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10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Canoe Camping

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Canoe Camping
Canoe camping may be the most underrated way to adventure in New York State. While many people know the rugged backpacking of the Devil’s Path, or the joy of a mellow day hiking and picking berries, canoe camping is a completely unique—and one of the most comfortable—ways to experience the outdoors. Keep reading to find out why we've fallen in love with canoe overnights. 

1. Canoe camping is the ultimate form of backcountry luxury

With a canoe to carry our gear and food, backcountry camping can be uniquely luxurious. While we have to haul all of our gear and food on our backs for backpacking trips, traveling by canoe means we can pack for comfort, including coolers filled with gourmet food for incredible dinnertime feasts, and a few extra sources of comfort like a nice pair of camping slippers.

two people in a canoe on an adirondack lake

2. A great way to spend your first night in the woods

If backpacking seems intimidating, canoeing is a great way to spend your first night in the woods. If you are worried about being able to carry a backpack all the way to a backcountry site, traveling by canoe means that the canoe does the heavy lifting for you. If you are nervous about fitting enough clothes to keep warm, or finding space for that essential pillow that you wouldn’t want to haul in a backpack, canoeing is a great option. While we don't have endless space in a canoe, we can certainly pack a little extra for comfort. 

3. An entirely new outdoors experience

Seasoned backpackers and hikers will be amazed to find a whole new world while experiencing the forest from a pond or river. Nothing parallels the unique call of loons over a backcountry Adirondack lake. Spot bald eagles and great blue heron careening over the water. If you need to see the forest with fresh eyes, trade in your hiking boots for a paddle.

a photo of a person paddling in a canoe


4. No specialized gear required

While we pride ourselves on offering accessible trips to the outdoors, canoeing can seem like a whole new set of challenges. Don’t I need a paddle and life jacket and fancy water shoes? Nope! All specialized paddling gear—canoes, life jackets, paddles, etc.—is provided. While people do opt to bring dry bags and water shoes, regular sneakers and backpacks work perfectly well (and Destination Backcountry can hook you up with a rental partner at a very reasonable rate for any gear you need).

5. No experience necessary

Our canoe adventures require no canoe or kayak experience. Your guides will provide all the instruction you need on how to effectively paddle and steer in your canoe, with ample time to practice. Even experienced paddlers will be delighted to discover new destinations and the joy of portaging from lake to lake in the most remote Adirondack wilderness where most of our canoe camping trips take place. 

a person in the front of a canoe with a lake in the background

6. The best destinations in New York State

As the Catskill and Adirondack hiking trails become more popular, the incredible network of lakes and ponds in our favorite canoe wilderness remain pristine and remote. Home to 58 lakes connected by countless rivers, dotted with hundreds of islands, and totally closed to all motorized craft, this wilderness is so protected that group sizes are limited to eight people. In other words, these trips will always be able to offer the best of a peaceful escape to the woods.

7. Have you ever wanted to see the Milky Way?

With clear skies at night, see deep into the Milky Way from the middle of a calm mountain lake. The only views of the night sky that we could even compare to our canoe camping trips are in the most remote regions of Maine, and that’s still not on par with our experience star-gazing in the Adirondack canoe wildernesses.

a shot of the milky way above a lake and a campfire

8. The perfect combination of adventure and a mellow vacation

With a range of challenge levels to choose from, canoe camping trips offer the best combination of adventure and time to relax. While our most strenuous routes include some epic days of paddling and portaging (carrying canoes), they still include plenty of time to fish, swim, nap in a hammock, and just hang out, while more mellow routes focus on chill time.

9. Fishing!

We love fishing from the banks of a backcountry stream, but there’s something special about lake fishing in a canoe. We’ll provide the worms, reels, and instructions for anyone interested, and we’ll cook up your catch over the fire, smothered in delicious fresh herbs.

10. Everything you love about camping + canoes!

If you already love camping—cozy nights about the campfire, discovering new flowers, picking wild berries, and relaxing underneath towering trees—then you’ll love canoe camping, expect with the addition of swimming in sun-warmed ponds, lounging in the canoe for a mid-afternoon nap, or portaging with your fellow adventurers to a nearby pond to explore before returning to your base camp. Canoe camping is as amazing as your favorite night in the woods, except better.

Check out our upcoming canoe camping overnights.

a group of people in front of an adirondack lake

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