Coast To Cascade: The 11 Best Kayaking In Washington State

In the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find Washington State, a place full of amazing natural beauty. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors and adventures, kayaking here is an excellent way to immerse yourself in this stunning environment.

Washington is famous for its gorgeous landscapes, different ecosystems, and many waterways. It’s a paradise for people who enjoy outdoor activities and exciting adventures on the water.

You can explore a wide range of kayaking experiences in Washington, from the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline to calm lakes surrounded by the magnificent Cascade Mountains. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert – Washington has something for everyone.

You can seek the adrenaline rush of navigating challenging whitewater rapids, enjoy the peace and quiet of pristine lakes, or paddle next to diverse wildlife. This article will explore the 11 best kayaking spots in Washington State.

So, let’s get started.

What sets kayaking in Washington State apart from others?

kayaking in Washington State

Washington State has incredible kayaking experiences. Unique features and stunning scenery make it stand out. From diverse water bodies to lots of wildlife, here’s why kayaking here is a must for outdoor lovers.

Different Types of Water Bodies

Washington has a lot of different places to kayak, whether you like calm lakes or exciting sea kayaking. There are rivers like the Skagit and Wenatchee for exciting whitewater adventures. You can also enjoy the peaceful beauty of lakes like Lake Chelan and Lake Crescent.

The coastal areas along Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands offer incredible opportunities for kayaking while surrounded by stunning natural scenery.

Amazing Scenery

Kayaking in Washington means you get to enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes around. The Olympic Peninsula, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, has majestic mountains, lush rainforests, and pristine coastlines. Paddling through these areas lets you be part of nature’s beauty and see incredible views.

Puget Sound combines city and nature, so you can kayak past famous Seattle landmarks or escape to quiet coves filled with marine life. The San Juan Islands are a group of islands with rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and lots of wildlife.

Wildlife Sightings

When you go kayaking in Washington, you’ll have chances to see all kinds of marine and land animals.

The 11 Best kayaking in Washington state

The 11 Best Kayaking Destinations in Washington State

Washington State is a haven for kayakers, offering a diverse range of stunning locations to explore. Whether you’re seeking tranquil lakes or rugged coastlines, there’s something for every paddler. We’ve conducted thorough research to bring you the top 11 kayaking destinations in Washington State. So grab your paddle, and let’s dive into these incredible spots!

San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands Washington Kayaking

The San Juan Islands in the Salish Sea are known for their stunning beauty and diverse marine life. They offer a fantastic kayaking experience with beautiful beaches, rocky shores, and hidden coves. Let’s see why these islands are one of Washington State’s top kayaking spots.

Paddle and See Orcas Up Close

Kayaking in the San Juan Islands is a unique experience where you can enjoy the islands’ natural beauty and get up close to orcas and other marine animals. Whether you’re new to kayaking or an experienced paddler, there are guided tours for all skill levels. These tours provide expert guidance, ensuring your safety while you explore this stunning environment.

Amazing Wildlife Sightings

If you’re fascinated by marine life, kayaking around the San Juan Islands is a must. Orcas Island, the largest of the islands, offers fantastic opportunities to paddle along its rugged coastline and spot orcas, seals, and sea lions. The calm waters make it easier to approach these majestic creatures without disturbing them.

Start Your Kayaking Adventure in Charming Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor, situated on San Juan Island, is a popular starting point for kayaking adventures in the area.

Puget Sound

In the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound is a fantastic kayaking place. It’s a mix of city exploration and natural beauty. You can paddle around Seattle’s skyline, starting from Alki Beach in West Seattle, and see the Space Needle and waterfront.

But Puget Sound offers more. You can escape the city and head to places like Bainbridge Island, known for its coastal charm and beauty. To explore it fully, take a ferry to nearby islands. These trips give you great views and a unique experience.

The best time for kayaking here is late spring to early fall (May to September) when the weather is good. Fall brings colorful foliage and a quieter atmosphere.

