Best Kayaking in Kentucky (8 Great Places to Paddle)

Kentucky is known for its beautiful scenery, and kayaking is one of the best ways to experience it. There are many different places across Kentucky to find excellent water conditions for kayaking. This blog post will focus on some of Kentucky’s best spots for kayaking.

Kentucky known as the “Bluegrass State,” has many waterways to paddle. In addition to kayaking on calm waters in lakes and ponds, you can also find excellent rivers for paddling around Kentucky.

Some locations feature long stretches without roads or houses along their banks, making it easy to enjoy nature while kayaking.

Stay tuned as we explore some of the best kayaking spots in Kentucky.

If we missed your favorite place to paddle in Kentucky, let us know in the comments.

Grotto at Grayson Lake

Paddling the Grotto at Grayson Lake is a great way to see the natural beauty of Kentucky. The lake is a 1,500-acre reservoir with sandstone cliffs and miles of shoreline to explore.

The jewel of Grayson Lake is the grotto that leads to the Hidden Waterfall.

A few highlights include views of the grotto carved into the stone cliffs that line the shore. You paddle through a narrow passage, one kayak at a time, through a cave, and the view is spectacular.

Your reward on the other end is a magnificent waterfall. If you are up to the task, you can hike up the waterfall too.

One thing you need to remember before heading in, the walls of the grotto are very narrow, less than a paddle width apart. Therefore, you must take your paddle apart to kayak through the grotto.

Asie from the grotto, Grayson Lake is filled with various fish species, including crappie, bluegill, bass, and trout. If kayak fishing is your jam, this is a great spot.

There are easy access points to launch your kayak, making portage easy, and you can enjoy a relaxing day at one of Kentucky’s best paddling spots.

Rough River Lake

Rough River Lake is a 5,100-acre reservoir about 70 miles southwest of Louisville. The lake is surrounded by thick limestone beds, which provide miles of walls and caverns to explore.

Rough River Lake offers kayaking opportunities for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. It’s the perfect place to paddle because it has many protected areas to stop and enjoy the scenery away from boat traffic.

If you like kayak fishing, you are in luck. Rough River Lake is an excellent place to dip your line in the water. With crappie, bass, and walleye, you can take your pick of which fish you can go after.

There are various things to do on the lake including several beaches where you can swim.

The lake is not huge but large enough to have a great day paddling on calm water. There are plenty of places to paddle, camp, and fish, making this an ideal spot to kayak in Kentucky.

Cumberland River

If an all-day paddle is what you are looking for, check out the upper section of the Cumberland River.

The 11-mile section from Williamsburg to Redbird Boat Ramp is narrow and lined with trees, making it a beautiful place to paddle.

This section of the Cumberland River is perfect for kayakers of all experience levels. It’s easy to navigate, and there are no serious rapids, so you can relax and take in the scenery.

The Cumberland River is also home to an abundance of wildlife that you can see while paddling. If you are an angler, there are all kinds of fish to be caught.

There are a few places to put in along the way, so you can choose the section of the river that is right for you.

This is a great place to spend a day kayaking in Kentucky.

If you’re an outdoors person, the Cumberland River is a must-see. The region is lovely, and the people are wonderful.

Green River (at Mammoth Cave National Park)

The Green River is a popular kayaking destination for outdoors enthusiasts. It’s also an excellent opportunity to explore Mammoth Cave National Park.

The river offers variety, with some parts more difficult than others and different stretches suitable for beginners or experienced paddlers alike.

There are plenty of places to park a kayak trailer, launch your boat, and camp on the banks, too, so you can enjoy this beautiful area all day.

Access points include:

There is always something interesting to see while kayaking down the Green River in Kentucky, with a lot of wildlife along its shoreline, including beavers and deer.

The scenery is beautiful, and there are islands to camp on, making it a great place to spend a weekend kayaking.

The Green River is an excellent spot to catch some fish if you are an angler.

This is one of Kentucky’s best-known paddling destinations for a reason, so don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity.

Kayak rentals are available if you need them.

Floyds Fork (Parklands)

A great place to kayak in Kentucky is at Parklands on Floyd’s fork, where you can enjoy a day out with your family or friends while paddling down this beautiful river.

There are several different access points along the way, making it easy to choose how long you want your journey to be and what kind of experience you want on your trip.

This is Class I, or Class II, depending on the flow. When the water level is appropriate, it’s a great place to learn how to kayak.

The scenery is beautiful, and a great deal of wildlife can be seen. This is a leisurely paddle for all ages, making it the perfect place to take your family kayaking.

If you’re looking for a place to spend a few hours or an entire day, Parklands on Floyd’s Fork is definitely worth checking out.

Benson Creek

Benson Creek is a great place to dip your paddle for those who want more adventure. In addition, Benson Creek is a great place to run an inflatable kayak.

The section from Kentucky 1005 to the Kentucky River is Class II, and it’s about 5 miles long. So if you are looking for a good workout and some great time outdoors, this is a great spot to paddle.

You can find some great Class II rapids and stunning scenery. This spot is perfect for those looking for a more adventurous paddle.

The scenery along this creek is beautiful, and there are plenty of places to stop if you need a break or would like to explore what’s nearby. Don’t forget your water shoes.

If you’re an experienced paddler looking for more adventure than flat water offers, Benson Creek might be perfect.

Red River

Kentucky is home to many beautiful and interesting places, but the Red River is one of its most scenic.

Before joining the Kentucky River, the Red River flows about 100 miles from the Cumberland Plateau.

The Red River Gorge is a great spot to kayak. It is filled with sandstone cliffs and deep canyons that offer various spots for people who enjoy kayaking.

There are many different places to launch your kayak along the Red River.

Copperas Creek can be an excellent place to go if you want something less challenging. This is an excellent spot for beginners because the rapids are mostly class I.

Another great spot to kayak on the Red River is at Daniel Boone National Forest, where it’s possible to explore some of its wildest parts.

Part of the river has been designated as ‘Wild and Scenic‘, meaning it is a great place to explore the natural areas of Kentucky.

There are plenty of other places to kayak in Kentucky, but these two spots offer some of the state’s most beautiful and interesting scenery.

So if you want to experience the best Kentucky offers, be sure to check out the Red River on your next paddling trip.

Ohio River

The Ohio River is a popular kayaking destination in Kentucky. The river offers a variety of challenges for people who enjoy paddling, along with gorgeous scenery.

The river is about 1,000 miles long, starting in Pennsylvania, meandering its way to Illinois, and joining the mighty Mississippi River. With miles of water and plenty of access points along the way make it is easy to find a spot that fits your needs.

This is an excellent place for beginners because the current is slow in the summer months, and there are calm waters throughout most of the year. In addition, there are several places on the Ohio River to kayak, including Six Mile Island and Party Cove, to name a few.

If you are into kayak camping, the Ohio River offers a lot. Try paddling from Louisville to Cincinnati. There are plenty of spots where you can set up camp for the night and enjoy nature’s sounds.

You might even see a few beavers or other wildlife on the water. The Ohio River is a great option if you’re looking for a great kayaking destination in Kentucky.


Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and experience some of Kentucky’s beautiful scenery. With miles of water and plenty of access points, finding a spot that fits your needs is easy. 

The state has plenty of perfect spots for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced paddlers.

So, if you’re looking for a great outdoor adventure, check out these great kayaking destinations.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.