History, for many, brings to mind the seemingly endless list of names and dates we memorized during our years in school. I’m not going to bore you with names and dates […]
Experience the river up close and personal.
Grab your kayak, canoe, or paddle board and dive right in
Paddling on the White River in Central Indiana can be a fun and rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts. The White River stretches for more than 360 miles through Indiana and its central region, including the 58 mile stretch in Hamilton and Marion counties, is a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking.
Paddling will offer a unique perspective on the natural beauty of Central Indiana. Along the way, paddlers can enjoy views of forests, wetlands and wildlife such as herons, eagles and beavers.
Blickman Educational Trail Park
Riverfront trails connecting Marott and Holliday Parks.
Lafayette Trace Park
Popular fishing and boating access spot.
Strawtown Koteewi Park
For family adventure in every season, Strawtown Koteewi Park is a MUST see park.
Potter’s Bridge Park
To see the only covered bridge in Hamilton County, visit Potter’s Bridge Park.
Filled with attractions and activities, Forest Park is a destination for the entire family!
River Road Park is a park that includes something for everyone.
Hazel Landing Park
Actively reconnect with nature at Hazel Landing Park.
Town Run Trail Park
Pack your bike and go to Town Run Trail Park.
This nature preserve offers a quiet pace amongst the busy shopping & business district of Keystone at the Crossing.
Broad Ripple Park
A dog park, outdoor pool, walking trails, great playgrounds for kids, and more all along the White River.
Get active! Golf, launch a boat, enjoy the courts all within Riverside Park’s 860+ acres.
Rocky Ripple Town Hall Launch
Gentle river slope behind Rocky Ripple’s Town Hall.
Monon/Art Center Launch
Formal launch with parking beneath the Monon Trail bridge over White River next to the Indianapolis Art Center.
One popular section for paddling on the White River in Central Indiana is the stretch between Noblesville and Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. This section of the river is relatively calm and slow-moving, making it ideal for beginner paddlers or those looking for a more relaxed experience.
There are several outfitters and rental companies in the area that offer canoe and kayak rentals, as well as shuttle services to transport paddlers to and from the river. Some popular put-in and takeout points along this section of the White River include Forest Park in Noblesville, Conner Prairie in Fishers, and Broad Ripple Park in Indianapolis.
Outfitters & Rentals
There are plenty of sights to see and stops to explore along your aquatic adventures, here are just a few we’d recommend.
Broad Ripple Boat Company
Perhaps the most unique boating experience available on the White River is a paddle boat, available for chartered, special event excursions of up to 60 people. Smaller guided tours on pontoon boats are also available.
Frank’s Paddlesports Livery
Get on the White River with Frank’s Paddlesports Livery! Based in Riverside Park in Indianapolis, Franks offers 7-mile and 4-mile trips and stand-up paddleboard rentals.
River School by Friends of White River
Non-profit organization Friends of White River turns an urban corridor of the White River into an environmental classroom for larger groups of students, civic leaders and similar groups. The guided raft trips discuss history, shoreline and aquatic wildlife, riparian flora, environmental science and water quality, all while engaging people in a first-hand look at the river.
Rusted Moon Outfitters
Located in Broad Ripple, this outfitter offers kayak classes on the White River. While not a livery that provides pickup and dropoff excursions, they also rent kayaks for you to transport and enjoy wherever you’d like.
White River Canoe Company
The only livery in Hamilton County, White River Canoe Company offers canoe, kayak, and tubing trips upstream from Noblesville.
The two primary considerations for safely paddling on the White River are the depth and flow of the river and being aware of dams in the river.
Water levels on the White River can vary depending on rainfall and other factors, and it is always a good idea to check conditions before heading out to paddle. Check out the “Current River Levels” section of the Friends of White River website that monitors three river gauges in Hamilton and Marion counties and provides recommendations on danger based on experience level, water depth, and water volume.
There are six dams in our portion of White River, including some very dangerous low-head dams. Never go near low-head dams. Water flows swiftly over the wall-like structures and creates vortex currents that can trap even the strongest swimmers underwater. Before you head out, be aware of where any dams are at.
Click each dam on the map below for information on the dam, its location, and portage availability.
This dam is located about 3 miles downstream of the blue Patterson pedestrian bridge in Strawtown Koteewi Park, near 211th Street. A power plant with smokestacks is on the river right side. There is a formal portage path on the river’s left side.
Broad Ripple and Williams Creek Cutoff Dams
The Williams Creek Cutoff dam is not in the main river channel, and is off to the river right about 1.25 miles downstream of the Keystone Avenue bridge. Shortly after passing this dam the river enters a horseshoe shape, and just beyond the bottom of the bend, just after where the Central Canal connects on the river left, is the Broad Ripple Dam. There is a mucky portage path on the river right side of the Broad Ripple dam. There is no formal portage path for the Williams Creek Cutoff Dam, but you can traverse the rocky shoreline around the dam.
Riverside Park Rock Ramp
Located about a half mile downstream of the 30th Street bridge in Riverside Park, this is the only dam that is not a low-head dam, and is much safer for people and better for aquatic wildlife. It is a series of small rapid-like drops rather than one large drop. Still, we recommend using the formal portage on the river’s left side.
Located just downstream of the 16th Street bridge, this dam partially collapsed in 2018 and remains treacherous. There is no formal portage around the dam, but you can make your way along shore on either side of the river.
Located just downstream of the Washington Street and series of railroad bridges, this dam has been modified with large boulders, creating a rapids-like cascade of water. There is no formal portage path, although a very difficult portage is possible on the river right side.
Harding Street Dam
Located about 1.6 miles downstream of the Harding Street bridge right next to a power plant with large smokestacks. There is no formal portage path and a difficult rocky shoreline river right that may be possible.
Non Motorized kayaks, canoes, rowboats and paddleboards do not need to be registered in Indiana, and while you may need a permit in some state parks, forests, and reservoirs, no permit is needed to float on the White River. If you have modified your paddlecraft to include a trawling or other motor, it must be registered with the Indian BMV and display valid watercraft decals.
There are no age restrictions or license requirements for paddlers of non motorized vessels in Indiana.
A readily-accessible type I, II, III, or V life jacket is required to be on board per person. Children underage 13 are required to wear their life jacket.
Indiana’s Boating While Intoxicated law applies to non motorized vessels. Do not use paddle craft with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.
If you’re paddling at night, have a bright white light that can be visible for 2 miles. This can be a lantern or flashlight, and must be visible in all directions and deployed in sufficient time to avoid a collision.
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