231-238-9325 

Things to Do in In Indian River & Northern Michigan

Inland Waterway

This unique chain of lakes and rivers is sure to please any boating or fishing enthusiast. Whether you are looking for a leisurely excursion filled with wildlife and scenic beauty, or more active journey with water skiing, tubing and swimming the Inland Waterway is just right for you.

Crooked and Pickerel Lakes

Both Crooked and Pickerel Lakes are noted for good fishing, and are relatively deep lakes given their more compact size in comparison to Burt and Mullett Lakes. Whether you operate with a motor or under your own power, the western end of the Waterway offers a great place to explore wildlife and beautiful natural views.

Crooked River

The Crooked River and Crooked River Locks allow access between Crooked and Burt Lakes. The locks lower boats two feet to the level of Burt Lake. Navigation on the Crooked River generally limits boats to 25 feet. Read more on our Crooked River Page – click here.

Burt Lake
Burt Lake is the 4th largest inland lake in Michigan. It is known for its wide span of water and its beautiful bays. With its plethora of nature preserves and public parks, Burt Lake offers beautiful sandy beaches for swimming and multiple sandbars add plenty of spots to take a quick dip or anchor out.

Indian River 
The Indian River flows directly through the heart of downtown Indian River connecting Burt Lake and Mullett Lake and allowing tie up access to restaurants and bars shared between the paddlers and motors. Enjoy the perfect motor boating experience, or take it slower and explore the beautiful nature along the way.

Mullett Lake
This is Michigan’s 5th largest inland lake. Enjoy swimming, tubing, water skiing or fishing on this deep lake. Be sure to stop along the shores of Topinabee for a great meal or a quick walk around town.

Cheboygan River 
From Mullett Lake the Cheboygan River flows through the town of Cheboygan and out into Lake Huron.

The Little Sturgeon River and the Indian River meet at Marina Park and near the Municpal Boat Launch.  The Little Sturgeon should not to be confused with the class I/II white water Sturgeon River. You can kayak, canoe, paddle board or take small watercraft for fishing through the tunnel under River Street  at the confluence of the Indian River and little Sturgeon.

Check out our Member Directory for lodging and boat rentals.

Sturgeon River & Paddle Sports

The Sturgeon River is the fastest river in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with an average descent of almost 14 feet per mile. The average depth is 3-4 feet. However, there are deeper pools that can reach 5-8 feet in depth, usually around the outside of the bends. The temperature is a refreshing 42 to 52 degrees.

Families have enjoyed canoeing, rafting, kayaking and tubing the Sturgeon River for years. Currents vary enough to please everyone: smooth and slow sections for a relaxing ride and swift meandering sections for a bit more challenge.

The Indian River is a smooth, calm, crystal clear, 3.5 mile river that flows between Burt and Mullett Lakes. Enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way and take time to explore the Indian River Spreads. These are great quiet water trips for both novice and experienced paddlers alike. Read more on our Sturgeon River Page – click here.

Visit our Member Directory for a full list of guided tours and liveries.

Elk Viewing Pigeon River Country State Forest

Read more about Elk Viewing and the Pigeon River Area – click here.

Marina Park & Municipal Boat Launch

Marina Park is located adjacent to the Little Sturgeon River and sits just east of the North Central trail behind our Chamber of Commerce office. There are picnic areas and a covered Pavilion. There is a large parking lot that serves as overflow parking for vehicles with boat trailers using our beautiful boat Launch on the Indian River. You will find easy access from here to downtown shops and restaurants. You can reach Marina Park and the Municipal Boat Launch from Club Road which is the 1st road West of I75 by Burger King.

Cooperation Park

One of the best community resources for people of all ages in Indian River is Cooperation Park. Enjoy numerous outdoor activities including play areas, basketball courts, hiking trail, and tennis. Cooperation Park is located on the south end of Indian River at 5454 S. Straits Hwy. Read more about Cooperation Park – click here.

Hideaway Park

Hideway Park is a beautiful little pocket park along the Indian River and provides a great place to sit on a park bench and watch the boats travel up and down the Indian River.

DeVoe Beach

DeVoe Beach is a sandy beach at the mouth of the Indian River on Burt Lake and the home of the Veteran’s Memorial Fishing Pier – read more click here. The beach and pier are wheelchair accessible.

Cross in the Woods National Shrine

People from all over North America and the world flock to Indian River to visit the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods. Visitors are welcome to stay for daily Mass or visit the many shrines and sanctuaries on the property. It is known as the world’s largest wooden cross. Read more about the Cross in the Woods – click here.

