Seen from above—whether by Google Maps or by plane—the Hudson Valley and the Catskills are laced with snaking waterways. Zooming in you can see creeks and kills, brooks and streams, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. Getting out on the water in a kayak is one of the most beautiful and peaceful ways to enjoy the scenery from a different perspective. If you don’t have your own boat, you can still enjoy the region's waterways from the namesake river to its many tributaries and other bodies of water at these Hudson Valley kayak rental spots.
While each of these Hudson Valley locations will rent you a kayak, they each also offer their own experience out on the water. There’s fireworks shows, educational talks on old lighthouses, bird watching opportunities, and even stand up paddleboard yoga. There’s half-hour tours for beginners and four-hour paddles for experts. Head to one of these spots to take in some sun and navigate the waterways of upstate New York.
Atlantic Kayak Tours | Staatsburgh
Atlantic Kayak Tours in Staatsburgh offers guided tours of the Hudson River for people with varying levels of kayaking experience. The Norrie Short Tour is designed for those with no prior experience. There’s also the relaxing Saugerties sunset tour for beginners. For intermediate kayakers, there’s the tour that takes you the 18 miles between Staatsburg to Kingston, past the historic Mills Mansion and Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. Atlantic Kayak Tours also offers sessions on core kayaking techniques and safety. All tours are guided tours.
A Day Away Kayak Rentals | Kingston
Kayak the Rondout Creek at A Day Away, located right on the downtown Kingston waterfront. For a quick session you can stick to the Rondout, or head out to the Hudson for a more intensive paddle, just keep the tides in mind. You can request a free basic kayaking tutorial with your rental. In addition to both single and tandem kayaks, A Day Away also offers rentals of stand up paddleboards and canoes. A Day Away is pet-friendly, with pet life jackets available. There are no guided tours available, so explore at your own pace.
I Paddle NY | Saugerties
Paddle the Esopus Creek and take in the sights of the Esopus Nature Preserve with I Paddle NY. Guided excursions include the Falling Waters tour, which passes the Saugerties Lighthouse, on its way out to the Hudson. The tour ends at Falling Water Nature Preserve, with its scenic waterfalls. You can schedule kayaking instruction sessions with the owner for beginners with a call ahead. I Paddle NY also rents out stand up paddleboards, a good activity for the calm waters of the Esopus Creek.
Hudson Paddles | Hudson
Located at the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, Hudson Paddles rents kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes to take onto the Hudson River. There’s also stand up paddleboard yoga with a trained instructor from Bodhi Spa and Yoga Shop. All levels of yoga experience are welcome, and classes begin with a short on-land instruction session. Group kayaking tours and lessons are available with a call ahead. When you’ve paddled up an appetite, stop in one of Hudson’s many establishments like Le Perche for a meal.
Hudson River Expedition | Cold Spring, Beacon, Peekskill
Hit the Hudson from one of Hudson River Expeditions’s three locations (Cold Spring, Beacon, and Peekskill), all with tours along the Hudson available. For those looking to really take in nature, there’s the destination waterfall tour, a four-hour paddling journey through the protected waters of Constitution Marsh that ends with swimming at a waterfall. This tour also comes in a shorter version more suitable for less experienced paddlers. Stay tuned for dates of the fireworks tour, where you can enjoy West Point Academy’s fireworks show from the Hudson River. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are available for rent for self-guided paddles along the Hudson as well.
Hudson River Recreations | Croton-on-Hudson
The most southern location on our list, Hudson River Recreations rents kayaks and leads paddles from Croton River, Rye Beach, Croton Point Park, and Tarrytown Lakes. The guided tour departing from Croton Point is laid back and ideal for beginners. Paddle the Long Island Sound when you go on the tour from Rye Beach, which also offers views of Playland Amusement Park, where you can see one of the country’s oldest roller coasters from the water. There’s also a Sleepy Hollow Tour, a placid exploration of the Hudson River accompanied by an animated retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Hudson Valley Guides | Newburgh
Hudson Valley Guides gives guided tours out of New Windsor and Wurtsboro. Paddle by “Eagle Island” to see a pair of bald eagle nests, and enjoy a free beer and wine tasting after the tour courtesy of Bashakill Vineyards, complete with live music and catered plates. Or take part in kayak camping. Hudson Valley Guides will provide you with sleeping bags, tents, and hot meals, so you can rest on the shores after a day of kayaking.
Kingston Kayak Tours | Kingston
The City of Kingston’s parks and recreation department offers kayaking tours of the Hudson River departing from Kingston Point Beach. They provide kayaks, life jackets, and paddles, plus an expert tour guide. Options include Kayaking 101 to learn basic maneuvers, the Good Morning Paddle, where you can check out the wild osprey, eagles, and turtles native to the Hudson, and Friday and Monday evening tours to watch the sunset.
New Paltz Kayaking | New Paltz
Explore the Wallkill River with New Paltz Kayaking, located at Sojourner Truth Park. Take in the views of the Shawangunk Ridge and farms and orchards along the banks. New Paltz Kayaking rents out both kayaks and canoes. Keep in mind that guided tours are not offered. Fishing equipment is also available for rent, as are bikes, if you’re looking to explore the same vistas while staying dry.
Saugerties Marina | Saugerties
The family-owned and -operated Saugerties Marina rents out paddleboards, kayaks, and pontoon pedal boats for you to take to the leisurely Esopus Creek. Reservations are not required, so you can rent on a whim and paddle out to the Saugerties lighthouse, or out into the Hudson, just a few minutes away. Keep in mind that this is a full-service marina with boats of all sizes trafficking in and out. Learn the rules of the waterway before you head down the creek and out to the Hudson.
Storm King Adventure Tours | Cornwall-on-Hudson
Storm King Adventure Tours offers guided tours of the Hudson River departing from Cornwall-on-the-Hudson. Paddle out to Bannerman Island and learn the sordid history of the epic, abandoned castle there. Take the Moodna Marsh tour for an opportunity to bird watch and witness local wildlife, or do some night kayaking with the full moon tour. Paddle out at sunset and enjoy smores on the campfire tour.
Screaming Eagle | Athens, Catskill
Screaming Eagle offers both guided tours and the opportunity to rent a kayak and hit the Hudson alone, with launch sites in both Athens and Catskill. You have the option to rent either a single or a tandem kayak. Both sunrise and sunset tours are available, with tour guides who will educate you on the local wildlife you’ll spot. Screaming Eagle also provides dry bags to keep your essentials safe.