After buying their first canoe in 1942, Chester and Stella Heavner were hooked. So were their friends. After constantly loaning out their red-canvas Old Town canoe, the pair invested in two more and started charging a nominal rental fee. In 1953, they made it official with a patch of riverfront property, eight canoes, and a trailer.
Today, Heavner Canoe & Kayak Rental is run by Chester and Stella’s eldest son, Alan. He and his staff manage an inventory of more than 200 canoes and kayaks, which they rent at three locations along the Huron River.
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.
Whether camping in tents or RVs or renting a rustic cabin, visitors to Indian Valley Campground enjoy a lot more than just fresh air and s'mores for breakfast. Rental canoes, kayaks, and rafts navigate the Thornapple River, and fishing boats can float on the Labarge Dam backwaters to track down northern pike, smallmouth bass, and pan fish. Kids can run down a sandy beach to dive into a spring-fed pond, and even on rainy days they can practice their merfolk impression in a heated indoor pool. For added entertainment, there are four golf courses within 10 minutes of the campsite, and the pavilion hosts live concerts, karaoke nights, and ice-cream socials all summer long.
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.
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.