MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Tubing trip within two hours of Chicago

I'm looking for a lazy-river/rafting/tubing trip to do with a group of 15-25 people. We all live in Chicago and could travel roughly up to two hours to get somewhere. I'm having a tough time finding anywhere that is close enough. An FYI, we would be drinking on this trip. Do you have any suggestions? - Tim, Chicago

There are several places you can tube that are two hours from Chicago.

Always call in advance to check for availability (all tubes may be taken on weekends) and river level.

On the Tippecanoe River in Indiana, Riverside Rentals in Winamac runs a 1-mile trip that takes about two hours, and tubers can do it twice for the same price. In the same area, Tippy-Canoe Rentals offers a three- to four-hour trip.

On the Paw Paw River in southwest Michigan, Paw Paw River Campgrounds in Watervliet offers all-day tubing.

You'll have to ask about drinking. Its Facebook page says, "Water and alcohol do not mix.''

To the north, on the Sugar River in south Wisconsin, Sweet Minihaha Campground and Crazy Horse Campground rent tubes.

The Middle Fork of the Vermillion River in Kickapoo State Park, east of Champaign-Urbana, is a little more than two hours south of Chicago.

The park outfitter offers a two-mile tube trip that takes about an hour. But I think it might be more fun to go on the eight- or 13-mile paddling trip.

If you decide to canoe, you'll have a lot more options. On the Kankakee River, an hour south of Chicago, Reed's Canoe Rentals offers six- and 12-mile paddling trips.

On the Illinois River in Starved Rock State Park, an hour and a half west of Chicago, Starved Rock Adventures rents canoes. For more, see Marvels of Starved Rock.

You can even paddle in Chicago on the Chicago River, which has a very slow current. Chicago River Canoe & Kayak rents boats on the North Branch of the river, two miles west of Wrigley Field at 3400 N. Rockwell, just south of Addison Street, and also in Skokie and Winnetka.

For more, see Paddling the Chicago River.

In southwest Michigan, Doe-Wah-Jack's rents canoes and kayaks for paddling on the Dowagiac River from Dowagiac, a little less than two hours from Chicago.

Or, buy your own tubes at a large supply store, such as Fleet Farm, pick a river and do a self shuttle.

For more on good rivers, try to find a copy of Mike Svob's "Paddling Illinois: 64 Great Trips by Canoe and Kayak'' or order "Paddling Southern Wisconsin: 85 Great Trips by Canoe and Kayak.''

For tubing in other areas, see Tubing a lazy river.

Last updated on June 7, 2016