Kayaking in Indianapolis

Urban Escape: Kayaking in Indianapolis’ Scenic Waterfronts

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Welcome to the vibrant city of Indianapolis, where adventure awaits on its scenic waterways. While Indianapolis is renowned for its rich racing history and thriving cultural scene, it also offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking thrilling recreational activities.

One such activity that has been gaining popularity in Indiana is kayaking. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a novice looking to dip your paddle into the world of kayaking, Indianapolis provides an array of options to explore its rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

Join me as we dive into the options for kayaking in Indianapolis, uncovering the top spots, safety tips, and more. Get ready to paddle your way through Indianapolis and immerse yourself in the beauty of its natural wonders.

Planning an overnight in Indy as part of your kayaking trip? Here are my recommendations:

🥂 Top-rated Indianapolis hotel: Bottleworks

💥 Affordable Family Hotel: Embassy Suites Noblesville

Top Kayaking Spots in Indianapolis

We will get into the FAQs and reasons for kayaking in Indianapolis later, but for now, are you ready for the top spots for kayaking in Indianapolis?

Heading out to kayak in Indianapolis

Eagle Creek Park

Nestled in the heart of Indianapolis, Eagle Creek Park stands out as one of the top spots for kayaking enthusiasts. The reservoir is an expansive body of water within the park (1300 acres) that offers a serene and picturesque setting that beckons both beginners and experienced kayakers alike.

The reservoir’s calm waters provide an ideal environment for leisurely paddling and peaceful exploration. Whether you’re seeking solitude or a fun day out with friends and family, Eagle Creek Park has something for everyone. Eagle Creek Outfitters offers convenient amenities, including kayak rentals at the marina and guided tours, making it accessible for those who may not have their own equipment or are looking for expert guidance.

If you have your own kayak, you can easily launch from the old boat ramp at the back of the Earth Discovery Center parking lot for your Eagle Creek kayaking.

As you glide across the reservoir, you’ll be treated to stunning views of lush greenery and abundant wildlife, providing a tranquil escape from the bustling city. Whether you’re honing your kayaking skills or simply enjoying a serene day on the water, Eagle Creek Reservoir is sure to captivate you with its natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure.

We often end our day at Eagle Creek Park with a drink at nearby Rick’s Cafe Boatyard. It’s lovely to sit on the patio, enjoy the view while reflecting on your day, and if you are lucky – listen to some live music.

Note: Rick’s Cafe is a bit of a nicer establishment, so if you wore a bathing suit to kayak, you’ll probably want to change out of it.

Kayaking in Indianapolis

White River State Park

In the mood for a truly unique kayaking experience? Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, White River State Park offers a fun urban kayaking experience. This sprawling park includes a canal through the city which provides a picturesque setting for kayakers to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

As you paddle along the canal you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city’s skyline, creating a captivating contrast between the natural beauty of the water and the vibrant urban landscape.

You can rent single or double-person kayaks at Wheel Fun rentals along the canal walk. It’s located near the Indiana History Center. Having the kayaks available right along the canal makes it a popular choice if you are seeking a quick escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

So whether you’re looking to unwind after a long day or explore the heart of Indianapolis from a unique perspective, kayaking along the White River in White River State Park promises an unforgettable experience.

Kayaks ready to go

Geist Reservoir

Like your kayaking with a view of multi-million dollar homes? Situated on the northeastern outskirts of Indianapolis, Geist Reservoir offers a scenic setting for kayaking enthusiasts.

Geist has million dollar houses all around it!

Known for its expansive surface area (1900 acres) and beautiful waterfront mansions, Geist Reservoir provides ample opportunities for kayakers to explore. As you glide across the reservoir’s waters, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the surrounding shoreline, lined with picturesque homes and lush greenery.

Geist Reservoir is well-suited for recreational kayaking, allowing you to paddle at your own pace and take in the ambiance. The reservoir’s size also presents opportunities for longer excursions, allowing you to venture out and discover hidden coves or find a secluded spot to relax and enjoy the serenity.

Anglers will appreciate the fishing opportunities that Geist Reservoir offers, as it is home to a variety of fish species. While kayaking, keep an eye out for resident wildlife, such as waterfowl and graceful herons, adding an element of enchantment to your journey.

You might see herons when kayaking in Indianapolis

You can launch your kayaks from two locations on the reservoir. The first is at the Olio address for Geist Lake Marina, and the second is at Geist Park in Fortville.

Note: Geist Reservoir can get VERY busy with recreational boaters on the weekends, so for a more peaceful kayaking adventure, I’d suggest heading out on a weekday.

Whether you’re seeking a solo adventure, a peaceful outing with friends, or a chance for a little exercise, Geist Reservoir beckons with its inviting waters and serene surroundings, making it a top choice for kayaking in Indianapolis.

Terrific Kayaking Spots Near Indianapolis

Although I do love all of the Indianapolis kayaking spots mentioned, there are a few more fantastic kayaking places near Indianapolis that are just outside of the city limits. If I only have a few hours to kayak, I go to one of these places to kayak near me. If I want to go farther, I might check out one of the Indiana State Parks that have kayaking.

