The Wild Wonders of Kansas: 17 Captivating Paddle Boarding Wildlife Destinations

Kansas, often associated with its expansive prairies and wheat fields, is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts seeking unique and immersive experiences. As the sun sets over the horizon, painting the skies in hues of orange and pink, the diverse habitats of Kansas come alive with a rich array of wildlife waiting to be discovered. Paddle boarding in this mesmerizing state allows you to venture into serene waters, offering an up-close encounter with the fascinating creatures that call these places home. From migratory birds soaring above to elusive mammals hiding amidst the lush vegetation, each location offers an enchanting experience like no other. In this article, we explore some of the best places to view wildlife from a SUP in Kansas!, detailing the species you can encounter on shore, in the water, or in the air, along with the best time of year for each location.

paddle boards at sunset
  1. Milford Lake.

Situated in the heart of Kansas, Milford Lake offers a mesmerizing paddle boarding experience with its expansive and deep waters. As you glide along the serene surface, surrounded by picturesque landscapes, you'll feel a sense of tranquility and wonder. Milford Lake is not only the largest reservoir in Kansas but also a wildlife haven, providing a home to a diverse array of species. Keep your eyes peeled for the graceful movements of white-tailed deer coming down to the water's edge for a drink. In the skies above, majestic bald eagles may soar, showcasing their impressive hunting skills. During the warmer months, the lake attracts an array of migratory birds, from elegant shorebirds to colorful waterfowl, making it a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. With its deep blue waters and stunning vistas, Milford Lake promises an unforgettable adventure for paddle boarders seeking to connect with nature and experience the beauty of Kansas' wildlife.

  1. Cheney Reservoir.

Nestled in south-central Kansas, Cheney Reservoir offers a paddle boarding paradise with its calm and inviting waters. This picturesque reservoir provides an excellent opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Kansas while paddling through serene surroundings. As you glide along the reservoir's surface, keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife that call this area home. From white-tailed deer gracefully grazing along the shoreline to red foxes playfully frolicking in the nearby woods, there's always a chance for a delightful wildlife encounter. Birdwatchers will also be delighted by the diverse avian species present at Cheney Reservoir, including graceful great blue herons and vibrant kingfishers diving for fish. With its paddle board-friendly environment and abundant wildlife, Cheney Reservoir promises an enchanting experience for nature lovers seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Kansas.

  1. Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.

One of the largest inland marshes in the United States, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area offers an unparalleled paddling adventure. Glide through the labyrinth of wetlands and be enchanted by the courtship dances of the greater prairie-chickens in the spring. These fascinating birds gather at traditional leks to display their striking plumage and perform elaborate mating dances, a sight that wildlife enthusiasts treasure. As you navigate through the marshes, the air is filled with the melodic calls of various waterfowl, including teal, pintails, and gadwalls, making it a paradise for birdwatchers and photographers alike. ALL WATERCRAFT ARE PROHIBITED FROM APRIL 15-AUGUST 15 TO PROTECT NESTING BIRDS ON THE WILDLIFE AREA

  1. Clinton Lake.

Nestled in the heart of eastern Kansas, Clinton Lake is a recreational oasis teeming with wildlife. The lake's wooded shoreline provides a picturesque setting for your paddle boarding adventure. White-tailed deer are a common sight, and you may be lucky enough to witness their graceful movements as they come down to the water's edge for a drink. During the warm summer months, ospreys hover overhead, their keen eyes scanning the water for fish to feed their chicks. In the fall, the forests surrounding the lake transform into a vibrant tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, providing a stunning backdrop for your paddle board journey.

  1. Cedar Bluff State Park.

Discover the scenic wonders of Cedar Bluff State Park, situated along the Smoky Hill River. The sandstone bluffs, weathered by centuries of wind and water, create a striking landscape that adds a touch of drama to your paddle boarding experience. As you glide along the shoreline, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive bobcats that call this area home. During the warmer months, the riverbanks come alive with the vibrant colors of wildflowers, attracting a myriad of butterflies and bees. Among the rocks and crevices, the Western Chicken Turtle sunbathes, taking in the warmth of the sun.

