Water Activities

Harmony with nature. An escape from the rush of everyday life. It’s amazing what you’ll find when you lose yourself in the peaceful quiet of southwest Michigan’s waterways. Explore more than 150 miles of them in River Country.

Area Waterways

The St. Joseph River spans from Berrien County on the west side of lower Michigan to Hillsdale County on the east side of the state. For the most part, the St. Joseph is a wide and slow moving river. It is 206 miles long and perfect for beginners or those who want a leisurely tour of the area. The famous Langley Covered Bridge spans 282 feet across the mighty St. Joseph, just north of Centreville.

The Rocky River is 28 miles long and features narrow, twisting turns and white water.  The river runs through Cass and St. Joseph Counties.

The Fawn River is over 55 miles long, running through southwest Michigan and northern Indiana.  This river has some white water with adventurous turns and challenges.

The Portage River  begins at Portage Lake in Kalamazoo County and travels south, more than 38 miles, emptying into the St. Joseph River in Three Rivers, Michigan.

The Prairie River is a 54-mile long winding river that is shallow at times. It’s a true test of any paddler’s abilities. To paddle the Prairie River, put in your canoe or kayak at Hoshel Canoe Park.

Nottawa Creek is 34 miles long and starts in Calhoun County at Nottawa Lake, traveling southwest into St. Joseph County. Enjoy the Nottawa Creek waterfall at Rawson’s King Mill Park, just west of Leonidas, as the creek meanders its way to the St. Joseph River.  Paddlers must portage canoes/kayaks around the falls at the park.

Canoeing & Kayaking

Jump in, paddle on and soak up the beauty! Southwest Michigan’s river systems offer a unique experience with views of historic bridges and wildlife, both on and off the water. If bringing your own canoe or kayak, the Heritage Water Trails offer maps for navigating the St. Joseph River, Portage River and Nottawa Creek.

Need to rent a watercraft? We have you covered! River Country is home to several canoe and kayak liveries that can assist with everything from group outings to romantic paddling adventures for two. Whether you want to soak up the sites for a few hours, make it a half-day trip or paddle all day long, our local experts can recommend the best route.

Hours vary by location, but rentals are only available April-October. Check out the complete listing of liveries for more information.

Boating

Whether you bring your own boat or rent one locally, River Country is full of beautiful places to launch. Take a slow floating trip with the family, enjoy high-speed sports like tubing and water skiing, or take to the water for a new perspective on the area’s beautiful scenery.

Use our complete listing of marinas, boat rentals and public boat launches to plan your trip.

Fishing

Cast your line in the sparkling waters of southwest Michigan, and you’re sure to catch something great—lasting family memories, a peaceful afternoon and even some fish! In fact, the St. Joseph River is a fly fisherman’s dream, with prolific runs of steelhead and salmon.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides full details on fishing seasons, rules and regulations, licensing and locations for fishing. Our area map has the rest of the details you’ll need, from bait and tackle shops to locations of the area’s 16 rivers.

Swimming

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than cooling off with a dip in the lake. In addition to the many winding rivers that give our area its name, southwest Michigan is home to several beautiful lakes with beaches that make them ideal for swimming.

Pack a picnic and hit the beach at Cade Lake Park, Sand Lake, Little Fish Lake and more. Check them out on the map below or view the entire list.