12+ Fantastic Spots for Family-Friendly Kayaking in Kalamazoo + Tubing Fun

Kayaking in Kalamazoo

Can You Canoe Near 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, it’s no wonder this region boasts plenty of options to spend time out 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.

We’ve assembled a list of area lakes or rivers that are perfect for all 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 and use our map to plan your trip!

Watercraft Rental Tips

Before you embark on your next river or lake adventure, we have some tips to get you started. Be sure to call the watercraft rental company prior to leaving; we also have a packing list for your car.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be kayaking in Kalamazoo in no time:

Rental Company Questions

“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 to Pack

Sun and Bug Protection: Don’t expect much shade on most rivers and lakes. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats to shield from the sun. And since water attracts mosquitos and other insects, pack the bug spray too.

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

Change of Clothes & Towels: Leave them in the car or use the rental facility’s lockers to store them.

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!

 Kayaking & Canoeing

Kayaking in Kalamazoo with Kids

Lakes & Rivers Near Kalamazoo

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

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


Eagle Lake – Fort Custer Outfitters
5163 Fort Custer Dr, Augusta, MI 49012
269-967-6274

Watercraft Rentals:  Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and rowboats.


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.


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).

Photo: Plainwell Kayak Company

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

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.


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

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.


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

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes, kayaks and tubes.
Time Paddling: 3 to 6-hour trips available.


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, Prarie River, area lakes upon request. All trips begin at the Main Street location.

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

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 also offered.


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

Watercraft Rentals: Canoes and kayaks.
Time Paddling: 1 – 6-hour trips available. Downtown paddling also available (variable duration)


Third Coast Paddling (Three Locations)

Galien River: 200 Marquette Dr,  New Buffalo, Michigan 49117
Paw Paw River: 601 Graham Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Silver Beach: 101 Broad St, St. Joseph, Michigan 49085

Watercraft Rentals: Kayaks and paddleboards.


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.

 Warm Weather Tubing

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.


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


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.


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.

 Kayaking, Canoeing & Tubing Map

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