Disclosure: I am compensated for purchases made through some links on this site. Click for details.

Tennessee’s beautiful landscape is accented with winding rivers, serene lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls, making it a paradise for paddlers. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are some of the most popular activities for immersion in the state’s natural beauty.

I consider it a blessing that I grew up in Tennessee. I’ve had the fortune to explore many of its waters and have used many of the kayak rental companies listed below to do so, mostly those around Nashville. I’ve rented kayaks and canoes and have used their shuttle services to get me and my kayak from the takeout back to my truck at the put-in.

Whether you’re a novice looking for a leisurely paddle or an experienced kayaker seeking an adrenaline-fueled journey, Tennessee’s kayak and canoe rental companies have you covered. Here’s a comprehensive list, categorized by city:

Kayak Rentals in Chattanooga

  1. River Canyon Adventures – Offering an array of kayaking experiences, River Canyon Adventures provides guided tours and equipment rentals for adventurers of all skill levels. For a safe and memorable paddle, explore the stunning waterways around Chattanooga with their expert guides.
  2. L2 Outside – L2 Outside provides high-quality kayak rentals and guided tours for beginners and experienced paddlers. With a strong emphasis on safety and education, they offer an immersive experience that allows you to appreciate Chattanooga’s natural beauty from a unique perspective.
  3. Canoe Kayak Chattanooga – Up a Canoe Kayak Chattanooga provides kayak rentals, for a wonderful experience at the Tennessee River Gorge (TRG). Explore nature at the TRG and observe majestic wildlife, gorgeous mountains, and cliffs that are up to 1,800 feet high.
  4. Chattanooga Guided Adventures – Chattanooga Guided Adventures offers a range of high-quality kayak rentals and tours, allowing you to explore and learn about a variety of waters: Chickamauga Dam, Tennessee River Gorge, and a Nickajack Bat Cave Sunset Kayak Tour to name a few.

Kayak Rentals in Knoxville

  1. Knoxville Adventure Collective – Specializing in adventure sports, Knoxville Adventure Collective offers kayak rentals, guided tours, and comprehensive outdoor education programs. They cater to various skill levels and ensure that your kayaking experience is thrilling and safe.
  2. River Sports Outfitters – River Sports Outfitters is a well-established outdoor retailer, offering a wide range of kayaking equipment, rentals, and professional guidance. With their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, they ensure that you’re well-prepared for a successful kayaking excursion in Knoxville and beyond.
  3. Holston River Water Sports – Holston River Water Sports offers kayak and canoe rentals on the river. Their excellent equipment ensures a safe, enjoyable experience for kayakers of all levels.

Kayak Rentals in Memphis

  1. Kayak Memphis – Kayak Memphis caters to individuals and families looking to explore the beauty of Memphis’s waterways. They offer guided tours and kayak rentals along the Memphis Riverfront for an unforgettable kayaking adventure with views of the Memphis skyline.
  2. Outdoors Inc. – With a legacy of outdoor expertise, Outdoors Inc. in Memphis offers quality kayak rentals and a wealth of knowledge about the best local paddling spots. They provide reliable equipment and exceptional service for an enjoyable day on the water. I’m originally from Memphis and Outdoors Inc. is my favorite local outfitter.
  3. Blues City Kayaks – Blues City Kayaks offer kayak tours and rentals on the Wolf River and area lakes. Their experienced guides and dedication to customer service will ensure your trip is safe, educational, unique, and fun.
  4. Wolf River Canoe Trips – Wolf River Canoe Trips but it does have canoes. They offer canoe rentals in the headwaters of the Wolf River in Fayette County, Tennessee outside Memphis. The Wolf River is a beautiful, spring-fed stream that provides an unforgettable wetland experience. This really is a river worth exploring.

