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South Bend Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking & Canoeing

No physical feature better defines The Bend than the river that runs through its heart.

Locals know the St. Joseph River as an outdoor playground. It offers some of the best rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rowing and fishing in the region. Here are some of the best ways to experience the river with paddle in hand.

East Race Waterway

At one time abandoned and filled in, the East Race Waterway in downtown South Bend is now one of our top attractions. Visitors can get an adrenaline rush while splashing down its Class 2 rapids, experiencing twists, turns and drops. The East Race is open from mid-June through early September. Hours are noon-5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.

Ferrettie/Baugo County Park

Head to Osceola and put in at Baugo Bay if you’re looking for another boat launch. You can then follow a creek past islands near Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park and into Baugo Bay, which leads to the river. Canoe and kayak rentals are available seasonally.

Canoe and Kayak Rental Information

  • Rentals are available starting May 18 through Sept. 25 (available on select days in October as well) 
  • Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays and holidays.
    • Vessels must be returned by 7 p.m. 
  • Rental is subject to weather and river conditions. 

St. Patrick's County Park

Those looking for more of a leisurely trip rather than an adrenaline rush should head to St. Patrick’s County Park. An urban route links St. Pat’s with Keller Park. A trip between the two covers about 4.5 miles, typically in just over an hour.

Potato Creek State Park 

This option doesn’t require the river at all.

About 20 minutes southwest of South Bend, Potato Creek State Park is one of our most popular outdoor areas. Its centerpiece is the 327-acre Worster Lake. The park rents kayaks, canoes, rowboats and pedal boats. Your view is likely to consist of dense woods, abundant wildlife and families on the beach.