kayaking the chicago river
September 2, 2009 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Can you bring your own kayak/canoe to the Chicago River?

Has anyone tried this before? Are there any city laws prohibiting it?
posted by jsmith78 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sure you can kayak the Chicago River. If you are talking about downtown, I don't see the fun in that. Sure it's cleaner than it used to be but still - jockeying with big boats and river taxis isn't all that fun.
posted by JJ86 at 6:05 AM on September 2, 2009

JJ86's link seems to answer the question. As for JJ86's question of why you'd want to, check out these photos: South Branch / North Branch.
posted by Xalf at 6:52 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Actually it's very fun to kayak on the Chicago River - a unique experience, I think.

As far as using your own boat, there are two options that I know about:

1) Kayak Chicago is a reputable outfit that rents kayaks and runs architectural tours. They have a put-in at North Ave, just north of Goose Island. They offer use of their dock for a fee. It is $15 for a one time launch or $60 for the season. Launching is only available during open hours as the gates are locked on off hours. Details on hours and location on their web site. Plenty of free parking.

2) There is a public launch roughly 3 miles north of Kayak Chicago's location on the river at Addison and Rockwell, open to the public 24 hrs. a day. I have never used this launch site.
posted by johnvaljohn at 7:14 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know this doesn't directly answer the question, but in regards to JJ86 about why you would want to, I kayaked from North Avenue downtown to the locks at Navy pier a week or so ago, and it was great fun! Once you get downtown, the water is really clear, you are staying out of the way of boats, but that's nothing. And it's a great way to see the city. Good luck!
posted by Sreiny at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2009

My husband has done this multiple times. Check out the Chicago Area Sea Kayakers Association (CASKA). They have events on the Chicago River (though they're probably done for the season?).

Seconding Kayak Chicago as a reputable outfit.
posted by desjardins at 9:21 AM on September 2, 2009

Also, there's the Des Plaines river, if you just want any river nearby (PDF map, text info).
posted by desjardins at 9:24 AM on September 2, 2009

If you're not from the area, be prepared for the fact that there aren't a whole lot of places where the river has a "shore" in the downtown area.
posted by gjc at 6:36 AM on September 3, 2009

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