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kayaking in Chicago kayak Chicago River

How it began

How Kayaking in Chicago Began

In 1999, after studying outdoor education at Northland College, owner Dave Olson found himself back in Chicago. He had been on a bike trip across Europe that ended in illness. With the vision of guiding trips around the world, Chicago looked to be the perfect venue. Accordingly, Dave decided to share the outdoors and his love of paddling in an urban environment: later leading to kayaking in Chicago. Following, Dave started teaching classes on Lake Michigan and helping organize the Wild Onion Urban Adventure race.

Training adventure racers was exciting but decided to open up the world of paddling to not only athletes but to people of all abilities. Accordingly, Dave began working with Chicago area rehabilitation hospitals to help people with physical disabilities get a chance to try kayaking.

The adaptive paddling program was born! With racing and adaptive paddling, there was only one thing missing; everyone else. Therefore, Dave opened the doors of paddling to people in the city that had never thought about kayaking in Chicago. He began taking people on guided tours through the city on the Chicago River. Interestingly, The river had not seen so many kayaks and canoes since the Potowatamie. What an amazing experience it was.

Today, our guided tours, classes and rentals give everyone in Chicago the ability to enjoy Chicago’s waterways the way they are intended.