RiverLab outing on the Chicago River
Boat Launch at River Park
Nature in the Chicago River at River Park

5100 N. Francisco Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625

Located Within: River Park



River Park Boathouse, located west of the river is home to the Chicago RIverLab, and the Chicago Park District's family paddling programs. An accessible boat launch for human-powered craft is available for public use at no charge. When launching from River Park, please park on the street and carry your paddle craft to the launch. Vehicles may not use the bike path for loading or unloading.

The RiverLab at River Park Boathouse is a new kind of nature center dedicated to expanding the communities connection with the Chicago River. The RiverLab, located adjacent to the Chicago River, features a multitude of hands-on activities for visitors from all ages, including microscopes, fishing demos, a stream table, and multiple fish tanks. The facility also serves as a hub for the Park District’s canoe program, which runs guided experiences along the North Branch of the River from Summer to early Fall.  View All RiverLab events 

Join us for our weekly open house every Saturday from 10 am-4 pm.  | View All Open Houses

Family Fishing at River Park teaches kids and families to fish and helps enhance the connection of our residents to their home and the wild places in our city. This connection encourages people to take a closer look, get involved and enjoy all of the benefits that our natural areas provide. | View All to Fishing events 

The Fishing program is also on-site at the Jetty at the Riverwalk (between Wells and Franklin Streets)

  • Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am-4pm and Thursday and Friday from 12-6pm

Join the Chicago Park District (CPD) on the Riverwalk to learn about what makes the Chicago River so incredible in this free family program. Located at “The Jetty” (between Wacker and Wells St) this program offers visitors the opportunity to catch over 40 unique species of fish, hold a beaver skull, and learn about the ecosystem of the river hidden beneath the surface. CPD’s team of educators is on-site every Thursday and Friday from 12-6pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am- 4pm rain or shine through mid-August.

Exploring the city by canoe offers an experience unlike any other within the city. Open to people of all ages and abilities, our programs are both educational and transformative, while remaining inexpensive. Here is a new opportunity, learn about our native birds and plants, or try some more advanced maneuvers led by our ACA certified instructors. | View all Paddling & Water Safety events

For questions about the RiverLab and upcoming public programming, please email NatureOasis@ChicagoParkDistrict.com

For information on paddling the Chicago River, check out the excellent paddling guide [click here] created by our partner, Openlands.

The American Canoe Association has created multiple resources [click here]to help paddlers get started safely on the water. 

Highlight of River Park - RiverLab and River Adventures