Can You Do the Great Loop in a Houseboat? Real Stories

Imagine cruising around America’s backyard in your houseboat, exploring a giant loop of waterways. This journey, called the Great Loop, has rivers, canals, and lakes, and houseboating on it is getting super popular. We’re here to share how you can join in on the fun. Our team will guide you through the must-haves and how-tos of looping in your home on the water. So, grab your captain’s hat and let’s set sail on this amazing adventure together!

Geographic Scope and Route of the Great Loop

Think of it as a huge water road that loops around the eastern part of the US and Canada. It’s a big circle of rivers and lakes that’s about 6,000 miles long. You can hop on this water road at any spot you like. Most folks start down south in the Gulf of Mexico or up north in the Great Lakes and head around in a circle, usually going clockwise. That way, they go with the flow of the rivers and the best weather.

Here are some of the main water spots you’ll see on the Great Loop:

  • Big rivers like the Mississippi and the Hudson
  • Canals like the Erie Canal
  • Big lakes like the ones in the Great Lakes

Houseboats and other boats can cruise along these waters. We’ll chat more about how houseboats do on this trip.

Can I Take a Houseboat on the Great American Loop?

Thinking about cruising the Great American Loop on a houseboat? Great idea! But first, let’s make sure you’re all set to go. You’ll need to know the rules, have the right skills, and find friends to help you along the way.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

Yes, you can take a houseboat on the Loop, but you’ve got to play by the rules. Every place has its own boating laws—like a driver’s license for your boat. If you’re going into Canada, they’ve got their own set of rules too. Make sure your houseboat is eco-friendly, keeping the water clean and the air pure.

Skills and Knowledge Required for Houseboat Captains

Driving a houseboat isn’t just about turning the wheel. You’ll need to know how to get from point A to point B without getting lost, fix small problems on your boat, and be ready for any surprises. Locks can be tricky gates on the water, so you’ll need to know how to get through them. Talking on a radio helps you stay in touch with lock masters and other boaters.

The Importance of a Support Network and Resources

Don’t go it alone! Having buddies and good advice can make your trip way smoother. There are groups online where folks chat about their boat trips. They can give you the scoop on what to expect. And don’t forget your guidebook or a handy app. They’re like treasure maps for finding the best stops and staying out of trouble.

Getting Your Houseboat Ready for the Great Loop

Fixing Up Your Boat for a Long Trip

Before we set sail on the Great Loop, we need to make our houseboat ready to live on for a while. That means we add things like solar panels or generators for power, a good toilet that doesn’t need water, and a way to make sure the water we drink is clean. These upgrades help us stay out on the water longer without having to stop and hook up for power or water.

Making the Most of Your Space

We know space is tight on a houseboat, so we get creative. We like to use furniture that has more than one use and shelves that go up the walls to hold all our stuff. To keep our boat steady and safe, we spread out our things evenly. To make our boat feel like home, we pick out comfy chairs and beds and add a few of our favorite decorations.

Planning for Fuel

Fuel is like food for your boat—it needs it to go! We figure out how much fuel we need by looking at how far we can go on a tank and where we can fill up along the way. To make sure we use less fuel, we keep our boat clean and in good shape. This means cleaning the bottom of the boat and making sure the engine runs smoothly. This helps us save money and travel further without needing to stop for gas as often.

Advantages and Drawbacks of Houseboating on the Great Loop

The Unique Appeal of Houseboat Travel

Why choose a houseboat for the Great Loop? The answer lies in the unmatched appeal of living on the water. A houseboat allows you to enjoy the comfort of your own space with all the amenities of home. Imagine sipping your morning coffee on the deck with a new view every day! Plus, you set the pace. Want to linger in a picturesque town or explore a hidden cove? On a houseboat, you steer your own course, customizing your journey to your heart’s content.

Limitations and Constraints of Houseboating on the Loop

But can you take a houseboat on the Great Loop without a hitch? Not quite. Size does matter when it comes to navigating certain areas of the loop. Some waterways have size restrictions that could pose difficulties for larger vessels.

Additionally, houseboats are generally slower than other boats. This means you’ll need to factor in more travel time and may not cover as much ground—or water—each day.

Comparing Houseboats to Other Vessels for the Great Loop

When it comes to traversing the Great Loop, how do houseboats stack up against other options like sailboats, trawlers, or motor yachts? Houseboats offer greater living space and comfort, making them ideal for long-term cruising. However, they may lack the speed and agility of other vessels. In terms of cost, houseboats can be more economical given their ability to function as both transport and accommodation. Ultimately, the choice depends on your priorities: comfort and space versus speed and maneuverability.

Considering all angles, houseboating on the Great Loop is a distinctive journey that blends the tranquility of a floating home with the thrill of exploration. It’s a voyage that invites you to slow down, savor each moment, and create an adventure that’s truly your own.

Houseboaters’ Great Loop Stories

We’ve met folks who’ve circled the Great Loop, and boy, do they have tales to share! Imagine waking up to dolphins playing around your houseboat, or finding the perfect quiet spot to drop anchor for the night. Jim and Susan, a couple we know, saw amazing sights and met all kinds of people. They told us about the busy cities, quiet towns, and everything in between.

Loop veterans also say planning is key but being ready to switch things up matters too. They remind us to always check how high bridges are and when locks open and close. Managing fuel is also a big deal – know where you can fill up and keep an eye on how much you’re using.

One golden tip: take your time. The journey is packed with cool stuff to see and do, so don’t rush it. And knowing how to fix things on your boat can save the day. Being a good fixer means fewer headaches if something goes wonky.


Houseboat travel on the Great Loop offers a special chance to see America from a new angle. It’s about comfort and making the trip your own. You move at your own pace and live on the water while you explore. Yes, there are size limits and some parts might be tough for larger boats, but with the right planning, houseboats can make the full loop.

Compared to other boats, houseboats bring a touch of home to the waters. They may not be as fast, but the experience they offer is unmatched. It’s about choosing what’s right for you, whether that’s a houseboat or another kind of vessel.