Explore 5 unique paddling options around Kansas City

Photo of Kayak at Lake Olathe
We're falling in love with water sports. | Photo by @finally.morgan at Lake Olathe

Kayaking, canoeing + paddleboarding are great ways to explore the KC area. These aquatic sports also offer both physical and mental health benefits that extend far beyond a day on the water. 

Before we dive in, let’s get a lay of the land (er, water). Check out these facts about our region:

  • Missouri has 965.47 square miles of water area. That’s like three Kansas Cities — from Smithville all the way down to Belton and nearly everything in between. (Kansas has much less — just 519.64 square miles).
  • The Missouri River, aka “Big Muddy,” is the longest river in North America, running 2,341 miles long from Montana to the Mississippi. Bonus: Here’s where its nickname comes from.
  • KC gets its drinking water from… you guessed it: the Missouri River. Don’t worry, they take the mud out first.

Next, we should talk about paddling safety, so you don’t capsize:

  • Always wear a PFD, or personal flotation device.
  • Start small. Water, especially flowing water, can be intimidating. First-timers should opt for a small lake, pond, or city canal. You don’t want to get in over your head.
  • Consider a guided adventure from KC Kayak and Canoe before heading out on your own.
  • For a fully detailed list of dos + don’ts, check out this paddling safety guide.

And finally, here are a few local options for getting your feet wet:

  • Lake Olathe, 191 N. Ward Cliff Dr., Olathe, KS | Check out the marina for rentable canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and pedal boats. Continue your adventure on the floating obstacle course just off the beach. 
  • Shawnee Mission Lake, 7900 Renner Rd., Shawnee, KS | Reserve a canoe, kayak, tandem kayak, paddle board, or pedal boat up to seven days in advance
  • Longview Lake, 9898 Longview Rd., Kansas City,  MO | A full-service marina includes watercraft rentals, concessions, and dock fishing. 
  • Lake Jacomo, 7401 West Park Rd., Blue Springs, MO | Rent a craft at its marina, or get into sailing at Sail Boat Cove.
  • Bonus: Try out the river with KC Kayak and Canoe. There are different routes, plus a calendar of pre-planned trips.