Michigan & all its beautiful paddling venues.
How far (miles, hours) are you willing to travel for paddling once you’re in Grand Rapids? That would help w. suggestions as there as dozens and dozens of rivers in both peninsulas.
For example, the stately Grand River, the longest in Michigan, flows as far southeast as Jackson Center and empties into the big Lake (Lake Michigan) at Grand Haven. It flows thru Grand Rapids. Class I &II, easy to paddle in both directions, a variety of portages easy to PITA:
There are so many incredible rivers to the north and west of G.R. many passing thru large national forests w. superb campgrounds - private & federal, primitive to all the comforts, that are a kayaker’s or canoeist’s paradise if you do decide to squeeze in an overnight you will be richly rewarded w. peace and natural beauty.
A little background:
First two weeks in July is plant shutdown for the auto companies, their Tier 1 suppliers & many other suppliers in the food chain. So campsites, etc. will be very full as of Friday July 2.
Due to that & also that it’s high season for paddling, the most popular western rivers like the Pine, the Manistee & the main fork of the Au Sable, will be heavily used. Although much of the really bad behavior (ramming other boats, pissing mindlessly, males exposing themselves to women & children) by drunken dork floatillas has been curbed in the last 5 years ago it’s not the ideal experience for wilderness and solitude.
Those rivers are best done on the weekdays. The Pine requires a permit, which is free at specified MDNR locations. Advance is better as choice weekend and holidays fill up, and only a certain number of people are allowed any given day to give people a better river experience (& curb said dorkage).
Choose less travelled rivers. Michigan is chock full of them, I can’t list all of them. Let us help you after you tell us how far you’ll drive to get to one.
An outstanding softcover book: Canoeing Michigan Rivers, covers 45 of them in both peninsulas:
Lastly, re shuttling, some of the best venues really are more doable w. a shuttle… or you can pay a company like Michigan Trailspotters to pick you up after you car spot:
or local folks will car spot also, for less than the traditional shuttle service .Liveries will know of the locals, and Trailspotters has a useful website with lots of info, and online reservations w. PayPal.
The owner is a great guy, a paddler and runs a first class operation. He has extensive river knowledge. You might contact him beforehand for suggestions then book accordingly.
Not affiliated w. it, just a very satisfied customer.