If you’re wondering whether you should try tubing the Lower Platte River, imagine this: drifting over warm, clear water, soaking in the blazing Michigan sun, and gazing at puffs of clouds against a clear blue sky. Or, if you’re more of a paddler, picture yourself canoeing or kayaking the playful currents of the spring-fed Upper Platte, where overhanging trees, wildlife, and adventure appear at every turn. Considered among locals and tourists to be one of the most exciting summer activities in Northern Michigan, no trip “up north” is complete without lathering up, packing a picnic, and spending a day on the Platte River.
The Platte River and Riverside Canoe Trips, a full-amenities rental center located just 30 miles west of Traverse City, is in the heart of the coastal Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The most popular river route ends at the Lake Michigan shore, allowing you to enjoy one of the park’s best beaches at the end of your ride. Voted in 2011 as the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by viewers of Good Morning America, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers soaring dunes, white sand beaches, pounding surf, and over 100 miles of hiking trails that overlook some of the most unique scenery in the world. Kyle Orr, owner of Riverside, tells me, “Tubing, canoeing, or kayaking the Platte is the perfect way to tie in a trip to the lakeshore and enjoy all that the park has to offer.”
Riverside was established in 1964 and exists today as the only privately run business in the park, a testament to the long tradition of how “going down the Platte” has become one of Northern Michigan’s most beloved summer activities. “It’s absolutely the perfect family river,” says Orr. “You have crystal clear water, the kids can see the bottom, and you get to end your trip at a sugar sand beach on Lake Michigan.” Tubing, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking trips are offered with a variety of options for choosing how long your trip will last and the difficulty of the rapids. Riverside also offers a full grocery line, making it a one-stop destination for a full day on the river and in the park.
For more information about the Platte River, or to reserve a river trip, contact Riverside Canoe Trips. There’s still plenty of summer left, and there’s no better way to spend it than by packing a cooler, hopping on a tube, and floating though America’s most beautiful place.
–Ariana Hendrix, Feature Writer