Water Conditions

What is meant by "Low Water Condtions"?

In the summer time, when the weather is hot and the rain is sporadic, we can experience low water conditions on the creek. Canoe Kentucky will continue to offer trips on the Elkhorn, however, since the Elkhorn is a rocky bottom, shallow water stream, the experience is significantly different than higher levels. When the water is low you can expect to have to get out and help your boat over the shallow spots. How many times you have to get out depends on how well you read the water, but on average, you will get stuck 8 to 10 times. There are many deep pools to keep the paddling fun, but low water can make for a longer day on the water with more work involved. Please inquire about water conditions when the creek gets lower. We like to communicate exactly what the experience will be like so that there are no surprises for your group. We know what the experience will be like by relaying what the customers the day before told us. Know that guests still have a wonderful time on the creek at lower levels, it is just a "different" experience. Here is a post from Trip Advisor from a family who joined us at a lower water level to give guests an idea what the trip can be like: "Despite low water conditions we had an epic day at Canoe Kentucky. Don't let low water stop your plans to visit there. Yes, it did get a little tiring to pull kayaks over rocks but the scenery, serenity and tons of family laughter was worth it without question. The staff is extremely courteous and knowledgeable. The rental gear is very well maintained. The shop carries a plethora of equipment. Can't believe this gem of a business is right in our own backyard. It was delightful to see two teens enjoying themselves immensely despite the absence of cell phones, ipods and game systems! We found that by occasionally drifting and staying quiet we could see quite a bit of water life next to our kayaks like bass and turtles. We also "beached" our kayaks and splashed around in the creek's deeper sections. By going on a weekday it was less crowded for both kayakers and fishermen. I'm glad we each packed bottled water and snacks (put in zip lock bags) in small soft-sided coolers. There was plenty of room on the back of our kayaks to lash down the coolers. You may want to bring your own thin bungees or rubber cord. Also make sure to take along a small digital camera in a watertight case because there are tons of beautiful photo opportunities on Elkhorn Creek. I forgot my case but thankfully Canoe Kentucky sold them in various sizes. Would also recommend not wearing tennis shoes. If you don't have "water shoes" Canoe Kentucky carries them for a reasonable price. As my son soon found out, tennis shoes get heavy and uncomfortable when wet. All in all this is a gem of business and you won't (or shouldn't be) disappointed."

What is meant by "High Water Conditions"?

We are a completely rain-dependant creek. Sometimes we have too little or too much water. Higher water conditions can be great for the more experienced boater, but they may be a bit pushy for those with less boat handling experience. Anything above 4 feet on the gauge listed on our "Water Conditions" page should be considered high conditions and we would recommend at least some intermediate paddling experience. We do stop providing rentals at 5 Feet, according to the USGS gauge at Knight's Bridge.

What are the ideal levels on Elkhorn Creek?

Using the USGS gauge at Knight's Bridge, the best overall levels on our creek are between 3 feet and 4 feet. This can also be seen as between 200 cfs and 1,000 cfs. These levels are good for all skill levels. The lower the water, the more time you will hit the creek bed, but the fishing is better and there are not nearly as many hazards. High levels blow out the fishing, and the moving water makes it easier to flip or run into trees and strainers. Judgement is needed at higher levels, so call us to inquire about your skill versus the water conditions.

What trips are offered when low water conditions allow for Kentucky River trips only?

When the water on the creek is too low to offer trips, we move our operations to the Kentucky River. During the week we offer trips in Pool 3 on the Kentucky River, launching at Kentucky River Campground and offering a pool paddle. Guests still come to our Peaks Mill location for these trips. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we move operations to Kentucky River View Park. From there, we are able to offer point A to point B trips on the Kentucky River. Guests should arrive directly at the park for these trips.

How does this process all work?

How do we reserve a boat(s)?

