Last updated: June 11

Where to Go Kayaking in Michigan

Kayaking is a popular water sport within the state of Michigan. While kayaking is a rage pretty much all over the globe, residents of the Great Lake State have plenty of options to choose from.

If you have developed a recent passion for kayaking and water sport, you would be pleasured to know that Michigan is host to some of the best kayaking spots world over.

There are multiple bodies of water across the State, and this article will help pinpoint the top locations to go to for kayaking in the state of Michigan.

Kayaking is a healthy activity that gives you a chance to breathe in fresh air while letting go of the stress that comes with city life.

You can be as close to nature as you want, as you paddle through the serene and picturesque water bodies within the state of Michigan. If you’re just beginning your kayaking journey, we understand that you might be confused within the options to try.

We make your work easier by mentioning some of the top kayaking spots in the state. Read through this article, pack your gear and be ready for an adventurous time kayaking.

Where can you Kayak in Michigan?

Lansing River

The Lansing River runs alongside the Red Cedar River and the Grand River. The river trail presents an amazing picture of grandeur and nature in its true form. While the River is popularly known for its potential as a kayaking spot, the trail is also famous for other reasons. The trail for Lansing River has hosted plenty of big international music festivals, along with other remarkable events. The trail and the river itself are popular among tourists.

People visiting the river can picnic near the trail to enjoy a good time with their family. One can easily jog or walk around the trail while enjoying the beguiling scenery at display.

There are boat and kayak rentals conveniently posited by the trail, to give you one of their finest kayaks for an adventurous activity of kayaking on the river. You can enjoy some leisure time with your friends as you kayak for fun or for competition.

Besides kayaking, there are multiple other water activities for you to do as well. You can try out fishing in the river as well, as long as you are following the state laws. During the winter season, the trail presents a decent potential for cross-country skiing. Lansing River is surely a spot for all water-based activities and offers just the kayaking experience you desire.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is surely one of the most photogenic locations across Michigan State. The location has plenty of activities to enjoy with your loved ones, including kayaking. The lakeshore has clean beaches you can go to and lie down on. The sandy shores make for a good tanning experience. You can also have a family beach picnic with your kids.

If you’re looking for an intimate time with family and friends, then you should definitely try going out to the Lake during sunset. While the views are good all over the day, we believe it is during sunset that the views are amplified and you get to see the true glory of the lake in full flow. The sandstone cliffs go over 100 miles and loom over your head while you kayak peacefully on the water.

The views are best during early spring when the place is brimming with wildflowers and fresh air. Summers are best for going down to the beach and enjoying the warm days by lying down with the family. Autumn adds a tinge of orange to the entire area and gives you a mix of different colors, showcasing the diversity and class of nature.

Winters give you an icy white look, amplified with some amazing sunlight. The Lakeshore is nature’s palette with all seasons giving you a blend of different colors and moods. It surely is a spot that you can visit across seasons, over and over again.

Backwaters of Tippy Dam

The backwaters of Tippy Dam offer an amazing spot for kayaking and enjoying with family. There are plenty of water activities happening around the area and you can partake in them across the year. While Tippy Dam is a buzzing tourist spot, chances are that you won’t find a boat rental around the area. Hence, you will have to bring in your own boat and gear.

While Tippy Dam is nice and pleasant through most of the year, it can get really warm during peak summer. This is when the backwaters of the dam are rarely frequented by tourists, as there isn’t much happening for tourists to enjoy.

The dam offers amazing fishing and kayaking opportunities, as the water gives you a chance to cool down the summer heat. It is not every day you visit Tippy Dam with your kayaking gear, which is why it is best to make the most out of the trip by camping on the location as well. Of course, some laws have to be followed, but it is mostly fun and games.

South Branch of Au Sable – Roscommon

The Au Sables River is pretty much the best kayaking spot in Michigan if you just want water activities and not the overall experience of camping or a trail to go with it. The River offers an easy paddling and fishing experience as you go through the calm and still waters near Roscommon. It will take you a little over three hours to paddle from Smith Bridge to Chase Bridge takeout.

The entire experience comes with picturesque scenery that will surely get your attention. You can seep all the pleasant views on the way, as you journey from one spot to the other.

Two-Hearted River

The Two-Hearted River is one of the most popular destinations in Michigan. The River is frequented pretty much all over the year, as happy campers come to camp on the rustic, but crowded, campgrounds. While most people come for a camping and fishing experience, you can take the vacation one step further by enjoying some of the canoeing or kayaking.

Gather with your friends and jump on your kayak for a brilliant kayaking experience, as you seep in some relaxing Vitamin D as well. The mouth of the river is sheltered by the canopy of sand dunes surrounding the area.

This makes for the perfect scenery. Springs are the best time to visit, as you will catch the birds singing and the flowers blooming. The river is also a decent spot for fishing, as it attracts fishes of all kinds. You also have otters and fish-eating birds to complete the cycle of life.

Elk Rapids

Elk Rapids might be a small village around Antrim County in Michigan; it is host to one of the most perfect places for kayaking and boating. The place borders Elk River, which is a picturesque destination for campers and kayakers. The river might be short and small, but it forms a decent harbor and waterway.

The small body of the river is regularly hosting local and international visitors, as they come to enjoy the pleasant scenery and the kayaking experience. You can rent kayaks from distributors located near the river trail. Just book one and get on it to enjoy an enthralling experience with your friends.

Huron River

The Huron River has a water length of over 104-miles and allows all kayakers to remain connected to the natural river. The river flows through the lower peninsula of Michigan, offering great sites on the way. There are multiple activities you can enjoy here, including kayaking. You can bring your own kayak, or can borrow one from the multiple kayak dealerships near the area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Having studied the best kayaking spots across Michigan, we now answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

What is the Best Season to Kayak in Michigan?

While it largely depends on the kind of kayaking spot you are going to, we believe that the period between May – September is best suited for kayaking. However, if you want to go to Tippy Dam, we would want you to go a bit earlier by March or April as the summer season can be pretty hot.

Do you need a Permit for Kayaking in Michigan?

No permits are needed, and you can kayak with just a recreational pass and a parking permit. However, fishing permits might be needed.

Where can I Kayak in Southeast Michigan?

Some of the best places to kayak in Detroit and Southeast Michigan include the Detroit River, Huron River, Stony Creek Metropark, and Lake St. Clair.

Can You Kayak in Lake Michigan?

While you can kayak in bigger water bodies like Lake Michigan, it is necessary that you possess a certain skill set in kayaking and swimming before you head out.

Kayaking is a budding water activity across the state of Michigan and with the summers around the corner, you would want to be involved in it. Head to the locations we have mentioned and enjoy an amazing time with family.


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Always Make Sure You Have the Right Gear When You Go Kayaking