5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Illinois

By April Dowling

5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Illinois

Vitalii Nesterchuk/Shutterstock.com

Kayaking allows you to experience nature at its finest—on the water’s surface surrounded by wildlife. Illinois has many beautiful rivers and lakes that are ideal for kayaking and getting close-up scenic views of native landscapes. If you’ve never kayaked before, rest assured that there are safety courses available to get you started and plenty of calm, accessible waters in Illinois. The following kayaking spots are great for first-timers who want a peaceful experience. 

1. Chicago River, Chicago, IL

What better way to experience Chicago than from a kayak on the river? You don’t have to be an experienced kayaker to enjoy the breathtaking scenes from this majestic waterway. With Wateriders, you can choose from several tours including the architectural tour, sunset paddle, and firework paddle. Whichever tour you choose, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience. 

2. Cache River, Sandusky, IL

Located in southern Illinois, the Cache River is surrounded by towering cypress trees over 1,000 years-old. Kayaking through these wetlands provides views of migratory waterfowl, endangered species, and native plants. A public boat launch is provided off Perks Road. 

3. Kankakee River, Bourbonnais, IL

The shallow, clean waters of the Kankakee River make it an ideal destination of beginner kayakers. Rent a kayak locally or bring your own for beautiful views of waterfowl, deer, and other native wildlife. This unspoiled wildlife makes this 4,000-acre state park an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. 

4. Hennepin Canal, Sheffield, IL

The Hennepin Canal provides 78 miles of calm waters, perfect for beginner kayakers who don’t mind using arm power. With history dating back to the early 19th century, the canal was once used for commerce, industry, and recreational traffic purposes. Now it is a nationally-recognized historic place full of recreational activities. 

5. Starved Rock State Park

Known for its panoramic views and tree-covered bluffs, Starved Rock State Park offers kayakers a view of unspoiled nature. Visitors can see this charming landmark by kayaking on the beautiful Fox and Illinois Rivers. For a whitewater trip with more speed, try out the Big Vermillion River. 

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