Kayaking in Morris, Illinois
Just an hour’s drive northwest of Chicago, the city of Morris lies at the confluence of the Illinois and Mazon Rivers.
While the area’s waterways are characteristically slow, the calm waters give you time to view and photograph the picturesque scenery and abundant wildlife from your kayak.
Along a Lazy River
The Illinois River flows unimpeded alongside Morris, with 24 miles open to slow-water kayaking. The river’s lazy flow usually runs at less than a mile per hour, allowing you to paddle upstream or downstream and return to your point of origin, eliminating the need for a shuttle vehicle.
Four public boat ramps at William G. Stratton State Park provide an ideal site to begin and end your journey, with restrooms and drinking water near the launch.
Up the Creek
Across the Illinois River from William G. Stratton State Park, Mazon Creek flows into the Illinois River. Paddle upstream to see three rookeries inhabited during spring and summer months by great blue heron. Much of the land upstream is private property, but the slow flow of the river makes it easy to explore.
Look for bald eagles, wild turkey, white pelicans, loons, egrets and other birds as well as coyotes, deer and soft-shelled turtles. Use caution when crossing the Illinois River as motorized watercraft also use the waterway.
In the Canal
Paddle 15 miles of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal between Gebhard Woods State Park and Channahon State Park. Restrooms, water and parking are found halfway between the two at the Aux Sable access area which commemorates Lock No. 8 along the canal.
The lock-keeper’s house and an aqueduct remain at the site. Bring your camera to snap pictures of plentiful wildlife and a fishing pole and license to angle for bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bullhead. Camp at a primitive walk-in tent sites at each of the three parks and stretch your trip into a leisurely weekend along the canal.
Get Your Feet Wet
If you’ve never kayaked before, you don’t need to miss out on the fun. Kayak Morris provides kayak rentals, instruction and fully guided tours especially tailored for the beginning kayaker. Choose from eco-tours that run along the Illinois River, up the Mazon or along the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The company provides drive-up beach camping adjacent to William G. Stratton State Park. The tent-only campsites nestle in tall trees along the sandy shoreline with sites for families as well as large groups.
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