FAQs

~ Booking Your Experience ~

Is it necessary to book our trip in advance? 

Yes, at least by the day before your planned experience is required. Due to the customized nature of our services, and since we are not a livery with a fixed location, same-day bookings are just not feasible.

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.

What time does it start?

Your experience begins at the time that you request. You decide what time you’d like to be picked up.

Where are you located? What is the address we would drive to?

Where we are located is not important in regards to our operation. We are not a livery and do not operate out of a fixed location. Our customers don’t come to us. We pick them up (from their hotel, home, workplace, or other Grand Rapids area location), take them to the paddling location (one of five rivers or five lakes), and bring them back to where we picked them up.

You pick up in the Grand Rapids area. What exactly is the “Grand Rapids area”?

Our Grand Rapids pickup area is loosely defined as anywhere in the city of Grand Rapids as well as the municipalities that are directly adjacent to Grand Rapids (ie: East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville, Walker, and Grand Rapids Township.

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.

There are too many experience 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.

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.

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 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 10 to 16 paddlers and combines a paddling trip on the Grand River with an art experience at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

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 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.

Can you tell me about the Sunset Paddles?

Sure, a Sunrise Paddle is simply requesting a pickup time that allows a launch at sunrise (depending on the particular day’s sunrise time and the travel distance/time to the launch).

I/we have my/our own kayak(s)/canoe(s). Are you able to provide transportation for it/them? 

No, unfortunately we are not equipped nor are we insured to transport equipment other than our own.

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.

~  Rates & Payment ~

I 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 $150 ~ $37.50 per person, for 5 paddlers the total is $180 ~ $36.00 per person, for 6 paddlers the total rate is $210 ~ $35.00 per person, for 7 paddlers the total rate $240 ~ $34.29 per person, and for 8 paddlers the total rate is $270 ~ $33.75 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 PDF breakdown of our rates here: 2020 Rates

Is it $120 total for 2 kayaks or do we share one for that price?

The rate for most of our trips is $120 for up to three paddlers (depending on which reach you select). All we have is single kayaks. So that’s $120 for two paddlers ($60 per person) in two single kayaks. The rate is slightly higher for reaches that are further from Grand Rapids due to longer travel time and distance (ie: $130, $140, or $150 for up to three paddlers)

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 PDF breakdown of our rates here: 2020 Rates

Would a canoe be a different price than a kayak?

No, our rates are based only on the number of paddlers, not whether they kayak or canoe.

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

Payment is not required until your trip’s conclusion and after you’ve enjoyed your experience. However, a non-refundable $10 reservation fee payment will be required within 24 hours after you book your trip in order to secure your booking request.

Is it possible to purchase a gift certificate? 

No. We are no longer making gift certificates available for purchase.

~ Your Paddling Experience ~

Will our experience be guided?

Not necessarily, but it possibly could be if you request it with enough notice.

Is there a time limit for the kayaking experience?

Generally there isn’t unless there is already another previously booked trip. Obviously, if someone has already booked an experience it would not be proper for me to ask them to change their plans to accommodate another booking. Dates that are green on our calendar (Open – Available All Day) have no time limit. Partial availability (Yellow) dates unfortunately may require timing constraints based on the other booking(s).

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 per person, however beyond that it becomes a potential problem. Please feel free to contact us in advance if you have weight concerns.

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 Reeds Lake, 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)

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.

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 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 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.

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.

~ What To Bring ~

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.

What should we bring? 

This is up to you but we do recommend a hat, sunglasses, and maybe a camera. We can provide sunscreen, insect repellent, and binoculars unless you’d prefer to bring your own.

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.

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.

~ Miscellaneous ~

Are tandem kayaks available? 

No, we only have single person (solo) kayaks.

Does GR Paddling sell canoes or kayaks? 

No, we do not sell canoes, kayaks, or any other equipment.

Does GR Paddling offer paddling lessons? 

While Jeff was formerly 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.