It’s that time of the year again! Time to break out the swim suits, paddles, and get some friends together on an awesome Michigan water adventure! Lets be honest though , its always time to get out on an Adventure. Michigan has countless spots to hit up, be it on a kayak, canoe, tube, SUP or raft, nothing beats the heat like a day out paddling out on the water. We’ve put together your ultimate list of Michigan Canoe Kayak Adventures you need to go too! Check them out below and share with your friends!
Lake Huron – Maps
You couldn’t have an article about getting out on the water in Michigan and not include one of its Great Lakes. Lake Huron is a honey hole for paddling, be it on a kayak or stand up paddle board, this is one of Michigan’s most unique areas. You have shallow water, massive rock formations along the beach, and wildlife is abundant.
Head out to one of Michigan’s greatest natural wonders, Turnip Rock. Explore majestic cliffs, sea caves and Thumb Nail Point, the geographical tip of Michigan’s thumb. The paddle to Turnip Rock is through shallow water along undeveloped shoreline where you could see eagles and other wildlife. The place to head to when you’re ready to explore Lake Huron is no other than Port Austin Kayak! They have both kayak and paddleboard rentals, family friendly trails to multiple rock formations and sea caves and of course the scenic trail to Turnip Rock!
Manistee River – Maps
Widely known as one of the best rivers in the state to go tubing, the Manistee river offers a relaxed float with small rapids along the way. This is the lazy river float you’ve been looking for. Super scenic and packed with wildlife, you’re always on the lookout for whats next. Be it a bald eagle, deer, or the occasional bear, you’ll have some company along the way.
Being a lazy river, fishing is also a favorite here, sop bringing your pole out isn’t a bad idea. Back in the day, the area along the banks were used to roll logs down to the river, which has now left you with massive high hills towering over the banks. When you’re ready to float the Manistee, make sure and stop by Wilderness Canoe Trips & Tubes for all your needs. They have multiple trips, include overnight and day trips, as well as full service canoe/kayak/tube rentals!
Lake St. Clair – Maps
Not all canoe/kayak adventures have you explore out into the wilderness for a scenic setting. Lake St. Clair for example, offers an awesome paddle destination just outside of Detroit! So when you’re ready leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and not have to travel, Lake St. Clair is the spot to go! With sand beaches lining the shores, you’re able to spend a day out on the water and have countless spots to pull off for lunch and a break.
Be it on a kayak, SUP, or Jetski, getting out on Lake St. Clair is a must for any Adventurer in the area, the sunsets here are breathtaking! Simple Adventures Watersports is located right on the banks of the lake and offer kayak, SUP, and Jetski rentals as well as SUP lessons for any beginners. They have multiple locations they service from, Lake St. Clair Metro Park, New Baltimore at Anchor Bay, and the scenic Harsers Island!
Ontonagon River – Maps
In the heart of the Ottawa National Forest and near the Sylvania Wilderness, the middle branch of the Ontonagon River brings you a scenic trip that shows off the true beauty of Michigan. Being part of the Wild and Scenic River System, development along the river is restricted, leaving you engulfed in Michigan wilderness. You have class I-II rapids along the way, giving a strong current with some areas not even requiring you to paddle.
Waterfalls such as Mex-i-min-e, Bond, and Agate Falls are all on the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River. When you’re ready to hit up the Ontonagon, make sure to stop by Sylvania Outfitters. They are family friendly, and have been in operation for 47 years. Bob, the owner, is an expert of the area, and offers full service canoe/kayak rentals with multiple trips!
Grand River – Maps
Being the longest river in the state at 252 miles, there isn’t a better name for the river than the “Grand River” of course. Used years ago as a logging and transportation river, it now hosts paddlers from all over to come and enjoy the scenic river. It also has numerous lakes along its path that are ideal for paddling about and exploring.
There are small rapids along the way to give you some excitement, and wildlife is scattered throughout, specifically known for being an excellent river to see waterfowl. Herons, egrets, white swans, and hawks to name a few. Old bridges, scenic views, wildlife, and a relaxed float down the Grand is exactly what you need. The Red Cedar River is a tributary that runs into the Grand that also offers pristine paddling. You can start on the Red Cedar, and float on down into the Grand, just make sure and stop by River Town Adventures for all you floating needs! They have full service canoe/kayak rentals and multiple trips down the Grand and Red Cedar River!
Pictured Rocks – Maps
Looking for baby seagulls along the cliffs.
Back at it again with another Great Lake! Lake Superior is the destination this time, and its quite the Adventure. Located here is the impressive Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, one of the most sought after paddling destinations in Michigan. With massive limestone cliffs lining the banks, waterfalls toppling over into the lake, sea caves, and unique rock formations scattered throughout, its an Adventure unlike anything else. Shown in the picture below, you’re able to paddle trough caves and come out under waterfalls such as Bridalveil Falls!
Hitting up Pictures Rocks via paddling is something all should experience, it is more of a dangerous excursion than others, and that’s why going to the right outfitter is so important. The team over at Northern Waters Adventures has been operating the Lake for over 26 years, and have a PERFECT safety record throughout that time. Make sure and contact them when you’re ready to experience Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior, they have full service kayak guided tours with expert guides to ensure your safety.
Pere Marquette River – Maps
Over near Ludington Mi., the easy going south branch of the Pere Marquette forks with the north branch just before it meets the and drains into the Pere Marquette Lake which then leads into Lake Michigan. This creates a unique paddling experience where you get to paddle down the north branch of the river, explore both lakes, and then loop around back up slow waters of the the south branch.
Along the banks, there are multiple sandy beaches for you to pull off for lunch, explore, and enjoy the beautiful meadow scenery. The river is also a designated Blue Ribbon fishery, so make sure and bring out the poles with you and test the waters. When the Pere Marquette is calling your name, make sure and go to Pere Marquette Expeditions! They have full service kayak/canoe/SUP rentals and are perfectly located on the river to paddle “the loop” of both branches and lakes!
White River – Maps
Paddle through a National Forest on the lazy flow of the White River in western Michigan. You’ll be flowing through the heart of the Manistee National Forest, leaving you surrounded in nature throughout. Along with that, the White is a state-designated “Scenic River,” and part of Michigan’s Natural Rivers program, meaning you’ll see scenery rather than development.
Fishing along the river could leave you catching some monster bass or pike in the summer months, so bring the reels with ya. Wildlife such as sea turtles, great blue herons, duck, and deer could accompany you along the way as well. The crew over at Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery has everything you’ll need for you White River trip, full service canoe/kayak/tube rentals for your Adventure.
There you have it, your ultimate guide to the amazing water Adventures in Michigan. Make this a memorable year out on the water. Hitting the rivers and lakes allow you to experience Michigan in a way like no other. Hit up some friends, make some plans, and get ready to on an adventure.