To start your reservation, you can either click on the button that says "Book Now" or you can click on the "Rentals" tab at the top of this page. Once there, you will click the "Book Now" button for whichever trip you're wanting to go on. The next page will start the booking process, and you will follow these steps:

  • Click on the date you're wanting to visit us.
  • Select the number of boats you're wanting to reserve.
  • Find the shuttle time you'd like to be on and click "Add To Cart"
  • Review the boats you are looking to reserve, and if everything is correct, click the green "Checkout" button.
  • Enter your information, including the Discount Code if you're booking a reservation for a group of 10 or more people. Click "Continue" once done.
  • Enter in your payment method. All reservations are prepaid IN FULL to ensure that we have the boat(s) reserved for your party. Only pre-paid reservations are guaranteed the boats they would like, at their desired shuttle departure time.
  • Once everything is done, your reservation will be confirmed. You will receive an email from us with a receipt of your reservation, as well as a link to the digital waivers that must be filled out BEFORE your arrival. One link will be for the individual who booked/paid for the reservation, the other link will be for emailing to the others in your party for them to fill out on their computer/phone/tablet.
Everything is MUCH QUICKER AND EASIER if everyone takes just a couple minutes to fill out their waiver information online before their trip. This new system allows for just one waiver to be done all season, instead of having to write out a new paper waiver each time you rent from us.

What time should I arrive for my reservation?

When booking your reservation, you are selecting what time the shuttle departs from our parking lot to the launching point of the trip. We ask that you arrive at our shop location NO LATER than 30 mins prior to your depature time! This means that if your departure time is booked for 11a.m., you should arrive at our shop no later than 10:30a.m. This allows time for you to; - unload anything you're taking on the creek - fill out a waiver and pay if you didn't make a pre-paid reservation - park your car in our auxillary lot - receive the mandatory safety talk - get fitted for a lifejacket, etc.

Why do you require pre-payment on reservations?

We have about 12 weeks during the spring and summer months to make the bulk of our yearly income. We need to make them count! When an individual or group pre-pays on a reservation, we hold the boat(s) they have reserved for their trip, not allowing anyone else to rent them. During our busy months, we can't have boats set aside for someone, just for them to not show up, when they could have been rented out! This pre-payment makes sure our customers are committed to using the boat(s) they have reserved, and that they dont go un-rented!

Is a reservation necessary?

Yes, due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing, reservations are required. They can be made online or over the phone allowing electronic waivers to be signed and the watching of the safety video prior to arrival.

Do you accept walk-ins, meaning those without reservations?

Unfortunately, no. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing, reservations are required. They can be made online or over the phone allowing electronic waivers to be signed and the watching of the safety video prior to arrival.

Where do we arrive for our canoe/kayak/raft reservation?

Your Elkhorn Creek reservation will start at our main shop location on Peaks Mill Road! The address for our location is 7323 Peaks Mill Road, Frankfort, KY., 40601. Your Kentucky River reservation will meet at River View Park Boat Dock in downtown Frankfort. An approximate address is 660 Wilkinson BLVD Franfort, KY 40601, which is accross the street from Urban Woods Apartments

Where do we arrive for our KY River SUP reservation?

The Stand-Up Paddleboarding reservations are done at a different location from our main shop on the Elkhorn Creek. The SUP rentals are done on the Kentucky River, launching from River View Park Boat Dock in downtown Frankfort. The address to the park is approximately 660 Wilkinson Blvd, Frankfort, KY., 40601

What is your inclement weather policy if I already have a reservation?

Canoe Kentucky will run rain or shine, however, we do not operate in the case of any warnings, like a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flood warning. We also understand that it is not as enjoyable to paddle in heavy rain. For this reason, if there is a certain chance of rain, that means a 70% chance or better for rain in the Frankfort area, we will allow pre-paid reservations to Rain Check their trip for a later date. We do not offer any refunds for inclement weather. #embracetherain

What are the trips like?

Generally, what kind of wildlife can I hope to see?

The Elkhorn Creek is a gorgeous body of water with a lot to offer when it comes to scenery. Wildlife is abundant on any of the trips that we offer. While we can't guarantee that you'll see any of these on your trip, as these are wild animals and they come and go as they please, it's not uncommon to see:

  • Deer
  • Raccoon
  • Minks
  • Beaver
  • Otter
  • Snakes
  • Turtles
  • Fox
  • Turkey
  • A huge variety of insects
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Geese
  • Ducks
  • Bald Eagle
  • Vulture
  • Hawks
  • Orioles
  • Frogs
  • Much more!
So as you can see, as long as you keep your eyes peeled, you can experience a whole host of wildlife on the creek. During the spring and summer months, the creek also becomes very clear, which means you can also see many fish and underwater, aquatic life such as:
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Spotted/Kentucky Bass
  • Freshwater Drum
  • Carp
  • Gar
  • Shad
  • Golden Redhorse
  • Sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Rock Bass
  • Sculpins
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Sauger
  • Minnow
  • Crayfish
  • Darters
  • Snails
  • Mussels
  • Clams

Generally, what kind of scenery can I expect / hope to see?

