10 Lazy Rivers in Michigan for Tubing
Last year in the midst of COVID, many people were looking for fun outdoor activities and one popular activity was water tubing! Because of it’s popularity, tubes (or anything to float on) were difficult to find online or in stores. This year, I planned ahead and I already bought a new two person tube. You can find this tube and other tubes on Amazon.
Tubing is a fun and relaxing recreational activity that can take place on a lake or river. My favorite way to tube is on a gentle flowing river with friends! I enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of nature while talking, laughing, and enjoying snacks and beverages. Many good times were had last year on the Huron River in Ann Arbor, and I’m anxiously waiting more fun. In preparation for summer, I started researching rivers in Michigan that are good for tubing and found the following ten rivers. I hope to visit at least one of these this summer and I hope you’ll find this list valuable.
10 Lazy Rivers in Michigan for Tubing
- AuSable River (Roscommon) – The AuSable River is a calm river that flows between 4-7 miles per hour with depths of 2-4 feet. The best place to start a tubing trip is at Steckert Bridge in the city of Roscommon. A trip from here to Chase Bridge is about 3 hours, while a trip all the way to Smith bridge is about 5 hours. There is much to see along the way including wildlife, a wilderness area, and the remains of Durant Castle.
- Big Manistee River – The Big Manistee River is a 190 mile river running through four Michigan Counties. The river is wide and smooth which makes it perfect for a novice tuber, although areas of this river can be deep (depths of 3-9 ft). Visit this link to find information about places to begin a float or for tube rental information.
- Chippewa River (Mount Pleasant)– The Chippewa River is a gentle flowing river that runs for 91.8 miles through the central Lower Peninsula. The river stream runs through a mix of woodland habitats, farm country, and residential neighborhoods. Let the 4 mph current carry you downstream as you enjoy the company of friends and a nice cold beverage. If you’d like to rent tubes, visit Chippewa River Outfitters.
- Huron River (Ann Arbor) – I’ve personally tubed this river a few times, so I can speak from experience. The best way to tube this river is to begin at Argo Park where you can tube the cascades or start just beyond them. The cascades are small water falls that form due to rock formations. There are a few cascades in a row and the rapids caused by them can be a lot of fun! Some people enjoy them so much that they walk up the adjacent paved trail to tube them again. Just behind the cascades, the river current slows down for an enjoyable relaxing time. The combination of the cascades and easy floating of the Huron River makes this river a very popular place on the weekends. There is plenty of free parking in one of the lots near Argo Park and on the side streets.
- Muskegon River – The Muskegon River offers anywhere from 1 mile floats to 11 mile floats. This is a popular river for Ferris State Students and there are many places to rent tubes (if needed). With 7 areas to launch from, this float map is handy for more information – MuskegonRiverFloatMap
- Pine River (Manistee County)– This river runs primarily through the Manistee National Forest which offers plenty of wildlife. Although tubing is allowed, this river is better for experienced tubers and river passes are required. To discover more about this river, visit the Manistee County website.
- Platte River – This river, located in the northern part of lower Michigan, offers a beautiful relaxing way to enjoy the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The river is about 29 miles long and is shallow and clear with no rapids. There are various lengths of trips so be sure to do some research beforehand.
- Rifle River (Ogemaw and Arenac counties) – Located in eastern Michigan, the Rifle River originates in northeastern Ogemaw County and flows for approximately 60 miles to Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. This gentle flowing river has average depths of 18-24 inches which makes it perfect for beginners and children.
- Thornapple River (Lansing) – The Thornapple River is an 88.1-mile-long tributary of Michigan’s longest river, the Grand River. It covers 5 counties and 27 townships!
- White River – This 23.6-mile-long river is located on the western side of the Lower Peninsula. It passes through Oceana County, Muskegon County, and White Lake where it eventually discharges into Lake Michigan. Enjoy quiet surroundings while floating through the Manistee National Forest.
Last year, many rental places were not renting tubes due to COVID precautions. Please call rental places ahead of time to see if they are renting. You can also purchase tubes online or at local stores. Just remember, if it’s anything like last year, they will sell out quick! Check out the following options on Amazon.
If kayaking is your thing, you can find kayak rentals in Michigan here.
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