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Weekend (or longer) trip/route locations

Old 01-13-2020, 02:45 PM
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Default Weekend (or longer) trip/route locations

After having PWCs for almost 10 years my wife and I have decided to get back into a boat (Kids are older and don't want to ride for hours, want to bring friends, etc). The most memorable trips we've had are the ones that involved boating to destinations or taking sightseeing loops. For example, we've ridden up the Ohio river to Cincy from KY, we've ridden from the Ohio river down the Kentucky River to Frankfort, we've ridden 120+ miles a day going to various destinations on the Sacramento Delta. Ridden up and down the Colorado River in AZ, from Hoover Dam down to Laughlin, Laughlin down to Blythe. You get the idea. For my wife and I we love adventures, so I'm trying to put together a list of places for us to go this summer, either for a weekend or longer.

We live outside of Champaign, IL and have no problem traveling to neighboring states for a 2-3 day weekend trip. We haven't been to Land Between the Lakes yet, so that is still on our to-do list. I wouldn't mind going from Louisville to Cincy and back, or up the Illinois River from Peoria to Chicago. We also haven't been to Branson, MO/Lake of the Ozarks (We've only lived in the Midwest for just under 5 years).

The boat will likely be around 20'.

I guess the categories of places I'm looking for would fall into any of the following...

- Weekend destinations with an RV park on/near the water that are within a few hours or so of Champaign, IL. Cruise and relax on the water, enjoy the scenery.
- Weekend destinations where we put in the water in one location, travel on the water for a bit, dock where there's a hotel/motel on or near the water to spend the night, and return the following day.
- Week-ish-long trips on the water, again with the ability to dock and get a room near the water. The drive to where the boat will be put-in can be 1-2 days away.

Not really suitable for this section of the forum so I won't ask about it, but some other trips I'm interested in would be heading to Florida, traveling the ICW up/down the coast, going from NYC to Montreal and back, etc. Just to give you all some examples of what I'm up for at some point. We're not opposed to traveling to see some amazing places. Last summer we towed our travel trailer from IL -> Niagara Falls -> Lake Placid -> Seco, ME and back through NY/PA over the course of a couple of weeks. The summer before that we towed our travel trailer from IL -> CO -> AZ -> ID -> MT/WY (Yellowstone) -> SD (Black Hills) -> IL over the course of 3 weeks.

This coming summer we're going to reel it back a bit but still want to do more than that motor around and float on local lakes and I would love to get in a longer trip on the water if I can, not sure if it would be just myself or with my wife or what.

Thanks!
Old 01-13-2020, 04:17 PM
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The st Lawrence river/ thousand islands is my favorite. It's boating heaven. All the town's are set up for boaters. State parks all along the river. I have a book(cruising guide to new York state.) It's old but lots of info. I live along the Erie canal and that is another great option here in New york.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:25 AM
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Most people in Michigan aren't aware of Michigan's inland waterway. It starts in the NE corner of the lower peninsula in Cheboygan, goes up a small lock and then reaches almost to Lake Michigan. It includes two larger inland lakes too. A 20 footer is perfect for it. While up there, explore the whole Leelanau Peninsula (pinky finger) and surrounding areas and/or Mackinac Island. (by ferry - 20' is small for the straights of Mackinac)
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:19 AM
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Here is some information about the Inland Waterway. Did the waterway myself back in 1997. Worth the trip.

Michigan Inland Waterway Boating Fishing Michigan Interactive™
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:52 AM
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That looks like a terrific trip Rick. Went through the whole link. I'd love to do that.
Old 01-15-2020, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by RGrew176 View Post
Here is some information about the Inland Waterway. Did the waterway myself back in 1997. Worth the trip.

Michigan Inland Waterway Boating Fishing Michigan Interactive™
Originally Posted by Walleye Guy View Post
That looks like a terrific trip Rick. Went through the whole link. I'd love to do that.
It's an oddly well-kept secret. I don't know why it doesn't get more attention. We're surrounded by "lakes" that can swallow a freighter like it was nothing. Here is this awesome resource in our own backyard that can accommodate anything from a kayak to a yacht and I bet 10% of boaters in the state have even heard of it.
Old 01-15-2020, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by RGrew176 View Post
Here is some information about the Inland Waterway. Did the waterway myself back in 1997. Worth the trip.

(removed link because I don't have 10 posts yet so the forums won't let me include it)
Wow, that looks awesome! Definitely at the top of my must-see list now, looks like it's about a 7-8 hour drive from here so would be a 4+ day weekend or more kind of trip to be able to see and enjoy it all. Seeing the clear water there and around the Great Lakes is something I really miss, most rivers and lakes here in the Midwest are brown or murky (as I'm sure you know). We loved going out on the Colorado River and associated lakes because the canyons and scenery were great but also because the water was so clear that we could see quite a ways down, see the fish, snorkel, etc.

