FAQs

Does GR Paddling sell canoes or kayaks? 

No. GR Paddling does not sell canoes, kayaks, or any other equipment.

Is payment or a deposit required when we book our trip? 

No. A deposit is not necessary and payment is not required until the trip’s conclusion.

Is it necessary to book our trip in advance? 

No, it’s not required but certainly recommended. We schedule most of of our trips in advance, but if it’s a nice day, and we aren’t already booked (as shown on our availability calendar) give us a call and we’ll try to work something out.

The date that we’d like to schedule our trip is already booked. Is there a way to be put on a waiting list?

Yes. We do occasionally have cancellations and we would be happy to let you know if there is one. Just send us a note through the contact page and we will keep you posted.

The rates are based on 1 to 3 paddlers. What if we have less than three paddlers? 

Our rates are the minimums for each trip and are based on trip length and driving miles regardless of whether there are 1, 2, or 3 paddlers. Basically what this means is that the total rate for two paddlers is the same as it is for one or three paddlers. You can download a breakdown of our rates here: 2017 Rates

I still don’t understand the rates. Can you give me an example? 

Sure, let’s take for example Reach 5 on the Grand River (G5). The rate is $120 for 1 to 3 paddlers plus $25 for each additional paddler. What this means is: 1 paddler ~ $120, 2 paddlers $120 ~ $60 per person, 3 paddlers $120 ~ $40 per person. For 4 paddlers the total rate is $145 ~ $36.25 per person, for 5 paddlers the total is $170 ~ $34.00 per person, for 6 paddlers the total rate is $195 ~ $32.50 per person, for 7 paddlers the total rate $220 ~ $31.43 per person, and for 8 paddlers the total rate is $245 ~ $30.63 per person. This is regardless of whether you choose kayaks or canoes. Please call: (616) 558-2609 if more explanation is needed or you can download a breakdown of our rates here: 2017 Rates.

What if we have more than 8 paddlers in our group? 

Yeap, we can’t put more than eight folks on the river at one time but maybe a Paddle & Art experience may be the perfect fit for you. It is designed to accommodate 9 to 16 paddlers and combines a paddling trip on the Grand River with an art experience at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

We don’t live nor are we staying in the Grand Rapids Area. Where would you pick us up? 

Depending on which direction you are coming from we would work with you to determine a convenient commuter lot that works best for you where we could meet.

Am I too old to kayak or canoe? 

While we certainly cannot vouch for your physical abilities, rest assured there is no such thing as being too old to kayak or canoe. Please keep in mind that we are very concerned with safety and providing an enjoyable experience. We won’t drop you off at the river and leave. Instead we will do everything that we possibly can do to help in every way possible.

Is there a weight limit for your kayaks & canoes? 

Yes, we do have a weight limit and overloading our watercraft is a safety issue. That being said, we do have watercraft that can safely accommodate a paddler weight of up to 325 pounds, however beyond that it becomes a potential problem. Please feel free to contact us in advance if you have weight concerns and we will try to work something out.

I might find it somewhat difficult to get in or out of a kayak or canoe. Are there facilities that provide assistance? 

Rest assured that we will be present at both the launch and destination take out to help in any way that we can but there are a few options that you may find to be preferable for your situation. We are fortunate to be able to benefit from the installation of several EZ Launch® Systems that make getting in or out of a kayak or canoe much easier. You may want to consider paddling on the Lowell Dam Backwater or maybe one of three Grand River Reaches; G7, G8, or G9, where you will find these launch systems available. (Eastmanville & Grand River Park on the Grand River)

Does GR Paddling offer paddling lessons? 

While Jeff is certified as a canoe instructor by the American Canoe Association, we do not give formal canoeing/kayaking lessons. We do however provide basic paddling instruction to our customers if necessary to ensure that the experience is enjoyable.

Is it possible to purchase a gift certificate? 

Absolutely. Just give us a call: (616) 558-2609 or send an email through the contact page and we will process your request.

Should we take children canoeing? 

Children (due to insurance requirements our minimum age limit is 12 years old) are usually more suited for lake paddling, so a lake excursion may be an appropriate choice. However, our local rivers tend to have slow currents and little change in elevation and are often suitable for beginners and older children with adult supervision. While we leave this decision to you, we reserve the right to refuse service in any situation we feel is unsafe.

There are too many excursion choices. Which one should we choose? 

Yes, we do have several choices, and if you can’t decide which one to pick, just select “Undecided – Would like to discuss” when you book your trip and we can discuss it on or before the date of your experience. Sometimes it’s best to consider wind direction, water levels, river traffic, etc when choosing a particular reach and we can often do that better on the day of your trip.

What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe? 

Our kayaks are designed for use by one person and move through the water a bit slower than a canoe. The stroke is more of a pushing stroke. Kayakers sit lower in the boat and are more likely to get wet from splashing and water running down the paddle.

