River kayaking can be two things: immensely peaceful or so thrashingly intense your heart feels like it’s lodged in your throat. The latter is more Chris Korbulic’s speed. The world-renowned expedition whitewater kayaker is the king of first descents. One of his latest ventures was an unnamed 45-foot waterfall at Agnes Creek just off the Pacific Crest Trail, which culminated in paddling the mile-long gorge of Middle Fork of the Salmon River (read more about it below).
Inspired by his feat, we put together a list of five remote rivers across the U.S. that are what river kayaking dreams are made of. (Don’t worry, whitewater rafting is not necessary at all.) These are mostly intended for peaceful voyages—and while they may not be first descents, they’ll make you feel like you’re making the maiden float.
Experience the River Kayaking Voyage of Your Dreams at These Remote Destinations
With more than 300 miles of boatable river, the Owyhee flows through vertical rock walls in the lightly trafficked high desert where southeast Oregon meets Idaho.
One of the original eight rivers protected under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Minnesota-Wisconsin border river is relatively accessible from the Twin Cities. It’s renowned for wildlife and great riverside campsites before its terminus at the Mississippi River.