What Is Canoe Camping? – Getaway Couple

Canoe camping is a great way to explore the great outdoors and get up close and personal with it.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddler, there is something for everyone.

In this article, you’ll learn what canoe camping is, what equipment you’ll need, and the best place to start your trip. With a little preparation and helpful tips, you can be on an adventure in no time. Let’s hit the water!

What is canoe camping?

Canoe camping is an exciting way to explore the outdoors by combining the thrill of open water with the adventure of backpacking. To do this, you must be prepared and have the right equipment, including knowledge of your sporting abilities and skills.

This is critical for day-long backpacking trips or hikes, but it is essential when canoe camping, as the water can be more unpredictable than the land.

When you join a guided canoe camping trip, the guides provide much of the equipment, food, and water you need. However, if you go on an adventure without a professional guide, you will need to bring all the equipment you need when you are on the water and on land.

You should plan ahead, as you may need permits to paddle and camp along the route. But if you’ve prepared and obtained all the necessary permits, carrying your gear in a canoe is often much easier. You can take it with you.

Camping in a canoe also allows you to cover more distance than a typical hiking trip.

But where does this terrain begin and end? How do you find sites for canoe camping, and are there better sites than others?

Where should you go canoe camping for the first time?

We have the answers to help you on your first canoe camping trip. When planning your first trip, choose a lake or reservoir for a night or two.

Paddling in calm water is excellent exercise. You can focus on developing your canoeing skills rather than where and when to get in and out.

Once you have experience canoeing in still water, paddling in small rivers with current is the next step. You will need to continually improve your paddling techniques to properly navigate the various currents.

You would not embark on a multi-day hiking adventure if you have never hiked before. The same is true for canoeing. You don’t go on a camping trip without knowing how to canoe.

Once you can, it’s time to explore all that the country has to offer. You can visit the desert beauty of the Green River in Utah or the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. From north to south, we have some excellent recommendations for your first canoe camping adventure.

Green River, Utah

The Labyrinth Canyon through Green River offers sections of gentle gradient and passes through incredible red sandstone cliffs. There are numerous entry and exit points, so this trip can take anywhere from three days to two weeks.

The length depends on how much of the river you want to run and what permits you want to acquire. The adventurous can navigate the remote Stillwater Canyon for a longer canoe trip.

Everglades National Park, Florida

A canoe trip in the Everglades is an unparalleled experience. From freshwater marshes, mangrove forests and Florida Bay to rivers winding through 10,000 islands and along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, canoeing here reveals nature’s most breathtaking beauty.

Whether you prefer canoe camping trips that last a few hours or even several days, you can go with a permit or hire a guide for safety. The Everglades offers a perfect canoe adventure for adventurers of all experience levels.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota is a must-see destination for camping enthusiasts.

This canoeing destination offers thousands of miles of pristine coves and scenic bluffs. You’ll need a permit, but it’s worth it when you canoe past teeming wildlife and nature’s incredible beauty.

Buffalo National River, Arkansas

Exploring the Buffalo River is a great way to take a canoe trip in the Arkansas Ozarks. The river offers 151 miles of free-flowing water. There are trails with varying degrees of difficulty that are suitable for both novice and experienced canoeists.

One of the trendiest sections stretches from Steel Creek to Kyles Landing. It passes through the heart of the Ponca Wilderness, past towering cliffs and side canyons. Many canoe trips begin in Woolum and end in Gilbert, 29 miles downstream.

Whether you stay two, three or more nights, there is much to discover here.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail, New York to Maine

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is no joke. At 740 miles from New York to Maine, this canoe trail is the longest inland water trail in the United States and Canada.

The water trail passes through the most scenic waters of Vermont, Quebec and New Hampshire. Most adventurers do not tackle the entire trail at once, but divide it into manageable sections.

Although you can be a beginner in some sections, it takes a strong canoe and skill to complete the entire route.

What do you need to pack for a canoe camping trip?

We imagine you’re really looking forward to your first canoe camping trip. But before you head out, you’ll need some equipment. To prepare for the equipment you need, you should know what is available in the places where you want to camp.

Is there a place for a campfire? What about picnic tables? Are there developed sites or just primitive ones? What about toilets, or will you have to dig caves?

Once you know what is available, you can determine your packing list. While there are many things you will need to pack, we have a list of the essentials.

And remember, this is canoe camping. Canoes travel on water, so in addition to the items listed below, don’t forget waterproof containers. Dry gear is good gear.


Whether you’re canoe camping on a river or cruising on a lake, you need the right canoe for your specific needs. Generally, single and double canoes are available in different materials such as wood, poly and fiberglass.

Which canoe material is best depends on several factors, including weight, cost and durability.

