Choctaw Country Destinations

Kayaking and Canoeing Guide

Kayaks and canoes are among the most useful types of water equipment on the market. You can use them for touring, sports, exploration, whitewater adventure and more. In Choctaw Country we have numerous options to experience the water, but before you step in, here are some basics to know before adventuring out.


Know your river language. Understanding the lingo is an important part to any sport. Below are just a few common kayaking terms that will be helpful for those who are new to the river.

  • Blade: The broad part at the end of a paddle
  • Bow: The forward end of the kayak
  • PFD: Personal Flotation Device or lifejacket. Wear it!

Find your perfect kayak. Who knew there would be different kayaks for different types of travel? Below is a quick overview of different kayaks you may use dependent on your needs.

  • Sit-on-top kayaks: Sit-on-kayaks are a great choice for nervous paddlers and for warmer waters. They are usually wider and have more stability for first time/beginner kayakers.
  • Touring kayaks: Touring kayaks give you more control in rougher waters. They are generally a little shorter than most kayaks and are easier to maneuver when both handling and transporting.
  • Recreational kayaks: Recreational kayaks are suitable for the casual paddler interested in traveling on lakes and slow-moving streams. They are perfect for the kayaker who wants to paddle slowly and take in the scenery.

Check the forecast. Make sure to check all weather conditions. A little drizzle isn’t too much of a concern, though heavy rain when you kayak will make it unstable. Also, several days of heavy rain can make more turbulent waters.


Know your hand signals. Hand signals and gestures are useful to help both canoers and kayakers to communicate with each other. River can be quite noisy and distracting, below are a few simple signals to be mindful of:

  • Help/Emergency: Wave your paddle side to side
  • Stop: Hold the paddle horizontally above your head.
  • All Clear: Hold the paddle vertically straight up to signal ahead of you is “all clear”

Dress for water temperatures, not air temperatures. Even on the hottest of days, the water is cooler. Dress accordingly for the off chance you might flip out. A light long-sleeved shirt, water shorts and shoes. Sun is reflective off the water – so make sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses or a brimmed hat to help with sun protection.

Practice getting back in your canoe. Flipping over in a canoe is not ideal, but it happens, and everyone should be prepared. The trickiest part is both paddlers have to do the same moves at the same time when re-entering the canoe. Push on both sides of the canoe. While lifting your body outside of the water, place as much of your torso on the side of the canoe as possible.

Trying something new can be both exciting and scary. Whether you’re an expert or beginner, there’s something both simplistic and exciting about canoeing or kayaking in Choctaw Country. Hurry up and slow down-adventure awaits!