The Elkhorn runs through a very scenic part of Kentucky. Even the drive to our shop is beautiful! The majority of the main stem of the Elkhorn (where all our rental trips occur) is tree-lined by many different varieties of trees. If you pay close attention to the bank, it's common to see many old rock walls that were first constructed during the early to mid 1800's by Irish immigrants. Kentucky is known nation-wide for these rock walls! On some areas of the creek, you can also see old foundations of homes and businesses that helped to shape what Frankfort is today. On one particular portion of the Elkhorn, you can also view the Palisades of the Elkhorn, which are huge rock cliff faces that shoot almost straight down into the creekbank!

What is the current / flow like on the Fun Float?

The Fun Float trip is generally a Class 0 to Class I trip, in terms of the flow and current you'll encounter. What this means is that the water has beginner-friendly riffles interspersed between slower moving pools. This trip is our most popular trip, because it's not too challenging for first-timers, but still offers some fun and excitement, as well as a flow which helps to keep you from feeling like you're having to paddle the entire stretch! *These conditions are subject to change based on the current water conditions for the day you take your trip.

What is the current / flow like on the All Day Adventure

The All Day Adventure trip is generally a Class 0 to Class I trip, in terms of the flow and current you'll encounter. The experience is extremely similar to the Fun Float trip, only longer! In fact, the first half of the All Day Adventure is the Fun Float section. The water has beginner-friendly riffles interspersed between slower moving pools. This trip is our second-most popular trip, because it's not too challenging for first-timers, but still offers some fun and excitement, as well as a flow which helps to keep you from feeling like you're having to paddle the entire stretch! *These conditions are subject to change based on the current water conditions for the day you take your trip.

What is the current / flow like on the Whitewater Hairraiser

The Whitewater Hairraiser trip is generally a Class I and Class II, up to Class III trip, in terms of the flow and current you'll encounter. This trip is for more experienced boaters, as the flow and turbulence is much more prominent. Experienced boater control is necessary for this stretch, as is knowledge of different parts of the creek, such as where to portage around the Jim Beam Distillery dam. Only offered as a guided trip. *These conditions are subject to change based on the current water conditions for the day you take your trip.

What should/can we bring on our trip?

What are some things we should bring?

There are a few items we recommend everyone bring on their trip.

  • Sunblock!
  • A change of clothes to leave in the car
    -Avoid paddling in jeans or heavy clothing. Quick dry synthetic clothing is recommended.
  • Close-toed shoes, or shoes that strap together behind your heels. *Avoid flip flops!
  • Water/snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • A Dry Bag/Dry Box (we sell many different types here at the shop)
  • A trash bag for any garbage
  • A fun mood!

Can I bring lunch with me on the trip?

You're more than welcome to bring a cooler, preferably soft-shelled, that you can pack sandwiches/lunch items into, as long as it's not too large. Coolers can greatly effect the balance of a canoe/kayak, so please make sure you don't bring more than what's absolutely necessary! Glass containers are PROHIBITED! *Bring along bungee or rope to secure your items.

Am I allowed to bring beer/alcohol on the trip?

NO! We are an alcohol and drug free facility. Alcohol, by law, is not allowed on the creek itself, and for the safety and consideration of our customers and staff, we do not allow any form of alcohol or drugs on the creek. Law Enforcement Officials from Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly patrol the Elkhorn Creek for violations and have every right to search your cooler!

What all is included in the price of my rental?

Your rental includes: 1. The boat - canoe, kayak, or raft 2. Paddles 3. Lifejackets for each person 4. Shuttle service 5. Parking access 6. Safety talk

How should we dress?

Dress to get wet! We recommend that anyone looking to get on the water, should be dressed to get in the water. This means quick-drying materials (not cotton), close-toed shoes, and sun protection. Avoid wearing jeans or shoes that may fall off easily such as flip-flops.