Open-deck canoes provide space for equipment and are ideal for slower-flowing waters. Closed-deck canoes, or whitewater canoes, are more suitable for turbulent waters but offer less space for equipment due to their design.

When canoeing, be sure to select the canoe that best suits your individual needs so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

A person in their canoe on a camping trip

GPS + printed waterproof map

The equipment for a canoe camping trip is incomplete without a GPS and a paper waterproof map in case technology fails.

Batteries can fail in cold weather. You can lose or drop your equipment in the water. Cell phone signals are never a guarantee, especially in remote areas.

It is important to have these navigational tools, and canoe campers need to know how to use them. Basic orienteering and map and compass reading skills are essential before venturing into open waters and wooded forests.

With these skills and versatile tools, campers can set out with confidence, knowing they will find their way safely.

Rainwear and suitable footwear

When canoe camping, it is important to pack the right rain gear and footwear. Rain can come from all directions, so you always need a waterproof jacket. Staying warm and dry makes the adventure more fun and prevents health risks due to cold body temperatures.

You need a sturdy pair of shoes that can withstand rough terrain on hikes or portages. Make sure they are also suitable for canoeing. Flip-flops may be comfortable, but they offer no protection from water. The right rain gear and footwear will help ensure you have the best adventure in and out of the water.

Tent and Tarp

Canoe camping is a trendy pastime that often involves exploring remote or pristine areas. This is why the right tents and tarps are so important. They need to be convenient to carry, pack and set up, while providing all-night comfort.

A tarp can serve as a sun awning during the day, keeping you dry during rain showers and keeping the sun off your back. It provides extra protection from the elements, and since it keeps you dry, you’ll be warm on cooler evenings.

Sleeping mat and sleeping bag

The same rule applies to your sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Both must be compact and convenient to set up and take down. But they must also provide the warmth and comfort you need to rest.

Don’t buy the cheapest bag and pad on the market. Instead, carefully examine which cold weather bag will keep you warm and dry in the place where you will be camping. The more rest you have at night, the more you will paddle and enjoy the trip.

Remember: Want to build your own RV pad? Click on the link to learn how to

A girl with her sleeping bag for her canoe camping trip

Food and water

The main difference between canoe camping and backpacking could be the amount of food and water you can carry with your canoe.

Since your main carrier is a canoe, you have more space. If you’ve camped by car before, it’s similar. But be careful; taking everything but the kitchen sink is not the best strategy.

Plan your food consumption based on how many days you will be camping. Since you’ll be exposed to the elements, it’s usually better to bring packaged food than fresh. Think dehydrated potatoes, packaged meats and trail mix.

For fruits and vegetables, it’s best to stick to foods that transport well. For example, you can take carrots and blueberries with you.

Make sure you have containers to boil, store, and drink water. You will also need ways to purify the water.

Take several options with you, including water filtration systems, UV light systems, and water purification tablets. Having more than one way to get clean water will ensure you stay hydrated.

Cooking Set

We’ve already warned you not to bring everything but the kitchen sink. The same goes for cooking utensils. Once you’ve planned your menu, you’ll know what kind of cooking tools you’ll need. Bring only those.

Like backpacking, packing a compact cooking set as opposed to large cooking pots and pans saves space and weight. It makes cooking and cleaning up when eating out much easier than sifting through a huge plastic container of messy cookware. Save that for camping in the car.

A man in his canoe on a camping trip

Bear canister

You might think that storing food and other goods overnight in a canoe is safe. It is, until a bear or other creature gets a whiff. Wild animals must be kept away at all costs.

Not only does this protect wildlife, it keeps the land we love open for camping.

Take a bear canister with you and store your food and other smelly items like toothpaste and deodorant in it when you’re not using it. Keep the canister near where you sleep to avoid wildlife encounters.

There are not many things worse than losing all your food to wild animals. The rest of your canoe camping trip won’t be as enjoyable without your food.

Remember: Will a bear break into your mobile home? Try these tips to keep bears away

How many miles can you paddle in a day?

How many miles you can paddle in a day depends on the food and equipment you have with you. Campsites can also contribute to this number.

In general, you can expect to canoe about 15-20 miles a day, depending on your desire to explore, determination, and physical fitness.

For most people, a three and a half hour paddle is equivalent to about 10 miles and generally takes about seven hours with some breaks.

Canoe camping is an epic adventure to share with friends

Canoe camping is an epic adventure when done with friends, and the rewards are immense. You can enjoy breathtaking views and the peaceful outdoors while catching up with your fellow adventurers.

It’s a unique experience that will keep you coming back for more. So why not give it a try? Where will you go on your first canoe camping trip?

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