Come Canoe the San Joaquin River with Us!
2013 Online Registration coming soon!
Canoeing the San Joaquin River is a wonderful way to experience the wildnerness right in your own backyard. Along with your canoe guide and fellow adventurers, you'll explore the special places along the San Joaquin River Parkway that can only be seen by canoe. You may paddle by historic Native American grinding rocks or past the Heron and Egret rookery. Be sure to watch for signs of wildlife along the way!
Our Canoe Tour Season typically runs from May through October, and includes guided public and private tours. We book custom private tours upon request, available Sundays and weekdays. When our public canoe tours come to an end (October 1), we book private groups on Saturdays and Sundays during October.
Half-day Downstream Canoe Trips
SHORT HALF-DAY CANOE TOUR
Friday evenings, 4:30pm - 8:00pm
Saturday mornings, 8:30pm - 12:00pm
This is our most popular tour, three miles long and on a beautiful and lively stretch of the San Joaquin River Parkway. Starting at our private canoe launching area, Owl Hollow, participants will experience exhilarating riffles that turn into calm downriver stretches until they reach Fort Washington Beach. This is a great tour for relaxing or escaping the summer heat. Fort Washington Beach is a privately operated beach access which is open to the public and has day use and overnight opportunities. Tour lasts approximately 3.5 hours. FWB: 10705 North Lanes Road, Fresno 93730.
Longer Downstream Canoe Trips
FULL-DAY DOWNRIVER CANOE TOUR
Approximately 8 hours (8:30am to 4:30pm)
Paddle past Native American grinding holes, Ledger and Rank Islands, the San Joaquin Ecological Preserve and experience the tunnel. Enjoy your lunch along the way. The trip starts at Lost Lake County Park, one of the best places to cool off in the summer heat! Usually occurs once a month.
Family Canoe Days
First Saturday of each month, June - September, between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm.
Once a month, we have a calm-water family canoe time that complements a 45-minute family visit to the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies. Calm-water Fun tours include a water safety and canoe lesson. This is a great introduction to the joy of canoeing, so see our calendar, or book a private session for your family and enjoy a vacation that you'll remember forever. Youth under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Maximum 3 people per canoe, mimimum age 6.
CALM-WATER CANOE ADVENTURE
Calm upstream and back: 2 hours, 9:00am to 11:00am
A great trip for the whole family! Appropriate for beginner paddlers ages 10 and above, or experienced children ages 6-10 (50lbs). Friant Cove is just downstream of the Friant Dam, in the town of Friant, across from the Shell Gas station and sandwich shops.
How would you like to experience the river at night? For a completely different tour, join our monthly night tours and experience something mysteriously wonderful with your friends and family. Night tours are on calm water and usually involve glow sticks and other fun stuff.
Fishing by Canoe
FISHING BY CANOE CALM-WATER ADVENTURE
Approximately 3.5 hours, once each month
Join river guides who love to fish on this new excursion to remote parts of our local river which are inaccessible except by canoe. Bring your own fishing gear and fishing license, and feel free to call or email for more information. Our canoe guide Mark Baquera is an expert fisherman and canoe guide as well. He will take you to parts of the river where you can experience the fine art of fishing by canoe! We will be fishing for warm water fish such as bass and blue-gill.
Private Tours for groups and individuals are available, please call 559-248-8480 for rates.
We wish you happy river trails! The San Joaquin River is the valley's most important natural resource.
Short half-day: $25/person, Parkway Members - $20
Long half-day: $35/person, Parkway Members - $30
Full-day: $45/person, Parkway Members - $40
CALM WATER TOURS
$10 per person or $15 per canoe - 45 minute tour
$15/person or $25 per canoe - 90 minute hour tour
$20/person or $15 for members - 3.5 hour tour
Middle rider under age 16 rides free (up to two per group). Groups over 8 receive $5 per person on public canoe tours.
Reservations are required for all canoe tours, minimum age 10 and 50lbs for downriver tours, and minimum age 6 for calm-water tours. All tours include canoe equipment, safety equipment, dry bags and canoeing instruction from our trained guides. Tours may be cancelled due to low enrollment, weather and poor river conditions.
Shuttling from the start and end points will add approximately one hour on both ends of the trip, so plan accordingly. Please check park hours of operation and entrance fees prior to planning your trip, so that you don't end up with any unpleasant surprises!
Canoeing on your own
We recommend that you begin canoeing the San Joaquin River by participating in one of our guided canoe trips. If you're ready to strike out on your own, here are some tips and a few access points with approximate river travel times. Transit times vary with the current and how much time you leave for exploring and swimming. Access locations listed are keyed to our Parkway map. Some sites charge a vehicle entrance fee--please research your choices before departure.
Some popular self-guided trips include:
- Friant Cove (upstream of the Bridge at Highway 145) to Lost Lake Park: approx. one hour.
- Lost Lake Park to Fort Washington Beach (at Rice Road off Friant Road): approx. four hours.
- Fort Washington Beach to Wildwood Park (under the Highway 41 bridge): approx. one hour.
- Wildwood Park (near Cobb Ranch) to Sycamore Island (near Children's Hospital of Madera): approx. two hours.
- Sycamore Island to Camp Pashayan (near Hwy 99 at the top of Weber): approx. six hours.
- Highway 99 to Skaggs Bridge Park (midway to Los Banos): approx. six hours.
Please note: Canoeing a river is a hazardous activity involving the risk of injury, death, and property loss. Moving and still water, transportation to and from the river, rocks, wild plants and animals, equipment, and other people present hazards. Please be aware that the opportunity to be in the outdoors and wilderness make the comforts of civilization and medical care more difficult to obtain. This is public information on river facilities along the Parkway, please consult facility operators for more information and check water levels and flow information about the day of your trip before using the river, use a guide, or contact facility operators for more information.
General Canoeing Information
Before getting on the river, you can check river water levels on the San Joaquin River Restoration website administered by the State and Federal Implementing Agencies of the SJRRP. When you scroll down, you will see an interactive map of various points along the river, including "Below Friant" and "Little Dry Creek." You can also click on the Millerton Daily Operations Report for water level and flow information along the upper river.
Another source of information for water recreationists is the American Whitewater Association, look for the pages related to the San Joaquin River. The water levels are expected to be very low during the month of September 2012, due to a repair at the Chowchilla Bypass.
Please see our Parkway Access page, or contact facility operators to access more information on a variety of local public river and boating facilities on the Parkway suitable for paddle around or for point to point downstream trips, including: Friant Cove, Lost Lake Park (below the town of Friant, CA), Fort Washington Beach, Wildwood Park, and Sycamore Island.