Family Fun in the Water + Kayaking, Canoeing, and Tubing in Southwest Michigan

Summer is a great time for a new family adventure. Do you love to kayak? Or have you always wanted to take the family on a canoe trip? Maybe a relaxing tube float down a river is more your speed?

With over 80 lakes and multiple rivers in Kalamazoo County alone, it’s no wonder this region boasts plenty of options to spend time out on the water.

We’ve assembled a list of area lakes or rivers that are perfect for new or seasoned water sport 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 the best paddling water fun Kalamazoo has to offer.

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Time to Start Paddling + Spots to Canoe and Kayak

How does an afternoon of paddling down a river or lake with your family sound?

Take in the gorgeous views from the water. Extend the fun and plan a picnic. Kayaking or canoeing is an adventurous activity the entire family can enjoy.

Your favorite place to paddle the water may be closer than you think.

1 – Gull Lake – Gull Lake Marine | 12485 East D Avenue, Richland | 269-626-3451.

Equipment available for rent: Kayaks and additional boats and equipment such as paddle boards.
Gull Lake Marine offers rent by the hour, day or week and online reservations are available for boats.

2 – Gun Lake – Gun Lake Rentals | 2422 Patterson Road, Shelbyville | 269-672-2500

Equipment available to rent: Kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, pontoon boats. Online reservations available.

3 – Long Lake – Ramona Beach Park | 8600 South Sprinkle Road, Portage | 269-329-4522

Equipment available for rent: Canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
Canoes, kayaks and SUPs are available daily on beach operating days until 6:00 PM.

4 – Dowagiac River – Doe-Wah-Jack’s Canoe Rentals | 52963 M 51 North, Dowagiac | 269-782-7410 

Equipment available for rent: Canoes, single and double kayaks. Rentals come with necessary paddles and flotation devices. Doe-Wah-Jack’s website offers a detailed guide, so you know just what to look for throughout the trip. Also, be sure to inquire about their car spotting policy.

5 – Paw Paw River |Third Coast Paddling | St. Joseph and Benton Harbor | 269-468-9399

Pick up Locations: At the Paw Paw River boat access parking lot located at 601 Graham Avenue in Benton Harbor and at Jean Klock Beach in the concession building.
Equipment Available for rent: Kayaks and stand up paddle boards (SUP).
Rental locations are also available at the Galien River and New Buffalo Beach.

6 – Kalamazoo River – Trailspotters of Michigan 386-227-7768

Pick up Location: Determined upon reservation.
Equipment available to rent: Canoes and  single kayaks, tandem kayaks and kids kayaks.
Trailspotters of Michigan offers services in a variety of locations around West Michigan including guides, transportation, rentals, and spotting. Advanced reservations are required.

7 – Kalamazoo River / Rupert Lake Plainwell Kayak Company | 211 North Main Street, Plainwell | 269-365-2926

Equipment available to rent: Single and tandem kayaks. Rental includes paddles, life jackets, drop off and pick up depending on the trip you choose. Transportation services are also available for those who own their own kayaks or canoes.
Trips offered: one hour trip from Plainwell to Otsego, two hour trip from Otsego to Trowbridge Dam (check out the new kayak launcher donated to the city of Otsego), and a three hour trip from D Avenue to Plainwell.

Rent Kayak and Canoe around Kalamazoo

8 – Eagle Lake – Fort Custer Outfitters | Fort Custer Recreation Area, 5163 Fort Custer Drive, Augusta |269-967-6274

Pick up Location: The concession stand at Eagle Lake inside Fort Custer Recreation Area.
Equipment available to rent: Canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboard and rowboats.
Additional services: Kalamazoo River rentals and shuttle service by contacting Trailspotters of Michigan.


9 – Thornapple River – U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery | 805 West Apple Street, Hastings | 269-945-3191

Pick up Location: All equipment is picked up at the Hastings Location. Participants and equipment will be transported to the location launch.
Equipment available to rent: Canoes, kayaks, inflatable kayaks and tubes.
Additional delivery options are available upon request. Tubing trips are also available. Trip options range from two and a half hours to six and a half hours.

10 – Three Rivers – Liquid Therapy Canoe and Kayak Rental | 221 South Main Street, Three Rivers |

Pick up Locations: St. Joseph River, Portage River, Rocky River, Prarie River, area lakes upon request. All trips begin at the Main Street location.
Equipment available for rent: Canoes and kayaks.
All rentals include life jackets, paddles, and transportation to and from the river/lake. They are a cash-only rental.

11 – Chippewa RiverChippewa River Outfitters | 3763 South Lincoln Road, Mt. Pleasant | 989-772-5474

Equipment available for rent: Canoes, kayaks, and tubes.
Picnics, overnight camping, and more options are available.

12 – St. Joseph River – En Gedi Campground and Canoe Livery | 30321 Covey Road, Leonidas | 269-689-7490

Pick up Location: Eight trip options beginning at Sturgeon Lake in Colon.
Equipment available for rent: Canoes, kayaks and tubes.
All rentals include life jackets, paddles and transportation.

13 – White River –  Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery | 401 East Fruitvale Road | Montague | 231-894-4209

Equipment available for rent: Canoes (up to 17′ long), single and tandem kayaks, rafts, and tubes.
Trips range from one hour to seven hours.

14 – Grand River / Red Cedar River –  River Town Adventures | 325 City Market Drive, Lansing | 517-253-7523

Pick up Location: Many different trip options begin with a shuttle from Lansing City Market, downtown Lansing. Paddle down Red Cedar River to get a view of Potter Park Zoo.
Equipment available for rent: Canoes and kayaks.
River Town Adventures offers a rules and etiquette list.

Warm Weather Tubing Places

Looking for a water activity that offers a bit more relaxation while enjoying the summer sun?

Check out our list of locations that rent tubes or offer trips – with varying lengths of trips, perfect for kids. Enjoy a relaxing float down an area river this summer.

1 – Hastings – U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery | 805 West Apple Street, Hastings, MI 49058 | 269-945-3191

Equipment available for rent: Tubes, kayaks, and canoes
Tubing down the Thornapple River in downtown Hastings is typically a two and a half hour trip, however, other trip options are available.

2 – White River, Montague – Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery | 401 East Fruitvale Road | Montague | 231-894-4209

Equipment available for rent: Tubes, rafts, canoes, and kayaks.
Spot lots of wildlife as you float down the White River. A tubing trip is approximately three hours.

3 – Chippewa River, Mt. Pleasant – Chippewa River Outfitters | 3763 South Lincoln Road, Mt. Pleasant | 989-772-5474

Equipment available for rent: Tubes, canoes, and kayaks.
The Chippewa River is perfect for families with younger kiddos as it has a very gentle current. Trips range from two hours to five hours.

Other Rental Locations & Experiences

Lee’s Adventure Sports | 311 West Kilgore Road, Portage | 269-381-7700

Pick up Location: Rental equipment can be picked up at the Portage store location.
Equipment available for rent: Canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards (SUP’s), camping equipment and additional water sports equipment.

Mainstream Tackle and Outdoors | 180 W. Michigan Ave., Galesburg | 269-665-5076

Equipment available for rent: Kayak and tube rentals. Rental equipment delivered to Eagle Lake / Fort Custer, although other arrangements can be made.

Kanoe the Kazoo

Local organizations have come together to host guided trips down various area rivers and lakes, including the Kalamazoo River. Select dates require you to have your own equipment.

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