Grand River Kayak – 5 Reasons to Go Grand River Paddling

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Grand River Kayak – 5 Reasons to Go Grand River Paddling. 

You can Grand River Kayak on the Grand River of Michigan. It is the longest river in the state of Michigan. It is 252 miles in length and was also called the Far Away Water by the Native Americans, because of its length.

The Grand River of Michigan is not to be confused with the other Grand Rivers in other states as well as the one in Canada.  

A notable feature of the river used to be the massive rapids. They were a mile long until they were submerged by dams that were constructed around 1835. This is the feature from whence the city of Grand Rapids got its name. 

The rich body of water offers multiple opportunities for a number of water sports, including kayaking. If you are a kayaker of any skill, you should go Grand River kayaking at least once in your lifetime.  Better yet, take your dog with you!

Here’s why:

This comprehensive post is dedicated to anyone who wants to know the possibilities of Grand River kayaking.

Now allow me to answer a number of questions that are related to Grand River paddling.  

How far does the Grand River go? 

  • The Grand River goes all the way south to Lake Michigan.  

The river has its origin at the Somerset Township in Hillsdale County. It continues its descent through the counties of Jackson, Clinton, Ionia, and Ottawa, among others, before it empties into the great Lake Michigan. Altogether, the river covers 158 townships and 18 counties.  

At its origin, the river has an elevation of 1260 feet and gradually descends to 577 feet before it meets Lake Michigan. The Grand River is one of the tributaries of the lake, with the other two being the Fox River and Kalamazoo River.  

The basin of the Grand River is majorly flat with a large number of lakes as well as swamps and bogs. It also has four numbers of basins and several tributaries as well.  

How fast is the Grand River flowing? 

This, however, is greatly different in the winter due to the formation of ice on some parts of the river. The USGS clearly states that theeffects of icereduces the cross-section of the river and leads to a condition called “backwater. 

The effects of ice also require the use and application of advanced hydrological and meteorological data, which are not easily applicable in real-time. This makes measuring the river’s speed in the winter a challenge.  


What direction does the Grand River flow? 

  • The Grand River begins its downward journey from the lofty highlands of the southern border. It continues the journey until it meets Lake Michigan. 

From here, the water of the river takes a northward direction through the great lake and continues south of it. Later on its course, it also takes the east direction and finally arrives in the northeast direction in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  

Where does the Grand River start and end? 

  • The Grand River starts in the counties of Hillsdale and Jackson and ends in Lake Michigan 

It flows through the following cities: 

  • Jackson 
  • Eaton Rapids 
  • Lansing 
  • Grand Ledge 
  • Portland 
  • Ionia 
  • Lowell 
  • Grand Rapids 
  • Grand Haven 

The watershed of the Grand River is the second largest in Michigan, the first one being the Saginaw watershed. And it drains over an area of about 5,572 square miles and forms about 13% of the entire drainage system of Lake Michigan. 

The Grand River system, along with its many tributaries, plays a major role in the environmental significance of the great lakes, including Lake Michigan. It is due to the following reasons. 

  • It has a number of wetlands as well as bogs and other bodies of water
  • The river also functions as the connecting system for a number of agricultural communities in the upstream area with the suburban areas downstream 
  • The river system is abundant in terrestrial as well as aquatic biodiversity that is found nowhere else in the country. 

Where can you kayak on the Grand River? 

The unique river system of the Grand River offers multiple opportunities to kayak. You can choose to launch your kayak from one of the numerous beaches on the river. 

The beaches are of different lengths ranging from five to nine miles at a stretch. Most of the waters of the Grand River are easy to maneuver, so kayaking here does not require special skills. 

There are some areas of the river, such as the waters around the Crockery Creek, which require some level of experience. However, it is not so difficult to manage, and you will be kayaking with a partner, so it will not be much of a problem.  

The best part is that almost every kayaking beach on the river has locations for opt-outs. You can easily make an exit or take a break if you don’t feel up for traveling the entire distance.  


The Top Five reasons to go to Grand River paddling. 

In this section, I will talk about five of the best reasons to go paddling in the Grand River.  

1 – Multiple locations – The Grand River is made up of numerous bodies of water, including smaller rivers, and freshwater lakes. This provides ample opportunities to put your kayaking or paddling skills to the test. 

You can paddle or kayak on the Grand River or in one of the numerous bodies of water around it. You can also extend the boating to the other rivers that surround the river as well.  

2 – Different types of activities – Kayaking is not the only activity that you can enjoy at the Grand River. Sports lovers partake in different sports, including canoeing, standup paddleboarding, jet skiing, and different forms of boating.  

At the Grand River, there are a number of places you can hire a kayak or a canoe. You can choose to explore the river and its water bodies with a friend or your group. Or rent a boat from one of the many Grand River kayak rentals or take a Grand River kayak shuttle and go explore on your own. 

Guided tours of the Grand River from one of the tour companies are also available. If you are new to the area you can request to be picked up at the location of your choice, including your hotel such as the Grand River Hotel in Grand Rapids. You can also enjoy cold beverages and snacks after the guided tour is completed.  

A huge advantage of signing up for a guided tour is that you don’t have to worry about packing your own gear or essentials. The tour company usually provides all the essentials, including PFD, binoculars, snacks, and, most importantly, mosquito repellent.  

3 – Panoramic scenery – The Grand River is surrounded by gorgeous scenery that is among the best in the country. The lush greenery is present throughout the length of the river. All through the length of the river, there are areas of vegetation that are untouched and free of human activity. Don’t forget to grab a camera when you go kayaking in the Grand River for capturing some professional quality shots.   

4 – Wildlife sighting – The number of wildlife that you will witness on the Grand River, as well as the surrounding, is unlike anything that you will see. The rich waters, as well as the forested areas, make the Grand River a rich place for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. You will see everything from trout to salmon, ducks, water birds, raccoons to deer and muskrats. 

5 – Special excursions – Another great reason to go Grand River paddling is you can indulge in a number of unconventional excursions. These include: 

    • Sunset paddle. 

Paddling on the calm waters at sunset is definitely an experience. It is particularly special when you are paddling with a loved one. It is no wonder that some folks choose to make a marriage proposal to their partner during this activity. 

    • Moonlight paddle. 

When the moon is high up in the sky on a clear night, it can be an otherworldly experience when you go paddling. This activity is usually fully guided under the supervision of tour companies, so there is no compromise to your safety. Read safety tips on night kayaking. 

    • Paddle and dine. 

Another special paddling experience you can have at the Grand River is Paddle and Dine. Book this special package and enjoy sumptuous dinner at the end of your paddling session. You can also choose to dine halfway through your paddling trip as well.  


The Grand River, with its diverse water features and abundant resources, has become a much sought after destination for kayakers, paddlers, and others who love water sports. There is no end to activities at one of Michigan’s best bodies of water.  

Whether you want to go kayaking with the family or with a partner and seek some peace and quiet, you can do so at this river. The waters of the river are generally calm, and anyone above the age of 12 can go paddling on this river. This, of course, should be done under the supervision of an adult.  

You can choose to visit the Grand River at any time of the year, which is another great reason to plan your trip today.