4th of July – Independence Day

Indian River has a 4th of July Parade and awesome fireworks at the mouth of the Indian River. Viewable by boat on Burt Lake or from DeVoe Beach. Read more about the 4th of July – click here.

North Central State Trail

The newly re-surfaced and dedicated trail offers 62 miles of non-motorized trail, from Gaylord to Mackinaw City. Check out our beautiful trail heads at Marina Park in Indian River, Topinabee Park, or the community park in Wolverine for parking and easy access. Read more about the North Central Trail – click here.

Spring Activities 

Morel Mushrooms

In the spring and early summer, morel mushroom hunting is a favorite pastime of both visitors and locals. Depending on the temperature and rainfall, these fungi can be found in abundance when searching in the right place. Read more about Morel Mushrooms – click here.

Sturgeon Viewing Tours

Each spring, the famed lake sturgeon head up select rivers to spawn don’t miss your chance to enjoy a guided tour of the spawning and running areas. Learn more about Sturgeon Viewing – click here.

Fishing

In addition to the Inland Waterway, the numerous rivers, lakes and streams located in the Indian River Region allow for a variety of fishing opportunities. There is no time like the spring to enjoy fantastic fishing. See the current Michigan fishing guide for regulations. Read more on our Fishing Page – click here.

Summer Activities 

Golf

The Indian River region is home to many beautiful courses and in close proximity to all the great courses Northern Michigan has to offer. Take the day to get out and enjoy some of our championship courses! To learn more visit our Golf Page – click here.

Visit our Member Directory for a full list of Golf Courses

Hiking

There are many beautiful hiking trails in the Indian River area and there is no time like spring to be out enjoying the beauties of nature. The Wildwood Hills pathway, the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial pathway and the Black Mountain Forest pathway are all within a few minutes of Indian River.

The Little Traverse Conservancy holds proud stewardship over numerous nature preserves in the area, allowing for plenty of opportunities for long or quick hikes. Read  more on our Hiking Page – click here.

ORV and ATV Trails

Indian River and the surrounding area have many miles of ORV trails for you to enjoy. Read more on our ORV and ATV Page – click here. For Members who rent ORV’s and ATV’s click here.

Top O’Michigan Marathon National Boat Races

Every August Indian River fills up with outboard racers from across the country to compete in the world’s toughest boat race. Read more about the Boat Races – click here.

Black Mountain Recreation Area

The Black Mountain Recreation Area features hunting and fishing, to camping, skiing, hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling and more. Read more about the Black Mountain Recreation Area – click here.

Downhill Skiing and Cross Country Skiing

In Northern Michigan you will find downhill ski resorts and many cross country trails. Read more about Skiing – click here

Snowmobiling

We have hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in our region.  You can ride your snow mobiles on the North Central Trail and easily reach the Indian River Businesses. Read more on our Snowmobiling Page – click here.

 

Dept of Natural Resources
Gaylord District Office
(989) 732-3541
www.michigan.gov/dnr

Little Traverse Conservancy
Harbor Springs
(231) 347-0991
www.landtrust.org

ORV

Indian River and the surrounding area have many miles of ORV trails for you to enjoy. The Tomahawk Trailhead and parking lot is just minutes away from downtown Indian River and opens to nearly 30 miles of trails. Indian River is also less than 30 minutes from the Black Mt. Forest Recreation Area, which offers more than 80 miles of trails.

Be sure to be aware of regulations before heading out on the trails.

For more information contact:

Dept of Natural Resources
Gaylord District Office
(989) 732-3541
www.michigan.gov/dnr

Mud Brothers ATV Club
www.mudbrothersatvclub.com

Geocaching

Opportunities to participate in this fun worldwide game of hiding and seeking abound in the Indian River Area. There are traditional, multi and earth caches for every skill level. The Indian River zip code is 49749.

For more information contact:

Geocaching – the official Global GPS Cache Hunt Website: www.geocaching.com

4th of July

Indian River pulls out all the stops for the annual 4th of July parade and fireworks. The parade takes place on South Straits Hwy, right through the heart of town and features floats and fire departments from both Indian River and Topinabee. Fireworks are launched over Burt Lake at DeVoe Beach in Indian River.

Check our Calendar of Events for parade and fireworks times.