How many people can fit in each boat?

How many people can fit in a canoe?

Canoes are made to fit 2 adults, maximum. Because of the capacity of the boat, and insurance, we limit 2 adults per canoe. We can allow one 3rd person to ride along in the canoe, as long as it's a child under the age of 13, and under the weight of 85 lbs. 3-person canoe must be rented.

How many people can fit in a kayak?

We have two different kinds of kayaks available for rent through Canoe Kentucky. - Tandem Kayak: holds 2 individuals - Solo Kayak: holds 1 individual *The prices for these two boats are different, and varies depending on which trip you take. Prices can be found in the online reservation system.

How many people can fit in a raft?

Rafts have the advantage of being able to accomodate more people than canoes or kayaks. A raft can generally hold 4-6 individuals. We require a minimum of 3 people per raft, as they are too difficult to maneuver and paddle with any less than 3 people. Rafts are a type of boat we generally cannot rent during the summer season, because we usually don't have enough water on the creek to support a raft.

How many people can fit on a stand up paddle (SUP) board?

SUP boards are made to accomodate one person at a time. Ask about our 6-person Stand Up Paddleboard available to rent for families, team building, or bigger parties. Available on the KY River only!

Are dogs allowed?

Yes, when the water levels are below 4.5 feet. All dogs must be kept on a leash in and around the shop with a pet fee of $10.

If the dog has never been on a canoe or kayak, we do not recommend bringing them.

How long will my trip last?

How long does the Fun Float trip last?

The Fun Float trip generally takes about 2-3 hours to paddle. This depends on how many times you stop during the trip and the water level.

How long does the All Day Adventure last?

The All Day Adventure gives you about 4-5 hours worth of paddling, depending on the height and flow of the creek the day you come out! Your trip launches from the same location as the Fun Float. You stop in at the shop, which is the halfway point for your trip, and then continues downstream for the second half where we pick you up with our shuttle.

What are the rules on fishing during my rental?

Can I fish from my canoe/kayak/raft?

Yes! The Elkhorn Creek is a very healthy fishery with many different species that can be targeted by anglers. You need to make sure that you have a VALID Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Fishing License. These can be purchased at the shop, or online here. *We recommend renting a Fishing Kayak to hold and secure your gear.

What kind of fish does the Elkhorn Creek have?

The Elkhorn is a very diverse ecosystem! There are hundreds of species of fish, crustaceans, animals, and birds that rely on the Elkhorn. The fish that are most popular with anglers are members of the Black Bass family, which includes Smallmouth, Largemouth, and Spotted Bass. You can also catch Catfish, Gar, Carp, Freshwater Drum, Bluegill, Bream, and Crappie on the creek.

Do you sell fishing licenses?

Yes! We sell them at the shop and they can be purchased at the time of your trip. A fishing license is required.

Do you offer a Shuttle Service for private boaters?

How does the Shuttle Service work?

As of May 21, 2020, we no longer offer private boat shuttles and do not allow private boaters to take out at the CKY shop. Private boaters will need to utlize the public access points. Exception* if you purchased your canoe or kayak from Canoe Kentucky, you are entitled to FREE LIFETIME SHUTTLES! This is not available out of business hours or when we are closed for rentals due to high water.

Are there Free Public Access points on the creek that we can utilize instead of paying for shuttle service or access fees?

YES! There are numerous access points on the main Elkhorn Creek. Not all access points are designed for canoe and kayak access, so read signs accordingly. We do not have any responsibility over public access points, so use caution. > American Whitewater: Elkhorn Acres. We encourage you to join the non-profit of American Whitewater Organization or donate to support all of the work they do for waterways across the nation. www.americanwhitewater.org > 127 Highway Bridge Access

Can we park at a public access, paddle to your shop, take out and walk or hitch hike back to our vehicle?

NO! We no longer offer any private access. If any vehicles are in our parking areas that are not designated with the appropriate parking pass, they will be towed.

Do you all offer paddle rentals and lifejacket/ PFD rentals?

We can rent paddles to those without them. They rent for $15.00 per kayak paddle and $10.00 per canoe paddle. We do not rent lifejackets/ PFDs. This is a liability thing, and if you own your own kayak, you must have one! WE do have inexpensive USCG approved pfd's for sale, so we encourage you to pick one of them up. Kentucky laws require you have one per person on board your vessel, and youth 12 and under must have them on at all times.


