20+ Awesome Spots for Kayaking in Kalamazoo + Tubing in Michigan

kayaking in Kalamazoo southwest michigan kayak Plainwell Kayak Company

cover image: Plainwell Kayak Company

Ready for Some Kayaking in Kalamazoo?

As the temperatures begin to soar in Southwest Michigan, many of us are looking forward to hitting the local beaches.

With over 80 lakes and multiple rivers in Kalamazoo County alone, this region boasts plenty of options for spending time on the water.

But water is not only for swimming. Whether you’re an expert watercraft user or a rookie, canoeing or kayaking in Kalamazoo is a fun, local option for water-loving families to try this summer.

And if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing, we have options for river tube floating.

Kayaking in Kalamazoo kayak Southwest Michigan

Grab Your Oars, Southwest Michigan

We’ve assembled a list of area lakes or rivers that are perfect for all water sports enthusiasts. Rental locations offer a variety of canoes, kayaks, tubes and other equipment needed for your adventure.

Make the summer extra memorable by taking advantage of Kalamazoo’s best paddling water fun. Use our map to plan your trip!

Watercraft Rental FAQs

Before you embark on your next river or lake adventure, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions to get you started. Be sure to call the watercraft rental company prior to leaving.

What questions should I ask the watercraft rental company?

“How do I reserve my watercraft?” Some have online forms, but many do not—and most do not prefer walk-ins. Call ahead and confirm watercraft availability.

“What types of payment do you accept?” Many of these locations are small businesses and may not accept credit cards.

“Do you provide life jackets?” Most companies include safety equipment with all of their rentals; we recommend verifying their gear and sizes available (especially for kids).

“What is your weather/cancellation policy?” Policies on weather vary by rental provider. Some will issue refunds and others may allow you to reschedule.

What should I pack when kayaking or canoeing?

Sun and Bug Protection: Most rivers and lakes don’t offer much shade. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats to protect yourself from the sun. Since water attracts mosquitos and other insects, pack bug spray, too.

Watertight Bag: Protect your phone and any other valuables that you need to bring with you.

Change of Clothes & Towels: You can leave them in the car or store them in the rental facility’s lockers.

Food and Drinks: Check with the rental company, but many allow a small cooler in your watercraft. Also, eat before you depart: 3-4 hours of paddling will work up an appetite!

20 Lakes & Rivers for Canoeing & Kayaking in Kalamazoo/SWMI

Ready to go kayaking or canoeing in Southwest Michigan? Read on for lakes and rivers for local options to get in the water:

Kayaking in Kalamazoo with Kids

Lakes & Rivers Near Kalamazoo

1 – Dowagiac River  – Doe-Wah-Jack’s Canoe Rentals
52963 M 51 North, Dowagiac, MI 49047
269-782-7410 

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes and kayaks
Time Paddling: 2 to 6-hour trips available


2 – Eagle Lake – Simple Adventures
5163 Fort Custer Dr, Augusta, MI 49012
1-844-WE-KAYAK

Watercraft Rentals:  Canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards. Online reservations available.


3 – Kalamazoo RiverMainstream Tackle and Outdoors
180 W Michigan, Galesburg, MI 49053
269-665-5076

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks, canoes, tubes, and cooler tubes
Time Paddling: 2 hour – half day rentals available. Kayaks can also be rented for 24 hours, a weekend, or weekly.

4 – Gun Lake – Gun Lake Rentals
2422 Patterson Rd, Shelbyville, MI 49344
269-672-2500

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and pontoon boats. Online reservations are available.


5 – Kalamazoo River / Rupert Lake Plainwell Kayak Company
211 N Main St, Plainwell, MI 49080
269-365-2926

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks. Transportation services are also available for those who bring their own kayaks or canoes.
Time Paddling: 1 to 3-hour trips available. Lake kayaking also available (variable duration). Reservations encouraged, online or by phone.

Plainwell Kayak Company is a popular option for kayaking in Southwest Michigan

6 – Long Lake – Ramona Park Beach
8600 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage, MI 49002
269-329-4522

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards

Long Lake offers canoeing, paddleboarding and kayaking in Kalamazoo

7 – Maple Lake – Paw Paw Kayak Rental
Sunset Park, Paw Paw, MI 49079
269-206-9566

Watercraft Rentals: kayaks and paddleboards

Order online and select your time for pickup; Paw Paw Kayak Rental serves as your distribution site. Maple Lake also offers a sandy, swimming beach for before or after kayaking.

