Prairie Fever » Blog Archive » Paddling Chicago

Paddling Chicago

Don’t let the summer end without exploring local waterways in a canoe or kayak. For those with an urge to paddle, here are a few resources to get you going:

  • The Chicago Area Paddling/Fishing Pages offer an array of resources about local waterways. The history and water quality information is particularly interesting.
  • The Chicago Area Sea Kayakers Association is a membership organization that has a nifty blog with plenty of trip reports and news about local kayaking topics.
  • The Illinois Paddling Council offers information on safety and outfitters, as well as an extensive listing of places to go for paddling instruction and courses.
  • The local nonprofit organization Openlands helped develop a series of local “water trails,” as they’re called. In addition, they created a series of helpful maps showing local paddling routes, dams, and launching spots.
  • has the most detailed information about where to launch your canoe or kayak. The interactive map is great for finding sometimes hard-to-find launch sites. The website also lists local outfitters according to the waterways they serve.
  • Since 1979, the Friends of the Chicago River have been working to improve the health of the Chicago River. Progress has been made, but there’s still much to do. The organization is always looking for volunteers.

Speaking of paddling, the Chicago Tribune featured a front page article about Ralph Frese, the 81-year-old local paddling guru, environmental advocate, and longtime owner of Chicagoland Canoe Base.

For decades, Frese has championed the exploration and care of local waterways. He has also built canoes, including a 34-foot-long voyageur canoe model that he would sell for more than $20,000. The article focused on Frese’s coming retirement and his inability to find someone to take over his business.

Also, last year, Chicago Wilderness magazine published a piece about Frese and his long-term efforts in getting people interested in caring for local waterways.


Like to hike? Check out the new edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Chicago.

Other posts you may be interested in:


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