Bison and Butterflies trip

A century ago, the two most visible creatures in the prairie state may well have been American bison, 2,000 lbs and 6 ft tall at their hump, and regal fritillary butterflies, weighing in at a fraction of an ounce, with a wingspan of 4 inches.  Bison were too big to be missed.  Fritillaries were just common, and brilliantly colored, prairie butterflies clad in dazzling orange and black.  Both bison and fritillary butterflies came very close to extinction.  

The Kankakee Sands preserve in NW Indiana is one of the only places where both can still be found.  Bison were reintroduced there in 2016, and a fragile remnant population of regal fritillaries has exploded in recent years as the Nature Conservancy has restored a landscape of grassland flowers.

  • So join us to paddle a section of the Kankakee River;
  • then head to the Kankakee Sands where Nature Conservancy staff from the preserve will guide us to the bison and butterflies, and tell us more about their story.
  • We sometimes describe the river part of the trip as an excuse for a paddling company to take people to see these amazing endangered species.  Neither are found along the river these days, so we're unlikely to see them till after the paddle.  Fortunately, it's a lovely river too.
  • Additional details will be provided in a reply email when you sign up.
  • Yes, you can still say buffalo.  Though naturalists prefer bison. 
  • 6 miles of paddling (2 hours give or take);
  • An hour of viewing bison and butterflies including a walk onto the prairie;
  • Some time will be spent shuttling back to vehicles and then getting from the river to the bison/butterfly preserve;
  • The launch is roughly 65 miles from downtown Chicago (we provide directions and meet you there), so expect that you're spending the day.

$95/canoe or tandem kayak (2 people); $65/person in single kayak;

A child riding as a 3rd person in a canoe would be an additional $35.  Please let us know in a note as part of your reservation.

Recreational kayaks are wide, flat and slower, but more stable. Most of our singles are touring kayaks.
the best phone number to reach you the afternoon of the trip in case we have to talk about the weather forecast.