Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Places to Rent a Canoe or Kayak in the Washington, DC Area

Summer calls out for being on the water. We've found more than a dozen locations where you can rent a canoe or kayak in the Washington, DC, metro area. What surprised me is the significant price differences depending on the place you pick. One hot spot is twice as expensive as anyone else! Get out there and explore some of these lesser-known spots, and you may find a new favorite. Click on any of the placemarks in the map below, or keep reading for a little more info about each location.

(Note for later in the year: many of these places shut down from October through May or so. The water's just too cold to risk people falling in.)

View Canoe and Kayak Rentals in the Washington, DC Area in a larger map

On the Potomac River:

Fletcher's Boat House (4940 Canal Rd NW, Washington DC, 202-244-0461). On the C&O Canal, south of the Chain Bridge. 7AM-6PM, last rentals at 5:00.

  • Canoes and kayaks: $8/hour or $24/day
Thompson Boat Center (2900 Virginia Ave NW, 202-333-9543). Seven days a week, 8 AM to 5 PM. Also rent small sailboats and rowing sculls.
  • Canoes: $12/hour or $24/day
  • Single kayaks: $10/hour or $28/day.
  • Double kayaks: $17/hour or $40/day. 
Jack's Boathouse (3700 K St NW, 202-337-9642). Rents canoes and single and double kayaks. Maximum rental is three hours. 8:00AM-8:30PM on weekends, check website for weekdays.
  • $12 per person, per hour, for all kinds of boats.
Atlantic Kayak Company (13600 King Charles Terrace, Fort Washington, MD, 301-292-6455). This company is located at the Fort Washington Marina on Piscataway Creek, which is located across the Potomac from Mount Vernon. Weekends only, 10AM to 5PM.
  • Solo kayaks: $25 for 2 hours, $35 for 3 hours, $50 all day
  • Double kayaks: $35 for 2 hours, $45 for 3 hours, $65 all day
Mason Neck State Park (7301 High Point Rd, Lorton, VA, 703-339-2385). A limited number of canoes, solo, and double kayaks. Seven days a week, 10 AM to 5 PM, at the Visitor's Center.
  • Canoes: $12/hour, $50 for more than four hours.
  • Solo kayaks:  $10/hour, $50 for more than four hours.
  • Double kayaks: $15/hour, $60 for more than four hours.
Pohick Bay Regional Park (6501 Pohick Bay Drive, Lorton, VA, 703-339-6104) is also on the Mason Neck peninsula. Weekends and holidays, 10AM-6PM.
  • Canoes: $9.50/hour, $41/day
  • Solo kayaks: $8.50/hour, $37/day
  • Double kayaks: $10/hour, $41/day
On the Anacostia:

Bladensburg Waterfront Park (4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, MD, 301-779-0371). Rentals are available Saturdays & Sundays, 10 am-6 pm. The park also leads tours on a pontoon boat (free, and no work for you!).
  • Canoes or kayaks: $5 per hour, $12 per day for PG County residents; $6 per hour, $15 per day for non-residents
On the Patuxent:

Jug Bay/Patuxent River Park (16000 Croom Airport Road, Upper Marlboro, MD, 301-627-6074). Reserve a canoe ahead of time by phone. Open from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM; call to inquire about overnight rentals or the possibility of starting further upriver and stopping at Jug Bay.
  • Canoes or kayaks: $15 per day.
On the Occoquan:

Fountainhead Regional Park (10875 Hampton Road, Fairfax Station, VA, 703-250-9124) rents boats for exploring the 1700-acre Occoquan Reservoir.
  • Canoes: $9.50/hour, $41/day.
  • Single kayak: $8.50/hour, $37/day.
  • Double kayak: $10/hour, $41/day. 
On Lakes:

Black Hill Regional Park (20920 Lake Ridge Drive, Boyds, MD, 301-972-6157). Little Seneca Lake (505 acres) has a marked boating trail, with a guide you can print and take with you. Its boat rental also has one of the earliest weekend starting times on our list, good for wildlife viewing, fishing, or just beating the heat. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, 6:30 AM - 6:00 PM; Tuesday - Friday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM.
  • Canoes, kayaks, or rowboats: $8/hour or $27.50/day.
Lake Needwood at Rock Creek Regional Park (15700 Needwood Lake Cir, Redland, MD, 301-762-9500) also opens early on the weekends, but it's much smaller (just 75 acres).  Fridays, Weekends, and holidays 6:30 AM - 6:00 PM; Mondays 9AM - 2PM, Wednesdays and Thursdays Noon - 5:30PM.
  • Canoes, kayaks, or rowboats: $8 per hour or $27.50 per day.
Clopper Lake at Seneca Creek State Park (11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, MD, 301-924-2127). I wasn't able to confirm, but I bet they have similar hours and prices as the previous two spots, which are also in Montgomery County.

Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston, VA, 703-471-5415) has perhaps the smallest lake, at only 18 acres. Still, it can make for a nice jaunt with kids.
  • Canoes: $6/hour 
Want some training before you enter the water in a boat? Check out lessons with Potomac Paddlesports, Calleva, or Liquid Adventures. Several local parks also have ranger-led canoe and kayak programs, like the ones at Lake Artemesia.

Have any experience with these rental spots? Any we missed? Leave a comment!