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Lazy rivers: The best U.S. float trips
The U.S. has millions of miles of flowing water -why not float along a few? In the early days of settlement, towns sprang up on the shores of these water ways to support commerce. Odds are good that you live near one since so many major U.S. cities sprouted on river fronts.
Snake River, Wyoming
The Snake River meanders through what is arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the lower 48. An easy day outing from Jackson allows paddlers to get a close-up view of the Grand Teton range. Bald eagle, moose, and elk are often spotted on the rugged banks of the Snake. Lost Creek Ranch offers early morning float trips that give visitors a better chance to catch wildlife in action.
Caney Fork, Tennessee
Trout are the reason most come to the Caney. But paddlers will enjoy the relaxing feel of this slow river as it slips through limestone canyons and open farmland. The Caney boasts a multitude of access points used for put-ins and take-outs. Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers offers trout fishing classes and outings for all skill levels.
Follow in the paddle strokes of Lewis and Clark on the longest river in the states. The Missouri has several excellent flat water sections that provide good paddling. For unmatched scenic beauty, take to the water in Montana to see big sky country at it's best.
Hoh River, Washington
Ancient majestic spruce, world-class fishing, and the lush Hoh rain forest are all part of the Hoh river experience. On this float it will seem like you are tucked into a remote corner of Alaska, but after the paddle you can still get to the nearest Starbucks by late afternoon.
Blue River, Indiana
Family fun is the secret of the Blue River's popularity. Easy access and proximity to major cities make the Blue a refreshing way to cool off during a mid-summer heat wave. Cave Country Canoes has several options and can accommodate large groups.
Rio Grande, Texas
Straddling the border of Mexico and the US is the Rio Grande or "big river." This river offers phenomenal views of the canyons in Big Bend National Park. Floats can range in length from 1/2 day excursions to 7-day expedition style trips.
Green River, Kentucky
As the Green drains the south central region of Kentucky it flows through Mammoth Cave National Park. This section is heavily paddled in summer months when the water takes on a bright green color from the limestone in the area. The Green River is also well known for it's healthy population of freshwater mussels and fish.
Alagnak River, Alaska
The Alagnak was the first river to receive "wild and scenic river" status. Salmon fishing reins supreme on the Alagnak in summer and fall. Humans aren't the only ones taking advantage of the salmon run though. Be prepared to see both grizzly and black bear in large number on this northern treat. Stay out of the canyon section if you want to keep the paddling to Class I.
Hocking River, Ohio
The Hocking River is geographically centered among several metro areas. The proximity to population hubs and the ease of paddling make for a popular weekend escape for beginner paddlers. Hocking Hills Canoe Livery offers scenic floats through the hilly farmland of Ohio all summer long.
Tarpon Bay Mangroves, Florida
For year-round paddling weather try Sanibel Island off the west coast of Florida. This warm-weather paddling mecca is home to Tarpon Bay. The bay harbors a a mangrove swamp which provides beautiful water paths and tunnels for secluded kayaking. Wildlife is abundant and visitors often see a wide variety of birds and can even spot the occasional manatee.
No matter what state you live in there is flowing water. Taking time to enjoy the peace of these rivers and will refresh and reinvigorate even the most weary of us.