When it comes to leisure travel, it’s easy to get focused on the glitz and glamour of amusement parks, tourist traps, and shopping malls. While the allure of these attractions is understandable, they are among the most expensive attractions for vacationing, and its not uncommon for visitors to return more exhausted than they left. For a change of pace, consider including a canoeing destination as part of your next family vacation. By virtue of requiring active engagement by the participants, i.e. paddling and steering, its guaranteed to encourage interaction among the group. It also offers an physical outlet to walking malls or sitting on the beach. Although canoeing can be strenuous, there are trips for all skill and fitness levels, so everyone can participate. But if you’re going to make an advanced trip, take the time to get physically prepared by doing your oblique exercises and core strengthening exercises. Taking the time to prepare yourself will make the trip far more enjoyable, and help avoid the risk of injury.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world, with over 390 miles of explored caves. The above-ground park area covers a vast area in south-central Kentucky, and is filled with camping, cycling, and spelunking opportunities. But what’s so easily forgotten is the fact that those caves were formed by the force of the Green River and its tributaries, which meander through the region, steadily eating away at the karst region. One of the best ways to see the impact of the Green River is from a canoe. Canoeists can bring their own, or for a modest fee, rent a canoe for trips of varying distances, the most popular of which is a 7-mile trip that take 3-4 hours. Vacationers get the opportunity to see untamed wildlife, since the river sees no commercial development. There are ample opportunities to pull into sandbars, either riverbank, or if water levels are low, even paddle into caves.
Hiwassee River State Park, Tennessee
The Hiwassee River is located near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, near Cherokee State Park and the famous Gatlinburg, TN area. From the perspective of the water-lover, that region is best known for the Ocoee River, which is famous for the Class III and Class IV rapids that draw white-water enthusiasts from around the world. But upstream, the the area is known as the Hiwassee, and is rated Class I and II, with only a handful of class III rapids. This makes the river perfect for canoeing and is a great escape from the hubbub of Gatlinburg, which is known for its shows, entertainment, and eateries. Couple a day on the Hiwassee with a day of hiking in either Cherokee or the Great Smoky Mountains, and you’ve got an unrivaled outdoor experience.
Kickapoo River, Wisconsin
Considered by some geologists to be the oldest river system in the world, outside of Antarctica, the Kickapoo is a wonderful canoeing destination for little kids. It’s meandering course includes 125 miles of river, traversed over only 65 linear miles, so the kids always have something new to hold their attention. Passing through both Wildcat Mountain State Park and Kickapoo Valley Reserve, the river plays host to over 100 bird species and 300 different plant species, some of which are holdovers from the last ice age. When water levels are low, sandbars make great places to get out and let the kids explore, which is an added bonus.
For those hoping to have a vacation experience without breaking the bank, enjoy the wonders of nature, or simply have quality quiet time with kids and loved ones, canoeing offers an oft-overlooked alternative that fills those needs wonderfully. So for your next vacation, consider booking a canoe rental and enjoying the great outdoors.