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Where in Michigan You Can Go Winter Water Rafting & Why You Should Go!

Outdoor fun doesn’t end when the snow starts to fly! If you’re a lover of all things wet and wintry, then northern Michigan is the ultimate playground for you! Head up north and go on a winter rafting trip down one of the state’s meandering rivers during a time when the waters are calm and crisp, and the surrounding area offers quiet beauty. Climb aboard rafts that are guaranteed to keep you dry and get ready to experience winter beauty that’s often hidden from view. Drift through open water under snow-covered trees, pass by stunning ice formations that will take your breath away, and view local wildlife in their natural habitat. If you’re looking for an amazing winter adventure that’s off the beaten path, here’s where to go winter water rafting in Michigan!

Big Bear Adventures


Just 30 minutes from some of northern Michigan’s most beautiful vacation spots, like Mackinaw City, Harbor Springs, and Petoskey, you’ll find Big Bear Adventures, a full-service outdoor outfitter that offers exciting excursions for the whole family! And wintertime is no exception! Located in the quaint town of Indian River, Big Bear Adventures is nestled between Mullett Lake and Burt Lake, the third and fourth largest lakes in the state of Michigan. The famous 40-mile Inland Waterway, which is the longest chain of rivers and lakes in Michigan, runs through here as well. So it’s no surprise that this area is home to a variety of wildlife and offers hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and snowmobiling. Big Bear Adventures is the perfect place to escape to for an invigorating winter rafting trip! The Sturgeon River, with its fast-moving rapids and beautiful shoreline, is where you’ll launch your raft and take off on a breathtaking trip down the fastest-moving river in the state. For over 15 years, Big Bear Adventures has been taking groups down the Sturgeon River on guided rafting trips to experience the beauty and peacefulness of the quiet winter rapids. Here’s what to expect on a winter rafting trip with Big Bear Adventures:

Body of Water:


Crystal-clear Sturgeon River

Duration of trip:


1 ½ hours

Maximum group size per raft:


6 people (however multiple rafts can go at the same time)

2017 Rates:


$34-42/person

Rate includes:


all equipment, guide, and shuttle service

Availability:


7 days/week, departure times of 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm (may vary slightly); reservations required

What to bring:


Warm clothes (dress in layers); warm socks, mittens/gloves, hats, winter boots, neck gators, waterproof pants (if possible); camera To turn your water rafting trip into a day of winter fun, explore the winter packages that Big Bear Adventures offers. Package A adds your choice of X-country skiing or snowshoeing for up to 4 hours onto your water rafting trip for only $5 more! Package B goes one step further by adding a Subway® lunch onto Package A for only $10 more than the rafting trip. The X-country skiing or snowshoeing activity can be used 24 hours before or after the rafting trip. Big Bear Adventures offers a couple options for overnight accommodations. Their award-winning Northwoods Lodge has 15 beautiful rooms complete with rustic furnishings and an included Continental Breakfast. Or check out The Dorm, which is located right in Indian River. This is a great choice for a family as it sleeps up to 10 and has separate bedrooms and a kitchen. There are also many vacation rentals in the area as well.

Sturgeon River Paddlesports


Jamie Jacklitch, owner and operator of Sturgeon River Paddlesports, makes it possible for everyone to enjoy the beauty of the Sturgeon River. While he opened the doors of Sturgeon River Paddlesports in the summer of 2014, he’s been guiding people down the river and maintaining its crystal-clear waters for almost two decades. With a degree in Outdoor Recreation Management, love of the outdoors is in his blood. What better time to float along the Sturgeon River than during the crisp, cool months of winter? With the cedar trees covered in freshly fallen snow and native wildlife making their way through open waters, the river is at its quietest and most serene. Here’s what you can expect on your guided winter raft trip with Sturgeon River Paddlesports:

Body of water:


Beautiful Sturgeon River

Duration of trip:


1 ½ hours

Raft capacity:


3-7 people (minimum needed during peak times)

2017 Rates:


Prices are subject to group size; call for pricing (231.525.6878)

Availability:


Open daily

What to bring:


Warm clothing (snow pants, boots, warm socks/gloves/mittens/hats/scarves); camera, warm beverage in a thermos. Sturgeon River Paddlesports is located 20 miles north of Gaylord in Wolverine, Michigan. As a full-service livery, they offer kayak, tube, canoe, raft, and stand-up paddleboard rentals in the summer months as well. Venture onto the area’s pristine lakes, like Burt Lake, Pickerel Lake, Echo Lake, and more. They even offer shuttle services if you bring your own equipment.

Jordan Valley Outfitters


From December through March you can climb into a raft and gently float down the beautiful Jordan River with Jordan Valley Outfitters. Located in northern Michigan’s Charlevoix County, Jordan Valley Outfitters offers a winter rafting experience filled with wildlife sightings, scenic views, hot chocolate, and cookies! Meander down the peaceful river and keep your eyes peeled (and your camera ready!) for red fox, river otters, beavers, white-tailed deer, and so much more. As the first river in Michigan to be called “wild and scenic,” this is the perfect place to bring your family for an unforgettable afternoon in nature. Whether you choose to simply relax or paddle to stay warm, you’ll be glad you hopped in and let the current carry you downstream. Here’s what to expect on a Jordan Valley Outfitters winter rafting trip:

Body of water:


Picturesque Jordan River

Duration of trip:


A couple hours (determined by weather)

Raft capacity:


Maximum of 8 per raft

2017 Rates:


$40/person, lower rates for children under 10

Availability:


Open 7 days a week

What to bring:


Warm clothes (hats, gloves, scarves, snowpants, boots, etc.), waterproof camera/smartphone Jordan Valley Outfitters offers year-round water sport fun! Rent canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and rafts and spend a fun day on the beautiful waters of the Jordan River. Or visit October through early November and go on a guided raft trip through the most colorful parts of the river. Cider and donuts included! Have you gone winter water rafting before? If so, where? And what kind of advice do you have for staying warm? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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