Places To Kayak In Michigan (10 Amazing Places)

Michigan, a state renowned for its stunning lakes, lush forests, and boundless natural beauty, offers a kayaker’s paradise like no other.

From the serene waters of the Great Lakes to the meandering rivers that crisscross the state, Michigan beckons all paddling enthusiasts to embark on an aquatic adventure.

Whether you’re seeking the thrill of challenging rapids or the tranquillity of a peaceful paddle, Michigan’s diverse landscapes and waterways have something to offer every kayaker.

In this article, we’ll unveil the most captivating places to kayak in Michigan, guiding you to embark on an unforgettable journey through the state’s aquatic wonderland.

So grab your paddle, don your lifejacket, and let’s dive into the ultimate kayaking destinations in the Great Lakes State. Welcome to the enchanting world of “Places To Kayak In Michigan.”

Overview Of The Places to Kayak in Michigan

Michigan is a popular kayaking destination for paddlers around the world. The Great Lake State offers miles of shoreline and inland lakes, with crystal clear waters and stunning scenery.

Whether you prefer to kayak in solitude or join one of many organized events, there are plenty of options for paddling in Michigan. Popular kayaking spots include Muskegon Lake and State Park, Burt Lake, and the Au Sable River.

From tranquil glides along the lakes to exciting trips down rushing rivers, Michigan offers something for every level of experience.

With its abundance of lakes, rivers, creeks, bays, and wetlands not to mention the hidden gems only accessible by kayak you may want to plan multiple visits in order to enjoy all the possibilities.

Why Scenic Drives Are A Great Way To Explore Michigan

Scenic drives in Michigan are a great way to explore the state and all its natural beauty. From the large sand dunes of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore to the lush forests of northern Michigan, there’s something for everyone.

Discover Hidden Gems in Charming Small Towns

By taking a scenic drive, you can explore the hidden gems and small towns off the beaten path that you would miss travelling along the highways.

Fall Foliage & Spring Blooms Sightings

In autumn, you can take in vibrant colours of fall foliage as you wind around curving roads lined with trees that have been kissed by golden leaves. In springtime, experience breathtaking blooming flora as you drive past rolling green hills and fragrant meadows with wildflowers dotting the scenery.

Relaxing Scenic Travel

A scenic drive is an incredibly relaxing way to travel, allowing you to enjoy your surroundings without having to worry about time restraints or getting lost.

Not only do these routes provide stunning views, but they also offer an opportunity to discover local cuisine and culture.

Local Cuisine & Culture Exploration

Sample some authentic barbeque from your favourite roadside stand or stop in at a family-owned restaurant that specializes in regional dishes.

Along the way, take some time to appreciate the unique architecture or historic landmarks which tell stories of previous generations who settled in this part of Michigan.

Whether it’s a day trip or a longer road trip adventure, exploring Michigan by car is always an unforgettable experience!

Romantic Getaway for Couples

Scenic drives are a great way for couples to spend time together and explore Michigan. The scenery is beautiful and there are plenty of opportunities for stops along the way for pictures or picnics.

Family Fun for All Ages

Scenic drives are also a great family activity. Everyone can enjoy the views and there are usually plenty of things to see and do along the way.

Affordable Michigan Exploration

Affordable Michigan Exploration is your ticket to discovering the beauty and diversity of the Wolverine State without breaking the bank.

With cost-effective options for accommodations, dining, and activities, you can experience all that Michigan has to offer without straining your wallet.

From the sandy beaches of the Great Lakes to the lush forests and vibrant cities, this budget-friendly adventure lets you make the most of your Michigan journey without compromising your finances.

So pack your bags, set your budget, and get ready for an unforgettable and affordable Michigan exploration.

Outdoor Enthusiasts & Photographers Paradise

Outdoor enthusiasts and photographers will love scenic drives because of the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. There are often hiking trails or lookout points where you can stop and take in the view.

Customizable Michigan Adventures

Scenic drives are easy to plan and customize based on your personal preferences. You can choose your route based on what you want to see and how long you want to drive.

10 kayaking places in Michigan

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

This stunning shoreline on Lake Superior offers plenty of kayaking opportunities, from calm lagoons to challenging sea caves.

Michigan is an amazing place to kayak with a wide range of scenery, from the chilly lakes in the Upper Peninsula to the calm waters of the Grand River.

It certainly provides an experience that will leave any kayaker wanting more! The abundance of wildlife and wildlife viewing opportunities makes this a truly memorable trip for anyone.

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or taking a leisurely paddle, there’s something here for everyone.

