Family-Friendly Kayak, Canoe, and Tubing Fun Around Kalamazoo – 2019

Kayak canoe Southwest Michigan

This article is currently under revision for 2020. Check back soon!

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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Lakes & Rivers near Kalamazoo

Dowagiac River  – Doe-Wah-Jack’s Canoe Rentals
52963 M 51 North, Dowagiac

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.

Eagle Lake – Fort Custer Outfitters
5163 Fort Custer Dr, Augusta

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.

Gull Lake – Gull Lake Marine
12485 East D Ave, Richland

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.

Gun Lake – Gun Lake Rentals
2422 Patterson Rd, Shelbyville

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

Kalamazoo River – Trailspotters of Michigan

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.

Kalamazoo River / Rupert Lake Plainwell Kayak Company
211 N Main St, Plainwell

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.

Long Lake – Ramona Beach Park
8600 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage

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.

St. Joseph River – En Gedi Campground and Canoe Livery
30321 Covey Rd, Leonidas

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.

Thornapple River – U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery
805 W Apple St, Hastings

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.

Three Rivers – Liquid Therapy Canoe and Kayak Rental
221 S Main St, 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.

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

Chippewa RiverChippewa River Outfitters
3763 S Lincoln Rd, Mt. Pleasant

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

Grand River / Red Cedar River –  River Town Adventures
325 City Market Dr, Lansing

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.

Paw Paw River  – Third Coast Paddling
St. Joseph and Benton Harbor

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.

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


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


Chippewa River, Mt. Pleasant – Chippewa River Outfitters

3763 S Lincoln Rd, Mt. Pleasant

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.

Hastings – U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery
805 W Apple St, Hastings

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.

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

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.


Mainstream Tackle and Outdoors
180 W. Michigan Ave, Galesburg

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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