News & Events

Blue Ways

Blue Ways

Blue Ways

Couple rowing with kayak in lake at beautiful sunrise light.

Networks of water trails that can be found on rivers, lakes, canals, and coastlines


The Great Calusa Blueway — Florida

In a state with great paddling trails from The Panhandle to The Keys, Florida’s Great Calusa Blueway stands out for its splendor and diversity. Meandering for 190 miles along the Gulf Coast, the Great Calusa mixes fresh- and saltwater segments in Lee County near Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. The well-marked trail keeps paddlers and boaters separate for an undisturbed chance to see more than 300 species of migratory and native birds. In the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve at the trail’s southern end, sightings of manatees and dolphins come and go with the tides. Dozens of launch sites and local outfitters make getting on and off the blueway easy, or you can design your own Great Calusa trip with the phone app.


Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail — South Carolina

Winding gracefully through the South Carolina Lowcountry, the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail is a 62-mile segment of the nation’s longest free-flowing blackwater river. Rare species like the red-cockaded woodpecker and southern bald eagle are among the wildlife often sighted along the mostly pristine riverbanks. The blueway is conveniently divided into ten distinctive segments of up to nine miles in length for easy half-day trips. Enjoying the entire route and side channels can be a multi-day adventure, so paddlers appreciate the riverside campsites at two state parks along the way or can opt for more unique lodgings at the Edisto River Treehouses. When conditions are right, local river volunteers also guide day trips with canoes and kayaks supplied for a modest donation.


Upper James River Water Trail­ — Virginia

From the highland headwaters of the historic river for 59 miles to the town of Glasgow, with a few stretches of whitewater to liven up the trip



A 140-mile water trail through wildlife-rich woodlands to the coastal town of Edenton, with 16 riverside camping sites along the route


Waccamaw River Blue Trail — South Carolina

A Grand Strand-area passage for more than 100 miles from a Carolina Bay lake through the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge to Georgetown

Sunset at Seabrook Island


Chattahoochee River National Water Trail — Georgia

The first designated National Water Trail runs for 48 miles through the North Georgia highlands, with 18 access points and some Class II rapids


Tennessee River Blueway — Tennessee

Flowing from Chattanooga for 48 scenic miles through the Tennessee River Gorge, with state parks and other camping sites for multi-day paddlers


Buffalo National River — Arkansas

A free-flowing river for 135 miles in the Ozark Mountains that includes national park campsites and some challenging whitewater sections


Elephant Butte Lake — New Mexico

A 40,000-acre recreational lake with many coves and islands for paddlers to explore, plus 17 miles on the Rio Grande below the dam to Caballo Lake

Reposted from an article in Ideal-LIVING Magazine, 2023 Summer Issue – Best Places to Live

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