7 Great Locations To Go Kayaking In Washington State

Canoes and Kayaks

The evergreen state, known for its beautiful scenery, Washington is located in the Northwest of the United States. Washington has huge mountains, thick woodlands, ice-sheeted lakes, and flushing river streams.

The west coast, glacial lakes around the state, and multiple water bodies call for a kayaking adventure in Washington. So, without further ado, let us look at some of the great places for kayaking in Washington.

1. Lake Wenatchee State Park

Tucked away in the Wenatchee National Forest on the eastern side of the Cascades Mountain Range are the pristine waters of Lake Wenatchee.

This glacier-fed lake has crystal clear waters. Using a glass-bottomed kayak here might make you feel like you are floating in space. Wenatchee lake is lined with thick forests. Kayaking here is the ultimate picture of peace and quiet broken only by the melodious chirping of birds.

lake wenatchee wa kayaking in washington

The panorama of white snow-capped mountains is not too hard on the eyes either. See the sky and mountains reflected so well in the water as you kayak through the lake.

Moreover, camping at Lake Wenatchee State Park is highly recommended. The park is fully equipped with anything you may need- camping spots, a beach, bathrooms, a fun picnic setup, and a boat launch. Starting your kayak journey here early in the morning is advised as the wind tends to get rough with the day’s progression.

2. Alki Beach Park

You might know this beach from the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Another popular spot to kayak is the Alki Beach Park, located in the West Seattle neighborhood.

It comprises the Elliott Bay ocean side between Alki Point and Duwamish Head, consisting of 0.5 miles of oceanfront. A kayak trip at the Alki Beach Park can be fun and may take you to Seacrest Boathouse from the Alki Lighthouse and back.

Whether you unwind around the ocean or at an outdoor table, Alki Beach is a fantastic spot to pause and take in the view of downtown Seattle. Of course, if you are looking for something other than kayaking, you can also go swimming, play volleyball, or have a lazy day under the sun. Fair warning though, it can get super busy in the summers with volleyball players, beachcombers, and sun lovers out on the beach.

Alki Kayak Rentals is a great local spot for kayak rentals with hourly kayaks and paddle boards starting at $25 per hour.  They also offer a number of kayak tours including a 2-hour ‘Full Moon’ tour they run once a month.

alki beach park wa kayaking in washington

3. Orcas Island

Part of the San Juan Islands is the Orcas Island, WA. Aptly called “the gem of the San Juans,” this Island has a lot to offer. It has forests, beautiful waters, and wildlife to experience.

On remote Orcas, the unfilled seashores, blue lakes, and thick backwood trails add to the get-away you have been looking for. Being somewhat remote, it does not have too many visitors. So you may get to enjoy a sparsely populated beach. Being the “Orca” island, this place, of course, is home to the beautiful big marine animals.

Kayak Orcas Island
"East Sound, Orcas Island" by Dan Nevill is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Kayaking at Orcas Island means you get to spot the orcas in their natural habitat. However, be careful to not go too close. It is best to observe them from a safe distance. If you are particularly visiting to watch the whales, a guided excursion is recommended.

Surprisingly, despite being in the ocean, the waters of Orcas Island are really calm and do not have rough conditions. So novice kayakers can try their hand at the paddle here without fear.

A ferry ride to Orcas Island is also possible. See eagles on treetops and seals on rocks along the way as you sail past on calm waters. The Orcas Island ferry trip lasts for about 60 minutes.

4. Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is a glacial lake on the northern side of the Olympic Mountains known for its crystal clear water, gentle curves, and gorgeous views. Kayaking Lake Crescent is a calming and soothing experience, especially with the panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains.

You can explore this beautiful glacier-carved lake with a Lake Crescent kayak rental. Then, if you are tired of kayaking, you can take a quick dip into the water and enjoy swimming in the clear blue waters.

Kayaks are available to rent from the Lake Crescent Lodge on a first come first serve basis with either full day ($60) or half day ($45) rental available for canoes, single and tandem kayaks and paddle boards.  Lake Crescent Lodge also offer 2-hour guided kayak trips Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.

lake crescent wa kayaking in washington

5. Lake Washington

A freshwater lake near the city of Seattle is Lake Washington. It borders the urban areas of Seattle on the west, Bellevue and Kirkland on the east, Renton on the south, and Kenmore on the north. Lake Washington also encases Mercer Island. Its location makes it a popular leisure spot for most locals and visitors for a quick trip to escape the hectic city life.

Lake Washington is large, with plenty of room to kayak your heart out. There are various routes for kayaking Lake Washington, and a great place to launch your own kayak is Magnuson Park. If you don’t have a kayak, head south to the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center (WAC). Here you can rent Canoes, single kayaks and double kayaks from $14-$20 per hour. 

lake washington kayaking in washington

The north of Lake Washington offers kayakers a heap of parks and coastlines to explore. Starting from Matthews Beach, paddle straight across to Denny Park and go on up the shoreline towards Saint Edward State Park. While a far stretch from a wild experience, it offers relative isolation on weekdays. Kayakers get a decent view of luxurious houses covering the seashores and seaplanes taking off. Likewise, ducks, geese, and other ocean birds can be seen through the kayaking adventure.

6. Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish State Park is located north of Issaquah and offers a good area for kayaking. The vast lake is appropriate for a large number of water sports. In addition, the fact that this lake drains into the Sammamish Slough adds to the water space available for kayaking and makes for a good kayaking adventure.

lake sammamish kayaking in washington

This scenic and diverse waterway offers paddlers an enjoyable trip near the city. Throughout the cold weather months, various types of ducks, geese, and birds would be visible along the banks of this winding stream. On days when the weather conditions are a bit dangerous, exploring this calm, winding waterway is an incredible option in contrast to the untamed waters of the Puget Sound.

Lake Sammamish winds through deciduous forests and wetlands, so you will have a glimpse of those when kayaking. If you don’t have a kayak, you can grab one from Issaquah Paddle Sports (May – Sept) at the southern tip of the lake.  Single Kayaks and SUPs start from $20 per hour.

7. Lake Union

Lake Union is in the core of Seattle and is always crowded with locals. It would not be wrong to assume that the absolute favorite thing of the natives is to kayak or paddle around Lake Union. To rent a kayak at Lake Union is inexpensive and easy, hence the reason for many people at Lake Union.

At Lake Union, there is a great deal to look at. It’s fun to see float planes landing in the water or taking off. In addition, you get to see speedboats, giant yachts, tour vessels, etc.

There are a lot of views to be enjoyed when kayaking Lake Union. The city horizon to the south, a picture of Capitol Hill, the magnificent Queen Anne Hill, the Space Needle, and the Wallingford neighborhood, to name a few. It is a great place to witness the sunset on your kayak while roaming around the lake, admiring the bright, beautiful skyline.

Feeling adventurous and have your rental reserved for some time? Then, you can wander into the Ship Canal. Before doing so, ensure you are familiar with boating etiquette, as Lake Union is loaded up with many individuals out on the water.

Wrap Up

Between the Islands of Puget Sound and the plethora of glacial lakes, Washington has many beautiful kayak spots. The natural beauty rich with wildlife makes for a good escape from everyday life. But, sitting back, relaxing, and letting nature’s calmness wash over you is a feeling that remains unmatched.

Although many more exist, we have listed the best places to kayak in Washington. Each has its charm and offers a unique experience.

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