With an average descent of 14 feet per mile, the Sturgeon River is the overall fastest river in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula! Not whitewater, but exciting and challenging with its quick and often tricky current, along with leaning trees, stumps, and logs (especially when navigating through numerous narrow passages and sharp turns!) The current does most of the work, but it’s up to you and/or your partner(s) to maneuver your watercraft down the crystal-clear, spring-fed stream, as it winds its way mostly through beautiful state forest. The average depth is 3-4 feet, however, there are deeper pools that can reach 5-8 feet, usually around the outside of bends. Plan on getting wet as many of our guests take an unplanned “refreshing” dunk! (approximately 80% tip-over rate for canoes/kayaks on longer trips, 0% for Rafts) Various types of paddlers can enjoy this exhilarating adventure as long as close attention is paid to the type of equipment used as well as the section and/or length of the river trip. We recommend Rafts, Tubes, and Cats for families, beginners, and/or less experienced paddlers. We recommend Canoes and Kayaks for more experienced and/or more adventurous paddlers.
All river trip rates include U.S. Coast Guard-approved and safety-inspected quality equipment, paddles and PFD’s (comfortable type III Life vest), and shuttle service (most trips end at Burt Lake State Park, which has a great swimming beach!).
Ending Point: All River Trips end inside Burt Lake State Park! The designated ending point is located on the Sturgeon River inside the Park. This landing has a set of wooden stairs with Big Bear signage and is where you must turn in your equipment. Ending here allows for a short 4 minute walk back to your vehicle near the beach. Burt Lake State Park offers over 2,000 feet of sandy beach and crystal-clear water (great for swimming and playing) and a large, day-use picnic area under towering oak and pine trees. There’s a picnic pavilion, tables, grills, playground equipment, a beach volleyball court, horseshoes, baseball diamond and a 1-mile wooded hiking trail.
Parking: After signing up for your river trip, we will direct you to park your vehicle in the State Park right near the beach/picnic area where you have access to the park and its amenities all day! Be sure to carpool in order to bring the least amount of vehicles as possible. All paddlers are required to park all vehicles in the state park where there is no waiting at the end of your trip; your vehicle is ready w/ towels, beach toys, and picnic supplies, and most importantly, it’s a wonderful way to finish your river adventure—swimming, relaxing, and playing at one of Northern Michigan’s most beautiful state parks! Any vehicle that goes into a state park needs a “Recreation Passport”. If you don’t already have a passport, you can purchase one from the state park for just $11 (good for ALL YEAR at ALL STATE PARKS!) Vehicles with out-of-state license plates must purchase a daily permit for $9 (or an annual pass for $31). For more detailed information regarding parking at Burt Lake State Park, please visit
www.michigan.gov/recreationpassportPlease Note: Only Tubers leave their vehicles at Big Bear!