Where are your Glamping Sites located?

The exact location of our Creekside Glamping Site is a secret! Once you make our reservation, you will be sent a Confirmation Email that indicates our Check In procedures. These include coming by our shop before closing to get a gate key as well as directions to the site. We do have After Hours Check In options available. Trust us that the camping area is incredible! Right on the Elkhorn Creek, it is quiet, secluded and very quaint. We are going to keep it that way, hence the reason we do not say where it is located!

How many people can stay in a tent?

Our tents are designed for 1 to 4 people. 4 people regardless of age are the max. The tent has a full size bed for two people, and inflatable sleeping pads for 2 more. For safety reasons, we do not allow more than 4 people per tent.

What are the Glamping Area Rules?

  • You will be given a copy of the rules as Check In, and they are to be followed accordingly.
    • Anyone breaking these rules or acting unsafely/unruly will be asked to leave the premises without a refund.
    • After one warning, additional issues will involve police.
Rules and Considerations
  • All vehicles must park in designated area located off the side of the road as much as possible
    • Do not block the road or any gates.
  • Quiet hours: 11 PM to 6 AM. Be respectful of fellow campers.
  • Vandalism and/ or damages to grounds or facilities will incur additional charges.
  • Alcohol consumed must only be done in moderation by those of legal drinking age and must be confined to your camping site or Glamping Tent.
    • Possession, distribution or use of illegal drugs will not be tolerated and will result in immediate removal from the property and law enforcement intervention.
  • Deposit all trash in provided trash cans and all recyclables in provided recycle cans.
  • Fires must be contained to provided fire rings. Do not build new fires rings.
    • Absolutely no fires within 50 feet of Glamping Tents.
    • Dead wood laying on the gorund may be burned; do not cut any trees
  • Leave picnic tables where you find them. Please do not move them to other sites.
  • Please do not disturb plants, trees, animals, or other wildlife.
  • You are camping in a natural environment that is always changing so be aware of your surroundings.
    • Please do not disturb plants, trees, animals, or other wildlife.
    • You may encounter bees, wasps, spiders, snakes, and other critters.
    • Take caution around water, rocks and falling limbs.
  • No pets allowed.

What is the Glamping Area like/ how should we dress or prepare?

The Glamping Area is located right on the Elkhorn Creek. It is a partially shaded area with phenomenal access to the creek. It is on the creek, so the ground tends to be wet, especially after rains. Plan for wet ground by wearing boots or shoes you can get mud on. There is a 100 foot walk on a dirt and grass path to the tents. It is at a slight grade. Your vehilce will be parked behind a locked gate but this short ditance from your tents. There is ABSOLUTLEY NO DRIVING directly to the tents.

What is provided in each tent?

Each tent has three windows and a large screened front door. There is a full bed in each tent and two sleeping pads. There are end tables next to the bed, and a footstool at the base. There are two chairs located on the front porch. Solar powered lamps are located in the tent and on the front porch. A cooler is in each tent, filled with ice and bottled waters. A bundle of firewood is also located at each tent. There is a picnic table at each tent site and bbq grills are available. There is a portable restroom on site.

Is there electricity at the Glamping Site?

NO! There are solar lamps in each tent, but there is no power source. This is an off-grid experience.

Is there water at the Glamping Site?

There is NO RUNNING WATER or SHOWERS! There is a creek for swimming in and each tent has a cooler with ice and bottled water provided.

Are there restrooms at the Glamping Site?

There is one Port-A-Jon, portable restroom, provided and shared between the three tents. We do our best to maintain and "spruce up" the portable restroom as to make it more comfortable. There is a solar lamp inside the portable restroom.

How many tents are available or how large can my group be?

We have three Glamping Tents available, each holds 4 people, so max group size would be 12.

Can I bring my own tent and stay at the Glamping Site?

We DO NOT allow additional tents on the property at this time. You are welcome to bring a hammock, but number of guests per unit is still restricted to 4.

Are there age limits?

What is the recommended age for being on the water?

We do not allow anyone under the age of 2 or any child that is not able to sit upright. Please refer to the guidelines in the "How many people fit in each boat" question.


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