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If the open water draws you, buying a kayak may be one of the best investments of your life. That initial price you pay for your vessel will return the favor 10-fold, giving you the freedom to travel with your kayak nearly anywhere. Renting kayaks aren’t always cheap, but you can save a pretty penny if you bring your own. Here are 10 places to plop down your kayak. Note: Make sure to double check open water laws while planning your trip.

Related: Cheapest places to ‘go jump in a lake’

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Great Long Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

Kayak through the crystal waters of Great Long Pond, with the backdrop of beautiful mountain scapes. Go in October for some gorgeous foliage that reflects perfectly on the lake. Rental option: National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental, Mount Desert, Maine. $34/3 hours.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Lake Estes, Estes Park, Colorado 

The Rocky Mountains jut up around this lake near the entrance to Estes Park, the gateway to RockY Mountain National Park. Go in early summer to avoid monsoon season and the threat of mudslides. Rental option: Lake Estes Marina, Estes Park, Colorado. $11/half-hour.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Colorado River, Austin, Texas

Urban meets natural surroundings on this kayak trip. Make sure to slow down and listen for the millions of bats that live in the Congress Avenue bridge when you paddle under. Rental option: Congress Avenue Kayaks, Austin. $10/hour.

 

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Licking River, Pendleton County, Kentucky

For a river adventure in Northern Kentucky, plop down in the Licking River. It’s big enough to be enjoyable but not as daunting and dangerous as paddling the nearby Ohio River. Go in late summer to see the quickly disappearing tobacco crop by the barn full, recently harvested and hung out to dry. Rental option: Thaxton’s Canoe and Paddler’s Inn, Kentucky. $24/3-hour trip.

 

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Prince William Sound, Alaska

Kayaking in Alaska calls for a bit of a heartier vessel than a lake in the lower 48. Traversing Prince William Sound will take you up close and personal with glaciers and possibly humpback whales. Rental option: Anadyr Adventures, Valdez, Alaska. $45/day. Note: They only rent to experienced sea kayakers. Some areas require permits to kayak.

 

Courtesy of rayb777.

Courtesy of rayb777.

Hocking River, Athens County, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park forms the perfect scenery for a kayak trip in the hills of southern Ohio. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your vessel—Hocking Hills has some of the best hiking in the state, and is ripe with rock formations such as natural bridges that are often just a five-minute walk from the river. Rental option: Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, Logan, Ohio. $15/hour.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Marais, Minnesota

There are at least 10,000 places to plop down a kayak in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the Boundary Waters in the northern part of the state are solely traversable by canoe or kayak. This adventure is best undertaken on a multi-day trip. Rental option: Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, Tofte, Minnesota. $32/day (note: Sawbill does not have kayaks available for rent, and most of their canoes and other equipment are rented as part of an excursion package).

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Portage Bay, Seattle, Washington

There are a plethora of waterways to kayak around Seattle, but Portage Bay offers a slew of restaurants that you can paddle up to. Plus you don’t necessarily need a sea kayak on this bay. Watch out for other boaters. Rental option: Agua Verde Cafe Paddle Club, Seattle, Washington. $17/hour.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

 Kealakekua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

A mile-long paddle across the bay will take you to the Captain Cook Monument. Take your time getting there though, and watch the water—the bay is a marine life conservation district, and dolphins areoften seen frolicking among the kayakers. Rental option: Adventures in Paradise Kayak and Snorkel, Captain Cook, Hawaii. Only offers kayak tours for $89.95, no individual kayak rentals.

 

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sleeping Bear Bay near Traverse City, Michigan

Crest the marvelous Sleeping Bear Dunes with kayak in tow and hike down to the bay off Lake Michigan. Go in late summer, when the weather is perfect in northern Michigan. Sea kayaks are recommended, as the waters can get a little rough. Rental option: Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak, Empire, Michigan. Sea kayaks for $60/day.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips

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