Why Explore Indiana's Rivers....
Most of the rivers and streams in Indiana are not what I would call "fancy" rivers. Fancy rivers are those with plenty of marinas, outfitters, check-in points and personnel to look after the multitudes of visitors. Fancy rivers may also have plenty of thrills in the form of rapids, which also attracts many people. With the exception of the Ohio River, there are few marinas along Indiana rivers. Most of the lengths of the rivers are not park-like along the banks. There are few designated camping sites and places to purchase supplies. Even the 500 mile-long Wabash River offers little in the way of facilities. To some people that may be a deterrent, but not so for me and many others who like to truly explore a river.
I prefer a river in it's natural state and the rivers of Indiana provide it. Of course while going through towns, there are manicured parks and they are very nice. But most of the way, the rivers look like they did to the early explorers. Even through agricultural areas there is usually a corridor of trees, that provides a remote feeling. Some Indiana rivers, like other states, have their share of low head dams that are not exactly natural obstructions and must be portaged. There are, however, long sections of free flowing river to enjoy. Some rivers have control dams and back up into lakes, so for the explorer it wise to do a little research regarding these obstacles. The Wabash River has the longest section of free flowing river east of the Mississippi River, with over 400 miles of unobstructed flow.
I was at a local gathering once where the subject of interesting places people have traveled came up. There were those who have traveled great distances from Indiana to vacation at beautiful sand beaches. Others traveled far and wide to find great fishing. Some drove hundreds or even thousands of miles to enjoy the scenery at some distant location. Others talked of taking their boat to a favorite lake in another state. I finally had to join the discussion by explaining that we have huge sandy beaches here in Indiana on the lower Wabash River. The fishing on our rivers is very good and getting better each year. Unless your idea of scenery is a shoreline of condos, hotels and highways the rivers in Indiana have outstanding scenery that can only be enjoyed from a boat. And lakes are fine. We also have many great lakes here in Indiana, but if you have a boat and get tired of going in circles all day, then try a river where your can actually go someplace.
If you are looking for an adrenalin rush, you may want to go to those fancy rivers. With a few exceptions, any rapids are mild or non-existent. It does get exciting when your canoe is pulled into one of the many natural drift piles or you get too close to a spillway dam, but I don't recommend that kind of excitement. Thrills are to be found in the form of the ever-growing number of eagles and other wildlife, the many remote islands to explore and the many natural changes that the rivers have. You can take a break and drift down most rivers without worrying about being ran over by a commercial vessel or tipped over by the wake of a speed boat. I have spent entire days floating down the Wabash River without even seeing another person on the river. You will find that "Hoosier Hospitality" is alive and well, so where powerboats are present, the boaters will usually stay clear of paddlers. If you are looking for remote beauty and can fend for yourself, then I invite you to join the relatively few of us who know what Indiana is like Beyond the Bridges. Come to Indiana to enjoy our rivers, and remember...LEAVE NO TRACE THAT YOU WERE THERE
Photo below by Don Staley