Whether you’re a big-water buff, weekend warrior, or a flatwater fisherman, enjoyment of the outdoors is the common thread that connects us all in the paddling community.

Here are some of our favorite public places to paddle in the US of A!

Alaska – Inside Passage 

The Inside Passage, especially the route between Juneau and Haines, is a popular destination for expedition sea kayaking. It’s the most common form of recreation there, but SUP touring is growing in popularity! The Inside Passage also offers incredible wildlife viewing. Read about Hala Team Rider Paul’s Clark 100-Mile Inside Passage SUP Adventure here.

California: North Fork of the American River – Confluence Run (class II-III)

This 5.5-mile stretch of river offers great scenery, thought-provoking rapids separated by sections of picturesque slow-moving water, and access to the remote class III whitewater park at China Bar.

Colorado: Browns Canyon National Monument 

Hala started as an idea on the back of a napkin, sketched by wet hands at Hecla Junction. After a Brown’s Canyon run on a non-whitewater, 3” thick inflatable, Peter Hall decided: “there’s got to be a better way to do this.” In addition to being of the Arkansas River’s classic whitewater run, Brown’s Canyon also provides world-class trout fishing.

Idaho: Middle Fork Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is the ultimate wilderness river trip, featuring many difficult rapids, many hot springs, and truly rugged backcountry.

Maine: Kennebec Gorge Recreation Area 

The Kennebec Gorge offers 12 miles of Class III & IV boating through the heart of Maine’s pristine Wilderness. With constant high flows pumping out of Harris Station dam, this area is widely used by boaters from Maine & neighboring states, and also Canadians (like Hala ambassador Giles Girard!)

Maryland: South Branch of the Patapsco River

Located in Sykesville MD, this seldom run creek is a blast to paddle and very scenic. Watch Team Rider Andy Hinton complete the first SUP descent earlier this year!

Michigan: Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale, located in Lake Superior, is a 45 miles long and 9 miles wide island, accessible only by boat or seaplane. There are three ferry services: Grand Portage, Copper Harbor, and Houghton, which will drop you off at either Windigo Visitor center on the west side, or Rock Harbor Visitor Center on the east side. From there, you can circumnavigate the island, hike the numerous trails, or portage to one of the interior lakes. If you want a treat, you can SUP over to Moose Boulder – which becomes the largest island in the largest lake (Moose Flats, when flooded) on the largest island (Ryan Island) in the largest lake (Siskiwit Lake) on the largest island (Isle Royale) in one of the largest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Superior).

Minnesota: Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area, MN 

This area, located on the border of Minnesota and Ontario, boasts over a million acres of wilderness, including 1,100 lakes. Most of these lakes have banned motorized vessels, making it the perfect place to portage on a SUP. Sprinkle in some rivers, streams, around 2,000 campsites, fantastic fishing, and a few waterfalls to make it a must-paddle destination. The best part: you can go days without seeing a single person. Just make sure to pick up a permit, since they only allow so many groups/people to enter per day. Hands down, the Boundary Waters are our favorite place to paddle in the Midwest.

Montana: North Fork of the Flathead River

You can paddle from the Canada border on the north fork Flathead to just north of its confluence with the Middle Fork. Hala Team Rider and Tech Rep Paul Clark completed 40 mile overnight sup-support trip through a picturesque landscape populated by bear and wolves and eagles. It is about as iconic a paddle down Class 2 water as any wilderness adventure can be.

New Mexico – Rio Chama


This major tributary of the Rio Grands, the class 2 section of the Rio Chama is both very rocky and technical, but insanely beautiful. Attention must be paid. The upper section of this river is, in our opinion, one of the greatest overnight SUP adventures on the planet and is readily available.

North Carolina: The Outer Banks

Separating the Atlantic Ocean from the interior state, the Outer Banks of North Carolina provide numerous activities for recreation, including surfing, SUP touring and big-water fishing.

Ohio: Hoover Reservoir


Located in central Ohio, the Hoover Reservoir offers a boat ramp launch in Westerville (Twin Bridges). From the launch, you can paddle in several coves. It’s quiet and there are great wildlife viewing and fishing. Boats are limited to 10 horsepower and 10 mph so you don’t have to worry about any wakes.

Oregon – Wilson River


Located in the Northern Coast Range with an annual average rainfall greater than any other spot in Oregon (and that’s saying something), the Wilson really does have it all. An unmatched landscape, awesome class II-IV stretches, and some of the best river surfing in the NW

Tennessee – Nolichucky Gorge


One of the most remote and beautiful gorges in the southeast, the Nolichucky is a technical, but fun class II-III whitewater run. It is currently in the running to become a Wild and Scenic River!

Texas: Rio Grande

This Wild and Scenic River has a very slight gradient, making for good boating even when water volumes are low. Be on the lookout for Dylan Brown’s writeup of his descent down the Rio Grande in next month’s Stand Up Journal.

Wisconsin – Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI


This lakeshore features twenty-one islands off the tip of Wisconsin, jutting out into Lake Superior. It’s protected and serviced by of the National Park Service, so you will need to obtain a permit for overnight camping. There are motorized boats, but you can SUP to any of the twenty-one islands. There are six lighthouses spread across the islands to make sure boat traffic stays on the right path. Devil’s Island features a few lighthouses and some amazing sea caves. Be careful with this one, however, as it is a very exposed paddle. Most of the islands have no human inhabitants, giving you the feel of having your own personal island. If you are looking for a day paddle, checkout the sea caves between Little Sand Bay and Meyers Beach, or pop over to Sand Island.

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