I&M Canal Mule-Powered Boat Tour

Take a journey back in time aboard “The Volunteer”


I&M Canal State Trail- Lock 14 Access, LaSalle, IL



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…

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! This 1-hour experience is perfect for family fun, history buffs, nature lovers, and groups.

Become an I&M Canal Boat Kid today! Open for children age 5-12. 

Come ride The Volunteer, our mule-powered, 1840s-replica canal boat, and “join up” as an I&M Canal Boat Kid! 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. 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, kid-focused experience gets our young passengers 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 that won’t be forgotten.

Tours Days: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and most Wednesdays (May-October)

Tour Times: 

  • 11:30 AM (dedicated to younger passengers age 5-12)
  • 1:00 PM
  • 2:30 PM


Adults: $24
Seniors: $19
Children (4-16): $10
Children (3 and under): Free
Family 4-Pack (2 Adults, 2 Kids): $59



  • Kid's Pack $8.95
  • Passage to Chicago: Traveling the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1860 $18.95
  • I&M Canal Boat Logo Drawstring Back Pack $3.99
  • Walk or Ride the Canal Drawstring Back pack $3.99
  • I&M Canal Keychain $4.95


Start your tour at the I&M Canal Visitor Center, 754 First Street, LaSalle, IL 61301. Arrive at least 15 minutes early to pick up your tickets and use the restrooms. Allow extra time if going to grab beverages or treats and check out the exhibits. Then walk or drive down to the I&M Canal Boat at Lock 14, approximately 1/3 mile away across the Joliet Street bridge. The tours will start promptly at the scheduled times. The mule tender will get everybody gathered around Moe the mule for a brief introduction. Then the captain will welcome you aboard. The ride will start in the cabin and later the crew will let you up to the top deck to enjoy the view. 


Accessibility? The LaSalle Canal Boat is cane, walker and wheel-chair accessible, but cannot accommodate motorized scooters.

Weather? There is a lower, covered area on the boat so the tour operates in most weather. Rarely, we will delay, reschedule the tour, or refund the ticket price if a tour is cancelled due to bad weather. For cancellations, the customer will have the choice to reschedule or receive a refund.

Bathrooms? We recommend the clean and comfortable facilities at our Visitor Center BEFORE you go to the boat. There are also a few porta-potties near Lock 14. 

Pets? Unfortunately, we do not allow pets aboard the boat. 

Food and Beverage? You can purchase snacks and drink items at the coffee shop inside the I&M Canal Visitor Center & Lock 16 Gift Shop. On the boat, your own water is allowed or you can bring food and beverages purchased at the coffee shop. 

Other things to do nearby? Stop at the I&M Canal Visitor Center for information or check out this write-up of activities and sites to visit when spending a day in LaSalle-Peru. LaSalle County has a lot of great attractions nearby, including Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks, the Hegeler Carus Mansion, Westclox Museum, Reddick Mansion, Weber House and Gardens and a variety of great shopping, antique shops, distilleries, breweries, wineries, and specialty shops. You can discover more at enjoylasallecounty.com.

Default Cancellation Policy

Boat Tours Cancellation Policy. **We require 24 hours cancellation notice prior to your scheduled boat ride for a full refund.** A cancellation less than 24 hours before your scheduled boat ride you will receive a voucher to take a boat ride at later date. If we cancel due to weather, you will receive a full refund.

**Canal Corridor Association**

WithinCancellation Fee
1 Day5.0%
23 Hours100.0%
boat IMCNHA LOCK 16 Tour