  1. Lake Scott State Park.

Located in western Kansas, Lake Scott State Park offers a delightful paddle boarding experience amidst stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife. The picturesque lake is surrounded by rugged cliffs and scenic woodlands, creating a serene setting for your paddle board adventure. As you gently paddle along the tranquil waters, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife that frequents the area. You may encounter mule deer grazing near the shoreline or catch glimpses of raccoons and red foxes exploring the wooded areas. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the diversity of avian species, including majestic great blue herons and graceful American white pelicans soaring above the lake. Lake Scott State Park provides a perfect blend of outdoor recreation and wildlife encounters, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts looking to connect with Kansas' wild side.

  1. Wilson Lake.

Nestled in the heart of the Smoky Hills, Wilson Lake boasts a 9,000-acre reservoir that beckons paddlers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. The rocky bluffs and rolling hills provide a stunning backdrop as you navigate the lake's serene waters. White-tailed deer are a common sight along the shoreline, and you may spot them gracefully wading in the water to cool off during hot summer days. Keep an eye out for the majestic great blue herons stalking their prey in the shallows, their elegant movements a true spectacle to behold. During the fall, the lake's foliage takes on a warm, golden hue, offering a scenic paddle board journey through nature's autumnal palette.

  1. Lake Shawnee.

Located in Topeka, Kansas, Lake Shawnee is a serene and paddle board-friendly destination that offers both scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. The lake's calm waters are perfect for paddlers of all levels to explore and enjoy the natural surroundings.

As you paddle along Lake Shawnee, you'll have the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife. Keep an eye out for the graceful movements of great egrets and great blue herons as they fish along the shoreline. If you're lucky, you might even catch sight of a playful group of river otters swimming and diving in the lake.

The surrounding parkland and woodlands are also home to an array of bird species, including songbirds like warblers and cardinals, as well as red-tailed hawks and bald eagles soaring overhead. In the evening, the haunting calls of barred owls can be heard echoing through the trees.

Lake Shawnee provides a peaceful and scenic paddle boarding experience, with the added bonus of wildlife encounters that will surely make your journey an unforgettable one.

  1. Tuttle Creek Lake.

Tuttle Creek Lake, flanked by rolling hills and prairies, invites paddle boarders to witness the region's abundant wildlife. During the warmer months, the skies fill with the playful aerial displays of cliff swallows, darting and swooping to catch insects on the wing. Keep your eyes peeled for playful minks scurrying along the shore, their slender bodies and luxurious fur a testament to the lake's diverse ecosystem. The lake is also a prime location for birdwatching, with red-tailed hawks and eastern bluebirds frequenting the area, offering glimpses of their majestic flight and vibrant plumage.

  1. El Dorado Lake.

Amidst the rolling plains of Kansas lies El Dorado Lake, a serene paddling destination. As you gently paddle through the waters, you may encounter white-tailed deer, raccoons, and red foxes emerging from the woodlands for a drink or to forage for food. The lake's peaceful waters also attract a plethora of migratory waterfowl during spring and fall, making it a birdwatcher's paradise. The tranquil surroundings of El Dorado Lake offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to reconnect with nature and experience the wonders of the wild at your own pace.

  1. Chisholm Creek Park.

Within Wichita's urban sprawl lies Chisholm Creek Park, an unexpected oasis for paddle boarders seeking close encounters with wildlife. As you float along the tranquil creek, observe painted turtles sunbathing on rocks and logs, their colorful markings adding a touch of vibrancy to the scene. The park is also home to an array of songbirds, including the melodious northern mockingbird, which fills the air with its repertoire of imitations and calls. Amidst the city's urban landscape, Chisholm Creek Park provides a serene escape where you can enjoy the peacefulness of nature and the beauty of wildlife.

  1. Meade State Park.

Nestled in southwestern Kansas, Meade State Park offers an intimate encounter with the state's diverse flora and fauna. As you paddle through the serene waters of the lake, keep an eye out for white-tailed deer gracefully moving along the shoreline. Look up, and you might spot a golden eagle soaring gracefully above, its impressive wingspan and regal presence a sight to behold. Meade State Park is a place where you can reconnect with nature and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the great outdoors, surrounded by the wonders of wildlife and the beauty of Kansas.

