Have you ever driven past a certain body of water—possibly for years—without giving it much thought? Maybe you’re a whitewater paddler and this hypothetical waterbody you’ve ignored is a lake, coastal inlet, or flatwater river that’s on your weekday commute. You never really considered it something worth paddling. Until one day, you glance out the window and wonder, why have I never paddled that?
This spring, the pandemic caused canceled trips, the closing of popular access points, and gateway communities grew concerned about incoming visitors. Many paddlers began searching for options closer to home.
Some are lucky to live in a paddling hub with plenty of world-class options, like Asheville, North Carolina, Salida, Colorado or White Salmon, Washington. Others, like me, have never been so lucky. Living far from your favorite paddling trips can require creativity to get some afternoon strokes. Never one to stop looking for places to paddle, here are a few tricks I’ve learned to find, or rather see the potential for, new paddling spots.