Top U.S. Flatwater Rivers


At the end of the day, the soul longs for peace and solitude: a profound quiet. Whitewater may offer exuberant thrills and a testing of personal limits. But flatwater offers serene epiphany. We've picked out some superb flatwater destinations all over the United States. Okay, there might be a Class I or even Class II rapids here and there, but mostly these are rivers on which you can slow down, relax, and really enjoy the environment around you.

Commodious and comfortable, the canoe is the boat of choice for most of these rivers. Not surprisingly, the canoe, and its open-water cousin the sea kayak, are the watercraft to which many hikers are most drawn. Much like hiking, canoes allow you a chance to sink into the meditative rhythm of your muscles in motion: a firm paddling stroke is akin to a confident stride. Canoeing gets you close to the world outdoors, a chance to observe wildlife and to see, really see, the sky. And like hiking, with just a few pointers you can be on your own fairly quickly in a canoe on flatwater—unlike whitewater, which by its very nature is an activity that calls for training, experience, and an embracing of the very real possibility that you might get creamed.

Sounds like the American highway or city street to us. So let's get away from all that. Instead, let's kick back and mellow out on these superb flatwater destinations . . .


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