City offering in-water Grand River experiences all summer

Published on May 16, 2023


Offerings include school field trips, guided kayaking adventures, free demo nights, self-guided kayak rentals, and more.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids is planning a summer full of ways for the community to experience the Grand River up close and personal. The programs and events happening May through September aim to reconnect residents to the river as restoration efforts progress.


The City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools are hosting 1,000 Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) students to experience Canoemobile this week at Riverside Park (2001 Monroe Ave. NE). Throughout the week, GRPS students are engaging in several outdoor activities, including paddling nine-passenger canoes on the Grand River, learning about the waterway, water quality testing, nature hiking, cultural history lessons and more. Land-based educational opportunities will be provided by the City’s GR Outside division and other community partners.

Guided Kayaking Adventures

The Parks and Recreation department’s GR Outside division is hosting guided kayaking trips for ages 10 and up on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays May through August. Adventures are approximately two hours long and cost $30 for Grand Rapids residents, $40 for nonresidents. All equipment and training is provided. Categories include Family Adventures for ages 10 and up, Kayaking 101 for beginner paddlers ages 18 and up, and Kayaking 201 for intermediate paddlers ages 18 and up. Trips will begin and end at the accessible kayak launch at the Riverside Park lagoon (2001 Monroe Ave. NE). Registration for kayaking adventures is available online HERE.

Free Family Paddle Demo Nights

The Parks and Recreation department will be at Riverside Park (2001 Monroe Ave. NE) on select evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. coinciding with Food Truck Fridays offering free, 15-minute kayaking demos for ages 10 and up. Paddlers ages 10 to 16 must be accompanied by an adult on the water. All equipment is provided, and a lifeguard will be on site. Dates include May 26, June 9, June 23, and Aug. 25.

Self-Guided Kayak Rentals

The Parks and Recreation department’s GR Outside division is renting kayaks and other outdoor adventure gear at Canal Park (941 Monroe Ave. NW) on Saturdays in June, July and August from noon to 4 p.m. Renters must be at least 18 years old. The following items are available to rent by the hour:

  • Solo kayaks with paddles and life jackets included, $5 per hour
  • Tandem kayaks with paddles and life jackets included, $7 per hour
  • Adult cruiser bikes with helmets included, $5 per hour
  • Skateboards with helmets included, $2.50 per hour
  • ard games and hammocks, free

For online rentals CLICK HERE.

Nine-Passenger Canoes

The Parks and Recreation department recently acquired a fleet of six large canoes through a donation from Wilderness Inquiry and Indiana Dunes National Park. The department plans to begin using the canoes for group outings and programs this summer.

“We are thrilled to provide our largest variety of Grand River experiences to date,” said David Marquardt, the City’s Parks and Recreation director. “We have an amazing natural resource flowing right through the center of our city and we want to provide access to enjoy it for anyone who wishes to.”

See all kayaking programs hosted by the City happening this summer HERE.

Tagged as: