Washington Park Arboretum Kayak/Canoe

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The Washington Park Arboretum is nestled into the shoreline of Lake Washington, just south of the UW Husky Football Stadium. The Arboretum itself is a 230-acre site jointly managed by the University of Washington and the City of Seattle. The University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center provides the perfect opportunity for those that don’t own a canoe or rowboat to spend some time paddling; the general public can rent canoes and rowboats for $9 per hour on weekdays or $11 per hour on weekends. The hourly rental fee is worth it to gain paddling access to hundreds of acres of the Washington Park Arboretum that contains over 40,000 trees, shrubs and vines from all around the world. The Arboretum is also home to a population of beavers and numerous bird species.

The Washington Park Arboretum was established in 1934 through a joint agreement by the University of Washington (Board of Regents) and the City of Seattle (City Council and Mayor). For the six decades prior to the agreement, the Washington Park area was logging land for the Puget Mill Company. In 1920, the entire site was split into two parcels: one became the 230-acre Washington Park and the other became the 200-acre Broadmoor Golf Club.

You can also access the Arboretum from West Montlake Park via the Montlake Cut. This put-in location will afford additional opportunities to explore the water, houseboats, and marina of Portage Bay, but passage through the Montlake Cut should only be undertaken with a sea worthy kayak and not a canoe as waters can become extremely choppy with the passing of larger motor boats.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)


Parking Pass



Water Temperature


Typically multi-day

Shuttle required

Site characteristics: Water

Portage required


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


Loved the wildlife… was certainly a crazy juxtaposition with all the people and freeway cutting overhead.

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