No question is ever too silly to ask, but here we answer the most common and provide our booking policies and waivers. Contact us if you still have a burning question.

Where is Woods & Waters located? Close, but a world away!

  • 30 minutes from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace
  • 45 minutes from the Soo
  • 1.5 hours from Tahquamenon Falls
  • 2 hours from Munising 

Directions and a map can be found on the Contact Us page.

What about the weather?

You don't pay if it's unsafe to play.*

We can't control the weather and conditions can change during a trip, but we can hike, paddle, and bike in the rain—but not thunderstorms. We will always err on the side of caution if weather, wind, or waves are too dangerous for the activity. If we make the call to cancel a scheduled trip due to incoming weather, we will contact you as soon as we can. If your schedule allows, we would love to find another time or date, but if we can't — we will refund your trip.

*If you are a guest on an Isle Royale adventure, it is possible we may encounter adverse conditions while you are on the island; although we will not refund your trip, we will try to shift the planned itinerary around. Consider bringing that book you've always meant to read or that journal deserving some attention just in case!

What time do I show up?

In order pass out gear and take care of any final paperwork, plan on arriving at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled trip time.

How large can a group be? Will my party be joined by others? 

  • For safety while on the water, group sizes are limited to either 6 guests in solo kayaks or 6 boats per guide (a 6:1 ratio).
  • We can accommodate larger groups by assigning additional guides (if you have a group larger than 12, please call to schedule a custom trip). 
  • We reserve the option to split larger groups in order to relieve congestion at launching/landing locations or stagger start times. 
  • The maximum size of any party is limited by the available number of guides and boats. 
  • Your activity may include participants outside your group — please let us know if you, or a member of your party, have a health condition that might be of concern if part of a mixed household group. 

Do you offer group rates?

Yes — contact us. Although we'd love to give a standard answer, it depends on the size of your group.

What is your booking and cancellation policy?

Day trip and rentals, click here.

Isle Royale trips, click here.

How much are rentals?

Rental spreadsheet can be viewed here: 2021 Rental Rates

What type of things do we see? 

Some of that depends on the trip activity you have selected, time of year, and even time of day. But the eastern UP (EUP) has many micro-climates related to proximity to the Great Lakes and the Niagara Escarpment. The area is rich in bio-diversity from shoreline, muskegs, streams, alvars, deciduous forests, karst caves, islands, rocky ledges, and cedar swamps. There are secluded nature preserves that are great for spotting birds, wildflowers, unique aquatic plants, and cool insects like dragon flies. Isle Royale is a magnificent experience of rugged wilderness, moose, fabulous paddling, and history — what's not to enjoy?

In the Les Cheneaux islands, there are also beautiful and historic buildings, including boat houses, lining the shores that can only be seen from the water. Antique wooden boats are often out and about in the protected island waterways, and you might even get to see a freighter depending on where you are! 

Woods & Waters is also permitted to operate on USFS lands in the Hiawatha National Forest. This means we give back to the USFS a portion of your trip fee — and that we are following regulations laid out by the USFS, including their non-discrimination policy: “In accordance with Federal law and U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex. Age, disability, and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.”  Anyone who feels they should need to file a civil rights complaint, click here for the form.  

What are the lengths of the tours you offer? Who are they suitable for?

  • Tours range from 2 hours to 7 days. We're confident you can find an option that suits your needs.
  • Tours are suitable for most individuals, or can be customized, including for participants who may require adaptive paddling accommodations — please contact us
  • For groups with children 5–12 years old, we use tandem boats and seat the child in front and have a stronger person in back paddling. We do recommend our shortest trip, The Little Dipper. If you have an odd numbered party, a second guide may be available to paddle a tandem. Groups with younger children may also want to consider scheduling a naturalist tour. 
  • Need a different day, time, or have your own idea? We can also plan customized trips — contact us!

We're on vacation, so why do you start many trips in the morning?

Daily winds typically come and go on the Great Lakes. These winds are triggered by the sun as the temperature differences between the water and the land create air movement — and then add regular weather systems to the mix!

From experience we know that mornings are usually quite calm before the sun warms the day up. This means that you'll encounter almost no waves or wind! The same phenomenon works in reverse for sunset paddles — the winds start to dissipate as the sun loses its strength. Guests love paddling tranquil waters so we book tours when we have the best bet of delivering that type of experience. And if you aren't afraid of early — book a sunrise tour! 

How far will we go? 

Distances covered varies by the group. We are as fast as the slowest person.

Paddling: We will work with paddlers to improve their technique and help them become more efficient on the water. On average, we will paddle between 2–3 miles an hour. And depending on wind direction and waves, we may be slower or faster than that. Our shortest trip, The Little Dipper, usually covers 3–6 miles. Most "bigger dipper" half-day trips will average between 6 and 9 miles; "perfect day" full-day trips between 10 and 14 miles (also depends on length of the lunch break). Don't let mileage estimates scare you — paddling is very different than walking.

Hiking: Most nature hikes and birding hikes are done at a rambling pace in order to discuss what's around you. At most, you might cover 3 miles in two hours, but most trips will be closer to 1–2 miles in length. For birding, you may be staying in one general area depending on bird activity in that vicinity. Full-day hikes on Drummond Island are much longer and you should be capable of covering 6-8 miles over uneven terrain. We will make rest stops, but it will be an active day.  