Paw Paw Kayak Rental
Photo: Paw Paw Kayak Rental

8 – Paw Paw RiverColoma Watervliet Kayak Rental
650 N Main St. Watervliet, MI 49098
269-759-8961

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks and tubes. Tandem kayaks are available upon request.
Time Paddling: 1.5 – 4.5 hour trips available. Select your rental time online and Coloma Watervliet Kayak Rental will meet you at the river with your watercraft rental.

9 – St. Joseph River – En Gedi Campground River Resort and Canoe Livery
30321 Covey Rd, Leonidas, MI 49066
269-689-7490

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and tubes. Transportation services are also available for those who bring their own kayaks or canoes.
Time Paddling: 1 to 4-hour trips available. Geocaching trips also available.

En Gedi River Resort Canoe Kayak
Photo: En Gedi Campground River Resort and Canoe Livery

10 – Thornapple River – U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery
805 W Apple St, Hastings, MI 49058
269-945-3191

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks, inflatable kayaks and tubes. Transportation services available for those who bring their own watercraft.
Time Paddling: 3 to 6-hour trips available.


11 – Three Rivers – Liquid Therapy Canoe and Kayak Rental
221 S Main St, Three Rivers, MI 49093
269-273-9000

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes and kayaks
Paddling Locations: St. Joseph River, Portage River, Rocky River, Prairie River, area lakes upon request. All trips begin at the Main Street location.

Worth the Drive (or Paddle): 1 Hour + Away

12 – Chippewa RiverChippewa River Outfitters
3763 S Lincoln Rd, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
989-772-5474

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and tubes
Time Paddling: 2 – 5-hour trips available. Overnight camping trips are also offered.


13 – Grand River / Red Cedar River –  River Town Adventures
305 City Market Dr, Lansing, MI 48912
517-253-7523

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes and kayaks
Time Paddling: 1 – 5 hour trips available. Downtown paddling also available (variable duration.) Advanced reservations required.

Rivertown Adventures Kayak
Photo: River Town Adventures

Third Coast Paddling (Five Locations)

14 – Galien River: 200 Marquette Dr,  New Buffalo, MI 49117
15 – Paw Paw River: 601 Graham Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
16 – Silver Beach: 101 Broad St, St. Joseph, MI 49085
17 – Wade’s Bayou: 26 Bayou Dr, Douglas, MI 49406
18 – Warren Dunes: 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks and paddleboards. Advance reservations highly recommended to ensure to get the equipment and time slot of your choosing.


19 – White River  – Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery
401 E Fruitvale Rd, Montague, MI 49437

231-894-4209

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks, tubes and rafts. Transportation services are also available for those who bring their own kayaks or canoes.
Time Paddling: 1 – 3.5-hour trips available. Reservations recommended, especially on weekends.

Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery Kayak
Photo: Ashley Beach

20 – Lower Kalamazoo RiverWaterTrail Ventures Kayak Rental
3200 57th St, Fennville, MI 49408
269-547-1884

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks
Time Paddling: 2 hours – full day. Daily and weekend rentals available. 24 hour advance reservations required.

Warm Weather Tubing in Michigan

Looking for a round watercraft instead? We’ve found six spots where you can go tubing in Michigan for the summer season:

1 – Chippewa River – Chippewa River Outfitters
3763 S Lincoln Rd, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
989-772-5474

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and tubes
Time Tubing: 3-hour trips available.

Chippewa River Outfitters Tubing Kayak
Photo: Chippewa River Outfitters

2 – St. Joseph River – En Gedi Campground River Resort and Canoe Livery
30321 Covey Rd, Leonidas, MI 49066
269-689-7490

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and tubes. Transportation services are also available for those who bring their own kayaks or canoes.
Time Tubing: 2 to 3-hour trips available.


3 – Thornapple River – U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery
805 W Apple St, Hastings, MI 49058
269-945-3191

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and tubes
Time Tubing: 3-hour trips available.

4 – White River  – Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery
401 E Fruitvale Rd, Montague, MI 49437

231-894-4209

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks, tubes and rafts. Transportation services are also available for those who bring their own kayaks or canoes.
Time Tubing: 2.5-hour trips available. Reservations recommended, especially on weekends.


5 – Kalamazoo RiverMainstream Tackle and Outdoors
180 W Michigan, Galesburg, MI 49053
269-665-5076

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks, canoes, tubes, and cooler tubes


6 – Paw Paw RiverColoma Watervliet Kayak Rental
650 N Main St. Watervliet, MI 49098
269-759-8961

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks and tubes. Tandem kayaks available upon request.
Time Tubing: 3-hour trips available. Select your rental time online and Coloma Watervliet Kayak Rental will meet you at the river with your watercraft rental.

Kayaking, Canoeing & Tubing Map

find places to go kayaking near me