10 Best Places For Kayaking In Alaska, The USA

kayaking in alaska
| 5 min read

As a destination, Alaska is unparalleled. It offers an astonishing landscape brimming with huge ice-age glaciers, towering ice walls, snow-clad mountains, serene lakes, abundant wildlife (both land and marine), and spectacular waterfalls. An unforgettable way to experience this unique destination and take its beauty in full measure is to go kayaking. As you paddle, you will find yourself in the middle of the beautiful vistas. Glide next to otters or up-close to a glacial wall or just enjoy spray from a waterfall! The state offers numerous places with great kayaking experiences. Read on to find out the best places for kayaking in Alaska, the USA.

1. Aialik Bay - Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords - Aialik Glacier
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Balazs Barnucz used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Within the Kenai Fjords National Park lies Aialik Bay that gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the ethereal magnificence of the Alaskan wilderness at close quarters. Here, you can paddle up-close to the active Aialik Glacier and come face-to-face with giant ice blocks and listen to the mesmerizing sound of the glacier calving. You will also have the chance to see an amazing range of marine wildlife such as puffins, penguins and Humpback whales, among others, in the many fjords and inlets surrounding the bay.

Aialik Bay - Kenai Fjords National Park

Address: Alaska 99664, USA

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2. Eklutna Lake - Chugach State Park

View of Eklutna Lake from the Twin Peaks trail, near Anchorage, Alaska
Source: Photo by Flickr user Frank Kovalchek used under CC BY 2.0

Kayaking through the pristine waters of Eklutna Lake is the best way to appreciate its stunning beauty. As you paddle through its glass-like turquoise waters, you can admire the encircling snow-clad mountains as well as the wildlife found on its banks. Those looking for more adventure can combine kayaking and hiking or biking in one trip as there are several trails in and around the lake, including one that goes right up to a glacier. The lake is located in Chugach State Park, which is very close to Anchorage.

Eklutna Lake - Chugach State Park

Address: Anchorage, AK, USA

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3. Seymour Canal

Double Waterfall,  Southeast Alaska
Source: Photo by Flickr user Joseph used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Seymour Canal is located within the Tongass National Forest. It splits Admiralty Island, known to have the country’s biggest population of brown bears, into two parts. The canal is one of the best paddling destinations, offering an unsullied temperate rainforest setting, an amazing range of wildlife and calm waters. As you paddle through Seymour Canal, you can enjoy its verdant banks and get a chance to view birds like bald eagles and marine animals like sea lions, whale, swans, and more. The best way to view brown bears in their natural environment is to camp near Pack Creek.

Seymour Canal

Address: Southeast Alaska, USA

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4. Gull Island - Halibut Cove

Halibut Cove
Source: Photo by Flickr user James Brooks used under CC BY 2.0

Halibut Cove found within Kachemak Bay is a tiny village that can be accessed only via a boat. The village offers spectacular wildlife sightings and gives a glimpse of this area’s history. You can paddle in and around the cove for the views of its many oyster farms and also quaint houses built over stilts. You can also plan a trip to Glacier Lake, which is a short hike up from the cove, and kayak there in and around icebergs as the lake has a terminus point of Grewingk Glacier. Another great trip is to kayak around the nearby Gull Island, which is a bird sanctuary and over 20,000 seabirds roost here.

Gull Island - Halibut Cove

Address: Alaska 99603, USA

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5. Portage Glacier - Kenai Peninsula

Portage Glacier, Alaska
Source: Photo by Flickr user Zdenek Svoboda used under CC BY 2.0

To the south of Anchorage, within the Chugach National Forest, lies Portage Glacier and Portage Lake. Paddling through the beautiful glacial lake and surroundings cliffs is an enchanting experience. But, what is even more wonderful is landing on the rocky beach across the glacier and getting incredible views of the vast centuries-old glacier sheet. You may even get the chance to hear the thunderous sound of ice blocks breaking off and see them falling into the lake, a riveting experience.

