Canoeing and Kayaking

A group of kayaks passing a rocky beach on the Cuyahoga River in summer.

NPS/ D.J. Reiser

The primary waterway within Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the Cuyahoga River. We are presently developing strategies to protect and enhance river values, including adequate and safe approaches for recreational river use. We do allow kayaking and canoeing in all of our ponds in the park. Motorized boats are not permitted.

While use of the river is not prohibited, there are several concerns that should be taken into consideration:

Canoeing and kayaking the river can be dangerous and the park does not maintain the river for paddling.

Paddle at your own risk –you are responsible for your own safety. Always be aware of your surroundings, weather and water level. Know your equipment, limits and skills. Don't paddle alone, and let someone know your plans and when you expect to return.

Update on Cuyahoga River Use:

NPS staff recently completed three temporary access sites for paddlers at the Boston Store Visitor Center, Red Lock, and Station Road Bridge Trailhead as part of a pilot study to look at recreational use and educational programming on this stretch of the Cuyahoga River. This area is open to public river use but the park does NOT clear hazards within the river. A dangerous low-head dam is present at Station Road that requires a portage. Paddlers must be experienced and paddle at their own risk. Remember to review Nowcast in advance of any river use.
Photo of the river safety card listing river tips
Photo of River Safety image card.


Two low-head dams exist within the river at Peninsula and south of State Route 82 that require a short portage. Do not attempt to paddle over low-head dams.They are extremely dangerous and drowning occurs in the hydraulic that forms below the dam.

Avoid strainers, which are downed trees/debris in the river. They are more dangerous than they look, and paddlers can get stuck in them and drown.

Be aware of changing water quality. After it rains, the water may contain bacteria from combined sewer overflows and storm water runoff. A high level of bacteria in the water can be a health hazard. Check the latest water quality information at Ohio Nowcast.

Paddling Opportunities

The Cuyahoga River is 100 miles long and offers diverse experiences. If you would like to paddle, please consider all of the following opportunities:

  • The Cuyahoga River can be paddled in many different areas in and out of the park, there are a few liveries in the area outside of the park.
  • Ponds within the park are open to paddlers. Motorized canoes and boats are not permitted on the ponds.
  • The CVNP provides some put in and take out areas along the river in the park.
  • Cleveland Metroparks offers guided paddling programs in the flats/shipping channel area of downtown Cleveland at their Rivergate Park. Visit for more information.
  • Ponds within the park are open to paddlers. Motorized canoes and boats are not permitted on the ponds.

Last updated: December 30, 2017

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Mailing Address:

15610 Vaughn Road
Brecksville, OH 44141


(330) 657-2752

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