Locals and visitors alike know that the best way to cool off during the Columbia SC summers is out on the water. If you’re unfamiliar with the rivers that flow through downtown or the lakes that offer relief from a warm summer day, don’t worry. We've got everything you need to know before you dive in. 

Follow the Flow

There are 3 rivers that flow through Columbia SC. The Saluda and the Broad come from the Northwest and meet downtown to form the Congaree, which continues down into Congaree National Park


Experienced paddlers can start their journey at Saluda Shoals Park, which offers kayak and canoe rentals for those who don't travel with their own boats. Is the water too cold for your youngsters? Bring them around to the Saluda Shoals Water Playground where they can splash around. If you’re looking to enjoy the rivers in a bit more relaxing way, check out Palmetto Outdoors for an easy float with their innertubes and shuttles, which take you from the Saluda River all the way into downtown.


To understand what we mean when we say city meets nature, grab your preferred mode of water transportation and start your trip down the Broad River at the Riverfront Park Diversion Dam. Put on your water shoes and embark on exploration through these low-class rapids. Pack your snacks and sunscreen and relax while you casually float down to the Congaree River past historic spots like the Gervais Street Bridge before hopping out at Barney Jordan Landing, just beyond the famous Williams Brice Stadium.


Starting in downtown Columbia, the Congaree winds its way through Congaree National Park and on into Lake Marion. South Carolina's only national park is immensely packed with history, just ask Carolina Outdoor Adventures. Book a single-day kayak trip to witness sites of ancient Congaree Native American Settlements, a historic sunken barge, and enjoy lunch on a sandbar. Just wanting to float on away? Easily begin your journey just beneath the Gervais Street Bridge at the West Columbia Riverwalk and Amphitheater


For more outdoor fun in the real Southern hot spot, check out these resources.