Portage Glacier - Kenai Peninsula

Address: Anchorage, AK, United States

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6. Prince William Sound - Whittier

Prince William, Alaska
Source: Needpix

Prince William Sound has the largest collection of tidewater glaciers in the world. Kayaking is relatively easier here as the water is largely protected. As the area offers numerous coves, inlets and bays suitable for exploration, there are several types of kayaking trips available here. Paddle to the largest Kittiwake rookery, or explore the notable scenic locales of this region such as Passage Canal, Shotgun Cover and Blackstone Bay, among others. You are guaranteed unforgettable views of glacier walls, mountain cliffs with waterfalls and an array of wildlife such as black bear, salmon, humpback whales, otters, and harbor seals.

Prince William Sound - Whittier

Address: Alaska, USA

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7. Reid Glacier - Glacier Bay National Park

Kayaking to the ice face at Reid Glacier in Glacier Bay
Source: Photo by Flickr user Matt Zimmerman used under CC BY 2.0

The breathtaking beauty of Glacier Bay and its unique ecosystem makes it truly special. This bay with a rim of majestic snow-clad and glaciated mountains is a beautiful destination for paddling, with many places to explore such as Bartlett Cove that combine wildlife sightings and stunning glacier views. The Reid Glacier is located in the West Arm, which is home to several tidewater glaciers (those extending from mountains to the ocean). As you paddle up Reid Inlet, you will come up to the giant wall of the bright blue-tinged Reid Glacier at the other end. You will be left awed by the imposing ice cliffs formed by the glacier all around you.

Reid Glacier - Glacier Bay National Park

Address: Alaska 99826, USA

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8. Yukon Island - Kachemak Bay

Source: Photo by Flickr user mazaletel used under CC BY 2.0

Yukon Island is a richly wooded island in Kachemak Bay set against a backdrop of towering snow-capped mountains. The area is famed for amazing wildlife sightings and phenomenal scenic views that you can enjoy best when you go on a paddling trip. Get glimpses of a range of sea animals such as sea otters, porpoises, seals, puffins and even whales. You may also see bald eagles that live in hordes on the forested island.

Yukon Island - Kachemak Bay

Address: Outer Kachemak Bay, Alaska 99603, USA

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9. Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau

Source: Photo by Flickr user Wendy Cutler used under CC BY 2.0

One of the most easily accessible glaciers Mendenhall Glacier is around 12 mi (19 km) out of the town of Juneau. The glacier is a feast for the eyes, with its setting comprising snow-topped mountains, the lush Tongass National Forest and a beautiful lake. Experience the beauty of the glacier up-close by kayaking across the glass-like pristine waters of Mendenhall Lake. You will go past floating icebergs, large cliffs and come up to the looming face of the glacier. Your paddling trip is likely to give you sightings of a variety of sea and land animals such as gulls, mountain goats, river otters, black bears, beavers, and bald eagles.

Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau

Address: Juneau, AK 99801, United States

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10. Eagle Island - Ketchikan

Gravina Island from Ketchikan, Alaska 3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Wknight94 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Eagle Island is located within the Tongass National Forest and offers plentiful opportunities for wildlife viewing. As you head up Clover Pass and paddle around the island with its many coves and inlets, you are likely to come across a range of animals like salmon, seals, bald eagles, whales and otters.

Eagle Island - Ketchikan

Address: Alaska, USA

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Hit the Alaskan waters in a kayak

Exploring Alaskan destinations via kayaking does not need you to be experienced at it. If you are new to it, opt for guided tours that are suitable for people of all levels of expertise. Beginners can opt for half day tours that will easily capture the highlights. More experienced kayakers can go for full day tours or even overnight ones that combine hiking and camping. This list of best places for kayaking in Alaska, the USA, is a great way to find out where to go!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Writing and travelling both bring joy to Sowmya's life. Her favourite destination so far is Bhutan - a land of incredible beauty! And her favourite style of travelling is solo backpacking!...Read more

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