Thanks for the link!
Old 01-15-2020, 12:47 PM
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Also consider the Lake Erie Islands of the western basin, along with Sandusky, Huron and Vermillion, Ohio.
Old 01-15-2020, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Bison View Post
Also consider the Lake Erie Islands of the western basin, along with Sandusky, Huron and Vermillion, Ohio.
Those areas are be nice, but the conditions on the lake may get you stuck in one place or another if you're in a 20' boat.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by RollerCoastr View Post
It's an oddly well-kept secret. I don't know why it doesn't get more attention. We're surrounded by "lakes" that can swallow a freighter like it was nothing. Here is this awesome resource in our own backyard that can accommodate anything from a kayak to a yacht and I bet 10% of boaters in the state have even heard of it.
I haven't mapped it out, but how long do you think it would take to run the inland waterway out and back at an enjoyable speed with various stops along the way for lunch, some swimming, etc? Just wondering for planning purposes, not sure if it would be a do it all in a day thing or a day out and a day back, etc.

Thanks!
Old 01-16-2020, 01:26 PM
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The last time I did it, (and that was a looong time ago) we started in Cheboygan in the morning and went as far as Indian River before doubling back. That's roughly the halfway point. We dropped anchor and explored some of Mullet Lake and stopped at the Hack-Ma-Tack Inn. We reached the ramp in late afternoon and noticed that the big lake was flat, so I ran up for a photo opp of the Mackinac Bridge. I remember loading the boat back on the trailer right at dusk.

I wish I had found a way to spend the night somewhere along the way to complete the whole route. Maybe someday.

There's also the frustration of knowing how close the western end of the trip gets you to some of Michigan's most beautiful towns and scenery. The furthest west you can go by boat is Conway. My apologies to all 5 people of Conway, but ah, there's so much more just down the road! Harbor Springs, Petoskey/Bar Harbor, Charlevoix...

It's kind of a shame to get that close and not see those towns, so consider starting the loop from the western end.
Old 01-17-2020, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by RollerCoastr View Post
The last time I did it, (and that was a looong time ago) we started in Cheboygan in the morning and went as far as Indian River before doubling back. That's roughly the halfway point. We dropped anchor and explored some of Mullet Lake and stopped at the Hack-Ma-Tack Inn. We reached the ramp in late afternoon and noticed that the big lake was flat, so I ran up for a photo opp of the Mackinac Bridge. I remember loading the boat back on the trailer right at dusk.

I wish I had found a way to spend the night somewhere along the way to complete the whole route. Maybe someday.

There's also the frustration of knowing how close the western end of the trip gets you to some of Michigan's most beautiful towns and scenery. The furthest west you can go by boat is Conway. My apologies to all 5 people of Conway, but ah, there's so much more just down the road! Harbor Springs, Petoskey/Bar Harbor, Charlevoix...

It's kind of a shame to get that close and not see those towns, so consider starting the loop from the western end.
Great info, I was planning on starting on the south/west end anyway as that is the shortest driving distance. So sounds like definitely a 2-day trip and it looks like there are a couple of motels right on the river there in Cheboygan.
Old 01-17-2020, 01:48 PM
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Can't go wrong with northern Michigan. I've always wanted to do the Inland Waterway; but my real bucket list item is Georgian Bay's small craft route and the North Channel.

Old 01-18-2020, 04:21 AM
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I had the whole state of Michigan in my sales territory when I was working. I'd especially make sales calls in the winter up north (T-City to Alpena). My customers would ask what the heck I was doing up there that time of year. IMy response was always that I get an "A" just for showing up!

Michigan is a great state for outdoors people. There are things to do all four seasons. And the scenery is too bad either. Great state.
Old 01-18-2020, 04:42 AM
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I am very fortunate to have the premier inland cruising lake in the U.S. in my front yard--The Tennessee River. From just east of Paducah, KY to Knoxville is 650 miles of incredible navigable water. My wife and I did make one 120 mile day trip.

It's about 200 miles by water from Chattanooga through the "Grand Canyon of Tennessee" to our home on Wilson Lake at Muscle Shoals, AL. It would make for a great 2 day trip. Guntersville, AL has the Hampton Inn and Windham hotels with boat docks for transients. There is also Guntersville State Park and Joe Wheeler State Park with very large marinas and resort hotels.

Joe Wheeler State Park has a large contingent of Great Loopers meet around March before their odyssey starting south down the Tenn-Tombigbee Waterway on Pickwick Lake, TN.
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