Wild and Scenic Rivers offer some of the best fishing, boating, hiking, and scenery anywhere in the country. (Photo: Juno/Stocksy)

Here’s How to Find Beautiful Boating Destinations Using Gaia GPS

Plan your next adventure on one of the nation’s most resplendent waterways with the help of Gaia GPS


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Find the best waterways in the country with the new Wild and Scenic Rivers map. Used atop your favorite base map in Gaia GPS, you can view all of the waterways in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system and enjoy some of the best fishing, boating, hiking, and scenery anywhere in the U.S.

Did you know that dams block about 600,000 miles of American rivers? Use this map to locate free-flowing sections to plan your next kayaking, pack-rafting, or fishing trip.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Layer

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers system, created by Congress in 1968, now protects 208 waterways—and this map shows all of them. Scientists who use Gaia GPS to help record data while out in the field requested this map. And you, too, can use this layer to:

  • See whether your favorite river is protected.
  • Scout out some of the most breathtaking places to explore on your next trip, such as the Allagash River in Maine.
  • Find free-flowing sections of river to float on or fish.
  • Discover the sites of the country’s most prolific salmon runs, including California’s Klamath River.

Once you add this layer, you’ll see each river—or section of river—that’s been officially designated as Wild and Scenic. Tap on the river icon to learn more about that waterway, including its name, classification, and the state in which it is located. The layer also provides information on the river’s water quality for drinking, swimming, and fishing.

What Is a Wild and Scenic River?

Rivers remain critical resources not only for recreation but also for clean drinking water, biodiversity, and even flood protection. Just over 50 years ago, Congress recognized that the vitality of American rivers was at stake and created the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system to preserve those that are free-flowing and lauded for their outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values.

Wild and Scenic Rivers have one or more special features. These may include:

  • pristine water
  • beauty and scenery
  • river recreation
  • flora and fauna fecundity
  • importance to the country’s history and culture

Of the 2.9 million miles of rivers in the U.S., only 12,709 of those miles carry the Wild and Scenic designation—just 1 percent of the rivers wending their way throughout the country. Some of these, like Idaho’s Salmon and Selway Rivers, are remote and ideal for a multiday float trip, while others, like New York’s Upper Delaware, are developed with roads and bridges and close to major population centers, making them easily accessible for a day trip to escape the city and enjoy the soothing tranquility of the rushing water.

Often only sections of a river are designated as Wild and Scenic, as other parts of that river may have dams or other development. Such is the case with the White Salmon River in Washington State. Its Condit Dam was intentionally breached in 2011, allowing the river to flow unimpeded for the first time in nearly a century. Now 27.7 miles of the White Salmon are home to exhilarating Class III–IV rapids.

How to Get the Wild and Scenic Rivers Map

Access the Wild and Scenic Rivers map with a premium membership to Gaia GPS. To add this map, click the Layers icon, select Add Map Layer, tap Nautical/Aviation Overlays, scroll down, and then add the Wild and Scenic Rivers layer.

Layer the Wild and Scenic Rivers map on top of Gaia Topo, or use it with your favorite base map. Boaters and fishers may also want to use the Wild and Scenic Rivers map in conjunction with the USGS Streamflows map, which offers information on current streamflow in cubic feet per second and status rankings against historical daily means. For tips on adding the Wild and Scenic Rivers layer, or any other layer on Gaia GPS, visit this help-center article.