Q What’s It Like?

Kayaking in Nashville with River Queen Voyages is a fun outdoor adventure! The Cumberland River is wide and paddles more like a lake so this is an ACTIVE PADDLE, meaning you will be using your arms most of the time. You will also need to be able to load the kayaks up and down the ramps with our staff. When you decide on your route, make sure to have a sense of how long your group can paddle to the take-out point. We suggest the 3-mile downtown route if you’re unsure or have beginners or older children with you.

We are a MOBILE COMPANY with no brick and mortar location. You book online and the shuttle will meet you at the Shelby Park boat ramp. Because of the large amount of downtown events, you may be rerouted or delayed so we appreciate your patience with circumstances out of our control.

There is a MINIMUM OF 4 PEOPLE to confirm any route so even if you’ve reserved for yourself you’ll still have other paddlers out on the water with you. Each of our drivers and river guides are CPR/FIRST AID CERTIFIED and will provide a quick Kayaking 101 and safety demonstration before launching you into the water. Guides are an optional add-on to your trip.

The downtown route has an industrial feel with construction vehicles loading minerals onto barges and a spectacular view of downtown that won “BEST VIEW OF THE CITY” in 2015. The East Nashville route has a scenic feel with river houses, farms, and wildlife along Shelby Bottoms, ending with a view of the famous Nashville skyline in the distance.

The Cumberland River is a Class 1 flat water commercial waterway so you will likely share the water with barges, riverboats, fishing boats, and other motorized pleasure craft that can create some small wake. Make sure to bring a CHANGE OF CLOTHES, especially for your bottom half, since the kayaks are the self-draining sit on top type.

There is no shade on either route so bring adequate SUN PROTECTION. We sell sunscreen for $4 and water for $1 if you forget to bring these with you. You can bring items including your phone for pictures along with you but we strongly recommend bringing a DRY BAG for protection from the water.

Metro Parks and the Army Corps of Engineers require you to wear a LIFE JACKET AT ALL TIMES on the Cumberland River. We welcome PETS WITH LIFE JACKETS on our routes! No glass containers are allowed and you’re expected to pack out anything you bring out on the river.

We love to put people on the river! Please call 615-933-9RQV if you have any additional questions.

Q What is your weather policy?
  • This is a rain or shine activity.
  • Weather cancellations will not be made until the start of the tour depending on the current weather.
  • We are required to cancel if there is lightning or other severe weather.
  • We reserve the right to cancel reservations if the weather exceeds 100 degrees.
  • We will notify you if your tour will be cancelled due to weather – DO NOT 
assume your tour is cancelled unless contacted by one of our representatives.
  • If we cancel due to weather, you will be able to reschedule for another day in the same season.
  • If your group decides against riding in the rain, you will not receive a refund.
  • Please dress appropriately for predicted weather conditions.
Q What is your booking policy?
  • No refunds. Due to space limitations, once a booking is made it cannot be cancelled.
  • Paddlers may reschedule up to 24 hours before their scheduled route. Paddlers rescheduling less than 24 hours before scheduled route will be charged a 50% rescheduling fee.
  • Reschedule allowed within the same season if RQV must cancel due to severe weather.
  • This is a rain or shine activity.
  • Routes start and end in two different parks so make sure to double check your arrival location.
  • Routes and start times subject to change due to road closures, special events, construction etc. We will notify you as soon as we know but often this information comes last minute or not at all. We appreciate your flexibility!
Q What is your cancellation policy?
  • Give 24 hours notice to avoid 50% cancellation fee.
  • No Show/Last Minute Cancellation = No refund & private groups are charged the full cost.
Q Should I tip the guide?

Our drivers and guides definitely appreciate tips! It shows them they did a great job taking care of you by getting you on the river safely and lets them know you enjoyed your experience. 20% is customary.

Q Where do I go?


Be sure to arrive early to ensure time to park and sign releases! Please call 615-933-9RQV (9778) if you need directions.

