Where To Go Kayak Camping

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Where To Go Kayak Camping

Kayak campsite on a rainy day
Rainy day on the river

Wouldn’t it be nice to paddle right up to an island or shoreline along your favorite river, pitch your tent, or hang your hammock, then spend the rest of the night roasting marshmallows and singing kumbaya?  Unfortunately, the good old days of primitive style kayak camping like this ended many, many moons ago.

Most shorelines and islands along the rivers are owned either privately or the by the government.  This severely puts restrictions on where and for how long you can set up camp.  It doesn’t mean your dreams of kayak camping are over, it only means that you’ll need to do some research on the river you want to camp on.  Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a kayak camping trip.


Organized Group Kayak camping trip
Organized Group Kayak camping trip

One tried and true option is to pay for a guided kayak camping trip arranged by a local shop or group.  There are companies across the world that focus on guided kayak camping excursions.  These companies arrange every aspect of your trip from meals to campsites. They can provide kayaks and camping equipment and some even provide nightly entertainment.  If you are new to kayaking or kayak camping, tagging along with a group or company that is experienced is a great way to learn some skills and it makes sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.

Another opportunity that may come up is a sojourn.  Every year a group near me arranges the Schuylkill River Sojourn.  It starts near the beginning of the Schuylkill River and after 7 days of kayaking and camping, and finishes in the Philadelphia.  It’s 112 miles of river to paddle with an average of 14-18 miles a day.  They provide entertainment and daily meals.  An added benefit to this sojourn is that your camping gear is transported from campsite to campsite for you.  This means you can pack a few extra comforts without the fear of weighing yourself down.  It does have a large price tag, but it’s still cheaper than a nice hotel for a week.


Kayak camping trip - open waters
Nothing but you and the open waters

Paid and guided kayak camping trips can be expensive though.  A cheaper option is using a kayak shuttle service.  These are great when you already have a campsite planned but just need a lift.  If you have enough experience kayaking and camping, use a shuttle service.  

This is exactly what I do when I kayak camp along the Susquehanna River.  I found a company called Blue Mountain Outfitters that has an awesome shuttle service.  They are flexible, affordable, and extremely pleasant people to work with.  They have taken me as far as 43 miles to drop in.   The owner himself loaded up my kayak and we took the hour-long drive together. If you get the opportunity to come to the Harrisburg, PA area, look them up and take a trip with them.

Leaving a vehicle at the endpoint if kayaking with 2 people is a great way to save money as well.  Just make sure both vehicles can carry the kayaks.

You will need to do your own research for the location you’ll be paddling, before heading out and setting up camp.  Talking to local shops is a great resource for determining where you can and can’t camp.  Check Facebook for kayak and canoe camping groups in your area.  If the water falls on state or federal ground, check the Park Ranger Station for information on camping there.

Always be respectful of the land you are camping on.  “Leave No Trace” when camping and be mindful of others.  Check our packing list for some ideas on what you’ll need once you’ve picked a spot.

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Jamie Wilkinson

I'm a fervent lover of the great outdoors, having spent countless hours soaking in the tranquility and beauty that nature offers. My passion for kayaking and camping has led me to explore numerous waterways and campgrounds, each journey adding to my treasure trove of experiences. Through KayakCampingWorld.com, I aim to share these adventures and insights with you. My hope is to inspire fellow outdoor enthusiasts and provide valuable guidance, whether you're paddling your first kayak or setting up camp for the hundredth time. Dive into my articles, and let's embark on this outdoor journey together!

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