East Race Waterway
East Race Waterway
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4.0
62 reviews
Excellent
36
Very good
14
Average
3
Poor
3
Terrible
6

Tom B
Wabash, IN1 contribution
Aug 2017 • Business
I have been whitewater rafting in West Virginia (Lower New River and Summer Gauley River) and also up in Washington on the Skokomish River. When you go white water rafting on an actual real deal "hey-you-can-actually-die-doing-this" river the rafting company/guide gives you a block of instructions on what to do and what not to do before you get out on the water. When we did East Race as a group we already had experienced white water paddlers in our rafts. I do not recall the East Race staff giving us any instructions on how to maneuver the raft, what to do if the raft flips, etc. I don't know if they just assumed we already knew what we were doing since we rented out the whole park for 2 hours for our group, maybe that was the case.

Some advice for the newbies: sit on the sidewalls of the 4-6 man rafts and learn how to wedge/brace your feet into the thwarts. Row with your whole body, not just your arms, keep the nose of the raft pointed down river, attack the rapids head on, do not go sideways into a rapid or else you are going to go swimming, and not in a good way, lol. Row together as a team and designate someone to sit in the back and call out right side, left side to keep the raft pointed down river. If you end up swimming (rafter slang for falling out of the raft) and the raft gets away from you, don't freak out. Assume the "defensive" swimming position: arms out in a T, legs pointed downstream, nose and toes up out of the water. Swim back to your raft when it gets closer to you and pull yourself back in. If you can't get back in by yourself your buddies should pull you back in by your PFD shoulder straps (this is why you need to have your PFD on really tight).

I think the East Race is a great way to introduce people to whitewater rafting and do it in a controlled environment. This way people can get their feet wet (pun intended) and try it out before they get into spending a bunch of money on an expensive all day long rafting trip out of state. This is also a great way for experienced paddlers to shake the rust off before they go and do bigger rivers if it's been awhile since they've been out on the water.
Written May 23, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

GRJosh
Walker, MI29 contributions
Aug 2018 • Business
Brought our middle school and high school students here and they loved it. 12/12 said they want go go again! We did 3 rides which took us just about 2 hours total. After each run you put your gear in the back of the truck and walk up the river walk to the start point. The walk is fun because you can spectate everyone else going down the river. Very fun rapids for beginners to more experienced paddlers. The river has lots of life guards stationed along the river so if you fall out you’re never far from a throw rope and advice on getting back in your raft!
Written August 12, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

hobbitmom
South Bend, IN32 contributions
Jul 2013 • Friends
There are kayak and raft rentals summer weekend afternoons, but we mostly just walk the East Race. At the head of the race there's Seitz Park on one side, and the parking lot for the Emporium on the other. Weekend afternoons in the summer you can rent rafts and kayaks there; rental includes safety gear like helmets and life jackets. Be mentally prepared to fall out; seems to me most rafts seem to lose somebody.

In the mornings you can walk along the East Race on the east side and find shade most of the way. You have to cross the river on walkway bridges a couple of times, which is usually in the sun as is the west side that time of day, and where East Race merges back into the river is also pretty exposed. The last half or so the east side path is narrow; most bicyclists go around the other way through that part but every once in a while one braves it. Weekdays the water is pretty mellow; weekends they reset the gates and the water can be pretty high and anytime the water's particularly high there are a couple of places the path can get wet; be careful in sandals and other potentially slick shoes!

The Emporium Restaurant gets fair reviews, and is right by the Race; we usually go up one block on LaSalle or Colfax (20) to Macri's Italian Bakery to get a snack. Macri's also has a restaurant, Carmela's; haven't eaten there but it gets good reviews.

If you cross the river on the north side at Colfax, there's the John Hunt Memorial Plaza in front of the Morris; Friday afternoons in the summer there's usually a band playing there. If you cross on the south side of Colfax, you can cut back down behind the Century Center and get a great view of the waterfalls at the dam from the island behind the Century Center (a couple of afternoons a year it's closed for parties). Or, you can stick to the road and do the South Bend Museum of Art (not a big deal, depending on the temp exhibit, but not very expensive, either), or head up past the former College Football Hall of Fame to the South Bend Chocolate Factory, which at this site is just a cafe and a candy store, but we like to stop there for a bite sometimes.

