Travel Time/Paddle Time = ???

I have had my eye on a trip later this fall that I was really enthused about earlier, but the travel time involved is starting to nag my thoughts. The trip would require at least 12 hours, one way, road time (might as well make that 14 for connoitering, loading, food breaks, bathroom breaks, etc). I am starting to wonder if we would get in a total of 6 to 8 hours of actual river time over two days. Then “12” more hours on the road to home.

So, you are beat when you arrive at the river. Then you probably party too much. You don’t sleep worth a crap. You exhaust yourself paddling (no pup here), then you pound the road, and finally arrive home whipped and not worth a crap for work the next day.

So, help me with this equation – What does 24 hours of road time divided by 6 to 8 hours of paddling time equal? Is it worth it? How have you managed to make it better? What is your limit?

I’d arrange to stay…
longer if I drove that far. At least a week!


I guess it would depend. I wouldn’t drive that far to paddle the same type of water we have here. If there was something special about it (scenic, secluded, different then what you normally paddled) then it would probably be worth it for me. Or if the reason for the trip was to get together with friends for a weekend away or something like that and this was a place for you all the meet (assuming you lived in different locations).

Tiring myself out driving, partying too hard, paddling my butt off, and being tired for work on Monday sounds like a pretty good weekend to me.


I Wouldn’t Do It

Have Done It
and probably will again, in fact, know I will. Most trips that include long drives are built around extended trips but there are those long drives around short trips. Raystown will be one of those but I sure aint going to miss that. Seems to be an age old question.


24 hours…
24 hours of driving for 6 to 8 hours of paddling?

No way I’d do that; I don’t care what river it was.

I have done a 700 mile trip(one way to North Carolina)repeatedly, but when I got to my destination, I would be paddling for the next 3 or 4 days. Typically I would have someone else along to share the driving & travel expenses, so it was really not much of a problem.

Why not just come on down to the Ozark Rendezvous? Paddle for 3 or 4 days?

Cut off “a lot” of that driving time, cut “a lot” travel expenses, relax after an easy day on the river, enjoy some good company, a good meal, a nice fire, have a few frosty beverages, listen to a lot of BS, meet some new people, and catch some good zzzzzzz.


2 hours drive time each way max.
'course, I can afford to say that.

half the finger lakes are that drive time away

Kinzua is 90 min. the Upper Niagara is 15min.

Several nice smaller lakes are an hour away. Irondequoit Bay is 90 min. Lower Niagara (lewiston to ft.niagara/lake ontario) is an hour.

Same here
Northumberland Strait, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bay of Fundy, Bras d’Or Lakes and the open Atlantic, all within 2 hours of my crib.

if it’s a good white water run, 6 hours good be worth it since it’s something different and challenging.

Sorry, would not travel 2 hours never mind 12 for flat water. Flat is flat.

However, if it is for weekend, then that’s a different story. May be worth it for the change in scenery and time away. Has to be a really special place…


Rule of thumb: Must spend more time
on the water than in the vehicle getting there. Like all rules, they get broken from time to time. I once drove to SF from Portland (750 miles) on a Friday, paddled out to Alcatraz on Saturday, and home on Sunday. It was about the same time you are thinking of. But I got away from an ice storm in Portland for sunny and 60’s in SF. Sometimes I just need a break from the gray wet Northwest. Did the trip alone too!

It’s all about the experience . . .
What will you remember 5 years from now, the weekend spent at home changing your oil, mowing the lawn, going to the dump – or this trip? Is this an opportunity of a lifetime, something you’ve always wanted to do? Do you have a good stereo in your vehicle – or a friend for good conversation?

Is there a way to spend more time on the water (than 4 to 8 hours) over those two days?

Drive fast, paddle slow! Enjoy!

Multiply the fun!
“What does 24 hours of road time divided by 6 to 8 hours of paddling time equal?”

It equals 3-4 times the fun!!! ;o)

That’s it. If the destination, the company, the challenge, or whatever else that draw you to it in the first place, is something you don’t have near home, if you feel you’ll have such a great time on the water, by all means go for it!

