Closed for the season, open April 7th 2018

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Business Purpose

Cave Country Canoes is a full service canoe and kayak livery servicing the Blue River, Indiana’s first designated scenic river. Cave Country Canoes is dedicated to providing a safe and fun recreational experience for our guests while helping to preserve and protect the environment of Indiana’s highest quality stream. The Blue River drains Indiana’s largest karst area and is almost entirely fed by cave springs issuing from the limestone bluffs into the river. Because of limited industrial and urban development in its watershed, the Blue has been spared the ravages of pollution, urbanization and other environmental problems of most Indiana rivers. With careful management, promotion and clean up efforts, we are able to share the river with our guests, working hand-in-hand with The Nature Conservancy, Blue River Commission, IDNR and landowners along the river and insure the financial resources necessary for preservation and quality recreational opportunities in the future.

Business History

Cave Country Canoes was incorporated in the fall of 1983 to purchase the assets of Murphy’s Canoe Rental in Milltown. Cave Country Canoes has the same ownership as Marengo Cave National Landmark. The canoe rental in Milltown was purchased because canoeing was very complimentary to the products offered at the cave. In fact, joint packages including cave tours, cave exploring trips and canoeing was already being promoted by the cave prior to the purchase of Murphy’s. In 1984, Cave Country Canoes began promoting the Blue River with more extensive advertising and the business grew rapidly. Kayaks were introduced to the rental business on the river for the first time. In 1985, Paul Harpe, the owner of Blue River Marina, a competing livery down the street decided to retire and sold his operation to Cave Country Canoes. From that point until now they have been operated jointly as one facility.

Over the years, many improvements have been made to the operations. More use of buses to transport customers, radio communications with drivers, furnishing of detailed color river maps, safety videos with simple canoeing instruction, the introduction of plastic canoes, river gauges, rescue jet boat and higher quality equipment. The business ownership has been proactive in establishing guidelines and using technology to provide better information for safer canoe trips.

At the present time, Cave Country Canoes operates a fleet including 375 canoes, 100 kayaks, and 6 buses. We maintain a 4.5 acre campground for use by organized groups and people taking a multi-day canoe trip on the river. The livery operates daily from May 1st through Labor Day and weekends in April, September, and October on all days where river levels and weather conditions allow. Cave Country Canoes offers half-day, full-day trips, and two-day trips. Early in the season, seasoned paddlers can even take a 58-mile trip taking 3 or 4 days.

The Blue River is recognized as one of the midwest’s finest canoeing streams. However, as with all small streams, levels fluctuate rapidly. Generally canoeing action is faster paced and a little more exciting in the spring and early summer. Later in the season, the river is often slower. This is a good time to introduce youngsters to the sport of paddlling. Regardless of the season, the scenery is always beautiful with the river confined to a half-canyon lined with hardwood forests and towering limestone bluffs.

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