If the weather's nice, wandering downtown South Bend might be worth doing. My kids like to check out Griffin Bookstore, behind the Morris, for gaming stuff, while I go downstairs to check out the s/f and fantasy books, We also like the Idle Hours Bookshop, which is a block past the South Bend Chocolate Factory; Idle Hours is a more straight-up used bookstore, while Griffin's specializes. There are some other little shops, but South Bend's downtown is more oriented toward serving the people working there than to tourists, so there's more food and drink than shopping.
Written August 1, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

sherri b
Hilliard, OH2 contributions
Jul 2019 • Family
You are risking your own life by going here. I am an adult woman and a pretty good swimmer and I literally almost died here. I got dumped out of the raft and got caught in the currents and absolutely almost drowned! After trying to make it through the whole thing, the guy that checked everybody in is also the one that came to rescue me....but it was almost too late!

There are also newspaper articles of people that have died here although I am not seeing a lot of reviews like that on here or google which blows my mind bc it was the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in my life and it was just supposed to be a leisurely family thing with our baseball team. The absolute scariest day ever! I also can’t believe they let any age go on as long as they are with and adult - a child (or adult) will die here for sure! PLEASE BEWARE!!!
Written May 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

JMLE
Indiana3 contributions
Jul 2018 • Family
We were in Chicago and decoded to cap our trip by doing this adventure. We were pressed for time but made it there at 3:20. My family went down first as I was taking pictures as they went down first. As I waited in the middle of the bridge a worker approached me and said are you going down? I said yes as soon as my family comes up. He said we closes in 5 minutes. Mind you by then it was 3:40 and they close at 4. He then made it a point to come up to me every 30 seconds and give me a count down. Then stating We have Union Drivers. With 2 minutes left he gave me the countdown. I know it was the end of the day but come on. The other guide came up to me and said dont let it ruin your time down the river, TOO LATE Bob killed that!!!! Fun, quick, entry level rapids, but simplt beware of Bob. He is the grouchy old man in the faded yellow life vest.
Written July 29, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Reagan N
Fort Worth, TX1 contribution
Aug 2014 • Family
My sisters and my cousin and I did this per my Grandmother's suggestion as we visited her in South Bend. When we were getting "briefed" as first time riders, they did very little to explain how to paddle, what to do if we capsized, how or where we were supposed to stop, and how severe the water would be. I went down a four person boat and it tossed us around as we did not know how to row properly or how the rapids would be. We were just going with the current until the "stopping point" (which was not marked and no signs told us that the end was approaching") and we overshot it and continued to float out. One staff member kindly came out and assisted us but treated us as if we were dumb for erring. We went on a second run in a two person raft with just my sister and I. The rapids were way too strong for novice riders and we each got tossed from the boat. I got stuck under the heavy raft and was panicking until I luckily managed to gt out from under it. I didn't know what to do until people watching hollered at us to get back in. We even passed a lifeguard who said nothing as we struggled with it. We approached the ending point this time and grabbed the rope they tossed out to slow us; however, it slipped and they had to cast it out again. When we got to the dock, the staff member was extremely belligerent and rude and treated us badly just because we made a mistake. I personally will not be returning.
Written August 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

PurpleRoseOfSharon
Elkhart, IN44 contributions
Jul 2011 • Friends
Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the summer months you can rent a raft for $5 per person and paddle your way through the East Race Waterway.

You must wear rubber sole shoes with a back strap (no flip flops). Helmet, life jacket and paddles are included.

This is soooo much fun and you will get wet. No need to fear, there are lifeguards along the entire route.
Written July 28, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

P K
Chicago, IL130 contributions
Jun 2014 • Family
We've been here four times with our Scouts over the last ten years. Always fun. It can get quite crowded but our Scouts usually get 3-5 runs in the early afternoon. The waterway is about 1900 feet long so the ride generally takes 5-7 minutes. Our youth come away tired and very satisfied. (Note: all riders rafters must be at least 54 inches tall and anyone 16 and younger must have an adult in the boat.)
This year, they also had a small climbing tower as well as two elliptical bikes for rental. The concessions are very limited, but you are in the middle of town so there are options fairly close (we bring our lunch and sit along the waterway and eat). Parking is easy and free.
Written June 22, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

sheilaoc
Indianapolis, IN391 contributions
Jul 2013 • Friends
our boat was way to big for the three of us in it (2 adults and a 12 year old) and when it tipped over and threw us out, one of us got trapped beneath the boat, and it was way to large to tip over. Staff was quite slow to respond and acted like it was no big deal to a very harrowing experience. We'll never do it again and are doing everything we can to keep friends away.
Written December 6, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Debbie W
Tinley Park, IL29 contributions
Jul 2019 • Family
This place has great potential. No other white water rafting near Chicagoland! However they do not give any instructions on rafting, there is NO guide. So it is a recipe for disaster for the inexperienced. Very unfortunate!
Written August 10, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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East Race Waterway (South Bend) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about East Race Waterway