— The following originally ran in the June 2015 issue of Canoe & Kayak.
Join the tribe and save the date for this summer’s best social paddling events
Outdoors, Inc., Canoe and Kayak Race
June 20 / Memphis, Tenn. / outdoorsinc.com
Memphis-based retailer Outdoors Inc.'s annual three-mile race on the Mississippi River attracts the likes of Olympic gold medalist Greg Barton and surfski phenom Oscar Chalupsky. But with dozens of boat categories and age classes, you need not be a speed freak to brush elbows with the stars in the race's infamous mass start.
June 20-26 / Rocky Ford, Ga. / gariver.org
The 294-mile Ogeechee River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in the United States. Celebrate this unlikely fact with a seven-day paddling tour of hidden Georgia, tracing 95 miles of bottomlands, braided channels and tidal marsh. The event raises funds for the nonprofit Georgia River Network and Ogeechee Riverkeeper.
WCHA Annual Assembly
July 14-19 / Paul Smiths, N.Y. / wcha.org
There's plenty of eye-candy to ogle at this annual gathering in upstate New York, as well as practical skills instruction—everything from solo canoeing workshops to paddle-carving and tips to help you restore your own wooden canoe. The 2015 event focuses on historic Maine-based builder B.N. Morris, which constructed ravishing wood-canvas canoes around the turn of the 20th century.
Missouri American Water MR340
July 28-31 / Kansas City, Kan. / rivermiles.com
Ready for an overnight adventure? This 340-mile race on the Missouri River crosses the entire Show Me State, ending in St. Charles, Mo. The dam- and portage-free course is divided into nine checkpoints, and paddlers must complete the race in 88 hours or less—barely half the entrants make the cut. As the race website proclaims, "It will be the hardest thing you've ever done.
Aug. 15 / Rock Island, Ill. / floatzilla.org
After a morning of easy paddling on the Quad Cities Water Trail on the Mississippi River, participants will attempt to set a new Guinness of World Record for the largest raft of canoes and kayaks. Cracking the record book won't be easy: More than double last year's 959 participants will need to raft up for an aerial photo to beat the current record of 2,099, set in Michigan in 2013.
Aug. 17-21 / Corvallis, Ore. / paddleoregon.org
This five-day, 98-mile paddle on Oregon's Willamette River goes beyond the usual guided canoe trip. Think gourmet meals, local beer and wine, and entertainment—all in support of Riverkeeper's efforts to preserve the Willamette. See first-hand the biodiversity and vibrant river communities that made the Willamette a National Water Trail.
— Check out the entire C&K calendar of events.