Boating, Canoeing & Kayaking

Time on the water… a feeling of freedom…a time of meditation as you surround yourself in the elements of nature and free your mind from daily pressures. So when you consider that 25% of Minnesota’s recreational waters are found in the Bemidji area, you realize that there is no better place to enjoy time on the water than in Bemidji!



There is perhaps nothing as nice as slicing across the open water in a boat with the sun on your face and wind in your hair. And there are approximately 60 designated public water access points available around Beltrami County where you can do so! Six concrete style ramps offer access to Lake Bemidji, as well as a concrete and carry-in ramps affording access to Lake Irving.

Boat rentals are available at Lake Bemidji and Itasca State Parks, as well as a number of resorts and lodges throughout Bemidji. Sailboats and wind surfers are available through Bemidji State University.

Public access/Beltrami County


Canoeing & Kayaking

Mississippi River Trail Guide

The Mississippi, considered the greatest of American rivers presents many different faces to canoeists. For a wild and intimate setting, paddle the headwaters that begins at Itasca State Park and paddles to Bemidji. In its first 90 miles of its 2,384 to the Gulf of Mexico, the river winds through ancient lake beds, and occasionally rushes through narrow valleys of spruce. At Bemidji, the river flows through the first of several large lakes. This is the most scenic and the most remote of the Mississippi’s Minnesota miles.

Mississippi Canoe Routes

More about Itasca State Park

Turtle River

The Turtle River route winds gently for 15 miles through marshes and sparsely settled woods northeast of Bemidji. Used by loggers nearly a century ago to float large red and white pine logs to mill, “splash dams” were built on the Turtle to temporarily raise the water level. Large beds of rice are at the beginning of the run and bald eagles nests are throughout the area.

Chippewa National Forest

The Chippewa National Forest offers nine canoe routes offering excellent opportunities to view bald eagles, loons and ospreys. Walleye, northern and pan fishing is good along most of the routes.

More about Chippewa National Forest

Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Lake Bemidji and Itasca State Parks, Bemidji State University, as well as a number of resorts and lodges throughout Bemidji. Guide and shuttle services also available.

More about Lake Bemidji State Park

More about Itasca State Park

Photos courtesy of the True North, Ruttgers Birchmont and Explore Minnesota Tourism