4 Michigan Rivers Are Sure to Delight Any Outdoor Enthusiast

While Michigan is synonymous with its Great Lakes, its 51,438 miles of winding rivers offer plenty of opportunities for thrill seekers and relaxation seekers.

A stone’s throw from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the aptly named Crystal River in Glen Arbor offers paddlers a leisurely journey through glassy waters, with plenty of wildlife sightings along the way. You can bring your own kayak or canoe, or rent from Crystal River Outfitters.

rifle river

A wooden bridge spanning the River Rifle.

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A lazy float down a 60 mile long stretch of the Rifle River is the perfect way to spend a summer day. White’s Canoe Livery in Sterling (whitescanoe.net, 989-654-2654) offers convenient campsites along the river, as well as tubing, cooler tubing, kayak, canoe, and raft rentals. Tubers can choose from a short float (1.5-2 hours) to an all-day float (about 6 hours) and bring their own drinks and waterproof speakers for an all-day party. If you prefer to fish, the Rifle River is also a haven for brown trout in the spring and early fall.

Huron River

Kayaking on the Huron River on a foggy fall morning.

Kayaking on the Huron River on a foggy fall morning.

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In the southeastern corner of the state, the Huron River rushes through rural and suburban areas, allowing visitors to fly fish for smallmouth bass year-round or enjoy a number of watersports. paddle, with several town centers a short distance from its public access points. Argo and Gallup Parks in Ann Arbor offer universal access ramps, so even paddlers with disabilities can enjoy Huron’s calm waters. The Argo Waterfalls are one of the most popular places to visit, with tubers and kayakers hurtling down a series of small waterfalls before launching into the river. Tubes, kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards and paddle boats are available for hire in Argo and Gallup Park liveries, operated by the City of Ann Arbor .

Sand River

The South Fork of Michigan's famous Au Sable River.

The South Fork of Michigan’s famous Au Sable River.

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The Au Sable River, which flows east from the Grayling area into Lake Huron, has some of the best fly fishing in the United States. A popular destination for trout, rainbow trout and salmon, the 9-mile section of Au Sable known as ‘Holy Waters’ is reserved for fly fishing only, with catch and release. ‘water. If you’re just “dipping your toes” into fly fishing, Au Sable River Outfitter in Mio offers guided excursions and instruction for anglers of all skill levels.

Michigan's more than 130 rivers offer plenty of recreational opportunities.

Michigan’s more than 130 rivers offer plenty of recreational opportunities.

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With over 130 rivers to choose from, Michigan’s many waterways have something for everyone. Often overshadowed by the grandeur of our Great Lakes, Michigan’s rivers are perfect destinations for getaways and staycations.


Whether traveling alone, with family, or with friends, each river offers a unique experience, with year-round recreation and picturesque views of the natural beauty and wildlife that have earned Michigan its reputation as “the land of the wonders of water.

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