Trip planning and where to go next?

So I’ve wrapped up my travels for 2023. I just finished a month of day hiking in the mountains of Mexico. Not a paddling trip but still a good adventure.

Right now I’m trying to decide on my paddling options for 2024. I have 10 more states to paddle in, to reach my goal of paddling in all 50 states. I try to do a couple of new to me states every year.

This past year I focused on Wisconsin, Michigan, and Texas. I also did some personal first descents (pfds) in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri, Illiniois even though I have already paddled other streams in those states. I don’t take my goals too seriously and am never in a hurry. So it is not surprising I often revisit states enroute to my new state paddling destinations.

I tend to like moving water more than flat water but each year my flatwater destinations increase. The bulk of my paddling is day trips (camping in the rv) but I will overnight on the water some. I’m somewhat flexible on craft type. I will canoe but no kneeling for me. Mostly I’m in my long ww kayak (12’) and kind of use it as a go anywhere boat.

States I have left to do: North Dakota- been looking at this one a lot- thinking about 100 miles on the little missouri in the national park grasslands, best shot at water is probably toward the end of april or first few weeks in may, Pembina gorge looks interesting as well
Alaska- putting this on hold, would like to give this state an entire summer, will wait another year or two until travel budget recovers and I can do it up right
Montana- possibly a missouri breaks historical trip (Lewis and Clark) or class II, III whitewater on the Flathead, and Gallatin Rivers
California- still like the idea of the smith river even though it had dropped out when I was there to paddle it once before, I could catch the upper sections of the truckee in the Spring coming out of tahoe.
Nevada- considering truckee river, black canyon of the colorado
Arizona- thinking about putting in for a lottery pick for the seasonal upper salt river, or do a commercial trip or will wait on the Colorado (Grand Canyon) until the trip budget increases
Minnesota- looking at Voyaguers Natl. Park- like the idea of easy permits, no portages, more budget friendly due to my lack of a Kevlar canoe, some day trips into boundary water to see some highlights
Vermont and New Hampshire- like the idea of paddling ponds in the Fall (I hiked part of the Long Trail then), or could do Northern Forest Canoe Trail Sections, or some class II or III releases
Rhode Island, just go paddling with Eck of course

I’m open to suggestions and paddling partners- every year for the past few years I’ve been getting on some rivers and lakes that others have suggested, thank you Pat, Pete, Marty, Rich, Tom, and Doug and all the other pnetters (or pcomers) who have turned me on to great places to paddle.
SYOTR (see you on the river), Tony.


I didn’t see South Carolina. Lake Jocassee, Chattooga River, the coast with several calm rivers heading to it like the Edisto.

Rethink the Smith River in CA. Too much for a canoe and bad access.
Most of your choices are good ones.

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Hey String I like paddling in South Carolina and Georgia! I was just listing the states I hadn’t paddled in for trip ideas. Probably at the top of my to do list for Sc would be section 2 of the Chattooga. I’ve done section 3 and 4. Section 2 used to be illegal and now it is not. It is also easier (class II) which sounds appealing to me as I’ve gotten older. I’ve paddled a couple of stretches of the Edisto from above Colleton SP to Ghivans Ferry. I would probably like the stuff way up stream better . I’m talking about a stretch that is closer to Orangeburg and requires dragging over some logs. Sparkleberry sounds interesting as well. I would still like to check out some more tidal creeks in the ace basin (Doug aka castoff got me started on that) and I haven’t made it out to cape romain and the graveyard beach. I was foiled by lightning and paddled back to the put in when I attempted that. In Georgia the Cartecay and Amicola creek peak my interest as both are easier ww streams. I’ve paddled most of Okefenokee (6 multi day trips) but haven’t paddled from kingfisher landing. that would also be of interest to me.

Hey ppine I liked the Smith River. I wanted something in the redwoods that was less busy. Unfortunately it was at the end of what was a 68 day rv trip and I simply ran out of water as the summer progressed. Good hiking around Jedadiah smith S.P. and loved the color of the river, emerald green. I feel like the ww stretches upstream are still within my wheelhouse in terms of ww kayaking. I can’t kneel anymore so ww canoeing is relegated to the past for me but I’m still finding ways to have fun. A bigger concern is the upper salt in arizona. Right at the edge of what I might consider sensible for me. Canoeing for me now is class I with my butt on a seat, kayaking good right now up to class III provided things aren’t blown out or linked up. Now In a small paddle raft or ducky I might still consider paddling a few class IVs but perhaps I should just shell out $2,000 and do the commercial option for 5 days. It is okay to hire help. I’m just really cheap but I don’t bounce off of rocks swimming as good as I used to.

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Sounds like you’ve done your research. I have avoided the upper Edisto because of it’s rep for deadfalls and strainers. From Givhans Ferry to Edisto Island is an interesting paddle from hardwood forest to saw grass.
My favorite coastal paddle is from Morris Landing to Bull Island and back and will hopefully be able to make it by warm weather.
Doug likes to camp on sandy beaches near the coast but I grew up down there and avoid sand when I can.

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It is hard to find enough water to run the Salt River, AZ. When it is up it is very difficult.

