Rivers...how do we get back to our car?

Hi all, just joined today and am hoping to get an answer to a question that I’ve wondered about for a long time. We’ve just bought our first kayaks and have only been out on lakes so far. We want to do some river trips, but we can’t figure out how we’d get the kayaks back to our car at the end of the trip. How is that done usually? Do we just have to find an outfitter nearby who will move the car for us at some prescribed time, or is there another option?

The whole reason for getting our own kayaks was to be independent and be able to go wherever we wanted on the spur of the moment… Ideas? Thanks!

the shuttle
you can hire an outfitter to move your car. (probably best if you’re going to be out for a while and are worried about vandalism.

you can carry two vehicles and shuttle yourself. leave a car at the takeout and go to the put-in.

you can leave a bicycle chained and hidden at the takeout and swap out the boat for the cycle. i have some friends who use this on day trips.

or you can paddle upstream and float back to your starting point.

lots of ways to get the job done.

Seems like the easiest way
from my point of view is to find some friends who are into boating as well and do the shuttle. I suppose in some places where the river is really known for paddling and you have boat rental places you could find someone who you could pay to drive you to the put in while your car is at the take out. I’m pretty new to the whole thing as well and haven’t done much river paddling either so I can’t say how much something like that costs. Also, haven’t made too many friends with boats yet either so still mostly flatwater paddling myself. The bike idea sounded kind of good but not for solo paddling because then you’d need to somehow chain up your boat unless you have one of those nifty bike boat trailer things I’ve seen some guys make.

Rivers…how do we get back to our car?
We’d thought about the 2 car idea, but hate the thought of the added cost to the environment (as well as the wallet). Might use that if we’re not driving too far from home though.

I like the idea of paddling upstream and floating back to the car. Would need to make sure we picked someplace with a slow current for that I guess. And the bike idea is very cool too…I could see doing that, assuming we could get the bike rack on the car at the same time we’re carrying the kayaks on top. We’ll have to check that out.

Thanks for the ideas!

Modification of bike plan
It seems that everyone always says leave the bike at the take-out. I don’t know about “everyone” else, but when I get to the take-out, I’m often tired, it’s often late, the weather has often changed for the worse, and so on. I find it’s nice to leave the car at the take-out, not the bike. The logistics are exactly the same, but you can finish up the day doing the fast-and-easy half of the shuttle instead of the hard part.

It depends
It depends on the geography. Sometime if you’re driving past the take out on your way to the launch, it’s easier to leave the bike there instead of having to drive back and forth.

The reverse is true when you happen to drive to the launch without passing the take out.

Yeah, I do the bike too
I have been running rivers solo for many years (18) and have almost always done the bicycle shuttle as the means of getting back to the vehicle. Depending on the outside temps, I will either do the shuttle before the paddle or after the paddle. Either way you just swap the lock onto the canoe or bicycle to secure it while doing the transport thing. Very simple and makes you get a good lower body workout to compliment the upper body paddling workout.

one I have used is to leave my boat at the put in, lock it up with a cable lock, then drive to the take out point. It’s usually in town, and I will call a cab to take me back to my boat, leaving my vehicle at my destination.

It’s spendy, but works pretty well if you are doing an overnight trip. Instead of a cab, you can also have a friend drive you.

For the majority of my paddling though, I paddle upriver and then back down to where I parked. You should paddle upriver first. A lot easier coming downriver after a full day of paddling.

In my area, the liveries won’t help you.
Paddling upstream is a hit and miss thing. Hills and road conditions take a bike off the table. We do the two car unless it’s a “park and play”.

Goes like this…Meet at the take-out, put two boats on one car, drive that car to the launch, paddle down.

Take your time and think about what you are going to need, keeping in mind, that you may not always be able to complete a trip on the water. Keep a cell phone, some money, dry clothes, first aid kit with you in the event you may have to walk out.

Thanks everyone…
…we’ve got a good stash of ideas for various situations now. Planning to go out tomorrow, as long as the weather holds!

Five options: bicycle, two vehicles, arrange for a shuttle, walk, or paddle/pole back upstream.

Join a paddling club, then you usually have too many boats for one car anyway, shuttles are then easy and make more sense.

Bill H.

Paddle round trip
Your profile says lakes and slow rivers for your paddling environments. While an end to end can be nice, most paddling in those situations is round trip.

Like others here we use two vehicles.

call my wife with a MGRS grid. =0)

Inline skates
Seriously, I use inline skates. Nearly as fast as a bike, but fits in every kayak.

Downhill both ways
This only works if you live at or near the coast but it’s a win win. I do most of my paddling in estuaries on the Oregon coast. If I play my tide table right, I can put in on an incoming,paddle inland through high tide and slack, turn around and ride the outgoing back to put in. Of course you can do the reverse if the times are more convenient. I paddle hard both ways and the scenery goes by at most pleasing rate!


Turn on the charm
If you happen to like a particular river, check with the OWNER of a livery, and see if he would be willing to set up a one time fee for the season. Usually best to hit’em at the start of the season. They like to have that cash. In my case it is a 55 dollar fee for the season. It’s not a very challenging stream, but the scenery, and serenity is priceless. The owner knows my skills enough that he has let me in when conditions for the general public warrant shutting down, in which case I have the local ranger number on my cell, and let them know I am putting in.Sometimes I just have them drive my vehicle to the put in, drop me and take truck back to livery, usually if I am first in am, and no business.

Also, offer to fill a 30 gallon trash bag with river litter for them, and sometimes get a half off or free, win win for everybody. Offer to help a few newbies at the livery with the basics as they put in, for a discount, another win , win. My father always said…“The answer is always NO if you don’t ask”.

Hope this spawns other ideas.

Put bike in car
Unless you have a REALLY small car, the bike will probably go in it. Use a bike with quick releases on the wheels and take them off. Put it chain side up to avoid greasing up the car and bending the deraileur mount.

When I get to the takeout, I use the bike lock to secure the boat while going after the car.

Don’t forget your car keys, I did. That made for a lot of bikin’


Paddle at Disney World
It’s the only place I know where the rivers run in circles.