The meeting point for the 3 mile, 1 hour paddle is EAST BANK CUMBERLAND PARK DOWNTOWN for this route at the END POINT of the paddle. The van shuttles you UPSTREAM to put you in the kayaks at the Shelby Park boat ramp. You paddle DOWNSTREAM to your starting point and we take out near the stadium. Please be advised that river levels and wind direction/speed can affect how much you will need to paddle. Shuttle leaves ON TIME and cannot be held for late arrivals so please make sure you are on time.
MAP: https://goo.gl/maps/RESCu6b5LBt

The meeting point for the 5 mile, 2 hour paddle is SHELBY PARK BOAT RAMP for this route at the END POINT of the paddle. The van shuttles you UPSTREAM to put you in the kayaks near Opryland. You paddle DOWNSTREAM to your starting point and we take out at the Shelby Park boat ramp. Please be advised that river levels wind direction/speed can affect how much you will need to paddle. Shuttle leaves ON TIME and cannot be held for late arrivals so please make sure you are on time.
MAP: https://goo.gl/maps/8FUnuNBnb292

Q What should I wear?
  • Comfortable clothing! You will likely get wet, especially from the waist down.
  • Sun protection, wide-brimmed hat, and shoes that can get wet are always recommended.
  • There is a checklist in the “Before You Go” tab on our site for specific items.
  • Check for weather conditions before you go to make sure you have the appropriate gear.
Q Do I need to have a reservation?

We strongly encourage online reservations to ensure you have a spot. Check the available spots by clicking any booking button on the site. There may be spots available but we cannot guarantee getting you into a kayak unless you reserve online in advance.


Q What is included?
  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Life Jacket
  • Shuttle Upriver
  • Release forms if not printed in advance
  • Laminated river maps upon request
  • Safety Demonstration
  • Kayaking Crash Course

A CPR/First Aid certified river guide is available as an add-on at checkout for any route

Q How much time should I allow?

The length of the trip depends on how strongly and which direction the wind is blowing, how fast the river current moves, and the amount of recent rainfall. The Cumberland River current is regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers and water is released from the Old Hickory Dam and Percy Priest Dam.

When the river is low and/or the wind is coming from the S/SE/SW, the paddle can be a bit more strenuous than normal.

Shuttling upriver and loading/unloading usually takes 20-30 mins on both ends so remember to factor that into your trip time.

For the 3-mile Shelby Park to downtown Riverfront Park Route, paddling takes about an hour on water, so allow approximately 2 hours total with loading/unloading.

For the 5-mile Near Opryland to Shelby Park Route, paddling takes about 2 hours on water, so allow approximately 3 hours total with loading/unloading.

Q Can we take pictures?

Of course! Just be careful to make sure you don’t drop your phone or camera in the water. Our drivers and guides are happy to take photos for you anytime along the way. Please tag us on social media! @riverqueenvoyages

Q Is there an age requirement?

Because this an activity where you will be paddling on a river shared with larger industrial and recreational boats, children under 10 are not allowed and children age 10-13 must be in a tandem kayak with parent/guardian. Pets are ok! Make sure they have a leash and a pet life jacket.

Q Is the Cumberland River clean/safe?

Today the Cumberland River is cleaner than it has ever been, and is cleaner than its neighboring Harpeth River which is another popular recreational destination in the Nashville area.

Much wildlife has returned to live on and near the river, including the notoriously finicky blue heron and the American bald eagle. Ongoing use and interest in the Cumberland will ensure its continued revitalization. The stretch of the Cumberland River used by River Queen Voyages is noted for its scenic and recreational qualities.

See this short video for the Top 5 Kayak Safety Tips from the ACA. The river is wide enough that it is safe to share with the industrial barges, the General Jackson showboat, as well as other speed boats, fishing boats, and pleasure crafts. A river guide is always available to accompany you on your paddling trip as an add-on at checkout.


Still Have Questions?

Send us a note but calling is better – we’re out on the river and can’t respond right away! 615-933-9RQV (9778)