We white water kayakers routinely drive for 10-12 hours for a once-a-year release. The release may only last for 4-6 hours. But it’s something you can’t have another time of the year. So what if you have to drive a long way to it?

"not worth a crap for work the next day. "

That’s the least of my concern. As someone puts it, it sounds like a pretty good weekend! ;o)

On the other hand, if it’s just another easy paddle by yourself, even in a oh-so-famous place that’s already over-run by other boats, I’d stay home.

for all the responses. I agree that spending more time at the destination is the logical way to make any trip more reasonable. But, logic has a way of escaping when factoring in the limitations imposed by the demands of humping for the dollar.

But, on the other hand, there is no such thing as “river time”. The greatest sense of paddling on moving water is that sense of erasing time, that this could just go on forever, kind of like being young with a very small memory in a great big world. Just like a dream.

Frame of mind too…
When I started out canoeing, a 4-6 hr drive was a no brainer, I was young and single and no responsibilities. Now I’m almost 50 and it’s gotta be real special (Raystown) for a 10+ hr drive, and a minimum of a 2 day stay (3 nights). I do make an exception for the West river release (Vt.) It’s a 3 hr drive, 6 hr round trip for one day. With roughly just 3-4 hrs on the water. Now that my kids are older I’ve been staying overnight again. (Not this year, going to Raystown instead.) But for a general day trip, a 2 hr drive one-way is the max. And it’s gotta be at least a 7-10 mile river trip.

In general, I have been driving 4-6 hours each way for a day or two of paddling, rivers and/or lakes. It’s worth it to have the opportunity of camping out with my friends, even if it’s only one or two nights and one day of paddling.

I’ve been camping and paddling every weekend for the past two months, and every trip has required a minimum drive of 6 hours each way. I’ve been on some wonderful trips and feel the time driving has been well spent.


Most likely
Doc hit that nail on the head.

After insisting for years I wouldn’t camp just to paddle (because I don’t like camping), and mainly taking day trips of up to 3+ hour drives each way, I’d pretty much exhausted the local places to paddle (McYak mentioned most of them). I wanted to do more, see more, and meet more people.

So I drove to my first two car camper paddles this summer. It took some persuasion to get me to the first one, but NOT to the second one. Each trip took me about 5 1/2 to 6 hours, one way. The paddle time was less than that on each trip. BUT the excellent company, and the uniqueness of the places, entirely made up for that. I went on these trips mainly to experience water I have never paddled before, but the bonus was meeting interesting people, many of whom I now consider friends.

I brought another paddler on both my trips, so we shared gas costs and driving responsibilities. We enjoyed good conversation and listened to cd’s during the drive. Quite enjoyable. (I also have one friend who reads a novel out loud to us when we are on day road trips. Each road trip equals another installment of reading. I love it.)

However, if I were travelling alone, I would have no problem listening to music, books on tape, and singing in the car.

I do paddle with a few local paddlers who insist they will never drive farther than the time spent paddling. That’s ok too, as they have their reasons, and I understand that. Cost of the trip, weather conditions, home situation, not enough time to give up for the trip, fearing the end trip will not “live up to” the effort required for the trip… everyone has his or her own situation to consider.

However, I think the “lesson learned” for me is that those who choose not to travel may also eventually miss out on not only some unusual paddling opportunites, but meeting some fascinating and delightful folks.

My own limitations are that too much time spent in the car aggravates my bad back, which then affects my ability to paddle longer. (Then I just paddle with the pain).

It all depends on your own feelings about the place you are paddling, and what you hope to find there. Can you find the same thing at home? If not, that’s an incentive to travel. Are you meeting friends there? Worth the trip alone. You have to weigh the pros and cons. More often than not, I think there’s always something worthwhile and memorable about paddling in a new place with good people.

I prefer drive time < paddle time, but
often for shorter day trips I violate that rule. My last extended trip was a week in the wilderness, but it was it was about 20 hours of travel time each way. It was a no brainer and a great time.

Tomorrow it may be 4 hour drive for 3 to 4 hours of paddling. But thats where I would like to try while the weather is still nice in the NW.