Not to mention, all you need are some life vests, oars, and a few supplies like snacks and water—all easily found at local stores. Kayaking in Michigan is an unforgettable experience and should definitely be on everyone’s outdoor bucket list.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This beautiful area along Lake Michigan features towering sand dunes, crystal clear waters, and plenty of kayaking routes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the most breathtaking places in the Midwest. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, this national park is known for its stunning towering sand dunes that reach up to 450 feet tall.

Visitors can also explore miles of crystal clear waters, swimming, and fishing spots, and a wide variety of kayaking routes.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy throughout the years such as camping, hiking, bird watching, biking, and even cross-country skiing during winter months. Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted with sightings of bald eagles, foxes, raccoons, and deer amongst other species.

With its pristine beauty and abundance of recreational activities, it’s no surprise that Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been voted as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Places” by Good Morning America.

Huron River

This scenic river stretches over 130 miles, with plenty of access points and calm stretches for kayaking.

The Huron River is one of the longest rivers in Michigan, and its pristine beauty has made it a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Stretching over 130 miles, the river flows through several counties, with access points all along its path.

Offering plenty of calm and slow-moving stretches for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, it’s a dream for those who crave an easygoing adventure on the water.

In addition to its recreational uses, the Huron River is also home to numerous species of fish, birds, mammals and reptiles.

Many parts of the river have been preserved as part of Michigan’s wilderness areas and wildlife refuges.

From clear spring-fed waters to lazy meandering bends, paddling down this scenic river is sure to provide an unforgettable experience!

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

This park in the Upper Peninsula is home to one of Michigan’s most iconic waterfalls, as well as plenty of quiet lakes and rivers perfect for kayaking.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this majestic park is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the state.

The most iconic of these falls is the Tahquamenon Falls, which are comprised of two separate drops totalling over 50 feet. This impressive sight draws visitors from all across the Midwest and beyond every year.

The park also features beautiful glacial lakes with crystal-clear waters that are perfect for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming.

Visitors can enjoy hiking along one of the many trails that meander through the dense forest and take in stunning views of pristine woodland areas. There are also several rustic campgrounds available for those looking to stay overnight.

Aside from its natural beauty, Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers plenty of other activities including educational programs about local wildlife, opportunities to see rare birds such as bald eagles, a brewery with locally made beer, and an old-fashioned candy store filled with treats for all ages.

No matter which season you choose to visit this incredible place, you’ll never have a dull moment exploring all that it has to offer.

Au Sable River

This popular river in northern Michigan is known for its stunning scenery, great fishing, and miles of kayaking opportunities.

The Au Sable River is an iconic destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. It is a classic northern Michigan river, winding through the picturesque forests of the region.

Visitors can enjoy stunning scenery, pristine lakes, and miles of kayaking possibilities along this scenic river’s tranquil waters.

The Au Sable River is renowned for its world-class fly fishing opportunities, offering anglers a chance to catch giant rainbow trout and brown trout.

In addition, the entire length of the river features stunning rapids that provide some excitement while navigating by kayak or canoe. With many access points found throughout its course, visitors are able to explore vast swaths of this sparkling river while enjoying some of North America’s finest wilderness areas.

Manistee River

This river runs through the heart of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, with plenty of access points and diverse kayaking routes.

The Manistee River is an iconic waterway in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, stretching for over 200 miles and flowing through picturesque landscapes of forests, wetlands, and farmlands.

It is a paradise for kayakers with access points along its length offering diverse routes of varying difficulty.

The river passes through Manistee National Forest, boasting a variety of wildlife and providing stunning views around every bend.

In the summer months, the river’s shallow stretches are perfect for swimming and fishing while its deeper sections are great for whitewater rafting and challenging yourself with exhilarating rapids.

Whether you’re looking to take a leisurely float or an adrenaline-filled paddle trip, the Manistee River has something special to offer every outdoor enthusiast.

Lake St. Clair

This large lake between Michigan and Ontario is a popular spot for kayaking, with plenty of beaches and parks to explore.

Lake St. Clair is a 25-mile-long lake, situated between Michigan and Ontario, which is renowned for its stunning beauty and abundance of recreational activities. It is home to an array of beaches, parks, and marinas where kayakers, boaters, swimmers, and anglers can enjoy their time outdoors.

The lake’s waters are clean and clear, making it a favourite destination for scuba divers as well. In addition, numerous species of freshwater fish can be found here, including walleye and muskellunge popular trophies among avid fishermen.

There are plenty of camping opportunities around the lake too so travelers can make the most of their visit by staying in one of the many gorgeous natural settings that surround it.

Mackinac Island

This charming island in Lake Huron offers kayaking opportunities along its scenic shoreline, with stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge and surrounding areas.