As you navigate through Puget Sound’s expansive waters, you’ll encounter an abundance of marine life along the way.

Lake Crescent

Kayaking Lake Crescent, Washington State

Lake Crescent is a stunning spot in the Olympic National Park. It’s a glacier-formed lake with incredibly clear, blue water. The lake is surrounded by lush forests and the tall Olympic Mountains, making it a fantastic place for kayaking.

When you go kayaking on Lake Crescent, you’ll find calm and peaceful waters that are perfect for paddling. The quietness of the lake lets you enjoy the beauty around you and get away from everyday busyness. While you’re on the water, keep an eye out for majestic blue herons flying above or sitting by the shore.

One of the best things about kayaking here is the amazing Olympic Mountains in the background. As you paddle on this pristine lake, take a moment to admire the breathtaking views of the snow-covered peaks reaching up to the sky. The contrast of these rugged mountains against the calm waters is truly awe-inspiring.

Exploring Lake Crescent by kayak also means you can discover cool stuff along its shores. Hidden waterfalls flow down mossy cliffs, creating a peaceful atmosphere with their gentle sounds. The ancient forests that surround the lake provide shade and shelter as you paddle around. Look out for interesting rock formations under the water; they have stories to tell about the area’s geological history.

After your kayaking adventure, remember to visit Lake Crescent Lodge, which is one of the oldest lodges in Washington and has a lot of historical significance.

Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake, found in North Cascades National Park, is a fantastic place for kayaking, especially if you’re looking for something extraordinary. What makes it special is its unique turquoise color, which comes from tiny bits of ground-up rocks from glaciers in the water. This gives the lake a magical feel.

Head to the Diablo Lake Overlook on State Route 20 to start your kayaking adventure at Diablo Lake. From here, you’ll see amazing views of the lake’s stunning turquoise water set against the backdrop of the North Cascades. It’s a sight that will leave you amazed even before you start kayaking.

Once you’re on your kayak, get ready to be surrounded by nature’s beauty. Diablo Lake offers a truly immersive experience as you paddle through its vibrant turquoise waters. Towering mountains are all around you, creating an impressive landscape that shows off the rugged beauty of North Cascades National Park at every turn.

One of the coolest parts of kayaking here is exploring the little hidden coves and narrow channels. As you venture into these secret spots, you’ll come across hidden treasures. Imagine paddling along the clean shores covered in lush plants while waterfalls make a beautiful sound in the background.

Don’t forget your camera! The stunning colors in Diablo Lake’s clear waters give you lots of chances to take amazing photos. These pictures will always remind you of this incredible experience.

Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan Washington State

Lake Chelan in North Central Washington, surrounded by the impressive Cascade Mountains, is a must-visit spot for kayaking lovers. This lake is long and narrow, and its exceptional depth and peaceful environment offer a unique experience for those who seek solace in nature.

Lake Chelan is one of the deepest lakes in the United States, and when you paddle on it, you’ll feel a sense of wonder at its incredible depth. Picture yourself gliding on clear waters while being surrounded by tall mountains, creating a stunning alpine setting. It’s like entering a world where tranquility reigns supreme.

To start your kayaking adventure at Lake Chelan, go to the village of Stehekin at the lake’s northern tip. This is a popular starting point that leads to breathtaking views and lets you explore a remote and rustic community. You can get to Stehekin by ferry or seaplane, which adds an exciting element to your journey.

Once you’re on the water, get ready for an unforgettable experience as you paddle on Lake Chelan’s deep blue waters. While navigating through narrow canyons shaped by ancient glaciers, you might come across hidden beaches perfect for picnics or enjoying peaceful surroundings.

Besides kayaking, Lake Chelan offers various opportunities for other activities. If you enjoy fishing, you’ll find plenty of fish species in the pristine waters. And during warmer months, you can take a refreshing swim in the lake.

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful canyon formed by the Columbia River cutting through the Cascade Range in Washington State. It’s famous for its cliffs, views, and waterfalls. If you like kayaking and want an adventure in nature, this is a great place to go.

