Slot canyon tour guide Carl Shane Kistel is a regular kayaker in the rivers and lakes of North Carolina. Below, he names three of the best spots for locals and visitors to kayak in the state and why they’re considered such prime destinations.
Carl Shane Kistel has served as a medical sales professional for years, but he’s spent the bulk of his free time since childhood enjoying recreational activities in the wild. North Carolina proves to offer some of the best in the country with plenty of opportunities for rock climbing, camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking and more. He’s come to know the rural parts of his home state well and regularly gives tours to eager hikers throughout the week.
“North Carolina is home to a variety of natural landscapes, and it really does have something for everyone,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It has easy hiking trails and calm fishing spots, but also challenging cliff sides to climb and rougher waters to kayak.”
Kayaking has quickly become one of the state’s most enticing activities as it offers a low-impact way to burn calories while exploring nature at faster speeds than hiking or jogging. Kistel believes that society has become more fitness-centric and focused on nature, making North Carolina’s appeal skyrocket. Here, people can find a number of ways to destress, work their muscles, and increase cardio while traversing through beautiful landscapes.
Many have become tired of the gym and the limited workout equipment it offers. Instead of confining themselves to four walls, visitors and natives of North Carolina can partake in a variety of outdoor activities that put the body through as much work as the gym. Kayaking remains one of the most popular of North Carolina’s recreational activities, and Carl Shane Kistel shares three of his personal favorite places for it below.
Located in Raleigh, NC, Lake Johnson is a picture-perfect destination for smooth kayaking. The waters allow vessels of all kinds, including kayaks, canoes, sailboats, pedal boats, and row boats as well. One of the highlights of this location is that it’s open year-round, but the water has to be above 65 degrees in order for guests to rent kayaks from the nearby shop. The cost for rental is only $5 an hour, and it allows visitors to roam the still waters and channels of the enormous lake throughout the day.
In order to kayak this region, you must first go through the Dan River Company, Inc., which allows people in the Danbury area to boat the river from April into late fall. While the cost to rent is more expensive than others, the vast amount of wildlife and winding river paths make up for it. Visitors can kayak 6.5 miles down the Dan River in mild currents while occasionally getting the thrill of quicker, but gentle rapids.
Merchants Millpond State Park
This state park is another that offers kayakers year-round access to clean and smooth waters. The cost to kayak is cheaper than most ($5 for the first hour, $3 every hour after), and visitors get to come face-to-face with North Carolina’s diverse wildlife as they paddle around a 200-year-old, 760-acre state park
“For kayakers, there’s no better state for year-round excursions, and the diversity of the terrain makes every trip out on the water an exciting new adventure,” says Carl Shane Kistel.