White River in Hamilton County

Flowing through the scenic landscapes of Hamilton County, the White River presents kayakers with a captivating opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy a peaceful adventure. As it winds its way through the county, you’ll experience the natural beauty of the river and plenty of wildlife from herons fishing from the banks to turtles basking in the sun.

One of the best parts of kayaking on the White River in Hamilton County is the sense of serenity it offers. Away from the bustling city, you’ll find yourself immersed in a peaceful oasis, where the foremost sounds are the gentle lapping of water and the chirping of birds. This serene environment provides an ideal opportunity to escape the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with the tranquility of the great outdoors.

Launching kayaks on the White River

For those seeking a day-long adventure, the White River in Hamilton County offers free access points and launch areas at various intervals along its course. This allows kayakers to plan their trips according to their preferences, exploring different sections of the river and discovering hidden gems along the way.

Kayaking on the White River is my favorite place for kayaking in Hamilton County. The best place to launch kayak near me is at the Riverwood Canoe Landing and kayak to downtown Noblesville. That trip usually takes me between 1-2 hours depending upon water levels and how much I’m paddling versus floating.

If you need to rent kayaks, White River Canoe Company is located in Noblesville and will drop you off with kayaks and then pick you back up at a designated endpoint – it makes a day of kayaking the river quite simple.

Morse Reservoir

Another fun place I enjoy kayaking in Hamilton County is Morse Reservoir. It’s easy to put your kayak in the water at Red Bridge Park and paddle around the reservoir. There are two special kayak launching docks that make it simple to slip into the water. Spanning 1,500 acres, this picturesque reservoir offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

It's easy to launch your kayak at Morse Reservoir

During the week, Morse Reservoir provides a peaceful and tranquil environment for kayakers of all skill levels. The calm waters of the reservoir make it an ideal spot for leisurely paddling, allowing you to soak in the beauty of the surrounding shoreline at your own pace. On the weekend, the weekend warriors can make for a lot of wakes, so if you plan on kayaking on the weekend, do it early in the morning.

The shoreline of Morse Reservoir showcases a mix of wooded areas, scenic bluffs, and residential developments, creating a visually appealing backdrop as you traverse the waters. As you glide along, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls the reservoir home, including majestic waterfowl, turtles sunning themselves on rocks, and perhaps even a glimpse of a graceful deer venturing to the water’s edge.

Fishing enthusiasts will find Morse Reservoir a delight, as it offers ample opportunities to cast a line and reel in a variety of fish species. So, consider bringing along your fishing gear and take breaks from kayaking to try your luck in the reservoir’s abundant waters.

Strawtown Koteewi Lake

A lesser-known spot for kayaking north of Indianapolis is a small lake at Koteewei Park. Although you CAN launch into the White River at Koteewi, if you have a limited amount of time you can take advantage of the kayak dock on Koteewi Lake instead.

Kayaking in the fall at Koteewi Lake

The lake is undeveloped, so the scenery is gorgeous with plenty of wildlife, and the fish are abundant if you like to fish. It’s a very serene and relaxing place to enjoy nature and get a little exercise at the same time. We especially love to kayak on this lake in the fall when the leaves begin to turn as the trees lining the lake are stunning.

There aren’t big motorized boats on Koteewi Lake as you’ll find on Morse or Geist Reservoir so it’s a very peaceful place to kayak.

Why Choose Indianapolis for Kayaking

Indianapolis, as a place for kayaking, offers plenty of compelling reasons to choose it as your kayaking destination. Here are a few key factors that make Indianapolis an excellent choice for kayakers:

  1. Scenic Waterways: Indianapolis boasts a variety of scenic waterways, including rivers, lakes, canals, and reservoirs. From the picturesque White River winding through downtown to the expansive Eagle Creek Reservoir and Geist Reservoir, there is no shortage of breathtaking landscapes to explore while kayaking.
  2. Accessibility and Convenience: Indianapolis provides easy access to numerous kayaking spots. Whether you’re a local resident or visiting the city, you’ll find convenient launch points, rental services, and outfitters that make it effortless to get on the water and start your kayaking adventure.
  3. Natural Beauty and Wildlife: Kayaking in Indianapolis allows you to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty. From lush greenery and scenic shorelines to abundant wildlife, you’ll have the opportunity to witness and appreciate the wonders of nature while paddling through Indianapolis’ waterways.
  4. Vibrant Kayaking Community: Indianapolis has a thriving kayaking community, providing opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for the sport. Whether it’s joining group excursions, participating in kayaking events, or simply connecting with fellow kayakers, you’ll find a supportive and enthusiastic community in Indianapolis.
  5. Additional Recreational Opportunities: Beyond kayaking, Indianapolis offers a plethora of recreational activities to complement your adventure. So pack a road trip lunch and consider hiking and biking trails or fishing and birdwatching opportunities, and extend your stay for the entire day to explore the diverse range of outdoor experiences the city has to offer.

