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Share Your Alabama Water Adventures
Be Prepared: Safety First!
Our paddler preparation guide is here to help you explore Alabama’s waterways safely.
A woman celebrating in an inflatable kayak

Alabama Paddle Board, Canoe, & Kayak Safety Guide

As a steward of Alabama’s vast network of rivers, streams, and creeks, the ASRT has a duty to promote the safety of those who paddle its waters. Alabama’s water systems are incredibly diverse, offering numerous opportunities for adventure but also numerous challenges. Preparing properly for your adventure is crucial—and that’s what this guide is all about.

Here you’ll find information about water safety, our Trail Angels who can assist paddlers, dams and portages throughout the blueway, and a list of ASRT-approved campsites. To get started, download our Speaking Paddler glossary, full of all the acronyms and common paddling lingo that newbies need to survive!

Download Guide
A man getting ready to kayak

Water Safety 101

ASRT cares about your safety on the water, and that’s why we want to share some valuable information from the American Canoe Association (ACA). As a trusted resource for paddling enthusiasts, the ACA offers a wealth of knowledge to help you have a fun and safe experience. Check out their Education Resource Library here for infographics, placards, and brochures that cover various paddling topics. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, these resources will enhance your understanding of best practices and safety measures, allowing you to continue learning and become a well-informed paddler. Remember to wear your life jacket, pack the essentials, and plan for safety. Let’s make unforgettable memories on Alabama’s beautiful waterways!

ASRT's Paddling Safety Guide

Attention all Alabama paddling enthusiasts! As part of our commitment to promoting safe and enjoyable outdoor experiences, we share valuable safety information from the American Canoe Association (ACA). Whether you’re kayaking, canoeing, or engaging in any form of paddling, these tips and guidelines will help you make the most of your Alabama paddling adventures. Remember, safety first!

  • Wear a properly fitting life jacket at all times. It’s your best friend on the water! Learn how to choose the right life jacket here.
  • Review the benefits and importance of wearing a life jacket with the ACA’s Life Jacket Wear Guide here. Your safety matters!

Safety first, adventure second! Before hitting the water, review the ACA’s Paddler’s Safety Checklist here and ensure your equipment is in good condition, know your limits, and check the weather forecast.

Planning saves lives! Once you’ve planned your trip via our Paddle Planner- Use the ACA’s Float Plan template here to let someone know your trip details. Share your itinerary, expected return time, and emergency contact information. Additionally, check out the ACA’s safety placards for kayaking here and canoeing here. These visual guides provide valuable safety information for your paddling adventure.

Respect other boaters and wildlife while enjoying Alabama’s beautiful waterways. Follow the “Rules of the Road” provided by the ACA here. Remember, courtesy is contagious!

A man putting on his life jacket

Plan Ahead with Additional Resources

Proper planning and adherence to safety measures will allow you to explore Alabama’s scenic waterways while prioritizing your well-being. Always wear your life jacket, follow these guidelines, and be well-prepared for your paddling adventures. Happy paddling! Additional information on paddling and paddling safety can be found in the myriad of resources and articles through the following organizations:

  • American Canoe Association (ACA): They offer educational resources and may have a glossary or relevant information on their website. You can visit their website at
  • They have a wealth of paddling resources, including articles, forums, and guides. You can visit their website at
A large dam along a river

Dams and Portages

Portaging is an essential practice for paddlers in Alabama to safely navigate obstacles such as dams or challenging rapids. Portaging involves carrying or transporting a canoe or kayak overland to bypass hazardous sections of a river or lake. Paddlers should be prepared to lift their vessel out of the water, carry it on their shoulders or use a wheeled cart, and then return to the water at a safe location beyond the obstacle. ASRT works with Alabama Power, Georgia Power, and the U. S. Army Corp to ensure that there are portage trails across the state.

It’s also crucial for paddling tourists in Alabama to be aware of dams, particularly low-head dams that can create dangerous conditions. The Alabama Canoeing Association (ACA) provides a Low Head Dam Safety Brochure that outlines how to recognize low-head dams and understand the risks they pose. The brochure educates paddlers about the necessary precautions to take and helps them make informed decisions for a safe experience along Alabama Scenic River Trail.

Trail Angels

Trail Angels are volunteers who can help arrange your trip, locate outfitters and gear, provide fact-finding and directions, haul your boat and gear, help you over portages, and innumerable other services. They are not on call but are arranged by prior agreement as volunteer service providers for the Alabama Scenic River Trail. They have greatly assisted paddlers and powerboaters alike!

Kayakers camping on the shore of a river


Know where you can rest and recharge before you go! With the help of a network of dedicated paddlers, the ASRT has gathered a list of official campsites, offering everything from full-service lodging to a simple place to stop and eat lunch. Whatever your trip requires, find a campsite suited to your needs with this updated list, complete with each site’s location, amenities, rules, and other pertinent information.

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Get in Touch

Have questions about the ASRT or want to get involved? Send us a message!