Here in the Midwest, it can be pretty difficult to find “adventure”. In fact, most of this region is covered in farmlands and very little forested area is large enough to accommodate much more than an afternoon of easy hiking. It could take hours of driving to get to wilderness large enough to warrant much overnight backpacking. However, South Bend, IN (and the Michiana area in general), is covered in another type of wilderness, potentially even more “adventurous” than our local(ish) backpacking spots. We have rivers… and a ton of them at that. The St. Joseph River runs over 200 miles, from central Michigan, through South Bend and into Lake Michigan. It meanders its way through residential, city and wild areas and can be a pretty substantial adventure of its own. There are many other rivers in the area (Elkhart River, Dowagiac River, Pigeon River, etc) that can accommodate overnight paddles and shorter day paddles. Basically, when you think about it, this place is absolutely covered in adventure!
This past weekend, the South Bend Adventure Club headed out for a 57-mile paddle along the St. Joe and this trip had all of the things you could ever want in an adventure. We were tired, sweaty, overworked and smiling… basically, we had a ton of fun. The trip was cheap, like… as cheap as a trip can get (we all had kayaks/canoes or borrowed them) and it was awesome. Let’s stop saying how we have no wilderness. We just have to remember that the wilderness of the rivers run right through our backyards and through our city. So, I challenge you all to go find a boat (canoe or kayak) and take it out on the river. Go experience South Bend’s very own wilderness. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but a few hours out on the river can be an adventure of its own!
If you want a campground along the river:
Happy Adventures! ☺