(800)-Exit 310 - 231-238-9325 

Things To Do in 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 waterskiing, 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.

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.

The 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 as well local Accommodations and Marinas including boat rentals along the way. Enjoy the perfect motor boating experience, or take it slower and explore the beautiful nature along the way. 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.

Mullett Lake

Mullett Lake  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. Check out our Member Directory for lodging and boat rentals.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Summer Activities


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. Visit our Fishing Page – click here.


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! Visit our Member Directory for a full list of Golf Courses. Visit our Golf Page – click here.

Sturgeon River. Fishing, Tubing and 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. Visit our Member Directory for a full list of guided tours and liveries.

Big Bear Adventures 
(231) 238-8181


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. Visit our Black Mountain Recreation Area Page – click here.

The Little Traverse Conservancy holds proud stewardship over numerous nature preserves in the area, allowing for plenty of opportunities for long or quick hikes.

For more information contact:

Dept of Natural Resources
Gaylord District Office
(989) 732-3541

Little Travers Conservancy
Harbor Springs
(231) 347-0991


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



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

August 8th & 9th, 2020

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

With more than 30 miles of trails, hikers have their choice of routes for every skill level. Special pathways have been constructed for the traditional diagonal skier and the skate-skier. Pathways range from “Easy” to “Most Difficult”.

Horseback Riding 
Riding the two-track roads through the flats and over the hills of the Black Mountain Recreation area on horseback has been a popular sport for a long time. Riding is specifically designated for the skiing/hiking pathway April through November. The snowmobile trails are also open to horses April through November.

Miles of old two-track roads and fire lines may be used by equestrians. Horses are not permitted off established roads, pathways and trails.

A group campground, south of East Twin Lake, is available to horseback riders. Reservations are recommended, please call (231)627-2811.

Off Road Vehicles (ORVs) 
Three parking lots serve as access points to about 60 miles of ORV trails and 15 miles of ORV routes. In addition to the winding trails and generally straight routes, there is a 65-acre scramble area for motorcycles and ATVs. (This area is closed to 4X4 trucks). Legal access to trails, routes and the scramble area is at the upper level of Black Lake Campground.

Please follow the orange triangles marking ORV routes and trails. Riding in unauthorized locations is a violation of state law.


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!


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


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 

Dept of Natural Resources
Gaylord District Office
(989) 732-3541

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.


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.

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 

Indian River Snowmobile Grooming Club