Michigan River Tubing: 15 Perfect Michigan River Tubing Trips
River tubing in Michigan is one of my favorite summer activities!
It’s also a fun way to spend a hot summer day. What’s better than relaxing with friends while floating down a scenic river surrounded by the natural beauty of Michigan?
Sure, there’s a Michigan beach for everyone but there’s also a river for everyone in Michigan, too. Opportunities for fun water activities like tubing on natural lazy river can be found just about everywhere in the state.
If you’re planning a tubing trip in Michigan you’re in luck! There are tons of lazy rivers in Michigan that are perfect for tubing (and places to rent tubes, too) which means tons of Michigan summer fun.
Here’s everything you need to know about river tubing in Michigan plus 15 of our favorite spots for Michigan river tubing.
What is River Tubing?
If you have never been river tubing, you may be confused as to what it entails. River tubing is a lot different than tubing behind a boat. There’s no adrenaline rush, and no motorized vehicles are involved: all you need is a tube and water!
River tubing is very relaxed, but it can also be as wild and crazy as you want. Here’s how it works: take your inflatable tube or raft, and enter the river at one checkpoint. While you’re on the river, you can enjoy the company of friends and river views. After you have been on the river for as long as you want, or the duration of your route, you exit the river at the other checkpoint.
One of the great things about river tubing is that you usually determine how long you would like to stay on the river. Most rivers that allow tubing have multiple check/ exit points along the shores.
Read on for our favorite rivers and popular spots perfect for tubing in Michigan.
River Tubing in Southeast Michigan
Argo Park Canoe Livery
1055 Longshore Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
The Huron River runs for 130 miles throughout southeastern Michigan near Ann Arbor. There are multiple Metroparks throughout the river route, allowing for easy entry and exit points while tubing. This river has beautiful, tall trees and an array of wildlife to admire along your way.
Hudson Mills and Huron Meadows are the most popular access points on the river, and each has its own rental companies that work with the parks. So, if you don’t have a tube or forget one, there are kayak and canoe rentals on the property.
PRO-TIP: Tubing or canoe trips in Ann Arbor might not be on your radar when you visit this fun city, but it’s a great way to see the natural beauty of the area.
Tubing in Northern Michigan
Oscoda Canoe Rental
678 W River Rd, Oscoda, MI 48750
The AuSable River runs for 138 miles through the towns of Grayling and Mio, before it lets out at the mouth of Lake Huron in beautiful Oscoda, one of our favorite Lake Huron beach towns. This river is not only a fishermans’s paradise; it’s also a popular tubing and kayaking river for locals and tourists.
The river can get bust during holiday weekend in the summer. You might see kayaks, canoes and splash pads alongside rivers tubes but don’t despair: this river is big enough for everyone.
The color of the trees and painted blue skies make for great views along the river route. The Au Sable is a long river with lots of turns. There are also several sandy shores to stop for lunch or admire the views.
Like the Huron, AuSable has many entry and exit points allowing you to determine the duration of your river trip. There are also several rental companies, river outfitters and stores in the surrounding areas if you need a tube.
Betsie River Canoe and Campgrounds
13598 Lindy Rd, Thompsonville, MI 49683
Betsie River is one of the small rivers in northern Michigan on this list, running only 54 miles through the towns of Frankfort, Elberta, and Interlochen. Don’t let its small size fool you; this river is just as scenic and fun as the rest.
If relaxation and redesigning happiness in nature is you goal, this is the river for you.
There are not as many access points, so plan your route carefully when you go. This river is not as deep as others making it more accessible for those who aren’t as comfortable in the water. There is a part towards the beginning of the river where it runs alongside some dune areas, allowing for even scenic views and fun!
Wilderness Canoe Trips
6052 Riverview Rd, Mesick, Michigan 49668
The Big Manistee River runs for 190 miles through the northwestern part of the lower peninsula. While this river runs through multiple cities and has tons of access points, the entry point in Mesick, MI, is the most popular.
The Manistee is among my favorite rivers to float or kayak down. I have never had a bad day out on the Manistee and grew up camping along its shores. The terrain and picturesque views make this an excellent river for those who enjoy summer tubing.
I recommend visiting this great river near the beginning of fall when it isn’t too cold, and the leaves start to change color. The best views and shade of trees I have ever seen!
Lower Platte River
Riverside Canoe Trips
5042 N Scenic Hwy, Honor, MI 49640
One of my favorite rivers in Michigan for tubing, a canoe, kayak or tube trip down the Lower Platte may be one of the best river trips of your life. A one or two hour float down the Platte River, in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is stunningly beautiful.
The Platte River is almost 30 miles long and starts in Long Lake, near Traverse City. It flows through several other lakes, including Lake Ann, Little Platte Lake, Big Platte Lake and Loon Lake before it finally lets out into Lake Michigan in a stunning show of natural beauty at Platte Point.
PRO-TIP: No visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is complete without a tube, kayak or canoe trip down the Platte. The secret is out, though, so make your reservations asap. The Sleeping Bear Dunes are a very popular place, and others may have planned ahead, too. If Riverside Canoe if full, you can try the Trading Post in Honor, MI.
Riverbend Campground and Canoe Rentals
1165 N Main St, Omer, MI 48749
Rifle River flows for 60 miles through Ogemaw County to Arenac County in the northeastern part of the state, south of Tawas, one of the top Michigan beachtowns. Like the rest of the rivers on this list, the Rifle River has fantastic views and many access points.
