All paddles are pointing to Newaygo for the ChoiceOne/Spectrum Health 2011 United States Canoe Association (USCA) National Canoe & Kayak Championships hosted by Powers Outdoors on the Muskegon River, August 9 to 14. More than 500 U.S. and international racers are expected for exciting sprint races and an 8-mile marathon event. The Muskegon River has been ranked among the top 20 by Field & Stream magazine for fishing and in the top 12 for recreation in National Geographic.
Olympians, world-class athletes, paddle enthusiasts and youth/adult teams will be participating in the Newaygo Nationals. Newaygo will be rolling out the welcome mat for more than 3,000 visitors – almost double the size of the town’s population. To date over 50 volunteers have signed up to assist with 30 race events and to welcome visitors. More volunteers are needed, sign up at Newaygo Nationals.
Get in on the action
You don’t have to be a professional to join in the fun on August 8 for the pre-championship event, Up-River Challenge. The course travels from the Train Bridge Landing to Henning Park. Powers Outdoors will offer paddling clinics by advance reservation. On Friday, August 13 the Family Challenge Race begins at 2pm at Brooks Park. Between races visit the Farmer’s Market or stop in the big tent in the North Parking Lot for Newaygo's "Riverstock," which boasts live entertainment and refreshments. For more information on city events, visit NewaygoNaturally.
Free spectator admission as well as spectator bleachers will be available for start and finish activities.
- Tuesday, August 9 – USCA Canoe/Kayak Spring Championships; Sprint Awards at Duchemin Park
- Wednesday, August 10 – Participant registration and orientation; Philip H. Soule National Run-Paddle Biathlon Championships (non-USCA event\
- Thursday, August 11 – USCA Youth Sprint races; Costume & Fun Paddle Parade
- Friday, August 12 – USCA Marathon Championship & Trial Races; Official Opening Ceremonies at Brooks Park
- Saturday, August 13 – USCA Marathon Championship & Demo Races; SUP Challenge Course, Croton Pond (non-USCA race); Marathon and SUP Challenge Awards Ceremony at Henning Park
- Sunday, August 14 - USCA Marathon Championships & Dam Down Race Course, (non-USCA race); concluding Awards Ceremony at Henning Park with Closing Ceremony, Good Sportsmanship Award, Youth Encouragement Award, and Paddler of the Year Award
Explore Newaygo and beyond
In between races, be sure explore some of the many sites and scenes available in Newaygo and the surrounding region.
Newaygo County, located northwest of Grand Rapids on the edge of the Manistee National Forest, has more than 230 lakes and 350 miles of rivers and streams. The area is a popular visitor destination for water craft sports, fishing, swimming, hiking and biking. There are several state, county and RV parks available for camping, and resorts, inns and motels for lodging in Newaygo and nearby Freemont and White Cloud.
Croton Dam and Hardy Dam have a combined 50 miles of shoreline with campgrounds, picnic areas, and boat ramps. Loda Lake is a wildflower sanctuary with a nature trail displaying more than 150 different species of plant life. The Big Prairie Pine Forest, the largest desert east of the Mississippi, was formed in 1852 and is a playground for dune rides, picnics, and long walks in the white sand. Amateur astronomers will enjoy The Stephen F. Wessling Observatory and the public is invited to take part in frequent Star Parties. The next Star Party is scheduled for August 12 beginning at twilight.
Downtown Newaygo has a nice selection of restaurants, antique shops and specialty stores. Just 30 miles south, Grand Rapids is home to many attractions including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, John Ball Zoo, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park and the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. To the west in Muskegon plan on a day or more to visit Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park, Lake Michigan beaches, and the Great Lakes Naval Memorial & Museum.