Kayak Memphis set to give Memphis a new perspective on the city

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This Saturday, a new company will begin offering tours of downtown from a perspective many haven't seen — from a kayak on the Mississippi River.

Kayak Memphis is partnering with Memphis River Parks Partnership to offer kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals.

You can float the Memphis harbor for $20 at the kickoff event this weekend, but for more experienced paddlers there are $50 and $75 guided tours available for the Mississippi River.a

Weekday evening tours are available but by reservation only.

Harry Babb, co-owner of Kayak Memphis Tours, said this vision has been in his family before he was even born.

"My dad was a pilot on the barges, this has been 30 years ago," Babb said. "He fell in love with the view he got as he's coming up and down the big river."

Babb said his father, Mark Babb, could visualize the people enjoying the harbor for paddle sports.

But to those who have reservations about the idea, Babb said that's totally fine.

"I've been doing this since I was a little kid, and if they are scared and I'm available, I'll get out there with you and do it," Babb said.

The interest in paddle sports has increased around Memphis, with Shelby Farms offering boat rentals and more access points being opened for the Ghost River.

Carol Coletta with Memphis River Parks Partnership pioneered the idea of Memphis harbor kayaks with a pilot run during the Fourth of July this year.

Kayaks let people enjoy the fireworks show in a totally new way, Babb said. Some of them were first-time paddlers.

Babb said the $20 deal each weekend is for floating the harbor, a safe zone of three miles from the opening of the harbor to the north end of Mud Island.

"It's harbor-only, which is a safe zone. There is no current in here and, like I was saying, there's plenty of stuff to see," Babb said.

More experienced paddlers can go out on the Mississippi River, but Babb and his team do extra work to ensure that those who do are experienced.

Babb said visitors can see the city in a completely new way at different times of the year when the water is at different levels.

Saturday's event will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the cobblestones and at 11:30 there will be a race with prizes for first, second and third from Outdoors Inc.

Those with their own kayaks are also welcome to go.

Go to their Eventbrite page and register or call the number on their website if you're interested in a tour or a rental.