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In the west you need very accurate and timely information about flow levels.
As you probably know rivers in Arizona are very dependent on flow. The upper Salt is very bony, and usually the water levels are too low. There are small sections of the Verde, Gila, Salt that can be fun with enough liquid. Just for relaxing paddles the lower Colorado can be fun if you avoid weekends and holidays when power boaters rule the river. Lots of my friends have really enjoyed The Topcock Gorge section. In Nevada check what the water levels are going to be in Black Canyon. In CA I’ve always wanted to try the 100 mile trip on the upper Sacramento, I think it’s done as a race now.

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The Upper Sacramento River is way too tough for canoes. It is fine below Redding. I have paddled it a lot. Fall is the best time when the king salmon are running and the weather is cooler. The spring has a lot of insects. I have taken over 40 ticks off my dog after spring trips.

yeah I’m used to chasing water a bit and looking at gauges. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I end up hiking instead of boating or going somewhere completely different. Last Spring I did a lot of boat dragging down rivers in Texas. I totally get that just because you plan something doesn’t mean it will happen with ideal flows. NM rivers like the Rio Grande got blown out last Spring and my brother and I were planning a trip down the Chama… First he didn’t get a permit, we looked at other stretches and other rivers, then levels got blown out so I pivotted and spent more time in Texas which needed a bit more water. Originally the plan was for the Pecos but settled for Devils due to water levels. Even on the Devils we got out and dragged quite a bit. So it goes.

In the old days before online gauges we would drive to the river and look at it. If it was blown out we looked for something smaller to run. If you could get a boat down it then it was considered runnable. Never mind how many rocks we hit and how much fiberglass got used for patching.If it wasn’t runnable we headed further downstream in hopes of at least getting a paddle wet somewhere.

I’ve paddled the Mulberry on three different trips and only one trip had decent water. I got blown off the Buffralo for a day or so and also waited for water drop on the north fork of the white with other pcomers before we could paddle a couple of years ago.

On the plus side in March and April there are some commercial offerings on the upper salt. Which is a pretty good indication that there is a decent chance of getting down it those times of year. I look at levels that time of year for the past three years, two years were good, one was not. So it goes.

And thanks for mentioning the lower colorado and topcock canyon- will check it out and see if it interests me.

The lower Colorado River below Las Vegas has some interesting stretches. But the Army Corps of Engineers has installed a lot of riprap along some of it. There are some long stretches on Wildlife Refuges that do not allow camping. There are some power boat hazards around Havasu.

But there is a novelty in paddling in the off season. More wildlife than I expected. Try to get as much information as you can.

yeah I noticed the fish and wildlife land doesn’t allow camping, I’ll keep checking it out

We paddled Black Canyon on the Colorado from Hoover dam down to Lake Mohave, highly recommend it. Featured a stop for bathing in a hot spring up a slot canyon. Putting in below the dam involved dealing with homeland security. The only traffic (besides bighorn sheep) was a loud tour boat up from Lake Mohave. Water was clear and cold, but don’t go in the summer.

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You want adventure? The last record thru paddle was 45 days.

Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail | Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Moving water? … yes, it is ocean and ICW water and it often moves. Just not where you planned it to.

Black Canyon launching requires a permit and an escort.

thanks for the advidce about seasons for black canyon. Do people ever attain up and float back thus eliminating the need for a shuttle or dealing with homeland security? How strong is the current? The most attaining (paddling up stream) I’ve done in a single day is probably 7 or 8 miles. You need a river that is deep enough and not so swift that you can’t make progress. It also requires patience. The float trip back is easy in comparison to the upstream part of the trip. Just one possible thought for black canyon.

I made my life and trip planning more complicated. I entered 5 permit lotteries: middle fork of the salmon, san juan, yampa, chama, and upper salt rivers. Perhaps I must have been missing overnight trips and southwestern canyons. The only “new” to me state would be AZ for paddling. I have somebody interested in house sitting and covering utilities while I’m gone so I’m thinking this might be the year to stretch what is typically 2 or 3 months on the road, going around and paddling different states, and expanding it to 5 or 6 months of river/road time. Another factor of course is money. I’m looking forward to drawing my first social security check next month to supplement my teacher’s retirement and not paying utilities while I’m gone would help as well. I’ve already sent off for my “senior pass” for federal parks.


So I feel very at home on rivers up to class III. At one time when I was much younger I was comfortable running most class IV rivers . Put me on large open expanses, in narrow long boats that don’t like to turn, and you have to assume I’m pretty much a total idiot. I visited the saltwater florida paddling website a year or so ago. I thought it might be a place where I could “nibble”'. My definition of nibbling is a short, somewhat protected coastal paddle, with predictable conditions. Specifically the “mosquito Coast” looked interesting to try some nibbling. I’d also like to get in touch with Ed Evangelini and Bob and his wife (all were at nf of white a few years ago). I know they paddle a lot in Florida and live there. If anybody has an email address perhaps you could message me via this forum.

I don’t know what is currently available. We went thru a canoe livery. There was no escort. The water moves but I wouldn’t have a problem paddling upstream and back - ymmv. By the time you get to Willow Beach you are in still water. Contact Willow Beach Marina or the canoe livery about shuttling. It would be cool if they could shuttle you up by boat.