Can you hope someone will shuttle you...

I was given the book “Paddling Michigan” as a gift, and the river descriptions have wet my appetite for a two or three day trip.

Interesting choices include the Pere Marquette, the Rifle, Manistee, Muskegon, Au Sable, and Betsie Rivers.

It would just be my wife and I. And I really don’t want to take two cars. I also prefer not to take a bike along.

My question is this, what is your experience with finding someone willing to shuttle you back to your car? Do any of the canoe rentals offer this service to those who bring their own boats? Paddlers are a friendly bunch, but are they that friendly? Should I assume that I would find someone to hitch a ride with?

What is your experience/suggestion?

My Experience So Far
is that if I am on a river known for paddlers and I am I dressed as a paddler, and I am standing on a road that passes right by the put-in, I get a ride quick enough with my thumb out.

Yesterday, I got a ride from a couple who clearly were not even paddlers but they were headed up the road.



we’re nice but i wouldn’t depend on it
For the most part paddlers are a nice and friendly group looking to help each other out (and share a beer or two). However, although I wouldn’t refuse to shuttle someone who may need one, I personally wouldn’t depend on the fact that I would happen to catch someone willing to shuttle me at the end of a paddle. It’s a matter of timing and the availability of strangers. Basically if I were you, I would find a group of people to paddle with or else just park at the take out, paddle upstream, and then paddle downstream when you’re tired.

Maybe WW Paddlers Are Different…
In the past, I wouldn’t expect a shuttle coming form touring. You basically set up your group logistics and go with that.

I generally try to do the same in white water. However, the several times I have gone spurr of the moment, I have been able to get rides, give rides and have seen multiple occaisions where folks got or gave rides.

It could be because the NE ww community is relatively small. Heck, I’m beginning to recognize different paddlers at the various rivers and visa versa. I’ve been really enjoying that free spirited commaderie.


Rental and ride places
Allmost all commercial rental/ride places seem to offer shuttle service for a few bucks.

Call first to be sure.

i’m not sure if you are referring to me
but I’m actually more of a touring paddler who has recently taken up whitewater. i have found both groups extremely accomodating and i guess what i meant to express in my post was that on the many times that i have done river trips, only rarely have i encountered other paddlers. i generally go on weekends but i think a lot has to due with timing and the concentration of paddlers. here in Wisconsin, there are so many waterways to choose from that although kayaking is very popular, there isn’t a high likelihood of encountering too many fellow paddlers out on a river.

Maybe try the “p-network”?
First, most canoe liveries will shuttle for a price. The next suggestion is a touchy subject. Many paddling brethren live where you’re talking about going. You could contact some members through p-net and maybe get some help from a local. Personally, if I was availible, and I knew you through p-net, I’d consider helping you set a shuttle. I wouldn’t wait around to pick you up from a three day paddle (too unpredictable), but I could pick you up at the take out, so you could leave your vehicle there, and drop you off at the put in. I guess you have to ask yourself if you’d do the same if it was turned around.


try the “getting together” forum
and see what happens. I’m in NC so I can’t help this time.

Many rental outfits will be happy to shuttle you and your boat for a few bucks if it is on their regular route. Just realize that your boat will be treated like theirs.

which is to say the logistics of shuttle on a touring group is tougher. More water, more dispersion.

In NE whitewater, we’re getting down to a handfull of rivers that folks can paddle in. So, it’s not uncommon to run into a ton of folks on a given river. And for sure, a community and friendly atmospher seem to exist. Yesterday, I had all these people coming up to me to talk on the river and afterwards. My wife’s first time on the river, she asked,“Do you know all these people?” I replied that I knew some but most I do not. The overwhelming majority of folks I meet have been super friendly. Rescues of “swimmers” are automatically ingrained whether the swimmer is with one or group or another. Lecturing someone is a no-no, unless someone is really apparently doing something stupid. Play spot hogs are there but very rare.

Also, hooking up with others in local bulletin boards is a vary common practice and will often result in partners for a specific run.

I guess what I getting at, at least for me, is that doing whitewater has been much easier than I initially expected – logistical and otherwise (social dynamic aspects). I am just having a great time. Having time has been the most critical obstacle than anything else so far.


Yes, But
At some popular play spots I never had a problem getting a ride, but don’t do whitewater alone!

Trust me, there is a story behind that caution…

Head to the local gas station…

– Last Updated: Jun-28-04 7:53 PM EST –

or general store, and inquire if there is any one that will do a shuttle.
I have found that thre is usually a local that will do it for a nominal fee.
They are also a wealth of information on the river.

The pink helmet gets em to pull over!

you can find an outfitter on the river that will go with you in your vehicle and will keep it while you’re on the river. You will also have someone that knows where you are and can expect your return. It is generally less expensive than a regular shuttle using their vehicles. Have a good one… Tom

Similar experience
I have both given and recieved shuttle rides on WW runs. It’s very common, especially on the more popular rivers.

I wouldn’t depend on the kindness of strangers for a touring or multi-day camping run, though.

Canoe Clubs
Do a web search for canoe clubs or paddling clubs in the area. Give them a call. Chances are they will either know of a shuttle service or have a club member willing to help you out.

manistee river experience
I’ve got specific experience with the manistee river. At least the times we’ve gone out there (stretch from Hodenpyl Dam to Tippy Dam) it’s been pretty barren.

We’ve seen a few fishermen here and there, plenty of hikers (without cars) and the stray car or two flying by on Coates Highway at Red Bridge…but to rely on them for a shuttle would require an awful high sucess rate (basically because there are so few cars to begin with).

Around the Manistee, there are plenty of canoe rental places that I’m certain would assist you with shuttling for a fee…and paying would be worhtwhile in my opinion.

I cannot speak to the other rivers you mentioned, but the section of the Manistee I described is prime for a multi-day trip. There are ample canoe-accessible campsites along the river, the scenery is breathtaking (spend time to hike up some of the bluffs…the trails are readily visible and the views are great…for lower michigan at least).

Have a great time, enjoy your trip, and post some photos when you’re done!

au sable
i know there are many canoe rental places on the au sable as well that will shuttle you. have fun!