Just in time for the 175th anniversary of the storied Illinois and Michigan Canal (and the 39th anniversary of the I&M Canal National Heritage Area), a new set of app-powered rental bikes has been added to the Starved Rock Country region.
The popular bike rental program, run by the I&M Canal National Heritage Area, removes the biggest challenge to taking a scenic ride along the legendary waterway – transporting your own bikes to the trailhead. You’re often stuck trying to cram your beloved bikes into the backseat of your car, or taking your chances by affixing a bike rack to the back. Thanks to the app-based bike sharing system, you can soak in the history and natural splendor of the canal for just $5 an hour using one of several convenient locations – including a new kiosk in Marseilles, located at Main Street and the I&M Canal Trail.
Anyone age 18 or older can rent a bike at self-service locations near canal trail entrances in Lemont, Lockport, Channahon, Morris, Marseilles, Utica and La Salle using a simple smartphone app. Before you head out on your trip, visit iandmcanal.org for a link to download the app, or simply search Movatic in your app store. You’ll then follow a simple registration process that can be completed in a matter of moments. Once you’re in proximity to one of the bike stations, you can use your rental wheels to explore the trail and beautiful canal towns, for just a small hourly fee.
All rental bikes include a basket, bell, and headlight for evening travel. You will, however, need to provide your own helmet to use these bikes. Once you have completed your trip, the bicycle can be returned to any of the open stations along the canal, an added convenience.
For more information on the I&M Canal Bike Share, and to get updates on when the new program will launch, visit: iandmcanal.org/bike
Looking for more ways to celebrate the anniversary of the I&M Canal?
Take a ride aboard the I&M Canal Boat, an astounding piece of historical recreation and one of the most memorable attractions you’ll find in Starved Rock Country. The 76-foot boat is the first on the canal in over 70 years, but the star of the show for adults and kids alike is Moe the Mule, who pulls the boat and passengers down the canal for a brief glimpse of what canal travel was like in 1848, when Chicago was the western frontier. The ride is about an hour long, enough to learn the canal’s history from an expert guide, but not overly long for the kids. You are allowed to walk around the boat, sit in the cabin, or explore the upper deck. Catch a view of turtles sunning themselves on the rocks, while birds, fish and other animals make frequent appearances. Kids can become a junior captain and visit the stern of the boat to see the rudder in action.
Tickets are required at iandmcanal.org, 754 First St., LaSalle, Illinois 61301
Become a Junior Ranger of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area. The IMCNHA is part of the fan-favorite National Park Service Junior Ranger program. Guests (ages 5 to 95) can earn an official Junior Ranger badge by simply completing a free activity in the book at the I&M Canal Visitor Center (754 First St., LaSalle, IL 61301). At this convenient downtown LaSalle location, just a short walk away from the canal itself, you can pick up a complimentary Junior Ranger book and return the completed activity for a commemorative badge. In addition, there are select days and locations along the IMCNHA, including special anniversary year events, where guests can attend a Junior Ranger Day and complete a workbook with the help of a real National Park Service ranger (the next will be held during Utica’s Burgoo festivities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 8).
Check iandmcanal.org for dates and details.