Top o’ Michigan Marathon Nationals

Every August Indian River fills up with outboard racers from across the country to compete in the world’s toughest boat race. Racers travel 87 miles over the course of 2 days through the Inland Waterway. Spectators line the shores to watch various point of this exhilarating, high-speed spectacle.

Check out the Top o’ Michigan Outboard Racing Club page for more information.

Black Mountain Recreation Area

The Black Mountain Recreation Area features hunting and fishing, to camping, skiing, hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling and more. Read more about the Black Mountain Recreation Area – click here.

 

Fall Activities

Elk Viewing

Visitors to Indian River are only minutes away from the Pigeon River Country State Forest, a prime location for catching a glimpse of the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi and fall is the best time to catch them!

Elk are most active at dawn and dusk when they will wander into forest openings and fields to feed. Stop by the Chamber for an elk viewing map and to swap elk sighting stories. With more than 500 head roaming the area, you’ll have a strong chance of catching a glimpse of these majestic creatures.

Download the full color DNR Elk Viewing brochure here.

Color Tour

Indian River is ideally located as a home base for color touring. From our beautiful area you can travel all about Northern Michigan to view of some of the gorgeous, colorful autumn landscapes for which Michigan is famous. Enjoy rolling hills and overhanging trees via road, trail, or even the waterway!

Book a stay with one of our many lodging facilities and enjoy a series of beautiful day trips and breathtaking sights!

Hunting

Northern Michigan has long been a Mecca for hunters, and the Indian River Region does not disappoint. Thousands of acres of state land are available for you to pursue the various types of hunting northern Michigan offers, including waterfowl, small game, whitetail deer, black bear, coyote, bobcat and wild turkey. In addition a limited license elk hunt takes place each year with license being awarded lottery style. Numerous land and water trapping opportunities also exist. See the current Michigan hunting and trapping guide for regulations and seasons.

Check our Member Directory for area sports shops.

For more regulation information contact:
Dept of Natural Resources
Gaylord District Office
Phone: (989) 732-3541
Website: www.michigan.gov/dnr

Winter Activities

Sturgeon River Rafting Trips

Guided winter rafting trips are available at Big Bear Adventures. Imagine floating down the crystal clear Sturgeon River amidst the snow covered evergreens. Also available for rental at Big Bear Adventures are cross-country skis and snow shoes.

Big Bear Adventures 
(231) 238-8181
www.bigbearadventures.com

Skiing

Nordic ski trails are available throughout the Indian River Region. Cross-country skiing is offered at the Indian River golf course during the winter months as well as both the Wildwood Hills pathway and the Black Mountain Forest Trail. All of these trails are groomed for the winter.

The Indian River Region is also an easy drive to some of Northern Michigan’s best alpine resorts. Centered between Treetops, Boyne Highlands, and Nubs Nob, Indian River makes a great base location to hit all the skiing options available.

Check our Member Directory to find businesses that can set you up with rental equipment to give this peaceful way to enjoy the woods in the winter a try.

Indian River Golf Club 
(231) 238-7011 
www.indianrivergolfclub.com

Dept of Natural Resources
Gaylord District Office
(989) 732-3541
www.michigan.gov/dnr

Black Mountain Recreation Area
nordicskiracer.com  blackmountaintgroomers.blogspot.com  

Cheboygan Polar Plunge

Join in with this group of giving locals and visitors alike for a great time out on the shores of Burt Lake. Each year Hoppies Tavern hosts the Cheboygan Polar Plunge to raise money for Michigan’s Special Olympics. Participants dress in their best costumes and plunge through the ice to raise awareness and pledge money for this great cause. The after party at Hoppies Tavern is always a great time!

Check our Calendar of Events for this year’s plunge date.

Snowmobiling

When the snow flies, it is time for the snowmobiles to hit the trail. Hundreds of miles of trails crisscross throughout the region.

North Central State Trail
Snowmobilers will have a great ride through the beautiful woodlands and along the west shore of Mullett Lake on the North Central State Trail. This trail is groomed with speed limits and restricted hours enforced on portions of the trail. View map (pdf) View brochure (pdf)

Black Mountain Recreation Area
More than 80 miles of groomed trail await you, with trails from Cheboygan to Millersburg, and throughout the entire recreation area. Please stay on trails designated for snowmobiles.

Check out our Member Directory for information on snowmobile rentals and lodging.

Top of Michigan Trails Council
(231) 348-8280 
www.trailscouncil.org

Indian River Snowmobile Grooming Club
www.indianriversnowmobiling.org