Canoeing the Bronx River is a unique and interesting way to explore the only freshwater river in New York City. Because of the historic features and urban influences, we have put together a few notes to enlighten paddlers before they embark on one of our excursions.
Check out some FAQ below in preparation for your Bronx River adventure!
Do I need prior paddling experience?
No, the Bronx River is a great place to learn how to paddle. Many of our trips can accommodate participants with no prior paddling or swimming experience. Want to test out the (shallow) waters? Join us for one of our FREE community paddles that are held in the Bronx River forest. We do like to let our paddlers know that these trips do require a fair amount of physical exertion, including climbing up and down hills and carrying boats (for upper river and full river paddles). The staff can provide some assistance; but, for the most part, you and your paddling partner will work as a team carry your boat and equipment.
What does the Alliance provide?
We provide canoes, paddles, lifejackets, and a short lesson before going out on water. Prior to safety lessons and boarding we will conduct a short educational introduction on the Alliance, the river itself, and other activities and projects that are or will occur on the river. We provide and ask all boaters to participate in a safety lesson to ensure a safe and enjoyable voyage on your trip day.
Can I bring my own boat and PFD?
We ask that those participating in a Bronx River Alliance hosted event to leave their boat and paddles at home and enjoy one of our regularly maintained vessels for the day. However, do feel free to bring your own PFD for comfort – please do remember we ask that you do keep it securely fastened throughout our trip on water for your safety. For more information about enjoying a paddle on your own, please check into our Bronx River Blueway guide
for information on safety and advisories on preparation for your trip.
Can I bring my children?
Absolutely. We encourage families to join any one of our Upper River Paddles throughout the season, just let us know via email what the age of the child is so we can bring the right size PFD for the younger paddlers. We do restrict some of our more challenging paddles to adult only such as our full and estuary paddles for safety concerns.
How many people fit in a boat?
Our canoe fleet consists of tangent canoes with 2 seats on either end. Due to shallow conditions on the river in recent years, we are restricting our boats to the following:
2 adults/teens or 2 adults and 1 pre-teen or 2 adults and 2 small children under 8 years of age
What should I wear?
As there is always the possibility of getting wet, muddy, or wet and muddy, we require close toed shoes that have attachment to the foot (NO – slip on shoes or sandals, closed toed attached water sandals are ok). We recommend lightweight pants or shorts of nylon or similar quick drying material and a light jacket or rain jacket, if the weather is questionable. We recommend glasses wearers to purchase or have cords so that if their glasses fall off, they will not lose them. These can be found at pharmacies, optometrists, or sporting goods stores. Please note, jeans and sweats hold a lot of water and take a long time to dry, which can be a recipe for hypothermia. We recommend moisture wicking or lightweight pants and shirts for your journey.
What you should bring?
We recommend you bring sunglasses, a wide brim hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, a change of clothes plenty of water and a light snack. It is a good idea to bring a ziplock bag for your wallet or purse and your cell phone, as well as a plastic garbage bag for your backpack. We will be able to provide very limited amounts of dry bags, so please come prepared. Bathroom facilities are available at limited points along the river.
How will I know if the trip has been cancelled?
As always, we will try our best to give our paddlers enough information for preparation for our trip together. Sometimes unexpected weather or other circumstances may cause us to cancel our trip or postpone it. Our website will be the first order of notification of a sudden need for cancellation. If we are aware of unsafe conditions, all participants will receive an email and/or phone call 24 hours prior to trip.
What if I am driving and the ending of the trip is in a different location?
The Alliance is unable to provide transportation to and from the starting location of a trip that ends along a different area of the river. We suggest participants use the very convenient MTA system 2 train which runs along most of major start and end locations of our trips or look into long term parking lots located throughout the Bronx.
Do I have to sign an American Canoe Association waiver in order to participate?
YES! We are in obligation to keep each of our paddlers as safe as possible while out on water with us for every occassion; however, it is important for each of our paddlers to read through this document
and fill in the form in its completion in order to be able to participate in our on water paddle. For a speedy registration, bring the form with you filled out. For additional information on our policy, visit here
What is the Amazing Bronx River Flotilla and how do I participate?
The Amazing Bronx River Flotilla is our annual public canoe trip season opening fundraiser! It is a great way to get friends and family out on the river in support of the Bronx River Alliance and experience its wonders first hand. To learn more and sign up visit www.bronxriver.org/flotilla
Going on a paddle on your own?
Don't forget to get your paddling permit
from NYC Parks and check the USGS Flow Gauge
and NOAA Tide Charts
to check for optimal paddling conditions.
Can I use my phone while on the boat?
The use of cell phones are not advised. Cell phones can get damaged or fall into the river. You may use your phone to take photos; however, the use of selfie sticks are not allowed. The Bronx River Alliance is not responsible for lost or damaged items. We ask that paddlers do not use cell phones while paddling as it can be distracting and dangerous. Enjoy the wonderful unique sounds of the Bronx River with us!
Do I have to finish the entire paddle?
Yes! Once you have begun your trip there is no turning back, you must be committed to finishing the entire trip. However we will help anyone who is struggling or feeling exhausted and will take into account serious medical emergencies.
How do you ensure safety while out on the water?
Each safety boat is equipped with a first aid kit, a radio and cell phone for contacting emergency services if needed. During river paddles there will be a lead boat looking for river hazards up ahead and a sweep boat who ensures that everyone is okay and no one falls behind.
Will the trip be canceled if it begins raining?
Usually, No. However, trips may be canceled during heavy down poor, and strong winds. Trips are canceled when there are signs of lighting and or thunder. In the case of a cancelation we will try our best to reschedule your chartered trip, or offer refund to public trips.
How long do I have to cancel a trip?
If you need to cancel your chartered trip, we ask that you do so within 48 hours. This will ensure enough time to prepare for the cancellation. Fees may apply when cancelling day of.
Do I have to pay for my trip beforehand?
No. You have two weeks after your trip to pay. This is to ensure that you are only paying for the services you receive.
Don't see your question here? Feel free to send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org