Kayaking and Boating in Washington D.C

Posted on 18 October 2011

Maybe Washington is not a place you’d considered taking to the water on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday in the U.S, but in fact, it is an extremely popular pastime here.

There are lots of opportunities for sailing, kayaking, and exploring by motorboat, but if that doesn’t appeal, there are also cruises along the Potomac River which are extremely picturesque.

We’ll start off small, nothing too strenuous with the Tidal Basin Paddle Boats, near the National Mall. Rent a paddle boat, and float about for a while whilst getting a very different perspective of the Jefferson Monument and the beautiful Japanese Cherry trees. This has become so popular that you can even book online!

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, viewed from the Wisconsin Avenue bridge
Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, WIkimedia Commons

A little more adventurous are the calm waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal passes by some beautiful scenery, and if you want to go just that little bit further, the white water opportunities on the Potomac River offer quite a challenge for kayakers and canoes; if you seriously want a thrill, check out the Great Falls and the Chain Bridge. You can hire both kayaks and canoes from a number of boatyards along the river; some will also offer guided tours and lessons if you are a beginner.

If you’d like to take to the water, but a small vessel means you’re just too close to the water, why not try a Capitol River Cruise. These 45 minute cruises include a commentary on the history of the city, with some lovely views as you move slowly along the water. Boats depart from the Washington Harbour in Georgetown, just across the road from the Riverside Grille.

The South Branch Potomac River viewed from Frenches Station Road
Photo by Caponer, Wikimedia Commons

If its romance you’re looking for, a traditional sailboat on Chesapeake Bay is where you can hoist the mainsail and head into the wind for an adventure on the high seas. Half and full day tours are available, as well as shorter trips; although, where you’ll end up is anyone’s guess, remember this is wind power!

Finally, something very different, why not try a Mule drawn canal boat. A service offered by the National Park Service, these canal boat rides offer visitors on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday the opportunity to step back in time. Rangers dress in historical clothing and whisk you back to the 1870’s, when these types of canal barges were used to transport goods along the Chesapeake Canal. The trip lasts around an hour, depending on how much hay the mule has eaten, and takes place from April until October from two locations, the Georgetown Visitor Centre, and the Great Falls at Potomac. Remember to check in advance as to when the boats will be leaving from, as they do not necessarily run every day from both locations.

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