The most popular entry point that shoots off hundreds of tubers is the River View Campground and Livery. If you plan to make a weekend trip out of tubing down the river, I suggest staying at this campground and using their entry and exit points!
Big Bear Adventures
4271 S Straits Hwy, Indian River, MI 49749
Big Bear Outfitters puts it best: this is NOT your average tubing trip. The Sturgeon River, east of Petoskey, is the fastest river in Michigan. That means instead of simply relaxing while you meander leisurely down the river, you’ll be cruising down the river at a fast pace. You’ll have to look alive, because you might also have to dodge a few obstacles along the way, too.
The Sturgeon River is just over 40 miles and flows into Burt Lake. The tubing trip is about 2-3 hours long.
Tubing in West Michigan
Wisner Rents Canoes
25 W Water St, Newaygo, MI 49337
The Muskegon River is another famous tubing river among Michiganders. This river runs for 216 miles throughout the state’s western side, beginning in Roscommon County and ending in Missaukee County.
Muskegon River has tall trees and hills to admire for hours on end. With tons of stops along the way to enjoy lunch. While on the river, you will pass under several bridges and see many friendly faces along the way. There are plenty of rental companies for tubes and kayaks in the surrounding areas!
U-Rent ‘Em Canoe Livery
805 W Apple St, Hastings, MI 49058
The Thornapple River flows 88 miles from Eaton County to Ada, MI, near Grand Rapids, MI. This river has more bridges to float under and beautiful views along the way. This river is famous for its tubing and canoe tours.
U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery is the most popular tube rental in the area, making it the go-to spot to launch off from. The folks from U-Rent-Em will even pick you up from the exit point, so you don’t have to worry about finding a ride back or one person staying behind!
Pine River Paddlesport Center
9590 M-37, Wellston, MI 49689
The Pine River is a tributary of the Manistee River that flows for 53 miles through the towns of Tustin, Wellton, and Hoxeyville. Like the Betsie River, Pine River is on the small side, but again don’t let that fool you. This river has some serious views!
A large dune alongside the river allows for even better views of the river once you reach the top. There are also more sandy shorelines to take breaks along this river, and it’s trendy amongst the paddle sports community.
One thing you do have to plan for and be aware of is that the Pine River is the fastest flowing river in Manistee County. This means it would be best for children and those who aren’t strong swimmers to wear lifejackets.
Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery
401 E. Fruitvale Road, Montague, MI 49437
Did you know that you can tube through the heart of the Huron-Manistee National Forest? The White River, a mostly sandy-bottom, picturesque river south of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
The 26-miles long river flows into Lake Michigan near the towns of Whitehall and Montague, and is a popular spot tubing, kayaking, canoeing and hiking, too.
River Tubing in Mid-Michigan
Cedar River Kayak Canoe Tube Trips
100 S Cayuga St, Gladwin, MI 48624
The Cedar River near Gladwin may just be one of the best-kept secrets in Michigan. This crystal-clear, gently-flowing river is shallow, so you can get out splash around, too. It’s about a two-hour tube trip downstream. You’ll put in near Wiggans Lake a float your way back into downtown Gladwin.
Chippewa River Outfitters
3763 S Lincoln Rd, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
This slow-moving river that meanders through Mount Pleasant, home to Central Michigan University, is gem of mid-Michigan. You can rent a kayak or canoe to explore the Chippewa River, but my favorite is a river tube.
You’ll float through Mount Pleasant neighborhood, through wooded areas and beautiful parks. Tis is agreat trip for all ages.
Au Train River
AuTrain River Canoe and Kayaks
N7163 Autrain Forest Lake Rd, Au Train, MI 49806
The Au Train River runs 16 miles in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula through Alger County. This river shows off the best of the UP with some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen!
I suggest you take a guided tour to learn more about the area and the river’s history. There are also two waterfalls along the river, so having someone who understands the route and knows where to go is extremely helpful!
Big Cedar Campground
7936 State Highway M-77, Germfask, MI 49836
The Manistique River, not to be confused with Manistee, is a river that flows 71 miles through the center of the Upper Peninsula. This river has tons of views of waterfalls, bridges, and pines for visitors to enjoy safely.
The best place to enjoy these views and have the best route is Big Cedar Campground, located in Germfask, MI, on the shores of the Manistique. This campground will allow you to enjoy everything this fantastic river offers. They have tube rentals, give you the best route, and have cozy cabins to stay in after a long day out on the river!
Michigan River Tubing FAQ
There 15 Great Places for Tubing Down a River in Michigan. They include the AuSable River, the Betsie River, the Huron River, the Manistee River, the Platte River, the Rifle River, the Sturgeon River, the Muskegon River, the Thornapple River, the Pine River, the White River, the Cedar River, the AuTrain River, the Chippewa River and the Menonminee River.
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About the Author~
Emily Lance is a Content Creator for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the small town of Dexter, Michigan, just outside of Ann Arbor, and is currently attending Michigan State University, where she majors in Journalism with a focus in Sports journalism and Media Relations and a minor in Media Photography. Emily has also loved writing and taking photographs/videos of her surroundings and travels. Emily loves exploring new places, kayaking, skiing, and boating in her free time.