As a pair of kayaks rounds a bend in in the Chippewa River, the paddlers spy a blue kingfisher diving into the water to grab a fish before flying away with its catch. Nature continues its daily course as people gently float down the river's gentle currents on tubes or propel themselves along in kayaks or canoes. Chippewa River Outfitters helps renters make their own river-bound memories with trips that last from 1.5 hours to overnight. With a paddle or tube in hand, explorers get to take advantage of the river's cool waters and nature's free shows regardless of age or propensity for boat-tipping.
For four decades, Buckley’s Mountainside Canoes has sent visitors paddling through the calm currents of the Chippewa River, winding through miles of natural forestland in Sylvan Solace, Deerfield, and Meridian Park. The river’s clear, unpolluted waters stretch before paddlers during trips that range anywhere from one to seven hours. Maintaining its longstanding tradition of keeping the river clean, Buckley’s equips paddlers with debris bags so they can snag rubbish along the way, if they choose.
For more than three decades, AAA Canoe has rented canoes, kayaks, and tube floats to explorers bound for the scenic, tranquil Rogue River. The rental center accommodates both individuals and group outings, outfitting each trip with paddles and life jackets or flotation cushions before chauffeuring boaters and their vessels to their trip’s starting point. Each trip ends at the Rockford Dam in downtown Rockford, where passengers can explore the city sights and regain their land legs from unscrupulous alleyway leg merchants.
Perched on the banks of Gun Lake amid several hiking trails and picnic sites, Gun Lake Rentals provides visitors with entertainment selections from its flotilla of boats and personal watercraft. The rental company carries a variety of aquatic options for satisfying thrill seekers and leisurely paddlers alike. The fleet includes jet skis and pontoon boats, as well as paddleboards and kayaks. After a full day of staying afloat on the oversized puddle, guests can seek out attractions in nearby Shelbyville, such as golf courses, miniature golf courses, horse ranches, and miniature horse ranches.
For 45 years, Baldwin Canoe Rental has outfitted paddlers with the equipment needed to push off into the tranquility of nature and float through the heart of the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Their current fleet includes more than 400 watercrafts, from tubes to tandem kayaks. The wide variety of vessels enables clients to customize their Pere Marquette River journeys, whether they want to gather a full group of friends together for a leisurely glide in inflatable rafts or embark on soul-searching trips in single kayaks with just enough storage space for power crystals.
The bayous and creeks flowing into the Grand River form an inviting home for wildlife, including eagles that nest in the trees along the shoreline. Perched in their aeries, the birds study the water's surface. Spotting a disturbance, an eagle lifts off and glides toward the water, opening its talons to pluck the prey suspended just beneath the surface.
The team at Lakeshore Kayak Rental lends their kayaks—inspected and certified by the DNR—and other watercraft to help visitors stumble upon sights such as these throughout the gentle Grand River and its connecting waterways. The staff, which includes instructors claiming certifications from the American Canoe Association, provides lessons for beginner kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders, and recommends areas for more experienced outdoorsmen to explore. With advanced notice, Lakeshore's crew can also arrange transportation to and from some area lodgings and farther-away launch points. To encourage camaraderie throughout the kayaking community, Lakeshore's team hosts the annual Grand River Kayak Race.