Our canoes are designed to be used with 2 people. The most experienced person paddles from the back seat and steers the canoe, while the front person helps propel the canoe through the water. The stroke is more of a pulling stroke. Canoe paddlers sit higher in the boat and are a bit farther from the water.

Paddling a kayak is different from paddling a canoe, but both are easy to learn. Although kayakers sit closer to the water line than canoe paddlers, both boats are relatively stable on the water.

Some people in our group want to kayak and some want to canoe. Can this be accommodated? 

Yes. We can combine kayaks and canoes for a trip as long as the total number of paddlers does not exceed eight persons. All you need to do is indicate how many of each that you want us to load on the trailer for your trip.

The maximum reach length is 10 miles and my group wants to paddle farther. Can we do this? 

Yes you can. You may want to consider one of our Paddle & Dine or Paddle & Picnic options. They combine reaches to offer a wide variety of paddle distances or you can give us a call (616) 558-2609. We would also be happy to combine segments to arrange a custom trip just for you and your group.

Will I tip over and get wet? 

While there is only one real guarantee in life, our kayaks and canoes tend to be quite stable. Our paddlers typically only tip over when they are, unfortunately, goofing around or not paying attention. Rest assured though, the majority of our river sections tend to be shallow and it’s likely that in the event that you do tip over you can probably just stand up. Irregardless of this, the wearing of life jackets is highly recommended.

What is the best time of the week/season to plan a trip? 

Weekdays tend to be less busy than weekends, both for availability of watercraft and for traffic on the waterways. Early morning and evening hours are the best time for viewing wildlife. River levels and currents tend to be less predictable in the spring due to snow melt, so lake excursions may be more enjoyable early in the season. Summer conditions vary based on the weather. Fall colors are often spectacular near any waterways, but river trips offer more variety and better chance of viewing wildlife.

What should we expect in regards to mosquitoes?

Well, certainly mosquitoes are a typical summertime problem in Michigan, however they are usually not real bothersome when paddling away from the shoreline. Insect spray (we supply it) is quite effective on shore during the launch and take-out. By all means, don’t let a few mosquitoes keep you from enjoying a river or lake experience.

What types of clothing are recommended? 

Clothing should be appropriate to the weather. On cooler days, layers usually work better. Sun hats and sunglasses are highly recommended. Protect your feet with water shoes, sandals or an old pair of tennis shoes. Flip-flops are not appropriate.

What should we bring? 

This is up to you but we recommend sunscreen, insect repellent, camera, hat, binoculars, and sunglasses.

Can we bring our dog? 

No. It’s not that we don’t like dogs, this is strictly a safety issue and it is not negotiable. Please plan to leave your dog at home.

Can we bring our own tubes, canoes, and/or kayaks? 

No. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate extra equipment.

Will we need to bring our own life jackets? 

No. Life jackets are provided, but you may certainly bring your own Type III PFD if you desire.

Where can we keep our car keys and/or valuables? 

Items you do not wish to take on the water can be securely stored in our locked van.

How many people are permitted in a watercraft? 

Our canoes can accommodate two adults and our kayaks are single-person kayaks.

What is the difference between a river trip and a lake trip? 

A lake excursion is better suited for children and less experienced paddlers due to the lack of a current and undefined distance. River paddling can be less strenuous as the current helps propel you along. Rivers are more protected from the wind and offer more variety of scenery and wildlife. River travel is less predictable in the spring due to snowmelt.

What kind of wildlife are we likely to see on our trip? 

Michigan waterways are teaming with various wildlife. It’s not unusual on a given trip to see bald eagles, great blue herons, kingfishers, red-wing blackbirds, osprey, deer, turtles, raccoons, muskrats, sandpipers, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, wood ducks, etc.

Can we expect to be bothered by insects? 

Welcome to Michigan summers. Yes, depending on factors such as time of year, weather, and river openness, insects such as mosquitoes and deer flies can be troublesome. Fortunately they tend to be not too common. In any case we will have insect repellent available for you if necessary, and of course you are welcome to bring your own with you.

What happens if the weather changes and suddenly gets worse during a trip or someone can’t make it to the destination? 

Many of our segments have opt out locations where our van will be located and paddlers will have the option to cut their trip short if for some reason it becomes necessary. In any case, we will do whatever we can to help and/or to get you off the river if possible.

What happens if “nature” calls during a trip?

Fortunately, many launches and opt-outs have facilities. However, if they aren’t readily available when needed we will definitely do what we can to accommodate.

Do we need to be concerned with jewelry?

Yes. Keep in mind that rings can become quite loose in water and we recommend that unnecessary jewelry be left behind when taking a trip.

Are there any overnight camping trip options available?

No. At the current time all of our offerings are day trips with no options for overnight camping.