Cruising Destinations

Timing Your Great Loop Adventure

With the cruising season underway, many are already setting off on their Great Loop journeys, fulfilling a dream that sits atop many a cruiser's bucket list. However, if this is adventure is one you are just beginning to consider, planning & timing are everything to ensure that you navigate through each region at the best possible times.

Cruising the Great Loop

Spring into Action from Florida

Begin your journey northward from Florida at the start of April, savoring the slow change of seasons as you head towards the Chesapeake Bay. Aim to arrive there by mid-May.

Cruising the Great Loop

Summertime: Northward to the Great Lakes

Plan to leave the Chesapeake Bay by the start of June, setting a course for the Erie Canal by mid-June, and then onto the Trent-Severn Canal by the end of June or the western Erie Canal by early July. These dates are set to avoid the Canadian holiday rush and to enjoy the serene beauty of the canals before they become bustling with activity.

Cruising the Great Loop

Late Summer: Lake Michigan to Chicago

By late August, aim to be at the northern tip of Lake Michigan. Starting southward then, plan to depart Chicago the Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend, allowing you to bypass the bustling summer crowds and enjoy a more tranquil passage.

Cruising the Great Loop

Fall: Heading South to Tennessee

The fall season is perfect for enjoying the southward journey, with a goal to be in Paducah, KY, by late September. Continue to revel in the beauty of the Tennessee River and the Tenn-Tom Waterway, reaching Mobile, AL, by late October.

Cruising the Great Loop

Winter: Completing the Loop

From Mobile, proceed eastward, crossing Florida's "big bend" before December to avoid the onset of colder winter fronts. Aim to conclude your Great Loop adventure in Florida by mid-December, marking the end of an unforgettable year-long voyage.

Take Your Time

While the suggested timeline fits a year, consider extending your journey if your lifestyle permits. Whether you stay aboard throughout or take breaks, this adventure offers endless opportunities to explore.

Plan with the Right Resources

For a successful journey, arm yourself with the best resources. The Waterway Guide Cruising Guides & Subscriptions offer invaluable information on marinas, anchorage, navigation tips, and must-see attractions tailored to each segment of the Loop. Additionally, Skipper Bob's Cruising America's Great Loop provides insights into the most scenic routes, timing advice, and practical tips from seasoned loopers. Together, these resources are essential companions for your Great Loop adventure, ensuring you're well-informed every nautical mile of the way.