Can You Kayak On The Chicago River? (Important Answers)

One of the biggest attractions in Chicago is the Chicago River. It’s a system of canals and rivers that combine to a length of 156 miles and runs through Chicago city. 

Whether you live there or you’re visiting, you’re wondering if you can kayak on it. But is it worth it?

This article will explain if you can kayak on the Chicago river, if it is safe to do, and more. We will tell you everything you need to know about kayaking on the Chicago River. Continue reading to learn more!

Can You Kayak On The Chicago River?

You can kayak on the Chicago River. It is a popular spot for kayakers, rowers, stand-up paddleboarders and canoers. It has various rivers and canals that stretch across the city, so you can enjoy sightseeing as you kayak up and down the river! 

Urban kayaking can be a really fun experience. It might be crowded at certain times, though. If you do not like the busy hours or are a new kayaker, you can find out what times are not busy. Usually, it would be very early in the morning, before most people come to the river. 

So, if you like urban kayaking, we would recommend the Chicago River. Now let’s discuss what you need to be ready to kayak on it.

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Do You Need A Licence To Use A Kayak On A River?

Yes, you must have an Illinois Certificate of Number (registration) and a Kayak Operator License. However, there are no minimum age limitations for unpowered kayaks, whereas powered kayaks do. 

It would help if you obeyed all state, federal and local boating laws, rules and regulations. You should always research and find out the boating rules and regulations in any state or location. It varies between states and countries. 

Is It Safe To Kayak In The Chicago River?

It is not completely safe to kayak in the Chicago River. The water of the river contains high levels of bacteria. Therefore, you should avoid contact with water and thoroughly rinse yourself and your gear to prevent diseases. 

We recommend using a paddle leash so it is easy to retrieve if you happen to drop it in the water. Moreover, avoid splashing other people as you paddle. If you are immunocompromised, we advise against going to the Chicago River. 

There is no doubt that you should never swim in the Chicago River. If you capsize, you should get out immediately and see a doctor. Whenever you exit the river, give your vessel, paddles and anything that’s touched the water a thorough rinse with soap and clean water. 

Can You Bring Your Own Kayak To The Chicago River?

Most people would rent kayaks from various locations in Chicago to kayaks in the river. You can bring your kayak, but you will be doing so at your own risk. It might also be a hassle to transport your kayak, especially if you already live in Chicago. 

We recommend that you rent a kayak and save yourself the trouble of carrying your kayak through the city. 

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How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Kayak For The Chicago River?

Prices will vary from one kayak rental to the next. You can rent a kayak for a few hours (2-3 hours) or a whole day (up to 8 hours). For half a day, It should cost you $30-$40 and for a whole day $40-$50. 

Various factors affect the price of rental kayaks. It could be demand, time of the year, kayak conditions and quality, and the hours you rent it. We highly suggest that you rent a good kayak not to endanger yourself using a cheap, damaged kayak.

Where To Put A Kayak In The Chicago River

One of the most recommended places to launch your kayak is Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown. You will be able to kayak two miles through downtown northwards. You will also find a kayak rental around the Chicago riverwalk north of Millennium Park. 

You could also start from the Loop or North Avenue Beach. You can start from almost anywhere along the Chicago River, but as a visitor, we think you should drive a few miles up from where you’re staying and kayak until you’re near it. that way, you can return, clean up and rest soon after your kayaking adventure!

How Long Does It Take Kayak The Chicago River?

It can take as long as you like. One of the only things that will limit your time on the Chicago River is if you rent a kayak for many hours. However, if you have your kayak, you can go on from sunrise to sunset if you like!

Kayaking on the Chicago River can be especially fun if you are new to the city. You can explore and see various spots throughout the city. You can kayak at your own pace and enjoy the views. However, on average, it could take you 2-4 hours to kayak a few miles up and down the Chicago River.

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Circling back to the first question you came here for – can you kayak on the Chicago river? Yes, you can! Chicago River is a very popular spot amongst tourists and urban kayaking enthusiasts. 

Chicago city is a beautiful concrete jungle with its charm. Kayaking through the river can be a good way to see popular spots and buildings. You could also discover your favorite rivers and canals and bring your family and friends along.

It has been convenient to kayak on the Chicago River due to kayak rentals opening up across the city. You don’t have to bring your kayak anymore! Although if you prefer it, you could but be careful not to bump it against someone else’s kayak.

You should also stay safe as much as you can! The Chicago river is not the cleanest of them all, and you could contract various water-borne illnesses and diseases from it. If you capsize, get help and disinfect immediately.

We hope that you found this article very useful. Now that you know all about kayaking on the Chicago river search for some popular places and explore!