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Posted on Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : noon

Ann Arbor officials credit large increase in river trips to popularity of Argo Cascades

By Ryan J. Stanton


Dozens of kayaks, canoes, tubes and rafts could be seen floating down the Huron River from Argo to Gallup on a recent Sunday afternoon.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ann Arbor officials say more and more people are flocking to the Huron River for recreation with the the popularity of the Argo Cascades taking off.

Colin Smith, the city's parks and recreation manager, said the Argo Canoe Livery saw a roughly 50 percent increase in trips this July compared with last July.


A four-person raft makes its way down the end of the Argo Cascades on a recent Sunday afternoon. There were 135 rafts rented from the Argo Canoe Livery during July.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"We've been incredibly busy," he said, noting revenue from the livery went up from about $83,000 to $124,000 from July 2012 to July 2013.

Cheryl Saam, facility supervisor for the canoe liveries, said for the month of July there were 3,617 kayaks, 584 canoes and 135 rafts rented for the 3.7-mile Argo-to-Gallup river trip. There were another 946 kayaks and 170 canoes rented for the 5.7-mile Barton-to-Gallup river trip.

The city also rented out 818 tubes for trips down the Argo Cascades in July, plus another 45 kayaks and 28 canoes for the 7.1-mile Delhi-to-Argo river trip.

The city completed the Argo Cascades project on the Huron River in May 2012 with the $1.17 million reconstruction of the bypass channel around Argo Dam in the old millrace.

The city removed a cumbersome portage and transformed the channel into a series of nine drops and pools for people in tubes, rafts, canoes and kayaks.

Other new features in the area include a wider and paved Border-to-Border Trail section and pedestrian bridges. Smith said the city is seeing a lot of new activity in the area, including companies having team-building exercises out on the river.

"All sorts of people are out on the river doing things we wouldn't have necessarily seen a number of years ago," he said. "North Face had kind of a company training out at Argo and they were using the standup paddle boards, so there's just a lot of different stuff you can do."

For more information, visit the canoe liveries website.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Rork Kuick

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

See the article July 31, 2012, by the same reporter: "Argo Cascades still closed: Ann Arbor parks manager says Huron River might be at lowest level in a decade" I call cherry picking. Confirmation bias for those who liked the dam is understandable. Creating it, not so much.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

should have been a whitewater park...


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

This is the best us of a drainage ditch I've seen since I was a kid swimming in the chemically enhanced spring waters of Henry Ford's Rouge River!

Usual Suspect

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

So, the cascades are doing great as they are, without any "art" added to them?


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

Waiting for the inevitable "Rise in E.coli cases are directly attributable to the popular Argo Cascades" article...


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

It is a nice little area. It's too bad the uptick in revenue will be negated by the massive expenditure on tax-paid unnecessary art in the same location.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Arg, so true.

Linda Peck

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

How wonderful! Cleaner river, more enjoyment, prettier! All good! I see people all the time on the water when cross Broadway Bridge.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

This is a wonderful addition to the City of A2. Good job Parks and Rec!!!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

A good example of how to turn your resources into money makers. Except it may take a while to make up the construction costs. Always wonder why schools don't use those ball parks, tennis courts and gyms to sponsor 3 on 3 tournaments or softball tournaments etc to raise a few bucks, at least to support the athletic programs.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Mick52 I believe that the liability insurance would require the school to provide supervision. Combine that with clean up and maintenance and there wouldn't be any profit. Competitive sports are quite strong.

Linda Peck

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

Mick52, I wonder if it is because competitive sports are losing popularity and sports activities people do with friends and families of all ages are more popular now. It seems to be obvious that many people are hiking, walking, biking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, all individual activities a person can do by themselves or with others of any age.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

This is a win-win for the city. The Argo Cascades are pleasant to walk by and fun to ride down. They are a welcome addition to the Huron river activities available in our city.

Ann English

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 3 p.m.

So this explains all the people I saw in swimwear getting out of their cars along Longshore yesterday. With both westbound I-94 and Barton Drive from Pontiac Trail to Plymouth Road closed, I tried Longshore Drive. It was passable, there in front of Argo Canoe Livery, and no bumper-to-bumper traffic even upon reaching another part of Barton Drive.

Dog Guy

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

I have noted an increase in downtown traffic congestion with the popularity of the JustUs Center, the Hurinal, and underground parking taking off.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

What is this drivel supposed to accomplish, dog guy? c'mon.