highway 8. You also have the option to hire kayaking equipment at Huzzah Valley Resort. St. Louis is home to several picturesque creeks, one of which is ideal for families and children interested in kayaking on the water.

Driving is the most convenient kind of transportation when traveling to Huzzah Creek. When you are behind the wheel, take I-44 toward Leasburg. After that, carry on along Pattons Road Fsr 21 until you reach the river.

Kayaking is a fantastic way to get up and personal with nature, and it can be done everywhere, from tranquil lakes to furious rivers. Now that you are in the mood for kayaking, check out our locations page to learn about other places you may go with your boat. Do you require some additional motivation before venturing outside? Take a look at these inspiring quotations about being outside. Happy paddling!

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
Summary
Leg room9
Leg room
Easy to inflate9
Easy to inflate
Stability8.8
Stability
Maneuverability7.2
Maneuverability

Extra Sources Of Information Regarding Kayaking In St. Louis

Swimsuit

Swimsuit

What You Need To Bring If You Want To Go Kayaking St Louis

  • Swimsuit: It is essential to wear a swimsuit if you are in or near the water. It is advisable to be prepared for getting wet if you are planning to go canoeing or kayaking since there is a good possibility you will! Click this link to compare the styles and costs of some of our best swimsuits for men and women.
  • Sunglasses: Spending time on the water is relaxing and enjoyable, but the water's surface can reflect a lot of light. You must remember to have a spare pair of sunglasses and croakies to secure them in place.

  • Wearing a hat will help keep you more relaxed by shielding your head from the sun's rays. Whether you go for a classic baseball cap or a stylish bucket hat, ensuring you stay calm is the key to having a fantastic vacation.
  • Water Bottle: It's essential to stay hydrated during the day! Paddling is a terrific way to get some exercise and unwind, but because of its physical demands, it cannot be considered a passive activity. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated during the duration of your journey by using these stylish water bottles.
  • Put on sunscreen and bug spray; you don't want the elements to prevent you from enjoying an excellent paddle. If you do not want to get sunburned or bitten by insects, it is highly recommended that you carry sunscreen and bug spray with you on the boat.