Bicycling: The Maxton Plains trip covers roughly 6–10 miles at a relaxed pace, but more areas of Drummond can be explored depending on the group. The plains are warm due to the radiating Alvar pavements – bring extra water in the summer! Some of the roads can be very wet and full of ruts.

What should I bring?

  • A positive attitude, water bottle, and water are the big three for all of our trips.
  • More detailed lists by activity are available on our "Get Ready!" page (here is the Isle Royale packing list). 
  • Know that synthetic clothing will keep you warmer even when wet — cotton does not. 
  • If you have a life-threatening allergy, or any other medical issues, please make sure to bring along your medications and tell your guide(s) where they are located on your person.

Will I be safe?

Here are some of the things we do to mitigate risk:

  • On guided trips, we teach necessary basic skills
  • We use and rent quality equipment
  • Safety equipment for the activity is always provided and required (life jackets, bike helmets, etc.)
  • We are an American Canoe Association (ACA) member and staff regularly participate in professional development to improve personal knowledge and skills for the benefit and safety of our guests.
  • Guides are required to maintain, at minimum, both CPR and basic first aid certifications 

Why do you ask for height and weight? And if younger or older than 18?

Bikes, boats, PFDs, and wetsuits come in different sizes and shapes. By having a general idea before you arrive, we can make a pretty good guess as to what equipment is going to best fit you. Having a boat or bike fit you will make your adventure or rental that much better. Think about trying to wear a pair of shoes that are three sizes too big — you'd be an unhappy camper — and we are trying our best to avoid that scenario! For Isle Royale guests arriving on the seaplane, we are required to supply that information so they can stay within the cargo capacity for the plane you are assigned to. As for age, it ensures we have an adult sign a a minor's waiver form and/or apply a youth trip discount.

Is it customary to tip my guide(s)? Tip your guide — not your kayak!

Our guides take great pride in making your adventure memorable and fun. Although tips are not required, guides deeply appreciate being recognized for their great service. Same as tipping your restaurant server, amounts range between 10–20% of your total trip cost. For example, for a 2-person sunset tour, $19 would be a 10% gratuity. On multi-day trips, guests have sometimes calculated a daily gratuity and given their guide(s) an amount on the last day. If your trip has more than one guide, guides will share.

Do I have to wear a life jacket — also called a PFD (personal flotation device)?

Yes. No ifs, ands, or buts. PFDs save lives, and most kayaking fatalities occur when people aren't wearing a PFD. Accidents happen, so be prepared!

Are kayaks tippy?

Kayaks are designed to edge on their sides which assist paddlers with turning a boat. They can indeed tip over, but to lessen the chances of that happening, we will spend time introducing basic skills before we depart on the trip. Some boats, like tandems, are more stable and we will try to match boats to people by their heights and weights. We can’t guarantee you won’t unintentionally tip a boat, but having a guide with you means you have someone with you who is able to assist in getting you back in a boat as efficiently as possible.

Will I be cold when paddling?

We supply wet suits when the water is colder and have additional clothing recommendations on the "Get Ready!" page, but paddling is an activity and your moving will keep you surprisingly warm. Even if the air temperature is cooler, just like taking a brisk walk on a chilly day, you might find yourself too warm if you are wearing too heavy a coat or too many layers. And the PFD (life jacket) will be like wearing a coat. All of our sea kayaks are equipped with seats so you are not sitting directly on the bottom of the boat. In Michigan, regardless of the activity, dressing in layers and having some options are always wise. Our sea kayaks have hatches that you can stash extra clothing in if needed, but putting your clothes in a waterproof bag is recommended; sit-on-top kayaks will need a waterproof bag (large plastic zip-top bags work well). If we tell you that wet suits are needed, you must wear them for your comfort and most importantly — safety. Once the waters warm up in the summer, they are not required but are optional for guests.

Will I be hot when paddling?

If you are hot, you are surrounded by water! Dip your hands in, dunk your hat, take a quick dip in your clothes during a shoreline break. There are many ways to cool off.

On Isle Royale, what is the difficulty of the hiking and kayaking?

The hiking and kayaking excursions range from easy to moderate with no prior experience necessary. Some parts of the trails can be rugged with rocks and roots as well as some steep incline/decline. The hikes can range from 2–8 miles, and some days will include both a paddle and a hike. As for the kayaking, we keep our trips within semi-protected bays and inlets, but even they can get choppy waves (1–2 feet) from wind. We constantly assess the wind, water, and weather conditions, and will adjust our trips accordingly. We do not force any activity on guests, and a guest can opt to skip a hike or paddling activity. We will not paddle if any small craft advisories are in effect for Isle Royale.

Do you have an "acknowledgement of risk" or waivers I need to agree to? 

Yes, we have risk statements, photo release, and waivers for all our activities and rentals. These waivers are part of your reservation/booking and can be referenced on your client dashboard. Adults will also have to sign for any minors in their party. If you'd like to read over the waiver(s) prior to booking, click below for a PDF.