Mackinac Island is a picturesque destination, located in the majestic Lake Huron in Michigan. It is famous for its breathtaking views of the Mackinac Bridge and stunning shoreline, which provide the perfect backdrop for kayaking.

The area around the island is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including loons, great blue herons, bald eagles, and white-tailed deer.

There are numerous hiking trails and limestone formations to explore, as well as historic lighthouses that offer unique glimpses into the area’s maritime past.

Visitors can also enjoy shopping at local boutiques and galleries or experience some of Mackinac Island’s delicious culinary offerings like fudge, smoked whitefish, and freshly caught Lake Huron trout.

With its breathtaking natural beauty and countless outdoor activities to choose from, Mackinac Island is an ideal getaway for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Detroit River

This river connects Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie and is a great spot for urban kayaking with views of the Detroit skyline and Windsor, Ontario.

The Detroit River is known as an international border between Detroit, Michigan in the United States and Windsor, Ontario in Canada. Spanning 25 miles, it is one of the most important waterways in North America. Its largest tributary is the River Rouge, which runs through historic Southwest Detroit.

The Detroit River is a designated Canadian Heritage River and a Great Lakes Area of Concern under both U.S. and Canadian law.

It’s a great spot for urban kayaking with stunning views of both cities’ skylines. Along its shores, you can find miles of parks and biking trails, many historic lighthouses and military installations from the War of 1812, as well as some great spots for fishing or picnicking.

There are also several boat launch sites available to explore this beautiful river or take part in fun summertime activities like stand-up paddleboarding or sailing. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful kayak trip or an adventurous sightseeing mission, the Detroit River has something for everyone,

Keweenaw Peninsula

This rugged peninsula in the Upper Peninsula offers plenty of remote kayaking opportunities along its stunning shoreline, with plenty of wildlife and natural beauty to discover.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a stunning natural wonder that offers kayakers a unique and secluded adventure. With its rugged shoreline dotted with towering cliffs, hidden coves, and deserted islands, it’s an ideal spot to explore the beauty of Lake Superior.

Paddlers can expect to see a variety of wildlife such as loons, bald eagles, osprey, and even beavers. What’s more, the waters are crystal clear and pristine, perfect for swimming or fishing.

The Peninsula also boasts some of the oldest exposed rocks on Earth – copper-rich rock formations that date back thousands of years.

And when you get back to shore, there are plenty of historic sites to explore like old lighthouses, maritime museums, and abandoned mines. So come discover why the Keweenaw Peninsula is one of Michigan’s most spectacular outdoor playgrounds.

Tips for Safely Enjoying the Drive

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Michigan for a drive is in the warmer seasons, such as spring and summertime. During these times, the roads will be free of ice and snow, offering comfortable driving conditions. The temperatures are milder than in winter, making it a better time for outdoor activities like kayaking.

Preparing for the Kayaking

Preparing for kayaking in Michigan involves considering the weather and water conditions of the area you plan to explore.

Check the forecast before heading out and bring appropriate layers of clothing that can be put on or taken off (such as waterproofs) depending on how cold or warm it is outside.

Also, make sure to pack enough food and drinks to last your excursion. It’s also important to ensure that you have all the necessary safety gear, such as life jackets and helmets so that you enjoy your trip safely.

Must-Have Supplies

Must-have supplies when kayaking in Michigan include a personal floatation device; appropriate clothing layers; sunscreen; sunglasses; hat; insect repellent; paddles; map of intended route; a waterproof bag with snacks and adequate drinking water; first aid kit with essential medications; whistle for signalling distress or alerting others if there are any issues during your trip.

Kayaking Laws Michigan

Kayakers should always be aware of laws regarding paddling in Michigan waters – including local regulations such as no-wake zones, speed limits, closed areas where fishing or boating is not allowed, etc.

All boaters must follow local regulations and laws as well as have valid licenses if required by law for the use of motorized vessels on waterways in the state of Michigan. Additionally, being aware of wildlife in an area can help protect both humans and animals while out on the water.


Michigan is an amazing place to kayak with a wide range of scenery, from the chilly lakes in the Upper Peninsula to the calm waters of the Grand River.

It certainly provides an experience that will leave any kayaker wanting more. The abundance of wildlife and wildlife viewing opportunities makes this a truly memorable trip for anyone.

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or taking a leisurely paddle, there’s something here for everyone.

Not to mention, all you need are some life vests, oars, and a few supplies like snacks and water all easily found at local stores. Kayaking in Michigan is an unforgettable experience and should definitely be on everyone’s outdoor bucket list!