Kayaking - An Urban-Rural Kayak Adventure in Michigan

Kayaking on the Huron River near Ann Arbor

Kayaking in Michigan
© Elizabeth R. Rose

Sometimes the best adventures come from the most unexpected places. That's exactly what Elizabeth R. Rose – About.com's guide to Southwest for Visitors – discovered on a recent visit to Michigan. It was there that she took part in a wonderful kayaking excursion that completely caught her off guard. Paddling the Huron River past countryside nature preserves, Elizabeth would eventually continue straight on through the middle of Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan. This blend of both rural and urban settings made this kayak adventure an experience unlike any other.


Choose a Good Kayak Outfitter

Selecting the right outfitter for your kayak excursion is an important part of the experience. After all, they'll be the ones that dictate your route and what you'll see along the way. Some will choose to put in at a place like Barton Dam, where you will be surrounded by trees, reeds, and plenty of wildlife. It's a great way to start your adventure down the Huron River for sure.

We worked with Alex Parent, a paddling instructor for Sun & Snow Sports in Ann Arbor. He led us to the base of Barton Dam where our adventure would begin. Alex was very patient with those of us who were new to kayaking, allowing a little extra time to get acquainted with the boats and our equipment. With a little briefing and fitting, we were soon on our way down the river however, with the real adventure commencing.

Kayaking on the Huron River in Michigan

The current was steady and we were soon paddling along enjoying such sights as herons and very large swans that could be seen along the river banks. Local governments and the State of Michigan have worked together to create an extensive system of parks that makes the Huron one of the most protected and accessible rivers in the state.

About half way through the three-hour trip, we reached another dam, Argo Dam. At Argo Park, you can rent kayaks and canoes as well, making it another good place to put in, particularly for those who are looking for a shorter route. We located the dam bypass and paddled the narrow tunnel that led to the portage point. We then carried our kayaks a short distance before returning to the water and resuming our trip. The current was a bit stronger below the Argo Dam due to the spillway located there but, in general, it was a relaxing trip.

Along the way, we encountered bass fishermen, private homes with boat docks, and more beautiful public parks where people walked, fished, and boated. Our kayak trip ended at Gallup Park where we saw families out canoeing and more swans, including adults with their young. We were a little tired as we had paddled the whole way but were sad to see such a beautiful trip end.

End Kayak Trip at Local's Favorite Deli

Next it was off to another adventure, this time of the culinary nature at Zingerman's Deli, a local haunt with the best Corned Beef sandwiches you'll find just about anywhere. University of Michigan students have been frequenting this popular deli for decades, and for good reason. The relaxed deli atmosphere provided for a fitting end to a wonderful morning adventure.

Recommendations for a Kayak Adventure

  • A great trip for first timers and experienced kayakers alike who desire a relaxing tour on the Huron River.
  • Be sure and bring a change of clothing. It is unlikely that you turn over your kayak and end up in the river but you WILL drip water into the boat from your paddle.
  • Bring water and a few snacks to tide you over.
  • A hat and sunscreen come in handy on sunny days
  • Make sure you wear your lifejacket at all times.
  • Listen to the instructions of your outfitter.

Kayak Outfitters and Rentals in Ann Arbor Sun & Snow Outfitters

Argo Park and Gallup Park Rentals

Elizabeth is About.com's guide to the Southwest. If you want to read more of her articles visit Southwest US Travel.