There are few thrills like tackling the East Race Waterway. Imagine the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting. Then transport that experience to the heart of downtown South Bend. That's what awaits at the first manmade whitewater rafting course in the country. 

East Race Waterway Details 

So, you're interesting in giving some downtown South Bend whitewater rafting a try. But what are you really getting into? One of the most approachable adventures you can imagine.

Open from June 1 through Labor Day, the East Race is considered Class 2 rafting. That means there is some rough water and small drops that require maneuvering. You could fall out, although it doesn't happen often. You will (more than likely) get splashed with water. That just adds to the fun! The course itself is 1,900 feet from start to finish. You'll be done in minutes — and ready to run it again.

Book Your Visit in Advance

Passes can be purchased at the East Race, but it's easier and more convenient to purchase them online in advance. A day pass goes for $20 and includes unlimited rides. Single, two-ride and three-ride passes are available. Hours are typically Saturday and Sunday only.

What to Know Before You Go 

One of the best things about the East Race is it's approachable: People of varying abilities and skill levels can get in on the rush down the rapids. There are, however, some things to know before hop in a raft and head down the course. 

  • Required height is 54 inches. 
  • Children under the age of 16 that meet the height must be accompanied by an adult. 
  • Rubber-soled shoes are required. No flip flops or sharp jewelry. 
  • All equipment is provided. 
  • You should bring extra clothes and towels — you're almost guaranteed to get wet! 
  • Kayakers are welcome but must supply their own equipment.

East Race Waterway History 

Not sure how this one-of-a-kind experience ended up in downtown South Bend? Here's a quick history lesson. It started as a channel off the St. Joseph River in the late 1800s that allowed industry to thrive. Eventually, it was abandoned and filled in. 

Local leaders chose to dig it out to make the East Race Waterway in the 1980s. When it opened in 1984, it was the first manmade whitewater rafting course in North America. It has since become a top visitor attraction and local pastime, attracting thousands of rafters during the summer.