Not at all! We encourage people of all ages and skill levels to come out and enjoy the river. All tours and rentals are preceded by a paddling and safety orientation, and our staff is always happy to assist you both on and off the water. On occasion, we will need to remove guests from the river who do not display an acceptable level of competence, in order to preserve their safety (as well as everyone else’s)
All participants under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign our waiver of liability on their behalf. Guests under 16 must be seated in a double kayak with a parent or legal guardian.
We allow very small children to sit in the middle of a double kayak between two adults at no extra charge.
Don’t miss out if you are a bit older – we have had guests as old as 80 (that we know of!) out with us on the water!
Always dress according to the weather on the day of the paddle, of course, but a hat and sunglasses are always a good idea. We do not advise anyone to wear blue jeans, khakis, or any other type of long cotton pants.
Keep in mind that you will almost always get at least a little bit wet. Nylon/swimwear/fleece and other quick dry materials are recommended, as is footwear that can get wet (or that you are comfortable with being covered in river water). “Athleisure” is usually a good choice.
We require shirts to be worn underneath the lifejackets at all times.
At this time, we do not have a designated changing area, but many of our guests will change in one of the stalls in the public restroom, which is upstairs, just inside the front entrance of the East Bank Club.
We do not have a shower available on site.
Unfortunately, Wateriders is occasionally at the mercy of Chicago’s unpredictable weather. If we cancel your tour due to a weather event (or if Wateriders cancels for any reason), we can either reschedule you to another tour date of your choosing, or we can look into your refund options.
Yes, across the street, in the garage at 360 W. Hubbard St(please use the left entrance).
We can validate parking to give you a lower rate, which works out to:
$4 + 50 cents per hour after the first hour
Keep your ticket from the garage! We have “chaser” tickets that you use for validation. Put your original ticket in first, then the chaser ticket – which will adjust the price to the correct discounted rate, which you can then pay by credit card. Without the chaser, you will not get the discounted rate – don’t forget to ask us!
Also – please keep your garage ticket dry! The machine will not accept wet tickets.
No alcohol is allowed before or during any of our experiences.
Please refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages during our tours, and please show up in an appropriate state to operate a vessel on a commercial waterway. We will turn you away otherwise.
The Chicago River is very busy. It is frequented by large commercial, industrial, and private watercraft. The impairment that comes with the consumption of alcohol presents a danger to oneself and others on the river. Alcohol use will not be tolerated on the water under any circumstances. Refunds will not be given if we need to remove anyone from the water due to intoxication.
Our guests have the choice of going on the water in either single or double kayaks. We do not reserve one or the other in advance, however we do our best to let you choose your preference once you arrive.
For the brand-conscious, we use Old Town, Perception, Wilderness Systems, Dagger, and Emotion flat water, recreational sea kayaks. These are all sit-in kayaks, without spray skirts.
No. While we love to paddle these other types of watercraft, we do not rent them on the Chicago River.
Canoes are too easy for beginners to flip over and more difficult to rescue once overturned.
SUPs are very easy to fall off of, and we have seen these cause dangerous problems with the river traffic.
Neither type is a smart option to rent or use on this busy river.
Despite what you may have heard, there are no sharks in the Chicago River. No worries!
Woof! (Yes!) We have had many dogs come out with their owners in the past. We ask that you have a leash for them. Bringing a life jacket for the dog is highly advised. You are responsible for remediating any nuisances. There is no extra charge for our canine companions. Everyone could use a little puppy therapy!
Yes! The 2-way launch fee is $10 per boat ($5 in, $5 out).
We can provide a PFD and a paddle for guests who will be returning to our dock.
Please do not bring motorboats, paddle boards (SUP) or racing shells, as we will not launch them. If you have a strange boat, ask us first.
Probably not. All guided activities must be reserved beforehand in order for us to staff appropriately, however, if we are able to do so at the specific time you request, we might be able to make it happen for you.
Please email us in advance for details regarding private tours and groups – whenever possible, we love to accommodate your plans!
Yes. A personal flotation device (PFD) is required by law AT ALL TIMES while in a boat or on our dock. There are no exceptions to this rule.
If you bring your own life jacket, we need to make sure that it is approved for your weight class by the United States Coast Guard. We will not allow you to use an inflatable life jacket while in our boats.
Not necessarily, but it is highly recommended, especially for tours and on weekends. Reservations always take priority over walk ups.
If we have space on a tour given the number of guides we have available, we can take walk-ups, but online booking ensures you a place.
We have covered onsite storage for backpacks, purses and other personal belongings. While the main area is not locked unless we leave the dock area, we are always monitoring it, and we have never had any issues.
Yes, but some restrictions may apply.
For rentals, there is a maximum limit of 6 boats per group (up to 12 people when all in double kayaks) allowed out without a guide. Any more than that and you will need a guide to accompany you. Email us for details on group paddles.
We offer discounted group rates that depend on size and timing of the event. You can add your group to a scheduled tour, or you can set up a private tour.
We hope you really enjoyed yourself! We are a small business, and sending positive vibes into the tubes of the interwebs makes a big difference!
Visit, like and share us social media, and the major 3 review sites (Tripadvisor, Google, and Yelp) are a great place for kind words.
Oh no! First things first, we apologize that your expectations were not appropriately met.
We are, at the heart of it, an experience based company, and we are committed to providing quality experiences for everyone who chooses to come paddle with us.
Please reach out to us directly so we can take your circumstances into account, rectify your situation, and potentially make procedural changes to address something we may have overlooked. Person-to-person input is always appreciated!
Most likely! Please reach out to us so we can assist in making arrangements. We have had multiple film crews come out to get shots of kayakers in the beautiful scenery. We will certainly consider it!