  1. Perry Lake.

Situated along the Delaware River, Perry Lake beckons paddlers to explore its picturesque coves and inlets. Glide through the waters and catch sight of beavers, diligently constructing their lodges along the shore. These industrious creatures are fascinating to observe as they use their powerful jaws and sharp teeth to fell trees and build their elaborate homes. Watch the skies for a glimpse of the red-tailed hawks soaring high above, their keen eyes scanning the terrain for potential prey. Perry Lake offers a peaceful and picturesque paddle boarding experience, surrounded by the beauty of nature and the thrill of wildlife encounters.

  1. Lovewell State Park.

Lovewell State Park, a haven for waterfowl and songbirds, promises an unforgettable paddling experience. Venture along the reservoir and witness the fascinating mating rituals of the northern harriers during spring. These agile raptors perform breathtaking aerial displays, soaring and swooping in a dance of courtship that is both beautiful and awe-inspiring. In the fall, thousands of snow geese descend upon the lake, their pure white plumage creating a breathtaking spectacle against the blue skies. Paddle along the tranquil waters of Lovewell State Park, and you'll find yourself immersed in a world of natural wonders and captivating wildlife.

  1. Kanopolis Lake.

Nestled in the Smoky Hills of central Kansas, Kanopolis Lake is a scenic reservoir that offers a perfect blend of outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing for paddle boarders. The expansive lake provides ample space for a tranquil paddle board journey, surrounded by rugged sandstone bluffs and beautiful woodlands.

As you navigate the clear waters of Kanopolis Lake, keep your eyes peeled for the diverse wildlife that frequents the area. Look out for white-tailed deer grazing along the shoreline and red foxes exploring the rocky terrain. The lake is also known for its diverse birdlife, including bald eagles, ospreys, and various waterfowl species.

During migration seasons, Kanopolis Lake becomes a haven for a variety of migratory birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. You might spot colorful warblers, shorebirds, and herons as they rest and refuel during their long journeys.

Kanopolis Lake provides a peaceful and picturesque paddle boarding experience, allowing you to connect with nature and witness the wonders of Kansas' wildlife in their natural habitat. Whether you're an avid birder or simply seeking a serene escape, this location offers an unforgettable wildlife encounter on your paddle board adventure.

  1. Glen Elder State Park.

Glen Elder State Park, nestled along the Solomon River, boasts an impressive array of wildlife. Explore the lake's serene waters and spot the North American river otters swimming gracefully by. Their playful nature and curious behaviors make them a delight to observe. At dusk, listen to the haunting calls of the barred owls that inhabit the area, their eerie hoots echoing through the woods. The park's diverse habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and prairies, attract a wide variety of wildlife, making it an ideal location for nature enthusiasts and photographers seeking captivating wildlife encounters.

  1. Tuttle Creek Cove Park.

Tuttle Creek Cove Park offers a peaceful retreat for wildlife enthusiasts. Paddle along the cove's tranquil waters and observe the great horned owls perched high in the trees, scanning for prey. These majestic raptors are known for their distinctive ear tufts and keen hunting abilities, making them formidable predators. During the warmer months, the cove comes alive with the enchanting chorus of green tree frogs, their calls reverberating through the trees and creating a soothing soundtrack to your paddle board journey. Tuttle Creek Cove Park is a place of serenity and natural beauty, where you can immerse yourself in the wonders of wildlife and the tranquility of nature.


Kansas, often underestimated for its wildlife offerings, presents a plethora of paddle boarding adventures that seamlessly combine serenity with an up-close encounter with nature's wonders. From the enchanting songs of migratory birds to the secretive behavior of elusive mammals, each of these 20 locations provides a captivating experience that will leave nature enthusiasts yearning for more. Whether you're an avid birder, a wildlife photographer, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, the best places to view wildlife from a paddle board in Kansas offer a journey into the heart of untamed beauty. Embark on these unforgettable experiences, and let the magic of Kansas unfold before your eyes.

Tips, Tricks, and Fun Articles await.

Here are a few quick links to help you keep going, don't forget to check our blog out for more tips and expert advice. For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For a complete guide of where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards.

Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you! And check out the Glide O2 Angler and why it makes an incredible platform for birding and wildlife viewing.