Boating the Rideau is really the best way to see it
in all its glory. Although the Rideau can be traversed one way
in as little three days, plan to take more time to stop and take
in the sights. You can use your own boat or rent a boat from one
the many marinas. The Rideau can be travelled in any kind of boat from large cruiser to canoe or kayak.
If you have your own boat, you can put it in at a marina in Kingston
or Ottawa, a marina or boat launch along the route, or you can
boat here. The Rideau is accessible from many regions. Residents
of Québec, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and
other regions of Ontario are within trailer boat driving distance
of the Rideau. Boats from all over North America come by water
to travel the Rideau. Boats from Florida travel up the Inland
Waterway, boats from the central region travel up the Mississippi,
there are even boats that come up along the Missouri. As long
as you can hit the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence River, it's
easy to get to the Rideau.
One of the nice things with the Rideau, is that it makes a nice
loop trip. Those traveling up from Kingston, can travel down the
Ottawa River to Montreal, and from there head down to the Great
Lakes, or head into the U.S. through Lake Champlain. Those who
have come down the Rideau from Ottawa, can head into the Great
Lakes from Kingston, perhaps traveling another loop through the
Trent-Severn Waterway to visit Georgian Bay, or head up the St.
Lawrence to Montreal.
Of course the best thing to do is to travel the Rideau both ways.
Like any route, the view is different depending on the direction
of travel. Use the first transit to discover the points that you
find of interest along the Rideau. Then spend your return trip
exploring those points of interest.
You don't actually have to use a boat to enjoy the Rideau. All
the locks are accessible by road and have good visitor facilities.
The drive from Kingston to Ottawa (or vice versa) is scenic and
pleasurable. From Kingston, head up Highway 15. This highway parallels
the Rideau all the way to Smiths Falls. In most spots, the locks
are only a few kilometres off the highway.
From Smiths Falls follow
County Road 43 to Merrickville, then take County Road 2 which follows
along the north shore of the Rideau River. At Becketts Landing,
you can continue for a mile or so to visit Rideau River Provincial
Park, or turn south on County Road 44 to Kemptville.
take County Road 19, which winds its way along the south shore of
the Rideau, and goes right into Ottawa.
For some driving tours of the Rideau visit the Driving Tours of the Rideau Region section.
When to Visit
Each part of the year offers different opportunities along the
May-June: The canal opens up in late May. This time
of year can be interesting with the land and forests in full bloom
of spring. Advantages at this time of year include less crowding,
you can easily find a berth at any lockstation or marina along
the way. The weather will vary at this time of year, with a daytime temperature
range of 5o to 20o C (40o to
July-August: This is most popular time of year for
the traveler. The water in the lakes has warmed up to perfect
swimming temperature and there are lots of activities (festivals,
fairs, etc.) going on in the towns along the route. The weather
is usually very good, with daytime temperatures in the 20o
to 30o C (70o to 85o F) range.
In addition, the lockstations switch to longer hours at this time
September - October: The canal closes in mid-October.
A cruise in late September/early October will reward the traveler
with a magnificent display of fall colour
(see picture). Weather can be quite
good, the region is often blessed with a nice "Indian Summer"
at this time of year. Daytime temperatures will normally range from 10o
to 25o C (50o to 75o F). However
my wife did point out to me that she has experienced snow boating
in October (a rare occurrence though).
If you don't believe my temperature estimates then check out my climate page.