Kayak Rentals in Nashville

  1. Nashville Paddle Company – Nashville Paddle Company provides high-quality kayak and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rentals. Their emphasis on customer satisfaction and safety ensures a memorable and fulfilling kayaking adventure.
  2. Foggy Bottom Canoe and Kayak Rental – Foggy Bottom provides a diverse selection of kayak rentals and guided tours, catering to beginners and experienced paddlers. With their commitment to customer service, they offer an enjoyable kayaking experience for all. This is my favorite in the Nashville area. If you read the conclusion, you’ll know why.
  3. River Queen Voyages – River Queen Voyages offers top-of-the-line offer unique and fun downtown Nashville kayak rentals and guided tours, providing an immersive experience along the city’s scenic waterfront. Their knowledgeable guides and dedication to safety ensure a memorable and educational journey for kayaking enthusiasts.
  4. Tip-A-Canoe – Tip-A-Canoe is another great kayak and canoe rental company that I have used over the years. Paddle the narrows of the Harpeth State Park located approximately 30 minutes west of Nashville in Kingston Springs. The Harpeth River has a beauty that has brought be back for years. I’ve kayaked this river close to 100 times.
  5. Canoe Music City – Canoe Music City is great too! They offer kayak and canoe rentals on the Harpeth River. You’ll enjoy scenic river bluffs and wildlife as you float the bends of this historic river. If you plan on shuttling they are a little less convenient than Foggy Bottom and Tip-A-Canoe.
  6. Broken Paddle Outfitters – Broken Paddle Outfitters offers kayak, canoe, and tube rental and shuttles on the Bellevue portion of the Harpeth River just 15 min from downtown Nashville and at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, TN on Acorn Lake. If you choose to paddle at Acorn Lake, reserve some extra time to hike in the park. I lived by this park in White Bluff for years. It’s a beautiful area.

Additional Cities with Kayak Rentals

  1. Buffalo River Resort (Lobelville, TN)- The Buffalo River Resort is great for camping, kayaking, and tubing rentals. If you want to do a 5-8 mile float on the Buffalo River, this exceptional outfitter has you covered.
  2. Tennessee Kayak and Outdoor Company (Carthage, TN) – Tennessee Kayak and Outdoor Company is a lower Caney Fork River / Burgess Falls Outfitter that specializes in providing high-quality kayak rentals and guided tours, catering to beginners and experienced paddlers. Their knowledgeable staff and commitment to customer satisfaction guarantee an enriching and enjoyable kayaking experience.
  3. Caney Fork River Rentals (Silver Point, TN) – Caney Fork River Rentals offers kayak rentals and tours, providing access to the stunning waterways of the Caney Fork River in Middle Tennessee. Their focus on customer service and environmental stewardship ensures a memorable and environmentally conscious kayaking experience for all nature enthusiasts.
  4. Hiwassee Outfitters (Delano, TN) – Hiwassee Outfitters in Delano provides a range of kayak rentals and guided tours that allow you to experience the natural beauty of the Hiwassee River. With their experienced guides and commitment to safety, they ensure an engaging and educational kayaking adventure for all skill levels.

The Best Time of Year to Kayak in Tennessee

Kayaking in Tennessee offers an immersive experience through its stunning waterways, but choosing the right time of year can significantly enhance your adventure.

While Tennessee’s climate is generally mild, making kayaking feasible throughout the year, the best time to paddle typically falls during the spring through fall seasons. During the spring and fall, you can enjoy comfortable temperatures, beautiful foliage, and optimal water levels for a memorable kayaking trip.

However, if you’re seeking a quieter and more secluded experience, consider venturing out during the winter months when the waterways are less crowded. Check local weather forecasts and water conditions can further ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking trip. Keep in mind that most kayak rental companies don’t rent during the off-season. Special arrangements may need to be made and remember to wear a wetsuit or drysuit to prevent hypothermia.

Wildlife Encounters While Kayaking in Tennessee

Kayaking in Tennessee provides not only breathtaking scenery but also the opportunity to encounter a diverse array of wildlife. From graceful herons and playful otters to elusive river otters and majestic bald eagles, the waterways of Tennessee are home to a rich tapestry of animal life. Keep a lookout for the vibrant colors of various fish species as they dart beneath your kayak.

Here’s a list of wildlife you might encounter while kayaking in Tennessee:

  1. Great Blue Heron: These majestic birds can often be spotted wading in the shallows or gracefully taking flight along the waterways.
  2. River Otters: Playful and agile, river otters can be seen swimming, diving, and foraging for food in the rivers and streams of Tennessee.
  3. Bald Eagles: Known for their impressive wingspan and regal appearance, bald eagles can be spotted soaring high above or perched along the banks of the rivers.
  4. White-Tailed Deer: These graceful creatures can sometimes be seen drinking from the water’s edge or crossing the river in more secluded areas.
  5. Various Fish Species: Tennessee’s waterways are home to an assortment of fish species, including bass, catfish, and sunfish, which can be observed swimming beneath the surface.
  6. Turtles: Look out for various turtle species, including snapping turtles and painted turtles, basking in the sun on logs or rocks along the riverbanks.
  7. Beavers: Keep an eye out for dams and lodges constructed by these industrious creatures, as well as their distinctive tracks and tree markings along the river’s edge.
  8. Kingfishers: These colorful birds with their distinctive rattling calls can often be seen darting above the water’s surface or perched on branches overlooking the rivers and streams.