Kayaking in the Columbia River Gorge can be exciting. You’ll face challenging rapids surrounded by tall cliffs and greenery. It’s like being in a beautiful natural wonderland. Going through Class III rapids will make your heart beat fast. There are also calmer parts of the river where you can paddle slowly and enjoy the peace and quiet.

You can try whitewater rafting on the nearby White Salmon River if you want more excitement. This is like kayaking but even more thrilling. Doing both kayaking in the gorge and whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River will give you an amazing outdoor adventure.

Besides water activities, there are hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge for all skill levels. These trails have stunning mountain views. You can explore the Cascade Mountains at your own pace, whether you like challenging hikes or easy walks.

Rock climbers will love the Columbia River Gorge too. There are lots of cliffs and rocks to climb. It’s a great place to find new challenges and see high-up views.

Lake Wenatchee

Lake Wenatchee is a beautiful lake in the Cascade Mountains, surrounded by forests. It’s a great place for kayaking and enjoying nature.

One of the best parts of Lake Wenatchee is Hidden Cove on its south side. It’s a quiet place for kayakers to explore and enjoy the peaceful lake. You can paddle through the cove and see amazing views of the mountains and forests.

Besides kayaking, Lake Wenatchee has other outdoor activities too. If you like fishing, you can catch fish in the lake. And if you enjoy hiking, there are nice trails in the nearby forest. You can have a full day of outdoor fun with kayaking, fishing, and hiking.

If you want to stay longer and be close to nature, you can go camping in the Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Wenatchee. You can set up your tent under tall trees and listen to the sounds of nature as you fall asleep. Then, wake up feeling refreshed and ready for more kayaking or exploring the beautiful area.

Lake Wenatchee is also a great place for families. The calm waters are safe for kids to kayak with their parents. Children can paddle in the gentle waves while parents enjoy the beautiful scenery. It’s a wonderful spot for family fun.

Hoh River

Hoh River kayaking Washington State

The Hoh River in Washington State is an amazing place for kayaking, especially if you want to experience the beauty of the Hoh Rainforest. This river flows through one of the biggest temperate rainforests in the United States, which is in the Olympic National Park. It’s a special opportunity for people who love nature.

Exceptional Rainforest Immersion

When you go kayaking on the Hoh River, it’s like entering a magical world full of lush greenery and peaceful surroundings. As you paddle through the water, you’ll be surrounded by tall trees covered in moss, which creates an enchanting atmosphere.

The Hoh Rainforest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its diverse plants and animals, making it a great place for anyone who wants to experience a real rainforest.

To really understand and enjoy this unique place, you can take guided walks through the Hoh Rainforest. Knowledgeable guides will show you all the different plants and animals that live there and tell you about why it’s so important and interesting. You’ll see beautiful wildflowers and ancient ferns and learn something new with every step.

Encounter Diverse Wildlife

While you’re kayaking on the Hoh River, watch out for some of Washington’s famous wildlife. Bald eagles often fly above you, making the adventure even more special. Otters might swim alongside your kayak, showing off their playful moves in their natural home. And if you’re lucky, you might see salmon jumping out of the water as they swim upstream during their yearly journey.

Blake Island State Park

Blake Island State Park is a great place for kayaking, and it’s really close to Seattle. You can take a short ferry ride to get there. This park is a hidden gem known for its natural beauty, forest trails, and Native American culture.

Kayaking at Blake Island is special because it’s like a rustic getaway near Seattle. You can be in nature but still close to city stuff. The island itself is beautiful, with great landscapes and shores to explore by kayak.

But what’s even more unique about Blake Island is its connection to Native American culture. The island has a long history with Native American people; when you visit, you can experience their traditions and performances. You can learn about old customs and watch cool dances. Kayaking here is not just about nature; it’s also a journey into the past.

When you paddle around the island, it’s peaceful, and you can enjoy nature and see wildlife up close. Look out for seals sunbathing on rocks or eagles flying above you. You can explore hidden bays and coves, too.

