I'm driving from Kansas to Oregon: Denver-Cheyenne-SLC-Boise-Portland, and I'll have my touring yak with me. Any suggestions on rivers, springs, lakes, etc. for this type of paddling? I'll also be camping, so any suggestions for campgrounds would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
I’m not sure
if Yellowstone/Grand Tetons are on your list, but Yellowstone Lake and Jackson Lake in the Tetons are the largest bodies of water out west, and the scenery of the Tetons as a backdrop to paddling must be incredible!
I don’t have specific websites for you to link to, but there is a “Place to Paddle” feature on this site that might help. 'Hope you have fun, as I’m sure you will!!!
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
If you are taking the more southern route Flaming Gorge is located on the Wyoming/Utah border just west of the Wyoming/Utah/Colorado border intersection. Lots of camping sites.
Planned the trip and got all the way to Moab from South Texas. On day I was to leave for Flaming Gorge heard that they had several inches of snow (September). Too cold for South Texas kid so I went home. Hope to get back up there this summer along with Yellowstone Lake, and Lake Jackson (Grand Tetons).
Yak Destinations between KS and OR
You couldn’t pick a route from KS to Portland OR that had less attractive possibilities for kayaking than the one you plan to use. The Oregon Trail pretty much followed the Platte River valley (called “The Coasts of the Nebraska” in those days) for the simple reason that it was the only direct route to the Rockies that supply them with water. But that is far north of the Cheyenne-Rock Springs highway, which follows the route blazed by the railroad in the late 1860s. You will pass near the Flaming Gorge Reservoir area near Rock Springs which is worth detouring a few miles to see.
You will be going through some rugged country to cross Utah and get to SLC. Scenic, but not ideal for a touring kayak.
Out of SLC you will take US 80N all the way to Boise and beyond. Get plenty of gas in SLC because the next gas station after Brigham City is hours away. And there are no more (nor anything else!) directly on this highway until you reach Boise. All the towns you see on the map are a mile or two to the north. Its a real freeway. We blew a tire ouatside Burley on it last time I drove it and it took about an hour before some kind lady driving an old VW hippie van stopped to see if we were in trouble. We never did see a cop!! (Feel free to speed!)
Once you pass Boise, you can stope north of Ontario at campground on the that separates the two states. Beyond that you will travel north probably to about Pendleton, the west and follow the Columbia to Portland. The Columbia and tributaries offer endless possibilities for sea kayakers as the Columbia Gorge is one of the most geologically and biologically interesting parts of North America Be prepared for winds though … Hood River is the wind surfing and kite sailing capitol of the world, I think!
Stop in at Alder Creek canoe and kayhaking headquarters on Tomahawk Island, which is in the Columbia River just west of the Interstate Bridge in Portland. They can give you plenty of info on local kayaking and canoeing spots.
My favorites …
Lot’s of choices …Hit Flaming Gorge and Bear Lake in Utah (Go through Evanston WY), Great Salt Lake (go out to Antelope Island on the Causeway.) paddle from Bridger Bay. Snake River in Idaho has some nice spots but not sure in a touring kayak.
Red Feather lakes in Colorado, or you can go over the Divide on US 40 and do Grand Lake or Granby Lake. I like US 40 Denver to US 60 Bearlake area, or do US 40 through the Uintahs, lots of small mountain lakes.
80 goes west to east
from Salt Lake City. But if you skipped Boise and headed through Reno you could detour to Tahoe or Pyramid Lake. Great scenery heading through Oregon along the Willamette or Umpqua rivers.
Both of the above replies
are right on. F.G. and Bear lake are among the few major paddling spots along your route. I tell people this all the time, but if you allow a bit more time and can swing the gas budget some really great opportunities open up if you head north a little bit. Yellowstone goes without mentioning, but there is all of the many pristine lakes in Montana and Idaho Google these and check them out. Wy.: Jackson lake, Jenny lake Yellowstone lake. Mt.: Canyon Ferry lake, Hauser lake, Holter lake, Hungry Horse res., Swan lake, Flathead lake, Lake Koocanusa, Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Res., and all the pristine lakes of Glacier park. Id.: Lake pend Oreille. Couer D’ Alene. Priest and upper priest lakes. Dworshak res. Wa. Lake Roosevelt and the entire Columbia River. Oregon has a few mountain lakes and some windy eastern Oregon lakes but Montana and Idaho has the best in my opinion. I only listed the largest main water bodies. There are thousands of smaller lakes and some nice larger rivers.
wouldn’t be the shortest route between Boise and Portland (actually a bit of a detour), but if you made it here I could recommend some spots. Priest/upper Priest is probably the most unique, but Lake Pend d’Oreille is beautiful…Parts of Lake Couer d’Alene too.