Encountering these fascinating wildlife species can add an extra layer of excitement and appreciation for the natural beauty that Tennessee’s waterways have to offer.

Observing these creatures in their natural environment can add an extra layer of magic to your kayaking journey in Tennessee. However, it’s essential to maintain a respectful distance and refrain from disturbing the animals to preserve their natural habitats.

Gear Provided When Renting A KAyak and What to Bring

Most kayak rental companies in Tennessee aim to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for adventurers of all levels. Rentals typically include essential gear such as kayaks, paddles, and life jackets. However, it’s advisable to check with the rental company beforehand to confirm their specific offerings.

Additionally, it’s recommended to bring essentials such as sunscreen, a hat, a dry bag for valuables, water, snacks, and appropriate clothing, including a swimsuit and a change of clothes. A waterproof phone case is also handy for capturing memorable moments.

Here is a comprehensive list of gear and supplies to bring when kayaking through an outfitter in Tennessee:

  1. Clothing: Dress in lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing suitable for the weather, including quick-drying shorts or pants, a comfortable shirt, and a hat for sun protection.
  2. Footwear: Opt for water shoes or sandals with secure straps to protect your feet while ensuring they stay cool and comfortable throughout your kayaking adventure.
  3. Sun Protection: Bring sunscreen with a high SPF rating, sunglasses with straps, and a brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun’s intense rays.
  4. Water and Snacks: Pack an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout your trip, along with energy-boosting snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, or fresh fruits.
  5. Dry Bag: Utilize a reliable dry bag to keep your valuables, including phones, cameras, and any other electronics, safe and dry during the journey.
  6. Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Although rental companies typically provide life jackets, consider bringing your own comfortable and well-fitted PFD for added peace of mind.
  7. Whistle or Signal Device: Carry an emergency whistle or another audible signaling device to alert others in case of emergencies or to communicate with fellow kayakers.
  8. Waterproof Phone Case: Safeguard your phone from potential water damage by using a reliable waterproof phone case or pouch, allowing you to capture memorable moments along the waterways.
  9. Navigation Tools: Depending on the complexity of your route, consider bringing a map, compass, or GPS device to ensure you stay on course and navigate any unfamiliar waterways effectively.
  10. Basic First Aid Kit: Prepare a basic first aid kit containing essentials such as adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, and any necessary medications for minor injuries or medical needs.

With the appropriate gear, you can fully enjoy your kayaking experience, making the most of the state’s picturesque waterways and natural beauty.

Related Content:

Considerations When Renting a Kayak in Tennessee

When utilizing a kayak rental outfitter in Tennessee, it’s important to understand their cancellation policies and reservation requirements. Also check into their safety protocols, including any safety briefings and local waterway guidelines.

It’s also important to look into water conditions and any potential challenges, such as strong currents and water levels, to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience.

Lastly, ask the rental company for recommendations on nearby attractions, dining, and other points of interest to enhance your adventure.


Now it’s time to explore the waters of Tennessee with the expertise of these exceptional kayak rental outfitters. Whether you’re in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Mendota, Bristol, Knoxville, Silver Point, or Delano, it’s time to have an unforgettable adventure.

Want to know my favorite Tennessee kayak rental company? It’s Foggy Bottom Canoe and Kayak Rental outside Nashville at the Harpeth River in Kingston Springs.

I used to live within a few minutes of the Harpeth and I visited Foggy Bottom often. I rented kayaks for others and had them shuttle me and my kayak back to the put-in. Wonderful people! I actually met my wife on a paddling adventure booked through Foggy Bottom. I guess that’s a story for another time…

Feel free to mention your favorite Tennessee kayak and canoe rental companies in the comments below. Hearing about your favorite waters and experiences in Tennessee would also be fun!

Steve Hood

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *