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Grand Rapids is Michigan’s second-largest city and boasts an impressive downtown with an emphasis on its relationship to the Grand River. Explore the NWWWS host city through a 
walking tour that will highlight the city’s riverfront restoration and access.

Best suited for: Riverfront cities | Urban green spaces


  • On the banks of the Grand River, about 25 miles east of Lake Michigan
  • Namesake rapids, once removed as a navigation hazard, may be restored through the EPA Urban Rivers Restoration Initiative


Tour will take place from 12–5 p.m.

Boxed lunches provided prior to walking tour.

Enjoy a networking lunch and presentation by your field trip leaders in Plaza Boardroom A prior to departure.

Depart Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Walk west across the Gilett Bridge to Ah-Nab-Awen park.

  • Adjacent to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Travel north along riverwalk.

  • Historical riverfront
  • Fish Ladder Park
  • 6th Street Dam

Once reaching the historic 6th Street bridge, turn around and either retrace steps on the west side of the river or complete the full loop on the east side.

  • Site of historical rapids
  • 6th Street Bridge Park
  • DeVos Place

Return to Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.


The Grand Rapids tour will be solely on-foot with frequent stops. Participants should bring comfortable walking shoes and a water bottle. Expect to encounter uneven sidewalks, staircases, bridges, and street crossings.


Matt Chapman serves as the Project Coordinator for Grand Rapids Whitewater. Matt has over 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and is knowledgeable in marketing, special events management, grant writing & management, the donor development process, and organizational development. In his spare time, Matt enjoys snow skiing, hiking, fishing, and anything on the water with his wife and children.

Wendy Ogilvie joined Grand Valley Metro Council (GVMC) in 2013 as the Director of Environmental Programs. Her career has focused on water resource management projects, with over 25 years of experience in watershed and stormwater management. Current initiatives include the Regional Prosperity Initiative, facilitating NPDES Municipal Stormwater Permits in Kent and Ottawa County communities, implementing the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW) strategic plan, and assisting the project team in restoring the rapids to the Grand River. Originally from Maryland, Wendy came to Michigan to pursue a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Michigan and later earned a M.S. in Resource Development from Michigan State University.

Jay Steffen is the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He oversees the Long Term Planning and Community Engagement Division. Jay serves as the city’s project lead on the Grand River corridor plan; a coordinated planning effort with Grand Rapids Whitewater to restore the rapids to the Grand River and provide a vision for adjacent future public and private investment on land. Jay received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Landscape Architecture from Kansas State University. He is a licensed Landscape Architect in the State of Michigan and member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.