Open 9 am - 5 pm

Pay-what-you-can registration

Shedd Aquarium is committed to connecting Chicagoans to the Chicago River ecosystem to foster a community dedicated to restoring and protecting it. New this year, you can register for the program by paying what you can—from $20 up to $100 (the base cost per person for operating the program is $35). Your generosity makes it possible for Shedd Aquarium to continue our critical animal care and conservation work and help offset the financial impact of COVID-19 on the aquarium. We thank you for your support.

As you pay what you can, we appreciate your generosity to help offset the financial impact of the aquarium’s ongoing closure.

Ticket wait list

Don't see availability for your date? Sign up on our wait list and get notified when future dates or spots open up!

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River Discovery

Weekly 1.5-hour paddles on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5:30–7 p.m., and Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1:30–3 p.m.

Ages 12+ (anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult)

The River Discovery Tour is a one-and-a-half-hour introductory paddling experience focused on the past, present and future of the Chicago River’s ecology, which has been shaped by human impacts. During this experience guided by Shedd conservation experts, you will gain knowledge of the importance of the Chicago River as habitat and how to help revitalize this resource for wildlife.

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Participants in Shedd's Kayak for Conservation program sit in single-person canoes on the Chicago river. One participant holds a trash bag open for another, who has scooped a piece of trash from the river using a mechanical gripper.

River Explorers

Weekly 2-hour trips on Wednesdays, 9:30–11:30 a.m., and every other Friday and Saturday, 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Ages 16+ (anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult)

The River Explorers program is a two-hour entry-level paddling experience focused on acquainting participants with the Chicago River, the threats it faces and ways to take action. Guided by Shedd conservation experts, you will engage in litter surveying and monitoring. In the process, you’ll gain the knowledge to become an advocate for Chicago’s “blue-green corridor” while contributing important data to ongoing conservation research.

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A participant in Shedd's Kayak for Conservation sits in a blue single-person kayak on the Chicago River, peering through binoculars at the trees bordering the river.

River Monitors

3-hour trips every other Friday and Saturday, 9:30–12:30 p.m.

Ages 16+ (anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult)

The River Monitors program is for intermediate and advanced paddlers. It includes a three-hour experience during which participants gain comprehensive knowledge of the Chicago River, with a deepened understanding of the river’s ecology. Guided by a Shedd conservation expert, you’ll learn and employ wildlife monitoring protocols that contribute critical data to conservation research that helps inform management to improve the health of the Chicago River.

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Private group and family experiences

Ages 8+ (anyone under 12 must ride in a tandem with an adult and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult)

A private kayak experience is available for families and groups of up to eight people for a flat rate of $250. Choose from the River Discovery Tour or River Explorers for your group experience.

book a group expedition

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What to bring

Participants must wear a face covering or mask when within 6 feet of others. We recommend bringing a water bottle and sunscreen and wearing weather-appropriate outdoor clothing and shoes. Please see our FAQs below to learn more about how we are handling COVID-19 to keep participants safe during this program.

Kayak for Conservation FAQs

Pay-what-you-can registration

Individual experience: $20–$100 per participant

Groups

The River Discovery or River Explorers options are available for groups of up to 8 for a flat rate of $250.

Questions?

Contact us by email or call 312-692-3123

Dates

Sessions will run from June 17 through Sept. 30.

River Discovery Tour: Weekly paddles on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 7 p.m., and Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1:30 to 3 p.m.

River Explorers: Weekly on Wednesdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and every other Friday and Saturday, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

River Monitors: Every other Friday and Saturday, 9:30 to 12:30 p.m.

Groups: Weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:30 to 3/3:30 p.m., and Fridays, 3:30 to 5/5:30 p.m. (End times vary according to the program selected.)

Age

Participants must be 16 or older and comfortable operating a kayak to participate in the River Explorers and River Monitors programs, 12 or older to participate in the River Discovery Tour, and 8 or older to participate in a group session. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and anyone under 12 must paddle with an adult in a tandem kayak.

What to bring and where to meet

Participants are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles and sunscreen, and wear weather-appropriate outdoor clothing and shoes.

Participants must wear a face covering or mask when within 6 feet of others. We recommend bringing a water bottle and sunscreen and wearing weather-appropriate outdoor clothing and shoes. Please see our FAQs to learn more about how we are handling COVID-19 to keep participants safe during this program.

Meeting location: Kayak Chicago - 1220 W LeMoyne, Chicago, IL 60642