This review of Ann Arbor River Trip Kayaking is part of our Summer Series: Wednesday Activity Reviews.
The Kayaking River Trip from Argo to Gallup is one of my daughter’s favorite summer activities. Knowing she had an annual class kayaking trip approaching, we made sure to take the trip first as a family (in summer 2018). She has since gone twice on class field trips and taken a second family trip.
My daughter’s first kayaking experience was in still water at Gallup Park on Huron River Day. She now has an inflatable kayak and is waiting for perfect weather to try it out.
2020 Status: The Argo & Gallup Liveries reopened on May 29. At this time, they are not running river trips due to high water and dangerous currents, but they are open for stillwater paddles.
Ann Arbor River Trip Kayaking
The Ann Arbor Canoe Liveries at Gallup and Argo both offer River Trips. The Argo livery offers a trip from Argo to Gallup. The Gallup livery offers trips from Barton through Argo to Gallup. We decided on the shorter Argo to Gallup River Trip.
Ann Arbor River Trip Kayaking Experience
The Argo to Gallup trip starts on Argo pond where you can take a few minutes to get used to paddling the kayak before heading through the cascades.
When you enter the Cascades, steering the kayak is important. We were there early so there were not many tubes to avoid. However, you still need to enter each cascade straight and in the center. My husband and I were slightly off center in one of the cascades, hit a rock and flipped over. Unfortunately my waterproof camera was loose in the kayak and we never found it. So, I only have a few pictures that I took with my phone after our trip and some photos from our still water paddling experience.
After the Cascades, we entered the river. On the river you pass Island Park, the Arb, and continue to Gallup Park. The river level was relatively low this weekend. They were not allowing canoes or rafts to make the trip. My husband and I had a double kayak and got stuck on two shallow areas – we also saw another double kayak stuck. Our daughter had no trouble in a single kayak (especially since she weighs so little). In hindsight, we would have been better with 3 single kayaks instead of a single and a double kayak.
As we approached Gallup Park, the number of kayaks increased, but it was still manageable to navigate around them.
Ann Arbor River Trip Kayaking Logistics
Transportation from Gallup back to Argo is provided as part of the river trip. However, since we were driving by Gallup Park anyway, we decided to drop a car off there so we did not have to wait on the van. When we finished our river trip, there was a line waiting for the vans back to Argo. I am not sure we would have made the first van.
The Argo Canoe Livery has 3 stations for renting Kayaks. First, go to Station 1 in the pavilion to decide what you are renting and sign the releases. Then, head to Station 2 to pay for your rentals. You will need to leave either car keys or a drivers license as a deposit. When you return, go to Station 3 to pick up your deposit.
After paying for your rental, pick up your paddles and life jackets. Make sure everyone in your party has used the bathrooms before getting in line for a kayak.
2020 Updates: A rental reservation is required for a specific time slot. One reservation is needed for your household even if renting multiple boats. River trip transportation will only be provided for the vehicle driver. See more changes in our update on Ann Arbor Parks operations.
Ann Arbor River Trip Kayaking Details
The Argo to Gallup trip is 3.7 miles. It is estimated to take 1.5 hours after exiting the Argo Cascades. The last rental is at 4p.
The Barton to Gallup trip is 5.7 miles. It is estimated to take 2.5 hours. This trips starts at the Gallup Park Canoe Livery and includes transportation to Barton. The last rental is at 2p.
The rower in the stern of each boat should have paddling experience (5 trips). My daughter and husband both have more experience than I do, so my daughter went alone (which is what she wanted) and my husband and I partnered up.
The following rentals are available for the Argo to Gallup trip:
- 1 Person kayak – $21
- 2 Person kayak – $27
- Canoe – $27
- 5 person raft – $72
The following rentals are available for the Barton to Gallup trip:
- 1 Person kayak – $26
- 2 Person kayak – $32
Ann Arbor River Trip Kayaking Tips
Make sure to wear sunscreen for your trip and dress to get wet – including footwear. We brought towels that we left in our car at Gallup Park. We also left water bottles in the car.
Plan that all of your items will get wet. Even if you don’t capsize, there will be splashes particularly in the Cascades.The Canoe Livery sells dry bags. However, we preferred to play it safe and left our phones in the car and only brought the key portion of our key fobs.
Arrive early for your River Trip especially on the weekends. River Trips start at 9a when the livery opens. When we arrived at 9:15a, parking was readily available. By the time we returned, all of the Argo Cascade lots were full. Overflow parking is available at the Kellogg eye center on the weekends.
Pack a picnic lunch in your Kayak and enjoy a picnic at Gallup Park after your trip. Or leave it in the car and enjoy it at Longshore Park once returning to Argo. Check out our Playground Profile of Longshore Park and Playground Profile of Gallup Park.
Other Ann Arbor River Adventures
We also love tubing the Cascades. Since we bought our own tubes, this is a free activity for us.
The Canoe Liveries also offer stillwater paddling options. My daughter tried both kayaking and stand up paddleboarding at Huron River Day and had a great time.