The best time to visit Blake Island for kayaking is in the summer, from June to August. The weather is nice then, which is perfect for water activities and exploring the island’s nature and culture.

Here are some important things to remember when planning your trip:

  • Go to Blake Island State Park for a unique kayaking adventure near Seattle.
  • Explore beautiful shores and find hidden bays while kayaking around the island.

Silver Lake: Tranquil Kayaking near Mount St. Helens

Silver Lake is near Mount St. Helens in Washington state, and it’s a peaceful and refreshing place for kayaking in a beautiful natural setting. The lake, surrounded by calm forests, looks stunning, with the famous volcano in the background. This tranquility is a contrast to the mountain’s turbulent history.

Go to Silver Lake Park near the dam to start your kayaking adventure at Silver Lake. From there, you can put your kayak in the water and explore the whole lake at your own speed. While you paddle on the calm water, you’ll see amazing views of Mount St. Helens reflected on the lake’s surface. It’s a breathtaking sight that makes the whole experience even more peaceful.

One of the best things about kayaking on Silver Lake is how peaceful it is. The forest around the lake and the calm water make it a quiet place where you can escape from the busyness of everyday life. Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or new to it, this calm setting is perfect for relaxing and feeling refreshed.

After your kayaking trip, you can relax on one of Silver Lake’s sandy beaches or explore the nearby hiking trails. The park around the lake has lots of things to do, like fishing or just taking a peaceful walk in nature.

While at Silver Lake, look out for different birds and wildlife around the lake. You might see herons gracefully flying over the water or deer walking along the forested shores. This close connection with nature makes your kayaking experience even more special.

Long Beach Peninsula

The Long Beach Peninsula is a beautiful place on the southwest coast of Washington state. It’s like a hidden treasure with its amazing sandy beaches and incredible views of the ocean. This spot is famous for its natural beauty, including the scenic coastline, sand dunes, and lots of outdoor activities.

One of the best things about kayaking on the Long Beach Peninsula is exploring the coast. The coastline here is rugged, with tall rocks in the ocean and big dunes on the shore. This makes kayaking here an exciting adventure because you can see things you won’t find elsewhere. It adds a sense of excitement and discovery to your trip, making it something you’ll never forget.

What makes the Long Beach Peninsula special is that you can explore the shore and interesting rocks and sand dunes during your kayaking trip. As you paddle along this stunning coastline, you’ll be amazed by the natural beauty all around you. Imagine gliding past tall rocks coming out of the sea or going through sand dunes that seem to go on forever. It’s an adventure that really lets you experience the wonders of nature.

Besides its amazing natural features, the Long Beach Peninsula has a long coastline that’s great for beachcombing and finding seashells. Whether you’re a pro at collecting seashells or you just like walking along the beautiful beaches and looking for treasures, this place has something for everyone.

To have the best kayaking experience on the Long Beach Peninsula, plan your trip from late spring to early fall, from May to September.

Final Words

As we finish talking about the fun places to go kayaking in Washington State, we hope this guide has excited you about kayaking in this amazing part of the Pacific Northwest. There are lots of different places to explore, like the wild and wavy coasts or the calm lakes near the big Cascade Mountains. Washington has something fun for everyone who loves adventure.

Whether you’re really good at kayaking and want a new adventure, or you’re just starting and want to try something new, Washington State is a great place to go. It’s got amazing natural beauty and all kinds of different environments to explore while kayaking. You’ll have a unique and unforgettable experience that will give you memories to cherish forever.

About Addison

Hark! Fellow seekers of adventure! 

I'm Addison, a passionate adventurer from Oregon's captivating Pacific Northwest. Alongside my brother Ronin, we founded PaddleWiggle, a kayaking website. On my page, you'll find thrilling stories of my kayaking expeditions.

So, join me as I explore wild rivers and hidden coves, sharing the raw beauty of nature through PaddleWiggle's expedition section.

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