Fly fishing on a river on a summers evening

Here in Michigan, we have the Great Lakes and many beautiful inland lakes, but what about the amazing rivers in the state? Over Memorial Day weekend, I went on a pontoon ride down the Grand River. It was so perfect outside, and watching the water ripple as the boat moved along was very relaxing. I had to watch getting sunburned, though. It’s so much easier to get burned on the water than on land.

Canoeing, kayaking and fishing are very popular activities in Michigan along our rivers. But, even if you don’t do either of those, just laying by a river on a warm, summer day can be fun. There are plenty of rivers that run through our cities, too, so chances are one is just a short drive away.

You know what else is great to do in the summer? Set up a picnic right by a river. Sure you might have to chase some mosquitos away, but laying on a blanket and having a picnic on the edge of a river is a very special activity.

Read on for 10 of the best rivers in Michigan. These are my personal picks, and I’m sure I left out some great ones. Reach out to me on social media with your top choices.

Best Rivers in Michigan

  • 10. Jordan River

    The Jordan River flows through the Jordan Valley, and it’s really beautiful. People who love to fish trout will find lots in this river. It’s also a very clear river, making it a beautiful spot for a picnic, and a moderately calm river, so it’s good for canoeing.

  • 9. Rifle River

    Rifle River is a shallow river, so it’s perfect for families. This river is located in the northeastern Lower Peninsula. It’s always a popular spot in the summer months.

  • 8. Big Manistee River

    The Big Manistee River is actually part of the National Wild and Scenic River system because of its clean water and forests. This spot is also known for picturesque views. It’s a must-see spot for any nature lover.

  • 7. Boardman River

    Like the Jordan River, the Boardman is another great spot for trout fishing. The river runs a little over 28 miles and drains into the Grand Traverse Bay. Several other fish are also easy to find in this spot, including smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye.

  • 6. Huron River

    The Huron River goes through so many cities and towns, including Ann Arbor, Detroit and beyond. There’s something special about the nature feel of a river running through a bustling city. There are also good camping and picnic areas around this river.

    Welcome to the Huron River Water Trail! - Huron River National Water Trail

    The Huron River National Water Trail is a 104-mile (167 km) inland paddling trail connecting people to the river's natural environment, its history and the communities it touches in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

  • 5. Grand River

    The Grand River runs along the southwestern portion of the southern peninsula of Michigan and flows into Lake Michigan. It’s actually the longest river in Michigan and runs 252 miles. I’ve been on this river many times, and it’s a favorite.

    The Grand River

    The Grand River is a Michigan favorite.

  • 4. Detroit River

    The Detroit River runs about 24 miles west and south, from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie. It’s also a strait in the Great Lakes system. The river is right between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. It’s a landmark of the Motor City.

  • 3. Pine River

    Pine River offers exquisite views, as it flows through the Manistee National Forest. This is also a popular river for camping, and you’ll find campgrounds all along the banks.

    Pine River Campground, Canoe, Kayaking on the Pine River and Manistee - Michigan

    PRPC has a beautiful campground next to the Pine River and has the most extensive stock of canoes, kayaks, and raft rentals for trips on Michigan's Pine River and Manistee River. Perfect for paddle sport enthusiasts and families. Book online today!

  • 2. Platte River

    The Platte River runs through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Northern Michigan and goes into Lake Michigan. It has a very gentle current, which is good for a variety of activities. There is lots of greenery around this river, too, making it lovely.

  • 1. Au Sable River

    The Au Sable River runs a whopping 138 miles through the towns of Grayling and Mio. It runs into Lake Huron at Oscoda. This is another prized spot for trout fishing and was even named a blue ribbon trout stream by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

    Au Sable

    The Au Sable River runs approximately 130 miles through the northern Lower Peninsula, through the towns of Grayling and Mio and enters Lake Huron at Au Sable.Spend the day fishing, canoeing, tubing, having a picnic.& [...]

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