Kaw River in Kansas

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Flowing approximately 170 miles, the Kaw River forms near Junction City, KS and flows eastward eventually meeting up with the Missouri River in Kansas City.

My journey was run between Lawrence and Edwardsville over the Labor Day weekend. About 35 miles in length, this section is rural in nature and has many sandbars to camp on, several islands to explore and an abundance of wildlife to watch for.

I enjoy scanning the sky and large cottonwoods trees along the bank for those magnificent birds - the eagles. You may see deer, bobcats, beavers and numerous other wildlife along the shoreline, if you are quietly moving down the river. I was startled many times by the splashing of beavers diving into the river as my canoe floated near the riverbank.

If you enjoy camping, as I do, there are so many places to camp along the river. Firewood is abundant, as are the stars at night. You can just lay back and look for the shooting stars and satellites racing across the sky while listening to the howl of coyotes and the crackle of your campfire.

The Kaw is not widely used. You don't need to worry about overcrowding at preferred campsites, in fact, you may not see anyone on the river at all. Recently, there have been several concrete boat ramps built along the Kaw which makes the entry and exit very easy.

If you're looking for a peaceful paddle, an opportunity to soak up a day (or multiple days) on the river, the Kaw can energize and refresh you in so many ways.


Rural river, with no accommodations; take what you need would be best.




Lawrence, KS is less than a hour (by car) from Kansas City, via I-70.


Friends of the Kaw is a good website to get some general information on the river: www.kansasriver.org/

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location