In summary, Indianapolis stands out as an exceptional choice for kayaking due to its scenic waterways, accessibility, diverse experiences, natural beauty, vibrant community, and additional recreational opportunities.

Kayaking in Indianapolis

Where to Get Gear for Your Indiana Kayaking Adventure

When preparing for your kayaking adventure in Indianapolis, there are several places where you can acquire the necessary gear:

  1. Local Outdoor Retailers: Indianapolis is home to various outdoor retailers that specialize in outdoor gear and equipment. Stores like REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Cabela’s offer a wide selection of kayaks, paddles, life jackets, and other kayaking essentials.
  2. Kayak Rental Companies: If you prefer to rent your gear rather than purchase it, there are several kayak rental companies in Indianapolis. These companies offer a range of kayaks, paddles, and safety equipment for rent on a daily or hourly basis. Some popular rental providers include White River Canoe Company and Eagle Creek Outfitters.
  3. Amazon. You can purchase everything you need for your kayaking in Indianapolis adventure on Amazon. Find perfect kayaks, paddles, and life vests and have them shipped right to your door. We also purchased our roof racks from Amazon and they make transporting the kayaks a breeze.
  4. Secondhand Sporting Goods Stores: Consider checking out local secondhand sporting goods stores or consignment shops. These stores often carry used kayaks and equipment that are still in good condition but at more affordable prices. You might find great deals on quality gear that fits your budget.

Remember to prioritize safety when selecting your gear, ensuring that you have a properly fitting life jacket, a suitable paddle, and a kayak suitable for your skill level and intended use. Whether you choose to purchase or rent your gear, these options will help you acquire the necessary equipment for a memorable kayaking adventure in Indianapolis.

Kayaking down the White River in Noblesville, IN

Safety Tips for Kayaking in Indianapolis

Safety should always be a top priority while kayaking. By following these safety tips and using common sense, you can enjoy a secure and memorable kayaking experience in the beautiful waterways of Indianapolis.

  1. Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Always wear a properly fitted personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket, while kayaking. Ensure that it is Coast Guard-approved and appropriate for your weight and size. Wearing a PFD not only keeps you afloat but also provides crucial protection in case of an accident or unexpected capsize.
  2. Check Weather Conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast and be aware of any potential storms or adverse conditions. Strong winds, lightning, or heavy rainfall can make kayaking unsafe. If unfavorable weather conditions are predicted, it’s best to postpone your kayaking adventure for another day.
  3. Be Aware of Water Traffic: Stay vigilant and be aware of other watercraft, such as motorized boats, canoes, or other kayakers. This is especially important on the often busy Geist or Morse Reservoirs. Observe and follow the local boating regulations and right-of-way rules. Be cautious of any potential hazards or obstacles in the water, such as rocks, submerged trees, or changing currents.
  4. Inform Others and Carry Communication Devices: Before you set off, let someone know about your kayaking plans, including your intended route and estimated return time. It’s also a good idea to carry a cell phone or a waterproof communication device in case of emergencies. We use waterproof pouches like these to keep our cell phones safe.
  5. Stay hydrated. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated – especially during the hot and humid Indiana summers.
Boat launch at Geist

FAQs about Kayaking in Indianapolis

Do you need a permit to kayak in Indiana?

We asked this question of the DNR when we purchased our kayaks and were told that we do NOT need a permit to kayak in Indiana.

Can you kayak in the Indianapolis Canal?

Yes, you can kayak in the Indianapolis Canal.

Can you kayak the White River in Indianapolis?

Yes, the White River spans multiple cities in Hamilton and Indianapolis in Marion County and there are various points where you can canoe, kayak or even float on an inner tube.

Do you have to have a life jacket to kayak in Indiana?

Yes, every person kayaking in Indiana must have a life jacket.

Can you drink alcohol on a kayak in Indiana?

It is illegal to operate a boat in Indiana while intoxicated and if you are kayaking, you are operating a boat. However, make sure you do bring a cooler and load it up with lots of water to stay hydrated.

Conclusion: Kayaking in Indianapolis

In conclusion, kayaking in Indianapolis offers a remarkable blend of natural beauty, adventure, and community. From the tranquil waters of Morse Reservoir and the scenic White River to the expansive Eagle Creek Reservoir and the serene lake at Strawtown Koteewi, the Indianapolis area provides a diverse range of waterways for kayakers to explore.

The city’s accessibility, convenient launch points, and rental services make it easy for both locals and visitors to embark on their kayaking adventures. The stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and the sense of serenity experienced while paddling through Indianapolis’ waterways create unforgettable memories.

So, grab your paddle, embrace the natural wonders that await, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Indianapolis’ kayaking scene.

Additional Resources:

For places to launch your kayak in Hamilton County, check out this super handy guide.


Join me as we dive into the world of kayaking in Indianapolis, uncovering the top spots, safety tips, and more. Get ready to paddle your way through Indianapolis and immerse yourself in the beauty of its natural wonders.
Join me as we dive into the world of kayaking in Indianapolis, uncovering the top spots, safety tips, and more. Get ready to paddle your way through Indianapolis and immerse yourself in the beauty of its natural wonders.