Canal Boat Rides - Take A Journey Back To The 1800s

Picture it: 1848 Illinois. Prairie covers the state. Overland transportation is slow and treacherous. And only a few small communities exist, including a small port town on Lake Michigan called Chicago. Then the I&M Canal opens, and everything changes…

Admission Prices

Adults - $24
Seniors (62 & over) - $19
Children (4-16) - $10
Children under 3 – Free
Family Pack (2 Adults & 2 Children) - $59

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and most Wednesdays
11:30 am • 1 pm • 2:30 pm
May–October

Relive the fateful turning point in our history that led to a new era of transportation and the growth of our region by taking a trip on The Volunteer, our Canal Boat. This vessel is not only a replica of those from the 1840s. It also runs on the same energy source: mule power!

Your journey includes: a “Mule Tending 101” class in which you’ll meet Moe the Mule, interact with crew of period dressed guides, hear tales of the canal’s heyday and enjoy a 60-90 minute boat ride. 

Catch the boat at I&M Canal State Trail – Lock 14 Access, LaSalle IL. It’s near our I&M Canal Visitor Center and Lock 16 Gift Shop and Café, which is located at 754 First Street, so pop in if you have questions, want to buy tickets in person, need to use the restrooms before you embark or are looking for a tasty bite or beverage.

The boat runs from late May through October and is accessible to those who use manually-powered mobility aids, such as walkers, crutches, canes and non-motorized wheelchairs. Ticket purchases are available all year long–making this a lovely gift you can purchase or get-together you can plan any time of year.

Start with “Mule Tending 101” in which you’ll learn what it’s like to care for a mule and get to meet our star: Moe the Mule
Be regaled with tales of the canal and interact with our period-dressed guide, deck hand, mule tender and boat captain
Enjoy a short, scenic trip as you cruise one mile up the canal and then back

NEW for 2024: I&M Canal Boat Kid Tour – First Ride Of The Day

 Join up as an I&M Canal Boat Kid on Come ride The Volunteer, our mule-powered, 1840s-replica canal boat! The first ride of each day is dedicated to younger passengers age 5-12.

With the purchase of a ticket for the 11:30 am canal boat ride, children will be invited to board the boat 30 min. early – 11 am (with their guardians) and discover what it would have been like to be a kid in the 1840s, the era of our canal boat.

As a Canal Boat Kid, they may be asked to help with kid-appropriate deckhand chores, learn what it takes to care for mules, find out what the captain’s job included, greet other passengers when they board, look for wildlife along the shores, and more, all while they explore the boat–both before it leaves the dock and during its morning tour.

This is a kid-friendly tour, not a kids-only tour. Adult passengers will enjoy hearing about life on and around the canal from our on-board tour guide as the boat makes its way up the canal.

This unique, young-passenger-focused experience gets your kids out of the house (and off their devices) so they can engage with nature and the stories of our community, state and nation, making a lasting impression for all.

All Aboard - Book Your Group Trip

Our trip on the canal is a lovely, enriching outing that’s perfect for groups, including senior centers, travel clubs, work teams, and more. We can even host private tours. For details and group rates, call (815) 220-1848 or click the link below.

Host Your Event On Our Canal Boat

Cruise down the canal while celebrating special occasions, such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, get togethers, social club events, fundraisers and more! Get more details by calling (815) 220-1848 or clicking the link below.